*** Photos supplied by Prof Iqbal Jhazbhay, South African Ambassador to Liberia ***
This the speech given by H.E. Dr Jewel Howard-Taylor, Vice President of Liberia, delivered to on the occasion of the Founders Day Lecture at the University of South Africa (UNISA).
– Your Excellency, President Thabo Mbeki, Chancellor of the University of South Africa and Head of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation;
Special Honored Guests,
– Chairperson and Members of the UNISA Board of Trustees
– The Vice Chancellor, Professor Puleng Lenka Bula
– The Administration and Faculty of UNISA
– Her Excellency Ethel Davis, Ambassador of Liberia to the Republic of South Africa
– His Excellency, Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay, Ambassador of South Africa to Liberia.
Other members of the Diplomatic Corps,
– The UNISA Family and Students,
Members of the Business Community,
Members of the Fourth Estate,
– Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am truly honored, to have been given this unique opportunity to have been invited to this Prestigious Citadel of Learning. For this, I am truly grateful and give the ultimate Praise to the Almighty God, the final Arbiter of human life; for his faithfulness and unfailing love and mercy towards my delegation and me.
Please permit me to give honour to whom it is due:
- I extend my profound thanks and appreciation to the Chancellor, His Excellency President Thabo Mbeki;
- the Vice Chancellor and Principal; Members of the Board of Trustees ; the Administration; the Organizers of the Annual Founders Lecture, and indeed the entire UNiSA family for allowing me to participate in this distinctive 2022 Lecture Series.
- It would be remiss of me, were I not to give special recognition to the South African Ambassador accredited to Liberia, His Excellency Iqbal Jhazbay, for drawing me out and opening my mind to the possibilities of a closer working relationship between my nation, Liberia, and the Republic of South Africa. Thankfully, after several conversations about many issues, I am finally here today.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Though this visit is a bittersweet one, in the span of my life’s journey of almost 60 years, my deepest desire was to one day have the occasion to meet – Madiba, Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela. As a young child, I heard stories of both of them. One incarcerated and silenced for fighting for freedom for his people; and the other a female, a VOICE of the Liberation Struggle against apartheid and the FREE NELSON MANDELA MOVEMENT. The sounds from South Africa reverberated across Nations, and thankfully Liberia was not left out. But what has remained with me since then, was the strong, powerful voice of a Woman who spoke without fear or favor. She, Winnie Mandela, became my role model; next to my mother and then Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Though my wish to meet both Icons was never fulfilled, today I have the opportunity to WALK UPON THE LAND WHICH NURTURED AND GROOMED THEM BOTH, AND OTHER SUCH GREAT AFRICAN LEADERS.
I am indeed GRATIFIED.
Your Excellency the Chancellor; Excellencies; Special Honoured Guests; the UNISA family; Distinguished ladies and gentlemen; I bring you warm greetings from my President, His Excellency George Manneh Weah, our Government and the people of Liberia, on whose behalf I extend congratulations and best wishes to the UNiSA Family for the hosting of this year’s Founders’ Day Lecture.
Especially since the intent of this annual, august event is to bring to the spotlight, critical issues not only about education, its pursuits and possibilities; but to also focus on global trends which affect the trajectory of Academia, Governance, Cooperation and International Development.
The mindset behind this gathering has set the trend for the Annual Founders Day Lecture; as stated by UNiSA’s Code, from which I quote:
“To contribute to the knowledge and information society, advance development, nurture a critical citizenry and ensure global sustainability.”
From this vantage point, it is of no surprise to many, that UNISA’s Founder’s Day Lecture, a sought after event, is a forum for Progressive Thoughts, Debates and Discussions, which often times form the underlying pin for Democracy, Economic Projection and Development, not just here in South Africa but across the Continent and the World.
This is further amplified by UNISA’s Curriculum policy:
“To promote African thought, philosophies, interests and epistemologies through inquiry, scholarship, research, cooperation and partnership.”
