Sometime in April 2016, I was browsing through the website of the Financial Times Newspaper - inspired by several topical issues centred on Africa. And then, for some reason, I stumbled on the article by David Pillings titled "Africa: Between Hope and Despair." A very intriguing read, I must confess, but if you must know, I wasn't at ease with the tone of the article as it reverberated that exasperating sense of faithlessness, cynicism, and disparagement in the capacity of the African continent to produce significant growth. But I sincerely can't blame him for his views. As they say, "What good could come out of Africa?" Thanks to the horrible leaders Africa has produced. However, the naysayers are wrong. Africa is a place of opportunities and very gifted people.
Now back to the David Pillings' Report. I remember feeling so stirred by the writer's wittingly crafted narrative, classically scripted around the usual rhetoric and awful account of a continent that thrives only in extreme poverty, diseases, corruption, insecurity, and kleptocracy. Only that this time, the curiosity of the writer was primarily driven by the downturn in growth of the leading African economies like Nigeria and South Africa, due to the most recent slump in the commodity market, highly predicated by China's shortfall in demand for our natural deposits.
Again, I often wonder why the African governments in question scarcely embraced the strategic imperative of diversifying their economies long before the abysmal bang in the commodity market came calling. Even now, it's all still talk, talk, talk. Nothing serious has been done in that regard apart from the buffers that have been put in place to absorb the shock from the slump.
In May 2016, I took out time again to critically examine David's article in a bid to connect all the dots. Although the tone of the report did sound poignant, the facts presented by the esteemed writer seemed absorbing enough to appreciate what's needed to fix Africa's humongous challenges - which immediately demands a "make-it-happen" kind of leadership.
While Africa has substantially made progress in the last 60 years, its domestic economies remain fragile and over-dependent on its commodities and foreign aids - at the same time where there are superfluous uncertainties and challenges of the global commons abound. Thus, the question for leaders is, "How do we reverse this positioning to a vantage point?"
In another sizzling article in the Wall Street Journal, a seasoned ex-economist at Goldman Sachs, Dambisa Moyo argues that in the last 60 years, at least $1 trillion of growth-related foreign aid was transferred from developed countries to Africa. As at 2009 that she wrote that article, real per-capita income was lower than it was in the 1970s and far more than 50 percent of Africa's population - approximately over 350 million people at the time lived on less than a dollar a day, a figure that has doubled in over two decades.
So, I find myself genuinely repulsed by these long-standing concerns and much more absurdities across the continent that have had little or no appreciable level of the "make-it-happen" kind of leadership despite constant calls for interventions that are not only productive but tangible. Evidently, there's too much neglect, misplaced priorities, and insensitivity amongst many African leaders, which, in my opinion, is one of the precursors for the huge boost we see today in many violent conflicts, kidnappings, armed robberies, militancy, human rights violations, and other needless social crimes that are antithetical to meaningful development in the long run.
Certainly, the plight of the bulk of Africans is irrefutably nothing but dehumanisation and a harrowing debacle. Obviously, that's why we are beginning to experience all manner of "shake-ups" across the continent in the status quo. Many are waking up in response to the voice calling for a "make-it-happen" kind of leadership that's inherently people-centred. It's a revolution that has nothing to do with violent or even peaceful protests. So, what's it? I see it as an optimistic uprising of many young and witty Africans who are not only invoking the power of the "Mind" but are much more unleashing the power of the "Heart." How do I mean?
Every time I'm asked, "Where would we find these breed of future leaders I speak about?" And always, my keen response is: "Look to the periphery, to people and places where commitment to the status quo is small and where hearts and minds are most open to the new." There, you will find them. They are brilliant nonconformists who have refused to be pounded into conformity.
Unleashing the possibilities Africans only dream about will require many gifted and dedicated leaders of all sorts - as we are starting to see across the continent. Many of whom will not come from prominent power positions or need to get permission for their efforts to wake up those in the corridors of power to the imperative of changing course where necessary and rediscovering the core values and qualities that will help deliver a truly transformative continent, where every African matters and no one is left behind.
To be continued in "Africa: The Big Issue, Vol.1, Pt.6."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christian Aligba is the Founder & President of C.A.L.F Africa, a non-profit organisation that's keenly focused on developing and recognising the next generation of African leaders - helping to create a new narrative, a new normal, a new beginning: Better Leaders, Better Societies across Africa. Learn more@ www.calfafrica.org.
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