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Opinions of Sunday, 10 October 2004

Columnist: Aborampah, Emmanuel

The Quest For A New Type African Leader - The Role The Press

Recently there was a GNA feature article by one Boakye-Dankwa Boadi narrating his impressions on a trip to Germany. Judging by the opinions expressed by contributors on Ghanaweb?s SIL it appears he echoed the experience of many, many sons and daughters of Africa who?s ever had some form of sojourn in the advanced countries.

As always, such experience ? especially for the first time, engenders feelings of patriotism and raises a number of questions bordering on why the situation is so different and appears to be worsening in Africa.

One cannot help but ask ? ?is something wrong with the African?? Maybe the question should have been ? ?is something wrong with African leadership?? I do not know your bet on that, but for me there must be something wrong somewhere!

Each and everyone of us, as sons and daughters of the motherland need to realize that for African leadership to carry on with this business as usual attitude is a sure recipe for disaster in our homeland, hence the cry for the new type African Leader. In this quest, one group of people who could do the present and unborn generations a huge favor is the journalist. Their role in information dissemination, opinion shaping and in the setting of standards of conduct plays a critical part in getting as many people as possible to break away from age old traditions and join this struggle for change

The Importance Of Being ?Baptized? Every citizen of our great African continent who has traveled outside the homeland or to other continents must have experienced this ?baptism of the Mind?. It is this ?baptism? which fuels the kind of feature article as mentioned above. http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=66997

The meaning of this ?baptism? is well known to our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. We use to say ? Travel And See! It instills a sense of patriotism as well as generates unquenchable thirst for change here in Africa. If only it were possible to ?baptize? every African!

But one does not always need to burn the hand in order to learn lessons. The experience of others can be put to use. In the same way the zeal and desire for change emanating from the ?baptism? of our ?been-to? brothers and sisters can be harnessed. Join this zeal up with the critical role of the journalist and we have a potent agent for change at hand!

Effecting Change In Africa My dear friend Albion Jr. Mends, recently circulated a mail which sought to have answers to:

why people "talk, talk" when they are in the Diaspora and then when they go back home, they join the same old story Saaaa? Nothing changes. What happens to the "talk, talk?"

In response I wrote the following: Why people "talk talk" and nothing changes? Of course, you are talking about CHANGE. Human experience has shown that every attempt to effect C H A N G E generates maximum resistance. This is why I believe CHANGE is easier from the top (Dictatorial Approach) and near impossible from below. Of course, it is common sense that CHANGE is most difficult to manage and the powers that be wouldn't want the boat to be rocked. Hence the near-impossibility to manage change from below.

As we all know, people from the Diaspora come in as middle level leaders/managers. Those who do come in to the very top positions do have the best chance of effecting positive change. Does it mean that if we have somebody from the Diaspora coming in as the Chief Executive of Corporate Ghana he could make the most impact? Maybe Yes - because we have seen the example in the first republic in the personality of Dr Kwame Nkrumah. And maybe No - because other African nations who had such "latter-day saints" did not make the desired impact. It all will depend on the leadership qualities of the individuals concerned and on What Motivates Them!!!

Is it impossible to effect positive change from below? Certainly No! But it will take much more effort. It will take building a network of like minded people in many places to lobby power brokers, educate to win ordinary folks to our side and galvanize them into a force to reckon with - a force to say NO to Business As Usual! Because this approach depends largely on ordinary folks saying "we are sick and tired of being sick and tired" (to quote you), it stands the risk of things turning nasty, and one is likely to be branded "a trouble maker", "a revolutionary" or "a rebel".

Change From the Bottom What I wish to propose is a new approach to effecting the desired change in Africa. In this proposal two main ingredients are key to its success, namely ? ?Baptized? Africans committing resources to ?baptize? selected African journalists and give them the exposure and unbiased ?brain-wash? so that they will stand for the facts and for the truth no matter what. They will need to understand the role they have to play so that they do not become the ?agents? of shrewd politicians. Maybe if we look hard enough, we will find individuals for this task who will look not at the material gain but the satisfaction of knowing that he/she is fighting a good cause. The exposure and education of these agents of change is very important because as can be seen from the GNA feature article, what has been commonplace experience and standard elsewhere for decades was new and a pleasant surprise for the writer. From the write-up, this ?baptism? is likely to influence his perceptions and future writing.

? Baptized African journalist waging a relentless war on poor leadership. This will entail enlightening people to understand that o The end we are seeking is improved living standards for all o Leadership is about making life less cumbersome for the law abiding, and not a cheap means to comfortable life for politicians and their cronies. In fact, the state of affairs in the motherland demands a lean Government, for every cedi counts! For a period of time this machinery ought to be stripped of all parasitic entities. The ?free this and free that? mentality must end! o Democracy is not an end in itself, it is only a means to that end o Insisting on decentralization will hasten the journey to the end o We are one people ? and not enemies, aiming at a common end o Unity of purpose requires every Ghanaian to support this effort and that we cannot afford to alienate even 10% of the people as opposition o We need leaders who are humbled by the task ahead and see beyond narrow partisan and tribal politics ? where winner takes all o The indiscipline in our society is nothing but lack of leadership o Aspiring leaders must be ready to sacrifice ? even their life for the nation o That failures in our society has little to do with political parties, it has all to do with human failures and so individual qualities has to be appraised at elections and not empty slogans by parties. o The need to build reliable systems based on principles and not around personalities, no matter who is involved. The nation is BIGGER than parties or individuals and its interest should Reign Paramount!

The list can go on and on and on! These ?baptized? agents of Change could drum home this message all over the nation, from the cottages to the cities, from the primary schools to the universities. By helping set much higher standards, the society at large will begin to expect better from our leaders. The lip service will hopefully then stop. The ?gutter politrics? will hopefully come to an end. Many questions may arise from this arrangement. For example ? what if the press houses refuse to publish these agents, what if they refuse to go back home after their ?baptism?, what if?.. what if?.!

Well, we cannot sit on the fence and watch the unfolding drama of misrule on the continent unconcerned. We would have taken a first step on a 1000 mile journey. May God help us.

Wanted: A NEW TYPE AFRICAN LEADER!


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.