By Cletus George
As a series of political elections line the horizon of Africa’s political landscape come 2023, there is need to examine the necessary dynamics of politics and leadership in Africa.
This is especially because of grave worries, in the recent times, as to whether Africa will ever get it right in the domain of political electioneering and the conduct of credible, free and fair elections to usher in accountable and responsive leaders who are largely the people’s choices. In large part, we shall have the Sierra Leonean, Swazi, Zimbabwean, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gambian, Liberian, Malagasy presidential, Mauritanian parliamentary, Nigerian and South Sudanese general elections in 2023. In the case of Nigeria, for instance, as the nation heads to the polls come February and March 2023, to elect new members of the government – President and Vice President, Governors, members of the National Assembly, as well as State Houses of Assembly – there are many questions arising that sequentially, beg for answers.
Will the elections be rancour free? Will they be devoid of otherwise intrigues of violence, ballot box and papers snatching, general thuggery, unrest, wanton killings, destruction of property and widespread electoral malpractices?
These germane concerns which have repeatedly bedeviled electoral processes in Nigeria, since independence and over the years, naturally illicit various discourses across board at the national, state and local levels of the intelligentsia and media channels, throughout the country.
Hence an attempt is made to reconsider and evaluate the chances there are for free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria, under the present dispensation of the out-going Muhammadu Buhari led government.
Incidentally, without quality leadership in human society or in any endeavor involving a multiplicity of persons, the driving battery and healthy ambiance for success is critically deficient. No matter the quality of talents and abilities in the team, in the absence of quality leadership, neither the drive, harmony of purpose nor required thrust in the mission and goal expected to be achieved is possible.
In this situation, efforts will be scattered and wasted, resulting in progressive paralysis and unavoidable frustrations of the mission. In the midst of this bedevilling and crowding negatives, mistrust often arises where any interests at all are involved. Silent contests of authority and disharmony in approach, limit drive and passion in participation. Even if a measure of success is achieved eventually, the negatives from deficiency in leadership drastically cut down the level of success and the level of benefits to all participants. The resulting disappointments, trigger higher possibility of pockets of conflict and intense rivalry cum skewed interrelationships among participants. Obvious losses incurred further undercut the capacity for continuance of the mission. In this circumstance, outright sabotage of common interests by removal of any further investment and residues of resources for survival of the project often occurs by members forced by circumstance to remain in the team.
Sub-alliances often hatch for diversion or misappropriation of essential resources from doubts on the end result. If deficiency in leadership persists, such selfishness grows and higher index of probability of structural failure if not total project collapse, spell doom for the entire dream. Is this not the most common African Political story?
“My people perish for lack of knowledge!” is a popular attribution recorded in the book of the Alpha Omega. Mostly, the absence of progress and success in socio political settings, result principally from ignorance and lack of clear notions guaranteeing success in the roles and functions of Leadership in the affairs of nations, communities, institutions and organizations. Absence of precision knowledge guaranteeing collective success, invite the birthing of mental cloaks and cults of corrosive alternative principles for individual success within the leadership caucus, which may easily grow into the operational culture of leadership in a socio economic environment, thus resulting in persistent socio economic tragedies. Who would choose to brand themselves as thieves if success can be guaranteed to excess enough to legally and even of right claim even superior remuneration and resources from the quantum of success and profits achieved? This is not a probability. From the foregoing therefore, knowledge of the bedrock principles of leadership, may rapidly or even automatically discourage and reduce the tendency for corruption within a leadership caucus, especially when they become common knowledge.
Leadership Benchmark: Principles of Quality Leadership
The Fundamental principles of quality Leadership are identical in all settings and working relationships; from home and business to socio economy and politics. Quality Leadership must ensure and take responsibility for the following:
- Establishment of a clear organogram of hierarchy of authorities in the major and every sub grouping and mission committee; Establishment of clear definition and demarcation of functions and purviews of every entity and sub- entity/functionary/subordinates. (Purviews have to do with the major and minor reaches of activities and responsibilities within a function). This list must be clearly defined.