All of these introspections culminate in UNISAS’ testament; which boasts of critical lecture topics and the many prominent Lecturers who have stood on this Dias.
As I researched the listing of prominent individuals who have stood here before me; the listing is indeed one of greatness and influence; thus making this auspicious occasion for me a very Special one.
But I however, hope that my lecture will bring to bear a new sense of urgency and action to the need for self-actualization across the continent, a vision that is most attainable, sooner, rather than later.
Your Excellency the Chancellor, Excellencies, Special Honoured Guests, the UNISAS’ Family, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen; permit me before I begin this Lecture, to bring to our remembrance the historical linkage between the Republics of Liberia and South Africa which spans many decades.
But of all the memorable moments in this relationship; the ones which stand out include the period during the years of the Apartheid / Liberation Struggle; where Liberia’s then President William V. S. Tubman played a leading role; in publicly advocating for a more just society for the indigenous people of South Africa, the need for others to join the fight against Apartheid and the elimination of colonialism and self actualization across the African Continent. This historic relationship branded our capital city Monrovia, as a fertile location for progressive discourse.
Because of President Tubman’s public stance on the trending issues of the day; He played host to many freedom fighters; including the late Oliver Tambo, then President of the ANC and Madiba Nelson Mandela. These interactions moved the great men of that time beyond mere friendships to true Brotherhood, and created a close bond between Liberians and South Africans.
It can be recalled, in recent history, that South Africa was quite instrumental in helping to resolve the Liberian Civil Conflict. As mediators and providers of human, material and financial resources; which even included their role as members of the SADF; which formed a part of the African Union/United Nations Peace Keeping Contingent deployed in Liberia. Thankfully, the cogent role played during this period had a significant impact; on not only ending the civil crisis but ensuring a peaceful resolution for the country.
Of particular mention, is the constructive role played by the then President of South Africa, President Thabo Mbeki; who personally visited Liberia several times; but especially during August 2003 when the crisis was at it highest.
President Mbeki’s presence in Monrovia; along with other Leaders from West Africa; brought calm and dignity to the Peace Process. His personal interventions and support eventually paved the way for a transitional Government; and subsequently Democratic Elections in 2005.
To state it succinctly, it was African leadership in the midst of African crisis, that restored calm, and culminated into the election of the First Democratically Elected Female President of Liberia and Africa; Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The Republic of South Africa has remained engaged with its Sister State Liberia in many ways since then; such as being the first Nation to provide post conflict medical and humanitarian support during the critical years of the Ebola Virus Disease; and also during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
This kind gesture was again repeated recently, as the Republic of South Africa provided Liberia vaccines for its Corona Vaccine Program; daring yet again to share its limited supply of Vaccines for the wellbeing of citizens of it’s Sister Republic.
Today, both Nations continue to build on that Foundation of Peaceful Coexistence and Cooperation. Thankfully, not only has the Bilateral Relationship experienced an upswing, but Liberia is becoming an attractive destination for South African businesses as they increasingly become involved in exploring investment opportunities and partnerships in Liberia; and Liberians have found South Africa to be a hospitable home away from home.
I am therefore pleased, on behalf of my President, Government and People of Liberia, and those Liberians who live here in South Africa; to extend our gratitude and appreciation to His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Government and People of South Africa for keeping the fire of Sisterhood burning. We are eternally grateful.
Excellencies, Special Honored Guests, the UNISA Family, Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman; our Nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Leaders, Government and people of the Republic of South Africa; the stories of which will be spoken of for many generations.
But in the midst of these stories, permit me to give special recognition to His Excellency President Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa for his stellar Leadership during the Liberian Conflict, whose personal intervention contributed to the cessation of Crisis and granted my Family and I; a soft landing…. even offering his Nation as one of the places for consideration of a home away from home during our most difficult years.
In hindsight; I can say that his actions provided a life line for our family.
Because of the fine tuning of the Liberian Peace Accords; when I eventually returned home in 2004; I was even given an opportunity to participate in the 2005 Presidential and General Elections. This opportunity opened new doors to contribute positively to the development of my beloved Nation.
