By Kirunda Faruk
The leadership question in Africa is under serious test as agents of instability raise their operational status on our beloved continent. Africa’s future lies in the hands of the present generation of Africans with leaders as the vision bearers of our collective responsibility. But are we ready for the challenge?
Africa is weak because of poor leadership and, to make matters worse, disunity among leaders. Foolhardy groups like ADF, Boko Haram, are capitalising on that to claim a presence. It’s one thing to have people holding portfolios as Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, Supreme Leaders, and so on, but it is another thing to rate them worthwhile in the face of pending business.
Take the case of the reign of terror and insurgency that is now a common feature all the way from the tip at Cairo, through North Africa (Sudan), the Sahara region, West Africa (Nigeria, Mali,, Burkina Faso, etc) through Central Africa (Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic), East Africa (Uganda, South Sudan), Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia) on to Southern Africa (Mozambique).
This corridor of terror which runs longer the River Nile could lead to the gate of disintegration of this great continent as opposed to “Integration” that pure Pan-Africanists preach. When any one country is under attack, the whole of Africa is under attack. That is why we should not take chances even when incidents are isolated and not full throttle rebellions or groundbreaking (literally) revolutions as in Libya.
Leaders who have abandoned the pro-people, Pan-African agenda are to blame for the security challenges threatening us. Are we selling off Africa, like one singer sang? For how long are we going to plead with leaders to understand that Africans must put aside their differences on account of a common ancestry and work together to solve African problems with African solutions? What business does an African have fighting or sabotaging a fellow African? Is there a greater ideology than African brotherhood/sisterhood-the DNA bond? Why are some of our brothers and sisters buying into abnormal ideologies that rub the soul of the motherland the wrong way? It all has to do with the caliber of leaders in place; leaders who refuse to acquaint themselves with the common origins of our peoples, who shy away from diagnosing problems and proposing solutions with urgency, aware that while being part of the global geo-political economy, we are severely weighed down by the injustices occasioned by foreign interference and the chronic syndrome of thinking small. Some of the African leaders think small, happy to be demigods in tiny fiefdoms, misleading their people farther away from the correct path to full actualization.
Then we have those who vie for or assume power without an agenda, including those who are imposed by outsiders.
In the early and latter years of Independence, our leaders were inexperienced and could be excused on those grounds, but today, experienced and solid leaders are fought and undermined where they should be utilised for institutional memory while the new breed comes in with a mind bending towards untenable nationalism. In short, colonial boundaries have occupied the mindset of many of our leaders. They cannot think beyond serving their time in office and retiring to win accolades of false praise from those least concerned with what matters most. They are more concerned with how they look in the eyes of outsiders than how they look at the head of a heap of avoidable and defeatable challenges.
They are nolonger interested in security and promotion of common interests. They are back to the fold of African chiefs of the colonial era who sold off their own people into slavery for the price of mirrors and tunics. Leaders should revise notes and read speeches made in their forums in the last 15 years, pick out the resolutions reached that have not been implemented and do the needful. That is the only way to get back on track.
The practice of attending meetings and conferences as a routine, discussing issues for the cameras without follow-up plans and implementation schedules is coming back to haunt us and must be rejected.
Uganda has been at the forefront of advocating for unity of purpose in resolving concerns arising on the African continent, with the security aspect featuring prominently as an invaluable social overhead for all other developments to take root. Instability is a great destroyer and inhibitor of progress, and possibly the last stroke employed by our enemies.
Looking at the attacks that have happened in Uganda recently, where does ADF derive the confidence to attack a militarily-assured country like ours if not exploiting the indifference of regional leaders to the threat posed by small groups riding on the back of sleeping elephants? There is no regional non-state armed group that can operate and survive in Africa today except with the indifference or collusion of regional actors. I believe the same at the international level. Terrorism exists because leaders are failing to speak one language in word and act. Our people’s blood is on their hands. It’s the greatest betrayal.
My Leader, President Yoweri Museveni, can be vindicated on many fronts. He has consistently preached a message of the need for Africa to form a strong continental bloc to combat against any threats to the individual and collective sovereignty and stability of African states. Without a strong defence mechanism across borders, all other endeavours are seriously endangered. Are we waiting for a continental crisis before doing something?
The author is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary