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The Issue of Leadership Pt.3

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  • The Issue of Leadership Pt.3

    In the case of a great teacher, there are usually, even during her or his own lifetime, a number of students who would be greater exponents of the particular discipline than the teacher ever was.


    The right to information is one of our basic human rights. Information is the raw material of enlightenment, which is one of the three fundamental human needs, along with nourishment (food, drink, medicine, etc.) and shelter (clothes, protection from the elements, etc.). Providing we have access to the relevant information, we will always make the right decision for ourselves, regardless what others may think of our decisions.

    In a society which trades information as a commodity, not as a right, the leader is usually someone who has information or access to information, which, inevitably, they use to give them an advantage over the rest of us. Any information which is likely to threaten their position, even where it would clearly increase the power of the people, would be kept from the people. It should not be surprising that cabinet meetings, executive meetings, "high level" negotiations and other such conspiracies are all secret affairs which always exclude the people they are supposed to be about. Anyone who will only discuss your business in your absence is not dealing with your business in your interest.

    Even though the vast majority of our people believe that we need some kind of leadership in order for us to function as a nation, the exact opposite appears to be true. Human beings appear to function better, be more productive, have more harmonious relationships and make greater progress as communities, when information is open and available to all; when decisions are made collectively, instead of by executive cliques or leaders; when individual initiative and responsibility are encouraged, respected and rewarded as a matter of collective policy and everyone of us are actively teaching each other.

    We could not have the slaughter of the Ogoni people by the Nigerian hoodlum government and the Shell Corporation or the genocidal attack on the Tutsi people in Rwanda by the gangster government on behalf of Global Europe, if the people themselves were in control, if they were not being directed by "leaders".

    Aspiring leaders will spend most of their time competing against one another to reduce or negate each other's best qualities and perceived advantages, while as teachers, much of our time is spent learning, building and increasing each other's knowledge.


    Leadership and self-determination are irreconcilable contradictions
    With the mass export of "democracy", (the latest Global Europe export commodity in the exploitation war), many Global Africans (Black people) are now feeling proud and elated that we have finally had the opportunity in South Africa (Azania) for example, to officially give up control of our lives by voting.

    I have nothing against Nelson Mandela and little doubt about his, and maybe one or two of his comrades', sincerity. They mean well, but even with the best will in the world, how can a man (or woman) who lives in a mansion with every single one of her or his needs catered for by any number of people and makes secret deals with former (?) enemies, represent the interests of a person who cannot even afford to feed her or his child?

    I had nothing against Nelson Mandela when this article was first written at the beginning of 1994 and I still don't. The man is only doing what he thinks is in his best interest. But I am angry. I am angry at myself and all those millions of Africans world wide who did not pay attention to or question what he was really saying as a teacher but accepted him as a leader instead because our enemies told us he was a great leader.

    Giving someone else the right to make decisions on our behalf may free us from the burden of possibly making the wrong decisions but it also removes any possibility of us making the right decisions for ourselves. It does not make us freer. If we retain the right to make and execute all decisions about our lives we also retain the right to correct our own mistakes.

    Some of our people see the dangers inherent in relinquishing our power to another person, so they propose safeguards for leaders to be made accountable to the community. "In most cases," says Haile Gerima, (see GAP News #5) "our intelligentsia, who have historically articulated the struggles, the pain and the interests of the people, sometimes opt for the easy, personal material gains and they have not been able to combine the personal needs with the collective interests. So in the years to come we have to make this class of people accountable to the community. And if [when] they are not accountable they must be displaced."

    But none of these "safeguards", including regular elections, threats of premature removal from office, auditing of books, even possible execution for malpractice, actually give the people more control over our lives. They may restrict the scope and depth of possible misrepresentation and misappropriation by the leaders but, they also remove the freedom of the individual "leader" to be a self-determinate member of the community, if at all that is likely.

    The Way Forward

    It is clear to me that leadership and self-determination are irreconcilable contradictions. They are incompatible rs and like all such mismatches, someone always ends up getting shafted. Guess who!

    Before I am accused of trying to destroy our nation or to discredit the great works of some of our "leaders" and leader-based groups and organizations, let me put the record straight. I am not saying that little or nothing has been achieved by leaders. On the contrary. I salute all of them and their immeasurable contributions in their capacity as teachers and where they have been positive role models as examples to follow. I am however, saying that those great things were, and still are, being achieved in spite of, not because of, the leaders. Maybe greater things would have been possible if those leaders employed and exhibited their more valuable teacher qualities, which undoubtedly they must have had, as primary assets.

    Nor am I suggesting that Global African people should abandon wholesale our respective leaders or make a hasty exit from whatever organizations we happen to be members of. No. I recognize that some teachers live aspects of their lives in a manner which, if we were to follow, our whole nation would benefit. But not everything they do would be beneficial to our nation. We must look closely at what all our people do and commend or criticize, accept or reject as appropriate, take the goodness that they offer and build on it and at the same time not be afraid to recognize and throw away the badness that comes as part of the package.

    So I am suggesting that we become more discriminating in what we emulate and why. As Dr. Asante says: "Leadership in the African community must not be declared, it must be won. And people who want to be leaders in the African community have to propose new visions, new thoughts and new ideas and be willing to be activists. You can't be a leader and not be an activist." We must ask ourselves, what has each individual leader done, what are they doing and what will they do that is of benefit to our local community and/or to our global nation. We must then have the courage to take whatever action is necessary according to the answers we receive.

    We must also teach those we call leaders to value their own freedom more in order that they may value our freedom. We must learn to recognize the "ostentatious cripples" as Ayi Kwei Armah calls those who are, or aspire to be, slaves of our enemies in their quest to fulfill the POO drive before they get a chance to cripple the minds of future generations.

    I am suggesting that we treasure teachers who help us to become freer, more fulfilled human beings. Above all, I am suggesting that we help ourselves to do for self. As Dr. Newton reminds us: "We need to get away from a single leader that people look up to as their guide, like they're some kind of God. That position has never worked for us."

    I was speaking recently with a community activist and teacher on the subject of leadership and self-determination. His position was: "Where would a body be without a head?" Unfortunately, that is more or less the position of most people in our community. It is the kind of sentiment which makes reasonable sense in a hierarchical society which places no value on freedom. But when you consider self-determination, you begin to see the human body as a harmoniously balanced machine with interdependent, reciprocating parts whose vested interest is a healthy whole. You see a body where no part, however large or small and regardless of its function, is more or less important than the other. My response to my friend's question was: "The same as a body without blood."

    Finally, while some of us are still able to think and question the status quo, we still have a chance to transform the world and make it a more humane environment for the benefit of all, not just a few or even a majority. We have the power. We are the power. Let us use it.

  • #2
    Originally posted by keita kenyatta View Post

    I have nothing against Nelson Mandela and little doubt about his, and maybe one or two of his comrades', sincerity. They mean well, but even with the best will in the world, how can a man (or woman) who lives in a mansion with every single one of her or his needs catered for by any number of people and makes secret deals with former (?) enemies, represent the interests of a person who cannot even afford to feed her or his child?

    I had nothing against Nelson Mandela when this article was first written at the beginning of 1994 and I still don't. The man is only doing what he thinks is in his best interest. But I am angry. I am angry at myself and all those millions of Africans world wide who did not pay attention to or question what he was really saying as a teacher but accepted him as a leader instead because our enemies told us he was a great leader.

    Wow !! No disrespect to anyone but Are we looking at the entire picture concerning Nelson Mandela ?? The sacrifices he made etc. What he gave up for the sake of his people ?? In short did his people benefit and why or why not ?? Whom actually appointed him "leader" ??

    I don't understand or comprehend the concept presented and All are entitled to their perspective. But 27 years in prison ( NOT in an mansion nor being catered too ) is an big sacrifice and IMHO he deserves honor , respect and The leadership role. ( Because of his actions. )

    IMHO, We are not producing that kind of men of stature anymore and that is part of the problem.

    Many leaders are actually life long students and Educators. Our history says great leaders past and present do not dictate but listen to the people they are representing. If they don't the majority rule and have control. ( Especially abroad ) What is going on in Egypt presently is displaying just that.

    BTW: I truly would to know what "Enemies" made Nelson Mandela an leader ??

    I don't expect to get an answer but ......

    it should be said.

    Have a wonderful day all

    Love and Peace


    • #3
      Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (Xhosa pronunciation: [xoˈliːɬaɬa manˈdeːla]; born 18 July 1918)[1] served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1962 he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges, and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela served 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island. Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that led to multi-racial democracy in 1994. As president from 1994 to 1999, he frequently gave priority to reconciliation.

      In South Africa, Mandela is often known as Madiba, his Xhosa clan name; or as tata (Xhosa: father).[2] Mandela has received more than 250 awards over four decades, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.


