An Argument FOR Leadership and Leaders

I am deeply concerned about the trend I hear among contemporary Afrikan scholars and activists that seems to eschew leadership as a principle. It bothers me because it is not consistent with any study of the Afrikan tradition where we had STRONG and effective leaders, local and global. Now we also had, as you might expect, the periodic problems of leaders and leadership, but we not only HAD leadership but saw leadership as a material extension of divine spiritual leadership and order and subject ideally to the same principles of justice and so on. I assume the present mindset is a reaction to the pitiful leaders that have shepherded us nowhere since the 70s and I understand and share that exasperation, but when we in the past have had poor leadership, we get rid of the poor leadership and cultivate better leadership. It may take us a generation to start again, but we start. We don’t suddenly start acting as if collective economic, social, and political process will just spring up organically WITHOUT leadership. It won’t and even more importantly, the forces arrayed against collective Afrikan progress are collectively arrayed, behind strong and willful leadership, with pooled resources and plans. No matter how inept and doomed they may be in the long term, the prospects for our people in the short term will be grim if we have nothing but small groups and random well-meaning individuals against the behemoth. David may have slewn Goliath, but an army of Goliaths needs an army of Davids and Davids led by God’s will to command and organize the defensive counterattack.

The reason we should HAVE leaders is so that those things that must be determined COLLECTIVELY can be administrated and managed by those charged from among us to execute our will. The source of the plans constituting that collective will can be individual ideas or group ideas or even ideas from members of the leadership core itself, but there must BE plans, and they must be collective, and they MUST be piloted and if effective for the collective interest, carried out by leadership on our behalf.

The reason the oppressive system teaches you falsely against leadership and/or effective leadership is that it doesn’t want you to support either on our behalf. To wit, our present collective calamity.

I do not advocate any kind of Duboisian nonsensical “talented tenth” to rule OVER us, but leaders ARE to lead, and they are to have strategic and tactical skills in all the areas needed by the people that qualifies them for leadership, and then they must be held accountable by the people they lead.

The notion of the “rudderless ship” that magically gets safely to port which many in the movement seem to romanticize about is for me the result and symptomatic of absolute ignorance about the nature of the system in which we are forced to live as well as about how we must deal with it.


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