A process which , by the grace of God; has propelled me into politics. I was elected first to the National Legislature as Senator of the 3rd largest constituency in Liberia; and then as the first Female Vice President of Liberia.
Please accept our deepest gratitude.
I salute You.
Excellencies, Special Honoured Guests, the UNISA Family, Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman; that being said, let me begin the task for which I was Invited, to deliver a LECTURE on:
THE REALIZATION OF THE AFRICAN RENAISSANCE THROUGH THE AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AGREEMENT.
Permit me to begin with the concept of a few words, necessary for a deeper understanding of the context of this lecture; taken from the Oxford Dictionary from which I quote:
1. AFRICAN RENAISSANCE – is a philosophical and socio-political movement intended to end the violence, elitism, corruption, and poverty believed to plague the African Continent; and to instead replace this system with a more just, inclusive, and equitable one which benefits ALL.
2. LEADERSHIP – the ability of an individual or a group of individuals to influence and guide followers or other members of an organization towards an expected outcome.
3. PARADIGM – An example or a pattern of something.
In consideration of the dynamics of the global world in the context of the aforementioned concepts; the new phenomenon of digitalization and the stark reality of our inter- connectivity and inter dependence has made it critical to have a closer look at our Continent and its interactions, both internally and externally. Thus bringing to bear the need to look at options for Africa’s Political, Democratic, Economic Development and Integration.
This critical look has necessitated the re-emergence of the Concept of the African Renaissance; which is more of a possibility today then it has ever been.
But this truism, depends on the side one chooses to see.
On the one hand, is the consideration of the current status of Africa; which has been coined an underdeveloped Continent (with all angles being considered);
Or on the other side of the coin -is the glaring reality of the unlimited possibilities, with Africa being the Continent with about 40% of the Worlds resources still untapped; which will also in a few years become the Continent with the largest population on the earth. Thus making Africa the Continent of the future.
With these 2 thoughts in mind; the Lecture takes into consideration the following:
FIRSTLY, to take a glimpse at the Past;
SECONDLY, TO SET OUR MINDS ON WHERE WE WANT TO BE IN THE NEAR PRESENT;
AND LASTLY; THE CONSIDERATION OF WHAT KIND OF SYSTEM OR PATTERN IS NEEDED TO CATAPULT OUR CONTINENT INTO THE FUTURE OF THE AFRICAN DREAMS, WHICH BENEFITS ALL.
FIRSTLY – In looking at the PAST… it is said in a Liberian Parable :
“WHEN ONE WANTS TO PLAIT OR MAKE A NEW MAT; ONE MUST SIT ON THE OLD MAT IN ORDER TO MAKE A NEW ONE.”
I am of the opinion and hope you will agree with me; that the old mat concept – can be considered under a philosophy which falls under the conceptualization of the African Renaissance.
It was a consideration in times past; as the vehicle for the rebirth and development of Africa; which brings about a totally new direction for Africa’s forward movement.
With the aim of a complete turn around from the current underdeveloped state of affairs of most African Nations to one which will produce and sustain; not only a just and efficient system; but a prosperous, equitable, inclusive and competitive one which Africa needs.
History recalls that this term – the African Renaissance – was formally introduced by former South African President Thabo Mbeki ; first in an address to the United States Corporate Council on Africa in Chantily, VA, USA, in April 1997; and then subsequently in a meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa where he addressed an audience of about 500 persons from academia, business, and politics. President Mbeki’s intention was to define the status quo; and bring to the consciousness of those present – the need for a new African direction, which defines clearly:
“Who we were and where we were going to be in the global scheme of things?”
If one would search behind the scenes at this meeting; it would be clear to see that the main objectives of the meeting in Johannesburg was FIRSTLY, an attempt to provide the understanding needed to accept the reality of the dire circumstances the Continent faced ; and SECONDLY, to instill the understanding and hope; that once this reality was accepted; those present would begin to dream new dreams again; conceive how to make those dreams come true and be prepared to chart and lead a new way forward for an Advanced Developmental Agenda which would propel all of Africa to a position of an economically vibrant Industrial continent, thus repositioning Africa into becoming a fierce competitor and engine of growth and development in the global world economy; a win win situation for ALL.
The discussions held during this period in time, suggested the establishment of an African Agenda which included the following, please bear with me as I describe the plans for sustained economic growth:
- material and human resource development, the building of a modern, robust socio-economic environment and a vast interconnected infrastructure system; a proposal for the cancellation of Africa’s debt; industrialization and cutting edge competitiveness in commerce and trade;
- increased Domestic, Regional, Continental and Foreign Investment; Continental cohesion and collaboration; and open access for high grade African products into both the Continental and World Markets etc. etc.
At this conference, former President Mbeki concluded his speech by saying and I quote :
“I am convinced that a great burden rests on the shoulders of Africa’s intelligentsia (those ones who have been trained and capacitated) to help us achieve these objectives. Remaining cognizance that we (Africa) have arrived at the point where the enormous brain power which our continent possesses must become a vital instrument in helping us secure our equitable space within a world affected by a rapid process of globalization.”
Former President Mbeki’s speech in Johannesburg engendered the concept of a new mindset; coined the African Renaissance; embraced by all the participants at the Conference. This new vision for a changed mindset was characterized by an emphasis on the new type of Leadership needed to effect this plan of action; and the practical strategies and solutions to be employed for any future plans, programs and activities which would benefit, firstly, Africans and transform our Continent.
What a VISION for the realization of the AFRICAN RENAISSANCE!
Though this exciting conversation was held and the fire of a new World for Africans and by Africans ignited; unfortunately, as Africa stands 25 years hence, most Nations have remained only at this same point of referencing this conversation.
As it is commonly said; that there is nothing new under the heavens; I believe this conversation – about the African Renaissance – began as far back as the years of the liberation struggle and continues unabated today thru years of economic stagnation.
For though our forefathers gave their blood, sweat and tears for Africa to be Liberated and Free; today much of sub Saharan Africa remains under the bondage of Economic Slavery, so much so that our youth; in search of greener pastures have begun volunteering themselves to migrate to foreign lands. But the truth remains that this is just another form of Veiled Voluntary Slavery.
AT THIS JUNCTURE THE PERENNIAL QUESTION COULD BE, SO WHAT IS THE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF AFRICA AND AFRICANS?
BUT THIS QUESTION BEGS A LECTURE FOR ANOTHER DAY.
Our Focus remains on the second ISSUE for discussion, which is -WHERE DO WE AS AFRICANS WANT TO BE IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
Thankfully, this question has been adequately answered under the African Union’s Framework Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want; and I quote:
“It is Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future.
It is the continent’s strategic framework that aims to deliver on its goal for inclusive and sustainable development and is a concrete manifestation of the pan-African drive for unity, self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity pursued under Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance. And the prioritization of inclusive social and economic development, continental and regional integration, democratic governance and peace and security amongst other issues aimed at repositioning Africa to becoming a dominant player in the global arena.”
Please permit me to add – that the AFRICA WE, AS WOMEN AND GIRLS WANT – is a Continent free from all forms of Violence against Women and Girls; this freedom from violence paves the way to unlimited opportunities for full empowerment and preparation to contribute to the development of our beloved Africa.
This then brings me to the third ISSUE – WHICH SYSTEM CAN BE USED TO CATAPULT AFRICA INTO THE AFRICA IT DESIRES?
I am of the strong belief that the most aggressive framework which will aid this forward march of AFRICA is the The African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
According to the African Union description – AfCTA is a trade pact which will form the world’s largest free trade area by creating a single market for goods and services of almost 1.3bn people across Africa and provide opportunities for deepening the economic development, cooperation and integration of Africa.
