AABLA (All Africa Business Leadership Awards) in partner with CNBC Acceptance Speech: Lifetime Achievement Award
By Dr Reuel J. Khoza I 4 June 2022
A Brief Reflection on Africa’s Leadership Challenge
In order to clearly conceptualise Africa’s contemporary Leadership Challenge it behoves us to acknowledge unequivocally that Africa has a date with destiny. Stemming from that acceptance we must proceed to develop and sharpen our own sense of destiny, craft and articulate a compelling vision, reinvent our action plan and proceed to implement it as a matter of urgency. And as we do this we must heed William Jennings Bryan advise that “Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
From my vantage point the Africa I would like to see realised is one whose scope for growth and development is limited only by it’s imagination. I exhort us to actively promote an Africa whose thinking leaders are nurtured by our wholesome constitutional principles and insatiable inquiry. The kind of Africa I envision is one whose airwaves and media are dominated by issues of national and continental concern, images and aspirations. Our leadership needs to behave in a manner that redefines the term “emergent” from a notion of condescension and derision to a term of economic, political and cultural vibrancy and technological prowess deserving unconditional international respect. The Africa I dream of is one that seeks and employs the advice, skills, technology and resources of others for own ends and to a chosen destination and not to serve the agenda of others whose intents and designs may be inimical to Africa’s well-being.
Those who support Africa can help and encourage us, but in the final analysis, Africa will be the instrument of her own salvation. It is through her own transformational leadership that Africa will develop itself.
The defining features of the leadership I envisage are probity, integrity, compassion and humanness. It is leadership that stands for truth and affirmation of the good, and whose primary pursuit is noble causes and the common good. Africa’s leadership must perforce demonstrate competence, tenacity, and a sense of efficacy.
I yearn for African leadership that practises introspection and self-renewal and lives by the tenets of consultation, persuasion, accommodation, and coexistence; shunning coercion and domination. Through moral suasion such leadership will generate trust, goodwill and confidence and it will be politically and personally as gracious, honourable and magnanimous in defeat as it will be in success. It will appreciate that the success of others does not diminish its own but adds to the commonwealth. Such leadership will strive to bridge the schisms and cleavages wrought by religious, tribal, social, ideological, economic and political diversity which characterise so much of contemporary Africa. This leadership will deeply believe that the locus of control for Africa’s future is within Africa herself and will be as visionary as it will be compassionate.
It behoves us to heed the dictum nothing in life stands still. Individuals, organisations, nations, even continents cannot stand still because they are all in the process of becoming. Becoming an anachronism irrelevant to future or behaving as harbingers of an inevitable future which they must help shape. The choice is ours.