Last week’s public lecture by PLO Lumumba presented an evening of entertainment – perhaps because the learned Kenyan professor of law occasionally used some humorous punchlines. But within such humorous punchlines were some serious reflections and words of wisdom.
Many may have flocked to the Gateway Conference last Wednesday to hear Prof Lumumba ranting on and bashing African leaders. And for some indeed his words of wisdom may have sounded like an unwarranted onslaught, if not extremely disrespectful towards African leaders. In truth though, the professor provided African leaders with a mirror with which to reflect on leadership.
It was food for thought on leadership and governance. ‘African Leadership, Development & Sharing of National Resources’, was the theme of the lecture. And indeed this was what the professor ran through within about an hour.
Given the checkered history of African leadership and governance, an hour surely must have been an extreme rationing. But no one would say they left the conference room unaware of the real state of affairs of leaders and governance on the African continent. Indeed the extent to which the continent’s fast resources are siphoned off by former colonial powers at the expense of the masses of its people. And of course with the connivance of the continent’s leaders.
The professor was general in his presentation with occasional reference to specific leaders and countries. But the lecture seemed to be fashioned in such a manner as to apply to whomever the cap may be fitting.
Having served as director of the Kenyan Anti-Corruption Commission, naturally a question would be based to him on corruption and his perception of corruption and the combatting thereof on the continent. Strangely, as a former director of the Kenyan ACC, knowing that he was heading for Namibia, the professor confessed to knowing little about the Namibian ACC, while citing others like in Botswana of having been doing sterling work in fighting corruption.
But does that not speak volumes that the local ACCmay not be known to the professor? Speaking volumes that as an ACC you can only be known by your deeds but not by your sheer existence on paper? Anyone’s guess is as good as the next person’s. Only the morning after the professor’s lecture for the ACC director to blow his own trumpet in a section of the media, self-praising his strategic action plan which as yet must be implemented, if ever it shall.
One could also not but take note of the professor’s observance of Namibia being “95%” Christian and that this may not necessarily be based on real conviction. Yes, while the country has been suffering from one evil and social ill to the next, the clarion call by the leaders has time and again been for prayer hoping that “god” may take these problems away. A pointer to this is the national prayer day a few years ago against child and women rapes, which have been rife in the country. A few years down the line, rape against women and children remains one of the scourges, if not the foremost scourge, in the Namibian society. With little evidence, except for the clearing of blind spots of bushes, what concrete measures have been taken to address such?
It is not as if the continent does not have any potential. But potential is meaningless without leadership. And in turn the leadership that can squarely deal with the many problems perceived to be akin to the continent for its darkness, also needs some decolonisation of the mind. So, instead of leaders hailing local education and health systems while sending their children overseas, let alone for schooling, and seeking medical attention overseas, but expecting the rest of their benign folks to be satisfied with the local facilities. Surely such leadership needs serious mind decolonising, if the continent can be expected to reach its potential.
Certainly as much Namibian leadership need to decolonise their minds or have their minds decolonised if they are to provide the requisite leadership that their people so much craved for and have been craving for. And when one is talking of the leadership there is no exception in this regard because Namibian leadership, without any exception, has proven sometime if not most of the time completely wanting.
Traditionally we have seen communities being torn asunder, with the wrangling within the Aandonga but the latest pointer of communities at war with self. Not to mention the unending fracases within the Ovambanderu, and as much Ovaherero with the standoff about the Okahandja pilgrim a bitter reality. Professor Lumumba in his lecture thus just provided a refresher to a reality that has been well in existence for sometime now.