It is estimated that this trade area could have a combined gross domestic product of around $3.4 trillion dollars.
AfCFTA as a tool for development – aims to reduce tariffs among members; covers and improves policy areas such as immigration, trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures which will improve the environment for a generally acceptable standards regime and reduce technical, legal and physical barriers to trade.
Thankfully most leaders of African Nations believe that AfCTA is the tool for the African Renaissance. Additionally, we are thankful that President Thabo Mbeki is alive to see the next step of his conversation about the African Renaissance take shape.
There are many others who believe in this collective vision; and some comments from African Leaders are as follows:
“[F]or Africa, the stimulus package is the actual AfCFTA, the implementation of this agreement. Increased intra-African trade is what will drive economic development post-COVID-19,” quoting H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, AfCFTA Secretariat (African Renewal, 2020)
“Africa does not need a Marshall Plan to ride out the ongoing coronavirus crisis. It has a more powerful tool in the AfCFTA to use in accelerating regional and economic integration and prepare for uncertain times.”
Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa and Under-Secretary-General for the United Nations (Tralac, 2020)
“While the operationalization of the Secretariat was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the same pandemic has also magnified the urgent need for speed to accelerate economic integration on the continent,” (African Union [AU], 2020)
– H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairman of the AU Commission
“The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the importance of the success of the AfCFTA – a success that is now within reach, despite the current challenges. The destruction of global supply chains has reinforced the necessity for closer integration amongst us so that we can boost our mutual self-sufficiency, strengthen our economies, and reduce our dependence.”
– President Nana Akufo Addo, President of Ghana
“The Continental Free Trade Area symbolizes our progress toward the ideal of African unity, but that is not the only reason why it is so historic. This agreement is about trade in goods and services. These are the kinds of complex products that drive high-income economies.
African workers adding value in Africa. Services offered by African professionals using the latest technologies. Manufactured goods that are “Made in Africa”.
Less than 20 per cent of Africa’s trade is internal, meaning from one African country to another. However, in the world’s richest regional trading blocs, the level of internal trade is three or four times higher. Increasing intra-African trade, however, does not mean doing less business with the rest of the world. On the contrary, as we trade more among ourselves, African firms will become bigger, more specialized, and more competitive internationally,”
– President Paul Kagame
Indeed, AfCTA is the right engine for the AFRICAN RENAISSANCE OR THE AFRICAN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AFRICA SO URGENTLY NEEDS.
Issue four – WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF AfCTA FOR THE CONTINENT?
The answer was clearly stated by a recent World Bank Report, from which I quote:
1. The AfCFTA will significantly reduce poverty
According to a recent report by the World Bank, the pact will boost regional income by 7% or $450 billion, speed up wage growth for women, and lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035. Wages for both skilled and unskilled workers will also be boosted by 10.3% for unskilled workers, and 9.8% for skilled workers.
As Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, candidate for the WTO Director General, recently stated: “Trade is a force for good, and properly harnessed can help lift millions out of poverty and bring shared prosperity.”
2. Positive economic outcomes will be many and varied
Diversifying exports, accelerating growth, competitively integrating into the global economy, increasing foreign direct investment, increasing employment opportunities and incomes, and broadening economic inclusion are just a few of the positive economic outcomes AfCFTA can bring.
It is estimated that the agreement will increase Africa’s exports by $560 billion, mostly in manufacturing. Intra-continental exports would also increase by 81%, while the increase to non-African countries would be 19%.
According to Mo Ibrahim Foundation, if successfully implemented, AfCFTA could generate a combined consumer and business spending of $6.7 trillion by 2030. Furthermore, markets and economies across the region will be reshaped, leading to the creation of new industries and the expansion of key sectors. Significantly, it would make African countries more competitive globally.
3. Women stand to gain
The AfCFTA clearly focuses on improving the lives of women. There is a risk that some of the economic gains made by women through trade could be reversed by the COVID-19 crisis. According to the Economic Commission for Africa, women account for around 70% of informal cross- border traders in Africa.
Through such work, women can be vulnerable to harassment, violence, confiscation of goods and even imprisonment. Tariff reductions under the AfCFTA will enable informal women traders to operate through formal channels, bringing better protection. Furthermore, a growing manufacturing sector would provide new job opportunities, especially for women.
As AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene stated, “It [the AfCFTA] will be the opportunity to close the gender income gap, and the opportunity for SMEs to access new markets”. This is significant, since small and medium-sized enterprises account for 90% of jobs in Africa.
4. Trade integrity will be centre-stage
The AfCFTA offers an opportunity to promote good governance both globally and across Africa, through the concept of “Trade Integrity” – defined as international trade transactions that are legitimate, transparent and properly priced – as a way to ensure the legitimacy the global trading system. The prevalence of illegally-procured or produced goods (for example, illegal mining or fishing, or goods resulting from child or forced labour), misinvoiced trade transactions (i.e. trade fraud) and opacity in most free trade zones strips governments of revenues – needed now more than ever before to assist with the pandemic response, undermines fair labor standards and human rights, and obfuscates who is involved in trade transactions and what goods are being traded, which can facilitate transnational crime.
5. The negative impacts of COVID-19 will be cushioned
The pandemic is expected to cause up to $79 billion in output losses in Africa in 2020. The African Development Bank Group’s African Economic Outlook (AEO) 2020 Supplement estimates that Africa could suffer GDP losses in 2020 between $145.5 billion (baseline) and $189.7 billion (worst case), from the pre-COVID–19 GDP estimates. Further, trade in medical supplies and food has been disrupted.
It is being fully recognized across the continent that AfCFTA presents a short-term opportunity for countries to “build back better” and cushion the effects of the pandemic. In the longer-term, the pact will increase the continent’s resilience to future shocks.
6. The benefits of cooperation will change the perception the world has of Africa
Across the world, countries are questioning trade agreements and economic integration, alongside turning away from global cooperation, leadership and collective action. Political dynamics are driving short termism, polarization and isolationism. Yet our multiple threats demand long-term thinking and greater cooperation – and this is precisely what the AfCTFA represents. While the world turns in one direction, the African Union is moving in the other by deepening ties across the continent,and forcing the developed world to take notice of what Africans bring to the table.
Issue Five: WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES TO ACHIEVING THIS PLAN OF ACTION:
Much research has already gone into this question; so let me glean from a list of some of the challenges, which include but are not limited to the following:
- Fears of loss of Sovereignty
- Fears of significant tariff revenue losses
- An uneven distribution of costs and benefits
- Costs of structural adjustment
- Geographic and political fragmentation and thick borders (a complex of both tariff and nontariff restrictions that slow trade)—all of which increase the per unit cost of moving goods across borders
- Dire need to improve physical integration;
- Need to strengthen political cooperation;
- Need to facilitate business integration
- Need to harmonize rules and regulations through regulatory frameworks
- Tougher competitive environments which threaten MSMEs and small-scale farmers as a result of higher costs
- Negative impact on unskilled labour in the short and medium term
- Social tensions unless compensatory measures are set in place by the governments.
- A low capacity to invest in infrastructure, education and social programs, which are crucial for attaining sustainable development and decrease inequality in developing countries
And other extenuating circumstances which exist, such as
- Poor Education
- Agrarian economies
- Access to financing
- Economic growth rate is far too low
- Civil unrest
And the list could go on and on.
Issue Six – CAN THESE CHALLENGES BE OVERCOME?
Indeed, as it has been said that challenges are just steppingstones which one can use to reach set goals.
But in truth, the kind of reformation necessary for the radical shift which will produce the AFRICA WE WANT needs a whole new breed of LEADERS.
Ones who are:
- Visionary Leaders- who envision a better future for their country and put in place the right formula and resource pathway to that future. They are thinkers and imaginative leaders, able to anticipate and decipher changing circumstances, from political to economic, technological, environmental, and social developments.
They are also resolute in harnessing, developing, and deploying the very best material and human talents within the country towards achieving their visions for their country. Visionary leaders do not depend on the force of their own power but drive their transformative agendas through collaborative relationships and converts to their vision. They create the enabling environment for citizens to thrive.
- Aspirational Leaders- who have ambitious national development agendas. They are determined to see their country grow across all development indices with a sense of urgency.
They introduce, enable, and execute initiatives that ensure their citizens are healthy, well educated, socially cohesive, and technologically advanced. Aspirational leaders seek global recognition and respect for their countries.
They understand that this will only happen when their countries achieve outstanding levels of development. Accordingly, they set and vigorously pursue very high-performance targets for social infrastructure, healthcare, education, technology and economic development.
They also demonstrate their faith and belief in the country’s capacity and potentials by ensuring that the material resources available to public officers as well as the quirks of their offices (vehicles, machineries, fittings, and accessories etc.) are limited to only what is produced within the country. Aspirational leaders recognize that international economic competition is war by other means, and their national economies can best compete only when built on the robust foundation of indigenous innovations, creativity and high productivity.
- Exemplary Leaders – who walk the talk of good leadership and lead by the examples of their everyday actions.
They challenge their followers with their personal discipline and decency, self-sacrifice, and doggedness in the face of adversity as well as their prudence and good sense in times of plenty. They are often goal driven and result oriented.
Although exemplary leaders are now as rare as kings riding with the cavalry and leading their soldiers into battle, their equivalent in the modern era still carry the battle scars they earned from regular development campaigns on behalf of their people.
- Agile Leaders – who are nimble, versatile, and connected with their people. They have keenly tuned antennas actively seeking to explore frontiers of new knowledge, developments and opportunities for their countries and people.
They are quick to recognize and promote productive approaches from technological innovations to social changes.
They are particularly supportive of progressive and inclusive cultural practices while forcefully denouncing and abrogating destructive, discriminatory, and divisive local customs and traditions. Agile leaders are urbane, engaging, contextually perceptive and open-minded. They are not trapped by the parochial bounds of sectarian sentiments and can see beyond the primordial cleavages of their personal backgrounds.
5. Compassionate Leaders – who genuinely care for their people will always defend their interests against foes within and beyond. They routinely break out of their contrived bubbles of executive privileges to get a real sense of what the ordinary citizens experience on a daily basis.
They do not depend on the purified information provided by personal aides or the palace courtiers of their executive offices. They also do not confuse, misconstrue, or equate their personal interests to be the public or national interest. They see themselves not as “Lords” or “Excellencies”, but as public trustees with a duty of care to the people they serve.
6. Leaders with Honour – There is a reason elected leaders in many countries have the prefixed title of “Honorable” before their names. It is based on a presumptive notion (often at odds with reality) that such leaders are truly honorable men and women in spirit and in deeds. A truly honorable leader lives a life built on personal integrity, ethical values, good conscience, and convictions. They are often tenacious and tough leaders who say what they mean and mean what they say.
They do not seek to game the constitution to extend their tenure in office for instance, or to dilute, corral and appropriate the powers of state institutions for their own whims and caprices. Leaders like this have a visible moral authority and would voluntarily give up power, position, privileges and even their lives rather than break their code of honor.
7. Just Leaders – who are fair-minded leaders who believe in the rule of law and the tenets of equity and equality for all citizens before the law. Such leaders are willing to fight to defend and advance the cause of justice even if it threatens their personal interests. They build, support, and reinforce the independence of state institutions to ensure effective checks and balances in government.
They understand that injustice undermines the fabric of peaceful coexistence in society and that without justice; the country’s security, stability and prosperity are gravely imperiled. Without just leaders and their respect for the institutions of administrative justice, the social contract between government and the governed is more likely to be violated.
8. Selfless Leaders – demonstratively put the needs of their country and people first. They do not suffer from the intoxicating spirit of egomania or vainglory. They are also not seduced by the paraphernalia or the material lures of power.