      Robben Island prison yard
      Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robben IslandMandela was imprisoned on Robben Island where he remained for the next eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison.[51] While in jail, his reputation grew and he became widely known as the most significant black leader in South Africa.[1] On the island, he and others performed hard labour in a lime quarry.[52] Prison conditions were very basic. Prisoners were segregated by race, with black prisoners receiving the fewest rations.[53] Political prisoners were kept separate from ordinary criminals and received fewer privileges.[54] Mandela describes how, as a D-group prisoner (the lowest classification) he was allowed one visitor and one letter every six months.[55] Letters, when they came, were often delayed for long periods and made unreadable by the prison censors.[12]

      Whilst in prison Mandela undertook study with the University of London by correspondence through its External Programme and received the degree of Bachelor of Laws.[56] He was subsequently nominated for the position of Chancellor of the University of London in the 1981 election, but lost to Princess Anne.[56]

      In his 1981 memoir Inside BOSS[57] secret agent Gordon Winter describes his involvement in a plot to rescue Mandela from prison in 1969: this plot was infiltrated by Winter on behalf of South African intelligence, who wanted Mandela to escape so they could shoot him during recapture. The plot was foiled by British Intelligence.[57]

      In March 1982 Mandela was transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison, along with other senior ANC leaders Walter Sisulu, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and Raymond Mhlaba.[55] It was speculated that this was to remove the influence of these senior leaders on the new generation of young black activists imprisoned on Robben Island, the so-called "Mandela University".[58] However, National Party minister Kobie Coetsee says that the move was to enable discreet contact between them and the South African government.[59]

      In February 1985 President P.W. Botha offered Mandela his freedom on condition that he 'unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon'.[60] Coetsee and other ministers had advised Botha against this, saying that Mandela would never commit his organisation to giving up the armed struggle in exchange for personal freedom.[61] Mandela indeed spurned the offer, releasing a statement via his daughter Zindzi saying "What freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts."[59]

      The first meeting between Mandela and the National Party government came in November 1985 when Kobie Coetsee met Mandela in Volks Hospital in Cape Town where Mandela was recovering from prostate surgery.[62] Over the next four years, a series of tentative meetings took place, laying the groundwork for further contact and future negotiations, but little real progress was made.[59]

      In 1988 Mandela was moved to Victor Verster Prison and would remain there until his release. Various restrictions were lifted and people such as Harry Schwarz were able to visit him. Schwarz, a friend of Mandela, had known him since university when they were in the same law class. He was also a defence barrister at the Rivonia Trial and would become Mandela's ambassador to Washington during his presidency.

      Throughout Mandela's imprisonment, local and international pressure mounted on the South African government to release him, under the resounding slogan Free Nelson Mandela![63] In 1989, South Africa reached a crossroads when Botha suffered a stroke and was replaced as president by Frederik Willem de Klerk.[64] De Klerk announced Mandela's release in February 1990.[65]

      Mandela was visited several times by delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross, while at Robben Island and later at Pollsmoor prison. Mandela had this to say about the visits: "to me personally, and those who shared the experience of being political prisoners, the Red Cross was a beacon of humanity within the dark inhumane world of political imprisonment."[66][67]


      Mandela with Cuban leader Fidel Castro on July 27, 1991, in Matanzas, Cuba. Their combined anti-apartheid speeches from the event were published as the book How Far We Slaves Have Come! [68]On 2 February 1990, State President F.W. de Klerk reversed the ban on the ANC and other anti-apartheid organisations, and announced that Mandela would shortly be released from prison.[69] Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl on 11 February 1990. The event was broadcast live all over the world.[70]

      On the day of his release, Mandela made a speech to the nation.[71] He declared his commitment to peace and reconciliation with the country's white minority, but made it clear that the ANC's armed struggle was not yet over when he said "our resort to the armed struggle in 1960 with the formation of the military wing of the ANC (Umkhonto we Sizwe) was a purely defensive action against the violence of apartheid. The factors which necessitated the armed struggle still exist today. We have no option but to continue. We express the hope that a climate conducive to a negotiated settlement would be created soon, so that there may no longer be the need for the armed struggle."

      He also said his main focus was to bring peace to the black majority and give them the right to vote in both national and local elections.[71]


      • #4

        Might be just me, But 18 years in an cell and hard labor, Don't look like a walk in the park.

        How many so called leaders/ Educators today would make such an sacrifice for OUR people ??

        The majority of voters were indeed black. So whom are these enemies that made Nelson Mandella a leader ??