Many people have heard of David Blunkett, a long serving British MP.
He was, therefore, no stranger at the British Council Leadership Forum, where he shared his views on the global implications of the current financial downturn. In answering my question on why the West is not empowering Africa to be a larger player in the international market-place, he did not mince his words.
“Africa is the greatest enemy to itself,” he said. “The West will not continue helping the continent if any development assistance only benefits a few rich leaders. It is a matter of Africa exploiting Africa.”
When colonialists were through exploiting this continent’s resources, African leaders took over and have continued with new forms of exploitation — corruption, greed and poor leadership. They are helped in this by multinationals, a clear example being oil-marketing companies. They are quick to increase local prices, but never to reduce them.
Another major problem is exclusivity in politics. The population has left their fate to leaders, who have acquired their influential positions by unfair means. They have used every available avenue to confuse voters and corrupt their thinking, manipulating their way into leadership. How then can they be accountable?
No wonder leadership is used as an avenue for self-aggrandisement. As long as this trend continues, the West will continually to look the other way as Africa continues exploiting Africa. Can it be reversed?
Owes allegiance to voters
People can no longer be complacent or indifferent. We must decide to separate leadership from wealth. Our leaders need to emulate US President-elect Barack Obama, whose campaign was largely financed by all and sundry, courtesy of donations channelled through the Internet, allowing independence from wealthy backers. Obama owes his allegiance to American voters in equal measure. He is not bound to reward anyone in particular for his decisive win.
As Blunkett observed, we are our own impediment to progress. As a nation we have allowed others to decide for us. We have allowed social factors to decide our own destiny. We have allowed poor leadership to perpetuate itself, even though we have the power to stop it. We need a person or people who are ready to help Kenyans break from the past. We need untainted leadership with potential of inspiring hope. Leadership that will transcend tribal barriers.
There will be no need of violence or wealth to achieve this. Yes, we can reclaim Kenya. But, for that to happen, we need to decide on a new paradigm shift, to start taking risks, to buck the status quo and demand visionary leadership.
The writer is managing consultant and chief trainer of Newtimes Business Solutions. http://www.newtimesconsultants.com
Opinions Expressed are those the writer and not necessarily those of Storymoja.