They recognize that at the high level of national leadership, the personal acquisition of material wealth serves no purpose beyond the primitive sin of greed.
Selfless leaders also recognize that the ultimate judgment on a leader’s life is not one of material wealth or naked power but the kind of legacy they are remembered for; ideally one of being held in high esteem for their transformative contributions to national development.
9. Accountable Leaders – who are open to both self-evaluation and public scrutiny. They regularly engage with citizens and actively seek real time feedback and welcome criticisms. They ensure that the lessons embedded in criticisms are never lost or misconstrued. They do not instinctively react to criticisms or regard critics as enemies to be destroyed.
Accountable leaders are not self-absorbed and do not surround themselves with yes men and sycophants. They demand accountability from their aides and cabinet members as much as they support them. They are responsible leaders.
10. Inspirational Leaders – who have the character and personal qualities that inspire respect, confidence, loyalty, hope and pride amongst their people. They radiate a sense of sincerity, empathy, and emotional intelligence for which they earn public goodwill and support even through trying times.
Their charisma is genuine and more enduring than that manufactured by professional image-makers. Inspirational leaders are particularly invaluable in troubled times.
ISSUE SEVEN – CAN THESE TYPES OF LEADERS BE FOUND ON THE CONTINENT?
I reply with a resounding YES.
I am convinced that this type of leader does exist in our parts of the World. Some clear examples are President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; Former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa; Former President Kwame Nkruma of Ghana; Former President Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe of Nigeria; and the list goes on .
Sadly, though many such types of leaders exist in our part of the World today; at the political level where they are urgently needed; they are few and far in between. And the traits needed for the kind of leaders for the African Renaissance are mostly found in leaders operating in the business and economic sectors and very rarely at the Political levels – where the real changes take place.
Leaving one to ponder, a question which is definitely for another lecture: Which is – How can we transition or shift such leaders from their apolitical convictions to active political roles where the changes begin to happen? Or how can we groom the present generation to be thus endowed?
Excellencies, Special Honored Guests, the UNISA Family, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen; permit me to state in my own words that:
“The World we live in today, indeed requires a new breed of African leaders; who has a clear vision, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, skills, character, uncommon commitment, dedication, patriotism and integrity.
Ones who understand the crisis of our Continent; and are capable and willing to put in place the Framework needed for the AFRICAN RENAISSANCE; no matter the threats.
Ones who are bold, audacious, straightforward and uncompromising in their roles to lead a team that is capable of building the AFRICA WE URGENTLY NEED.
Because the truth being told -time is no longer on our side.
For if Africa must take advantage of this golden opportunity to step up and finally seize the moment to become the continent of the future, its leaders must – in unisome – harness all its potentials and make the SHIFT necessary for a success story.
As a Pan African; I believe this is POSSIBLE.
My prayer is that these discussions will ignited the fires of the liberation struggles. Which was like a raging one, from Nation to Nation; and it burned through the hearts and heads of African leaders (both young and old; and male and female) who determined – THEY WOULD DO ALL THEY COULD TO OBTAIN THEIR FREEDOM, OR THEY WOULD DIE IN THE PROCESS. FOR THIS SHIFT TAKES THAT KIND OF SURREAL COMMITMENT FROM ALL AFRICANS, AT HOME OR ABROAD.
In closing; permit me to leave you with 2 quotes that I believe; though spoken in life; still echoes to us from the grave; from Madiba, Nelson Mandela which is apt for this closing:
The first: To AFRICAN VISIONARIES
“The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”
The second: To THOSE WHO ARE AFRAID OF TAKING THE DIFFICULT CHOICES
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
For me both quotations spell the fact that African Leaders; if they are willing; can change the trajectory of the Continent.
Thus making Africa the power house of the present; and bringing to fruition the dreams of our forefathers for a robust, productive and empowered Continent .
The choice is OURS.
I THANK YOU.