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Leaders are not just politicians

by Lesotho Times
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In my various researches for this column over the last few months I must say I have learned quite a lot not only about Lesotho but the continent at large.

Unfortunately for most of my formal education, whether in high school or tertiary, the majority of theories and case-studies were always based on western countries.

Fortunately the body of information and the dissemination thereof on Lesotho and the continent has improved tremendously over the last few years and this is without a doubt the surest way to commence the debate on how we can get the continent to heights we know we are capable of as a people.

Having previously discussed various developmental theories and engaged in some judicious intellectual discourse with people from all walks of life, I have realised without a flicker of doubt that the challenges of our time can only be surmounted through a change in the consciousness of the leadership at local level and the continent at large.

It is important to note that when I talk of leadership I do not only talk of political leadership as most will usually think.

For me that is the problem with Africa, because at this point of our history we only seem to associate leaders with the political sphere.

Throughout the continent, from Maseru to Mogadishu, the celebrated or demonised leaders hail from the political faculty.

When one thinks of influential leaders on the continent, they will almost always be politicians. Think Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe, Ntsu Mokhehle, Julius Nyerere, Frederick Chiluba, etc. The list is endless.

The moment leaders from other spheres come into prominence and recognition, in my book that will be a sign of the changing consciousness in the continent.

It is understandable though when you look at the fact that our countries as they exist today are no more than 60 years old.

The leaders often lauded are the freedom fighters, and those who undertook political leadership following the withdrawal of the colonialists.

When we begin to assess the historical evolution of the great powers like the United States, you will tend to view the history of Africa more dispassionately.

When you look at their influential leaders across time, you will realise that there is a fair spread between political leaders and leaders from other spheres of life.

You can talk of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln from the political fraternity.

While Andrew Carnegie, JD Rockefeller and JP Morgan are forever imbedded in business folklore.

I believe in future our historians and writers will become more balanced in terms of documenting a more balanced account because we are more than politics.

Business majors in schools have to begin doing case studies closer to home. Instead of being told to study the rise of Bill Gates and Microsoft, how about being taught about Aliko Dangote, the founder of the Nigerian Dangote empire, the richest African and 50th richest man in the world?

Closer home, how about someone writing a biography of Ntate Kou, arguably the most influential business mind in the history of Lesotho? Often enough when one engages in any type of intellectual discourse, folk almost always ask if one intends to be a politician.

Perhaps the reason our continent cannot surmount many of its developmental challenges is because of the narrow mindedness that says change will only come if one assumes a political career.

Each one of us has a part to play in the sewing of the social fabric of this nation and the continent at large.

Instead of the proverbial “passing of the buck”, we all have to begin to assume responsibility for the destiny of our nation.

The beginning of the revolution will take effect once we realise that our private decisions will always have public ramifications, for isn’t the public an aggregation of the individuals?

Often enough in my dialogues with friends, I tend to step on some toes because I am always against those who blame the rulers of our nation.

My notion always is, what are you doing in your own little corner to make the country better?

Abraham Lincoln once said, in the game of life it’s not the critic who counts, rather the doer of the deeds – the man in the arena who is marred by blood, sweat and tears.

The way to instigate change is first to be resolute in our idealisation of the future.

Here I am specifically speaking to my generation; those who have recently begun life as part of the labour force.

Resolution is the direction and impelling force of individual and collective progress, without which no substantial work can be done.

Not until a man brings upon resolution to bear upon his life does he consciously and rapidly develop, for a life without resolution is a life without aims, and a life without aim is a drifting and unstable thing.

We need to give the young kids an alternate view of our history, for that gives them the notion to believe that more can be done in future. I believe there are three kinds of people in our society.

Those who can’t see or refuse to see the problems, those who see the problems and because they didn’t create them are content to play the blame game, and finally those who see the problems and though they didn’t create them are willing to assume personal responsibility for solving them.

Which one are you?

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