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The Issue of Leadership Pt.2

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  • The Issue of Leadership Pt.2

    Whether that external power is called the law, the masses, the majority, the party, the nation, the common good, or even God (where God or Allah or Oludumare or the Supreme Being is a separate entity from the Self), there is always a person or a group of people who claim to have some kind of special relationship with that external power, which qualifies them as your representative. They say that as your leader, they can represent your interests far better than you can, either as an individual or as a group. That is a lie. No other entity can represent your interests better than you can.

    Expectation


    We are disillusioned and disappointed with our leaders because what we expect of them can not be delivered. Since, as the song says, "expectation is the mother of disappointment", we end up with a mother of a problem.

    The problem is not just how much is expected but what is expected. Most African people expect a leader to be someone who knows best, has all the answers, makes all the right decisions for us, leads the way and tells us exactly what is the right thing to do at the right time. When that does not happen we blame the leader for not living up to our expectations. Expectations which we knew in advance in our hearts could not be satisfied.

    We are disillusioned and disappointed with our leaders because what we expect of them can not be delivered.
    That kind of cop-out attitude, the Messiah mentality, is an abrogation of our responsibility for and obligation to ourselves, our children and our children's children. It also places a burden on those unfortunate individuals, which no human being alive can carry and no Ancestor could accept, the responsibility to everything for you.

    But what about those individuals who do not seek the mantle of leadership yet have it placed on their heads? I hear you ask.
    Can we get away with blaming those who have leadership thrust upon them, for grabbing it or reluctantly embracing it? The leader is as much entrapped as the follower. We cannot blame the reluctant leader for wearing the crown that is placed on her or his head. Nor can we blame the megalomaniacs for chasing down leadership. A leader without followers is like an ocean without water. So it is the followers, people like you and 1, who make leaders, (who are themselves people like you and I, albeit with a specifically different character defect).


    The fact that there are leaders at all is down to their followers. Global Europe (White people), through their media, could offer us any number of individuals such as Garry Franks, USA, Nelson Mandela, South Africa (Azania), Bernie Grant, UK, Eugenia Charles, Dominica, to name but a very few, but whether they are leaders or not depends entirely on our acceptance of them as such.

    "Some people", according to Dr. Molefe Kete Asante, "declare: 'I'm a leader' for their own ego's sake, but they have no followers. So you're right. Followership really determines whether or not that person's a leader. Take the US, for example, the press give us the names of people who they say are our leaders. But none of these people can attract as many people as Louis Farrakhan, who can bring 50,000 people out to hear him talk. The people that the press would make you believe are our leaders can't do that."

    Teacher

    The best qualities of a leader, which everybody seem to agree on, are the ability to lead and to make decisions on behalf of their followers. The greatest qualities of a teacher are to inspire in the student the desire and the ability to learn and the need to question everything, even that which he or she teaches.

    Some of these teachers come to accept, albeit reluctantly, the label and paraphernalia of 'leader' and in time, begin to act in the repressive, domineering manner that a leader is expected to behave, eventually commanding obedience without question from their followers. Where as a leader, questions are seen as undermining their authority, and attempts to debate are seen as acts of insubordination therefore forbidden or at least discouraged, as a teacher, he or she encourages questioning and debate.

    Of course, there are many teachers who are also called leaders because of the fact that a lot of people follow their example, adhere to their teachings and, in some cases, even choose to serve them. Their generosity of spirit, their immense capabilities, their willingness to teach others what they know and the exemplary way in which they live their lives is what attracts people to them. In the face of great temptation to mislead, they continue as teachers, doing the works which they know must be done, with no desire whatsoever to lead anyone anywhere. Such teachers, remaining true to the POS principle, refuse to wear the crown of leadership or accept the "benefits" and privileges which accrue from it. They also refrain from encouraging or assisting anyone to relinquish their responsibility for themselves.

    A leader without followers is like an ocean without water.
    But most followers true to their conditioning, would not want to be treated with mutual reverence by those they see as their leaders. If they are not treated as they would expect followers to be treated, they soon abandon such a teacher and continue searching for a "real" leader.


    Kwame Ture
    , one of our greatest living political teachers, would say: "We don't need leaders, we need organizations". His organization, the All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party, is not necessarily the model of organization for all African people but, he says, we must all either join an existing organization or, if we cannot find one which suits us, which speaks our language, form our own. He says: "A bad organization is better than no organization at all." With the greatest respect for the elder Brother, I can't agree with that. But whether it is true or not, we can deal with the question of organiztions later. It is clear to me, however, that no leadership at all is preferable to bad leadership, and self determination is better by far than the best leadership. Freedom is kinder than the most benign enslavement.


    On the question of whether we need leaders or not, nearly everyone interviewed said: "Yes, we do need leaders". A notable exception, along with Kwame Ture, was Ntum Lester Lewis, who said: "The question is not one of lack of leadership but lack of organization. This question of lack of organization was identified by Marcus Garvey and it is still the problem which faces us today."


    Dr. Mwadilifu on the other hand was most emphatic. He said: "That is a bogus statement," referring to the question's inference that we do not need leaders. "Human nature requires leadership and we're no different from any other people."

    No leadership at all is preferable to bad leadership and self-determination is better by far than the best leadership
    Garvey

    The greatest leader of the twentieth century, of any nation.

    There have been many great teachers who have fallen prey to the hypnotic, intoxicating attraction of the noble idea of being the person who would lead our nation out of bondage. Many of those teachers who have assumed the role of leader, such as the incomparable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, managed in the process to do some great things and inspire generations of revolutionary teachers who in their turn helped to determine the course of history. People like Elijah Muhammad, Kwame Nkrumah and many, many more, including the great non-African teachers Ho Chi Min and Mahatma Ghandi, were all inspired by Garvey, who was arguably, the greatest leader of the twentieth century, of any nation. A distinction which, it can also be argued, was his greatest failing.

    As a leader, Garvey did what every great and not-so-great leader would do, have done and do do. He surrounded himself with lesser beings and sycophants to ensure that there was no one close enough to him who was able to challenge and defeat him as leader.

    Apart from the fact that Garvey, as a teacher, reached into the core of the African psyche and articulated many of our thoughts, our deepest feelings, our aspirations, his success as a leader was partly due to his ability to consolidate and protect his position from other potential and aspiring leaders within his organisation.

    It was failure on his part as a teacher, not to have nurtured in his followers that element of self-determination which would have made it possible for any of the six million members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) to be able to replace him and fulfil his functions as a teacher when Global Europe moved against him and left his people leaderless to flounder in the ocean of hope, waiting for another Messiah.

    It is a wicked irony that Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who as a teacher stressed the importance of organizations, as a means of guaranteeing the continuation of the struggle into future generations, was not able to leave behind such an organization capable of continuing with his great works.

    Whereas the quest of a teacher is to produce a student that is her or his better the quest of a leader is not to produce a follower who is her or his better or even their equal. That is why after the death or elimination of a great leader there is usually a vacuum which takes, in most cases, many generations to fill.
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