- Establishment of a regular and standard system of reporting;
- Establishment of a regular and standard performance appraisal system run on predefined layout; Establishment of clear principles of interrelationship and behaviour within the establishment. (Some functions and functionaries may be bound by extraordinary rules of behaviour, even down to interdiction of social contact. In long term engagement such rules should be spelt out in writing as basic instructions.
- Definition of areas and dimensions of functions left to the discretion of a functionary are spelt out;
- Assurance of security within the establishment and entire entity, as fundamental to success;
- Assurance of adequate welfare;
- Establishment of cordiality and mutual respect as basic principles of interrelationship and behaviour among functionaries;
- Establishment of adequate meaningful and commensurate remuneration for all categories of functionaries;
- Establishment of the pursuit of excellence, focus, passion and probity as fundamental tenets evident especially at the apex of leadership;
- Establishment of punctuality as a basic factor to success;
- Establishment of truth and sincerity as bedrock principles of engagement within the entity;
- Establishment of endurance, continuity and durability assuring systems within the entity, such as constant detailed documentation of activities and engagements, coupled with easy access referencing machinery.
In brief, the components of effective leadership include the following attributes which a leader must possess and seek to instil as character elements in his co-travellers in the core leadership as well as groups and committee leaderships: passion for success, punctuality, sincerity, probity and accountability, focus and determination to succeed. Added to these the effective leader must assure security of and within the institution and adequate welfare for his team, mutual respect and adequate remuneration. He must give clear and firm direction and ensure clear definition and demarcation of functions and responsibilities and clear administrative hierarchy. These are driving elements of quality leadership.
It is the further responsibility of leadership to establish and imbibe these quality leadership principles in his team, as rails upon which effective management and administration are assured and success guaranteed in the pursuits and project occupations of the entity. The depth, accuracy and immediacy required in active leadership function demand that practical reminder practices of repeated listening to lectures and studying literature on the subject; bearing in mind that most human learning and perfection of abilities is by conscious robotic repetition by which they eventually become instinctive and automatic attributes of the team. Investment of brief periods of time for study is all that is required.
Africa Ancient Leadership Disposition and Dispensations
Where did Africa begin to get it Wrong?
To understand the rather estranging dynamics of leadership misrule in Africa, there is an ardent need to dig into the past in order to unearth the secrets to the numerous successes that were the necessary hallmarks and characteristics of political leadership in some ancient African nations, empires and kingdoms that heralded the likes of Mansa Kankan Musa of the Mali kingdom, (the richest man ever) Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Pharaoh Thuthmose of Egypt, King Behanzin of the Kingdom of Dahomey, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Patrice Lumumba of Congo as well as Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso. These were all populist, exemplary, committed and people-oriented leaders.
In all the discourses of ancient scientific and political dispensations, there is abundant evidence that Africa was once a leader and cradle of principal aspects of human growth and development, as well as being ahead of some and at par with other countries of the world in the structural, political and socio economic status of their civilizations. Among African paragons of ancient civilizations, the Kingdom of Benin in Nigeria and the Ancient Kingdom of Dahomey in today’s Benin Republic, are still living references to the grandeur and sophistication of African leadership in construction, regal costumes and administrative excellence, much of which have been denied merited quality reference by the omission of African media and socio-political enterprises.
What this essentially captures is the undeniable fact that we need to wake up and take up the responsibility to adequately and prominently publish, lecture and teach about the proud leadership status of the African continent in our educational institutions, schools and professional lectures and writings, for the eventual restoration of our dignity and commercial prosperity that flourished and was witnessed in times past.
Most published and significant documentaries and writing parading institutions of learning and media across the world, are compositions emanating from the very foreign institutions, agencies and personalities that seek to portray Africa in a lesser light and status than themselves, for the advantages of popular perception of socio-cultural superiority and cultural wealth possessions for revenues from tourism and trade. Most of these foreign documentaries therefore suppress the evidences that many aspects of modem society, politics and socio-economy by which the world is driven today, were borrowed from the continent of Africa.
These false propaganda and portrayal of Africa needs correcting and it is the business of Africans and African governments and business agencies to vigorously and consciously engage in these occupations and commerce, for the benefits of our dignity and prosperity from dimensions of wealth generating from cultural trade.
For impressive evidences of the actual status of the African continent in the context outlay of world socio political dispensations, let us look at a few of the African paragons of structural and administrative magnificence, now buried in the sands of time and seeming never to have existed even in the ancient times when they flourished as dominions of leadership excellence.
The Ancient Kingdom of Benin and the Great Wall of the Kingdom of Benin
The ancient kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin) existed in the parallel period of existence of the ancient kingdom of Persia, signifying that Africa was developing at the pace as the ancient civilizations wherever on earth. How impressive are the structures, the building technologies, and building culture in the heart of Africa in such distant ancient times. Africans should therefore hold their heads high wherever they are on earth in the knowledge that there is no culture anywhere on earth that is more ancient or superior to our African origins. We have earlier observed that Mansa Kanka Musa of Ancient Mali Empire is historically recognized world-wide to be the richest man ever on earth. He was an African!
Mansa Musa’s empire was the most civilized culture in the world of that time. The Mali empire was far advanced than Spain, Europe’s most advanced nation at the time. European nations looked up to Mali during this era. The reversals of status evident in recent history is obviously the result of aggressions on the territory and politics of Africa in the course of time, mostly by savage western civilizations, taking advantage of the hospitality of the African culture by nature, his friendship and his trust. This by no means infers weakness on the part of Africans, nor confers on the aggressors character profiles they can ever be proud of in the modem socio cultural era. In fact, betrayal of trust and hospitality is utterly shameful and demeaning. Following are images of the progressive destruction of the African socio culture, dignity, and pride by the crude savagery of western foreigners welcomed into Africa by the kindness and natural hospitality of our African forefathers which abuse persisted until total dispossession of all wealth and dignity down to the baseness of shackles and chains of slavery.
Deliberate, Relentless, Calculated Cutting Down of African’s as Labourers in Slave Economies
Over the course of three centuries, more than 500,000 Africans were sold into slavery through Badagry and the Gold Coast.
Badagry Slave Route: Slaves passed five notable stops on their journey of no return From the 16th Century till its abolition in 1886, the coastal town of Badagry, now a part of Lagos State, was the final point of departure for indigenes who were sold into slavery. Decades ago, millions from the hinterland were bundled into ships and delivered to traders in European and American markets. Today, it has become a destination for tourists who want a slice of its well-preserved ties to the transatlantic slave trade. Some
of these structures were important steps on what is now known as “the journey of no return”
Here are 5 important points on the Badagry slave route. These are:
1. Mobee Family House and Slave Relics Museum:
History has told us that the coast of West Africa was a fertile area for slavers in the
1800s because the rulers, chiefs, and warriors collaborated with the foreigners to
capture their own people.
At the height of the trade in Badagry, the white cap Chief Sunbu Mobee traded many of his people with the Portuguese in exchange for valuables. This dark reputation was tied to the family until his son ascended the Mobee throne and abolished the trade in 1886.
Today, the relics of the family’s participation in slavery and many of the tools used to capture and hold captives can be found in the Mobee Family Slave Relics Museum, which sits at the top of Mobee Street in Badagry.
2. Gberefu Island:
The Island, founded in the 15th Century, is geographically, a part of Badagry. However, due to its prime position between the hinterland and the ocean, Gberefu became a dreaded path to the Point of No Return. Slave traders and warriors under the charge of Chief Sunbu Mobee also captured inhabitants of the Island, young and old, and put them on the path that their home was already feared for.
Reports of the time claim that as many as half a million people were sold into slavery
from Gberefu between 1518 and 1880. Today, the Island is a sandy beach enclave, untouched.
3. Spirit Attenuation Well:
Spirituality was a major element of the slave trade, especially in Badagry. Along the path in Gberefu Island, there sits a well bordered by a small wall that discourages anyone from drinking from it.
During the slave trade, the well is said to have been charmed by shamans and chiefs. Slaves on their way to the Americas were given water from the well to forget their home and cut their psychological ties to Badagry. It is said that the water would take effect 3 months into the journey, supposedly leaving the slave with no connection to anything but the lives they had been sold into. The locals claim that no one has drunk from the well in over a century.
4. The Ocean Path:
From the point of their capture, African slaves were grouped by gender and age and
shackled with a repulsive assortment of chains.
They were led along the path from Gberefu to the Spirit Well but their captive reality
mostly set in when they got on the final phase, on the path to the ocean. With the wet breeze of the Atlantic bearing down on them, the slaves would walk in
lines along dusty footpaths, bordered by shrubs and palm trees. Home was in the background; before them lay the final phase of a damning journey
5. The Point of No Return:
For all the trauma of their experiences and the agony of their journey from home, the Point of No Return was the place where African slaves were finally confronted with their future as slaves.
Here, at the shores of the Atlantic, the captives were handed over to the Europeans. As the name suggests, it is said that anyone who made it to this point had no chance of returning home.
It was here at the edge of a place they called home that the slaves would see a lingering of the bloody price they had to pay for the color of their skin. All the dehumanisation that took place during the slave trade era, went to a large extent to create a feeling of inferiority complex among Africans especially south of the Sahara.
Our leaders, must of necessity, endeavour to now stand up firmly and deliberately attempt to assert that as Africans, we are as a specially endowed people that must chart a prosperous future for our nations and people individually, and collectively. This is by showing a greater interest in the overall welfare of the people, beyond all other mundane considerations of mindless wealth acquisition and accumulation that often occasions acts of despotism, tyranny, and oppression of our own people to the disdain of the whole world. And whether the leaders accept the blunt fact or not, this has, invariably, made many of the errant dictatorial leaders in Africa, a laughing stock in the comity of nations.
African Atlantis, Eye of the Sahara, a Demonstration of Africa’s Uniqueness
For millennia, the Eye of the Sahara was hiding in plain sight. That is because this huge and mysterious geologic formation is hard to spot from ground level, walking around on Earth.
It turns out that we really discovered this incredible bulls-eye in the sand only when we began sending humans into space. But even now that we have found it, scientists don’t fully understand it.
The Eye of the Sahara, more formally known as the Richat structure, is in the Western Sahara Desert in Mauritania. On the ground, it is about 25 miles across.
They were particularly asked to look out for and quote any large circular features which might be the roots of impact structures, and quote according to the text accompanying a set of photographs published from the mission. Impact craters are geologically important because they tell us about the history of Earth. Also, knowing how many times space rocks have crashed into our planet can help scientists make predictions about the future.
And for a while, scientists did think that the Eye of the Sahara was an impact crater. But they didn’t find enough melted rock to make that guess hold water. Current theories suggest a much more complicated story behind this incredible natural formation.
The main ring structure of the Eye is the eroded remains of what was once a dome of layers of the Earth’s crust. Following the current theory on how it formed, scientists still have questions about the Eye of the Sahara, but two Canadian geologists have a working theory about its origins.
They think that the Eye’s formation began more than 100 million years ago, as the supercontinent Pangaea was ripped apart by plate tectonics and what are now Africa and South America were being torn away from each other.
Molten rock pushed up toward the surface but didn’t make it all the way, creating a dome of rock layers, like a very large pimple. This also created fault lines circling and crossing the Eye. The molten rock also dissolved limestone near the centre of the Eye, which collapsed to form a special type of rock called breccia. A little after 100 million years ago, the Eye erupted violently. That collapsed the bubble partway, and erosion did the rest of the work to create the Eye of the Sahara that we know today. The rings are made of different types of rock that eroded at different speeds. The paler circle near the centre of the Eye is volcanic rock created during that explosion.
Modem astronauts are fond of the Eye because so much of the Sahara Desert is an unbroken sea of sand. The Eye is one of the few breaks in the monotony, and now it has become a key landmark for them.
Some people believe that the Eye of the Sahara is actually the remains of the city of Atlantis, which Plato described as concentric rings of water and land. But if you ask us, the geological history of what this formation reveals is way more interesting.
The Blue Eye of the Sahara, also known as the Richat Structure or the Guelb er Richat, is a geological formation in the Sahara Desert that resembles an enormous bull’s eye. The formation stretches across a 40 kilometre-wide region of the desert in the nation of Mauritania.
Key Takeaways: The Eye of the Sahara
The Eye of the Sahara, also known as the Richat Structure, is a geologic dome containing rocks that predate the appearance of life on Earth.
The Eye resembles a blue bull’s eye and is located in Western Sahara. It is visible from space and has been used as a visual landmark by astronauts.
Geologists believe that the Eye’s formation began when the supercontinent Pangaea started to pull apart.
For centuries, only a few local nomadic tribes knew about the formation. It was first photographed in the 1960s by the Gemini astronauts, who used it as a landmark to track the progress of their landing sequences. Later, the Landsat satellite took additional images and provided information about the size, height, and extent of the formation. Geologists originally believed that Eye of the Sahara was an impact crater, created when an object from space slammed into the surface. However, lengthy studies of the rocks inside the structure show that its origins are entirely Earth-based.
A Unique Geological Wonder Geologists have concluded that the Eye of the Sahara is a geologic dome. The formation contains rocks that are at least 100 million years old; some date back to well before the appearance of life on Earth. These rocks include igneous (volcanic) deposits as well as sedimentary layers that formed as the wind pushesd layers of dust and water deposits sand and mud. Today, geologists can find several types of igneous rock in the area of the eye, including kimberlite, carbonatites, black basalts (similar to what can be seen in the Big Island of Hawaii), and rhyolites.
Millions of years ago, volcanic activity from deep beneath the Earth’s surface lifted the entire landscape around the Eye. These regions were not deserts, as they are today. Instead, they were likely much more temperate, with abundant flowing water. Layered sandstone rocks were deposited by blowing winds and on the bottoms of lakes and rivers during the temperate season. The subsurface volcanic flow eventually pushed up the overlying layers of sandstone and other rocks. After the volcanism died down, wind and water erosion began to eat away at the domed layers of rock. The region began to settle down and collapse in on itself, creating the roughly circular quot; eye quot feature.
Traces of Pangaea
The ancient rocks within the Eye of the Sahara have provided researchers with information about its origins. The earliest formation of the Eye began when the supercontinent Pangaea began to pull apart. As Pangaea broke up, the Atlantic Ocean waters began to flow into the region.
While Pangaea was slowly pulling apart, magma from deep beneath the surface began to push up from the Earth’s mantle, which formed a circle shaped rocky dome surrounded by layers of sandstone. As erosion took its toll on the igneous rocks and sandstones, and as the dome subsided, circular ridges were left behind, giving the Richat Structure its sunken circular shape.
Today, the eye is somewhat sunken below the level of the surrounding landscapes.
Seeing the Eye Western Sahara no longer has the temperate conditions that existed during the Eye’s formation. However, it is possible to visit the dry, sandy desert that the Eye of the Sahara calls home—but it is not a luxurious trip. Travellers must first gain access to a Mauritanian visa and find a local sponsor.
Once admitted, tourists are advised to make local travel arrangements. Some entrepreneurs offer airplane rides or hot air balloon trips over the Eye, giving visitors a birds-eye view. The Eye is located near the town of Oudane, which is a car ride away from the structure, and there is even a hotel inside the Eye.
The Future of the Eye
The Eye of the Sahara attracts both tourists and geologists who flock to the Eye to study the unique geological feature in person. However, because the Eye is located in a sparsely inhabited region of the desert with very little water or rainfall, it is not under much threat from humans. That leaves the Eye open to the vagaries of nature. The ongoing effects of erosion threaten the landscape, just as they do other places on the planet.
Desert winds may well bring more dunes to the region, particularly as climate change causes increased desertification in the area. It is quite possible that, in the distant future, the Eye of the Sahara will be inundated with sand and dust.
What all of the forgoing means is that Africa is a unique continent with very rich cultural and historical heritages that are largely intrinsic. It only behoves on Africa’s leaders to know and take this uniqueness to heart and start toeing the path of distinctiveness with regards to our special characteristics as a people. And this should be in contrast to the rather simplistic tendencies at copying, hook, line and sinker what is not African in terms of political leadership systems and types of government that should be adopted and practiced by them holistically and intrinsically.
They should all begin to replicate the originality of the ancient kingdoms of Egypt, Mali, Dahomey and Benin kingdoms which were once the allure of the world, and a standard of measure in world civilization.