By Dr Vimbai Gukwe Chivaura
AFRICAN independence came as a result of a bitter struggle and great sacrifice.
Many lives were lost.
Many people were maimed.
The role of leadership in that struggle was crucial.
A leader was the symbol of the struggle and a target by the enemy to destroy the struggle.
The quality of leadership determined the triumph of the struggle or failure of the struggle.
The situation is the same in Africa today.
The triumph of governments in Africa or their failure and shame depends on the quality of the leadership in power.
Some leaders in power betray the struggle.
They sell their nations’ destiny and children’s heritage to the enemy for the prize of money and personal glory bestowed upon them by the enemy.
They are paid by the enemy to lure the young generation of Africans with cheap pleasures and freedoms which lead African boys and girls to perpetual enslavement by the West and eventual doom as the rightful heirs of African heritage reclaimed for them from the West by their forebearers through the bitter armed struggle and untold sacrifice.
We must, therefore, as Africans be wise in choosing and save Africa as a heritage for our children and save the children themselves from being sold, yet again, as slaves to the West by the very leaders we choose.
The following principles are helpful for choosing leaders wisely rather than through emotion, nepotism and tribalism so rife in Africa and Zimbabwe today to shameless proportions.
The ideas come from Marcus Garvey’s Message to the People: The Course of African Philosophy.
He advises never to choose leaders who bow down to other nations or races for recognition and honour.
Such leaders only turn their people into slaves and underdogs of other races and nations. Africans should shun them and choose leaders who take pride in their nations and race and serve their nation and race to get such recognition and honour.
A principled African leader never allows other races or nations to get ahead of his nation or race; or preside over the affairs of his nation or race.
Rather, a principled leader will make sure that if other races or nations come as visitors, they must conduct themselves as visitors and never execute control over the affairs of his race or nation.
A principled leader will, of course, accept the friendship of another race or nation for what it is worth to his people and nothing more.
He is always fully aware that the interests of another race or nation can never be the interests of his race or nation.
This is because all races and nations want all things for themselves.
As such, a principled African leader will ensure that the interests of his race or nation come first and that not until he has served his people or nation will he seek to be kind to others.
African men and women who aspire to be leaders must, therefore, be men and women of principle and good character.
Good character means the demonstration of behaviour that meets the moral precepts of one’s race or nation and guides one’s behaviour accordingly.
The greatest prop to character is honesty.
Honesty is also the best policy.
Let no one believe that you are dishonest as a leader or a person.
If they believe you are dishonest, you are doomed and will never be able to rise to a position of respect and trust except by some mere accident.
Never tell lies to those you lead.
Sooner or later they will find you out and then your career will come to an abrupt end.
No man ever trusts a person a second time whom he or she disbelieves once and has proof for his disbelief.
Therefore, never let people believe you are dishonest or a liar.
Let them believe you speak the truth always and live up to it.
Any conduct that your race or nation condemns, be careful not to violate that rule or law, because you will lose the respect of your race or nation.
When you have lost the trust of your nation or race, you are a marked object and you may as well move away from your society to start life afresh somewhere else where nobody knows you; where you may practise the higher principles and retrieve your name.
But wherever you go you must always remember that morality is upheld everywhere in civilisation.
No leader who is dishonest can hold his leadership.
Nobody will follow him, but fools.
Therefore, let your good name and character shine so that men will see it and talk about it.
If you have to be immoral because your nature is weak, keep it within closed doors.
An immoral person cannot find good company because no good person wants to take the chance with immorality.
Those who cater to immorality are people who have no character and have nothing to lose.
They are sick or diseased and, therefore, don’t care.
Such persons are a danger to society.
Never be seen with them.
You will be roped in and though your character is good, it will suffer because of your association with them.
Never let them call you comrade or friend because you will be branded like them and destroyed.
An African leader should leave other men’s wives alone.
There is always bound to be trouble.
It creates scandal, which you will never be able to stop.
It will ultimately ruin your reputation as a leader.
The same applies to women who aspire to positions of leadership.
Leave other women’s husbands alone.
There has never been a case where doing such a thing has ever ended without a scandal.
David was punished for it and nearly lost the Kingdom of God.
Africa must shun leaders who divide and create confusion among the people.
Africa needs leaders who treat all their people equally in spite of differences in their languages and backgrounds.
Only that way shall Africa be saved as a heritage for all our children from destruction by the West.