Opinions Wed, 25 Sep 2013

Leadership Crisis In Ghana Part lI

Leadership Crisis In Ghana: Is It A Question Of Presidency Or Of Leadership?—Part ll

How did Part l go with you! I hope I did not step on the wrong side of our political history. Is it true that a “true” leader leads his/her people not from behind but in front? If yes, why are many of our leaders lumbering?” And if no, why are they blindly leading from behind? Let’s get down to business: In fact, when we talk about “true” leadership in the African, even in the global, sense, then, I am afraid, we are talking about the “true” leadership qualities of, say, an Nkrumah, not in the stiflingly frustratingly limited Shakespearean or Machiavellian sense! Temple University Dr. Molefi Kete Asante wrote of Nkrumah:

“Nkrumah gave meaning and direction to our best political and philosophical ideas and raised the level of thinking about a United Africa…I am convinced that what Nkrumah told us, he keeps telling us, and that is that our connectedness is a part of our centering and that we must choose ourselves in order to be chosen…That is why I am an ardent celebrator of Nkrumah’s life and voice because in celebrating him we celebrate the best in us. This giant was real, genuine, with all of his human flaws, the essence of African intelligence and anti-fascist activism and he showed us what we must be and what we must do to remain centered and not simply shoved to the side as trash on the road of history…”

What is leadership? Leadership is defined exclusively, we think, in terms of the integration of the subject’s or candidate’s total attributes and contributions, positive and negative, to human civilization. In the end, it is the evaluative sequent, positive or negative, that constitutes whether one form of leadership is great, and another is not great, or not so great.

That is why leadership must not be measured solely based on the conditionality of social or political instantaneity. Time, continuum, context, respect, fairness, cultural shift, and impact are the other evaluative variables. However, we shall not attempt any flimsy or hollow definition of leadership here. We can take that up as assignment. Then again, we believe the definition of “leadership” is subject to ideological individualism or personal perspectives!

We must also remind ourselves that leadership is formed on the bedrock of compromises and consensuses—amongst the political class, electorate, time, situational accidentalism or inevitability. To wit, it is the people who make and unmake leaders! Albert Cadmus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus” suggests we shouldn’t subscribe to suicide, in our case, political suicide, as an antidote to what he, appropriately, terms life’s absurdities, which, again, in our case, we shall substitute for “leadership crisis.” Instead, he suggests “revolt” as a countervailing force against injustices in life. But the question for us is this: Is “revolt” necessarily morally superior to the creative actualities of “compromise” and “consensus”? We already have our answer. What about you, you the reader?

Back to one of our earlier preoccupations: Why are our leaders not respected, right here in Africa and right there abroad? Themselves, the leaders, is our immediate answer. Simply put, our longshot answers are manifold: Dishonesty, kleptomania, openness, official lies, Westernization, elitism, modernism, democracy, culture of impunity, dictatorship, ethnocentrism, cultural ignorance, false sense of “equality,” corruption…

The next question is: Are Ankrah, Afrifa, Ollennu, Akufo-Addo, Acheampong, Akuffo, Rawlings, Busia, Danquah, Limann, and Mahama ”true” leaders in the African sense? If yes, let’s end the conversation right there. If not, then let’s make one. But we must ask and answer this question: Are we, maybe, confusing “presidency” or “prime ministership” with leadership? The three are not always mutually inclusive—definition-wise. In fact, they are mutually exclusive most of the time.

Let’s test our knowledge: Which group—Mandela, Nkrumah, Lumumba, Tutu, Cabral, or the other group—Idi Amin, Sese Seko, Omar Bashir, Charles Taylor, Joseph Kony, Marcias Nguema—represents “true leaders” and which merely “presidents”? Which represents both? The evidential weight of history supports the former class. Let me end with a quote from Dr. Molefi Kete Asante:

“It is rare in human history that one discovers a philosopher-political leader whose voice resonates with that of his people as clearly as that of Nkrumah. He is at once a consummate political activist and a master of the internal tensions of history and politics; these qualities made him an advance signal for a continuing victory sign.”

Let’s tell the grave of Shakespeare that “leadership” and “greatness” are bought and sold as “freely” as “tomatoes” are bought and sold “freely” in Carson City, Las Vegas, Queensland, Bangkok, Nye County… But didn’t we allege in Part l that Shakespeare possibly didn’t exist in historical time? Why then are we speaking of his grave, bringing him back from the dead? Could his grave have been empty all along? Does it matter whether he existed at all? When was he born? Was he a consortium of authors or simply an editor for an authorial consortium?

When did he die? Which school did he attend? Who were his classmates? Supposedly, how come the names of his celebrated contemporaries were/are common knowledge, historical- and contemporary-wise, but his name didn’t/doesn’t appear anywhere, actually, if our present knowledge on Shakespearean scholarship is historically informed, in collected ancient volumes cataloguing the “celebrities” of his day?

Who taught him English? And was his teacher as linguistically good as he? What is his teacher’s name? Why wouldn’t scientists dig up his skeletons and solve the conundrum for us once and for all? Why are his surviving portraits and signatures so very unlike? Could he have been a ghostwriter or ghost-editor? If, in fact, Shakespeare did exist in historical time, could we tie him to the “crime” of plagiarism—for he actually based “Othello” on Cinthio’s Hecatommithi and Leo Africanus’ “A Geographical History of Africa.” Could we retroactively transplant the “crime” of plagiarism to his day? Was he British, English, or European?

Finally, since there is the likelihood that he never existed, may we pose the following questions: Was Shakespeare born great? Did Shakespeare achieve greatness? Was greatness thrust upon Shakespeare?

Again, if we all agree that he never existed in historical time, who have Africans been reading all this while? Can we bring him back to address Ghana’s, or Africa’s, leadership crisis? And if he actually existed in historical time, what sort of a man was he? And what sort of “mind” did he have? After all, his “mind,” as we have come to know, largely represented a collectivized appropriation of others’ literary work!

Meanwhile, I am not going to Britain, England, or Europe any time soon, but, please, if you do, ask his grave to give us, the court of public opinion, the appropriate answers. We have said our own!

Let us run along.
Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis