Africa is littered with rulers not leaders. We live on a continent where 5 current serving Presidents took over power before I was born. We live on a continent where Presidents like Teodoro Mbasago (Equatorial Guinea), Jose Santos (Angola), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Paul Biya (Cameroon), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) have ruled their countries for 35 years, 35 years, 34 years, 32 years and 28 years respectively. We live on a continent where 8 of the 10 longest serving current Presidents reside. We live on a continent where people assume that they have the birth right to rule and even go as far as handing over to their children to continue from where they stopped. We live on a continent where a failed President is seeking a second term in office without shame, a President under whose watch insurgency grew 500%, a President under whose watch thousands of people have been killed, a President under whose watch corruption has blossomed. This same President is clamoring for re-election in the guise of transformation and continuity. Which continuity?
We live on a continent where a military dictator who ruled, I repeat ruled the country over 30 years ago. A man who imprisoned and killed thousands under questionable circumstances. A man who has enunciated violence provoking utterances. A man who has failed in his quest to become the President on 3 occasions. A man who has officially become the oldest Presidential candidate ever in his country. To put this into context, the United States has had 44 presidents (including Obama) and the oldest to assume office is Ronald Reagan who was 69 years. This is the same man who is seeking election under the guise of change. Which change? To the analog or digital age?
I’ll repeat my earlier statement; Africa is littered with rulers not leaders. What’s the difference one might ask.
A ruler issues directives or commands and his subjects follow those directives either from the motivation of fear, respect of love. Personal choice is limited. A leader by way of contrast models the best way forward by example and through consultation. He or she articulates a vision and people follow because they are convinced its the best way to go. A ruler rules by the “do as I say” mantra while the leader leads with the “do as I do” understanding. A ruler commands while a leader guides.
Here is a little illustration to put this into context; last month or so, the terrorist group ISIS captured and burned to death a Jordanian pilot. In response, Jordan’s King Abdullah II promised to fight back hard against ISIS saying that the death of the Jordanian pilot at the militants’ hands will not be in vain. He was quoted as saying “we will pursue ISIS to avenge the death of this one soldier till we run out of fuel and bullets”. Days after his statement, Jordanian fighter pilots conducted a series of devastating airstrikes on ISIS targets killing 55 members of ISIS including a senior commander. That’s a leader. In contract, somewhere in Africa, thousands are being killed, maimed, widowed by insurgents and their ruler stays put in his posh residence busier with his re-election campaign than avenging the lives of the dearly departed. That’s a ruler.
Only when we get rid of rulers and engage the services of leaders would Africa ever develop.