THE challenge of development in Africa really calls for an urgent action towards breaking from the recurring dilemma we find ourselves. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious effect on economies, we know, but the situation in critical terms predates the pandemic. It is becoming more and more expedient to take necessary action and we have no choice but take the bull by the horns.
At the African Children Talent Discovery Foundation, ACTDF, we are quite Afrocentric in the sense that the plight of the African children and the young people remains our focus, even as we are a part of the global community going by the larger view of our activities. Attendance is thus a matter of passion to see what we can do as Africans for the greater good of the continent.
So when I got the invitation to this summit, I felt a sense of obligation to attend, hoping that the basic issues of development would be discussed and I am happy to see such a broad network of like minds gathered at this event organised by the Africa Advancement Forum. I have so far listened to some good conversations on “The Africa We Want” being the theme of this summit. The various views have also been revealing and in some cases challenging to our hopes and aspirations as a people and a continent.
In all of this, I think one major concern we should address more seriously is the leadership question in Africa, a situation which I believe has had its impact on the level of development in the continent. I think leadership, an effective leadership, is the foundation upon which every other factor rests upon as we hope to have an Africa that works for all. For without a credible and patriotic leadership, the new Africa which this summit wants us all to see would still be a mirage, even as I recognise the strides some of the nations in the continent are making and as reflected in their socio-economic indices.
Thus the leadership question has to be addressed which, arguably, is at the heart of the matter and that is the challenge which this summit has to tackle, thereby paving the way for a new Africa we really want. But this won’t happen by accident, we have to work for it, especially through advocacy and platforms like this to raise the bar of leadership.
Just as we do at the ACTDF, we must necessarily engage the youths and prepare them to be active participants in this crucial conversation, adding value not only for personal development but that of their countries.
It is for this reason that one would call for a new thinking that focuses on renewal of values and attitudinal change in African leadership towards creating a new Africa that works for all. The truth is that there is still much to do to change the situation towards a more dedicated and altruistic leadership that serves the greatest good for the greatest number where good governance and vibrant leadership constitute the basic ethos of our governance culture. In this regard, we also have to look at our politics which should be redefined to focus on values that make it a potent force of development, that is, a people-centred political enterprise.
The bulk of the issues here, I think, reside with the young and vibrant individuals, who should take their destiny into their hands by being patriotic during elections. The young people should be credible enough to herald the necessary change and development in the continent. However, I am not oblivious of the reality that achieving the Africa we want or deserve would be a collective responsibility by first changing at individual level, to that of country and then the continent.
I am optimistic that we would get there and the time to think and act that way is now. Yes, Africa deserves the best because it has the best of all things: from the abundant resources, weather to healthy food, intellectual capacity and creativity, spanning the music, arts and entertainment, we are blessed. But in spite of all this, one begins to wonder why government and governance have been too lethargic to the detriment of the people in the continent. Of course, the simple answer is that we, the people, failed in our duties to elect the right leaders.
So that’s the responsibility we have. We must choose our leaders wisely. We have to decide the kind of leaders we want. We surely need a new Africa where there’s political stability, deepened democracy, equity and justice and economic prosperity.
But all this will only materialise when we could attain a position of self- reinvention imbued with vision, which I usually refer to as a ministry because of the intrinsic values, inclusive government, leaders with capacity and competence and altruistic enough to be servant leaders.
And on the sub-theme of this summit, I believe Africans must now tell their own stories more favourably rather than just accept the narrative as told by the Western media which is anti-Africa and misleading.