Mawuna Koutonin, writes about how Africa’s nouveau riche got their money at Silicon Africa. His wish list for an African leader is simple but comes across as what should be common sense leadership on the continent.
- In 10 years, I’ll not drive a car which is not produced in this country!
- In 2 years, I’ll not sleep on a bed which is not entirely made here!
- In 1 year, I’ll not wear any clothe that is not produced here!
- In 25 years, No students from this country should be obliged to go abroad to study because our universities don’t offer the same course with quality!
- In 50 years, my country will be politically and economically affluent in the world, with my citizen respected and admired all over the world!
Since we are still recycling the same colonial left overs, new ideas from the old guard are going to be few and far in between. What we need is a whole new recipe for African leadership. As I speculated before in my Globe & Mail piece, it is just a matter of time before we get rid of the stale and begin harvesting leaders from the new demographic garden.
If ever there was a demographic equivalent to the Marianas Trench, it is the chasm between Africa’s median age and that of its rulers. According to the Population Reference Bureau, 41 per cent of Africa’s billion citizens are under the age of 15. There are almost as many youth on the continent as the combined population of Canada, United States and Mexico. In all, a staggering 70 per cent of the population is under 30.
My fear though – as Mawuma – illustrates is that we mistake access to money for leadership, and the breakneck pursuit of it kneecaps the emergence of potential principled leaders. Perhaps this is so because the people in power always seem to be the ones doing well financially.
The new African leaders can not simply hail from a different branch on the same aging tree. Africa’s future leaders must be harvested from a completely different crop in a new garden. The world has changed, so too must the definition of what an African statesman is. The pledge above might seem innocuously obvious to anyone with their head screwed on tight, but it speaks volumes that they are even discussed in an African context. An African context where our leaders (who have been in power for decades) are flown off the content in order to get better medical care; a context where their children are educated in private schools abroad; a context where their motorcades get stuck on debilitated roadways.
The new Africa needs leaders committed to productive behavior, not consumptive practices of the old Africa. Question is, are we willing to get to this state of mind?