On March 5, 1957, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah proudly led the African nation of Ghana to independence from Britain. In a system theory approach, this celebration is meanful for Ghana and for the whole Africa. The system theorist would hypothesize that a 50th year anniversary of independence represents a great opportunity of self-evaluation not only for one country but for the entire African continent. Actually, the remembrance of the 1957 events for Ghana should stimulate the collective consciousness of African nation-states to mesure the progress made, acknowledge the challenges and formulate new resolutions. As the first independent African country celebrates its 50 years of independence, the African journey is full of lessons on political, social and economic levels.

The 1957 independence events continue to send a powerful political message to the world : it only takes a man with a constructive political will to change the destiny of a nation and even a continent. Kwame Nkrumah was that man of vision for Ghana and for Africa. He envisioned that Africa needed not only independence, but also unity for sustainable development. He anticipated that the politico-economic viability of Africa was function of its unity. He endlessly preached that Africa must unite. Unfortunately, 50 years after his call for political independence in Africa, the continent still experiences severe divisions and conflicts, which often emerge from issues of bad governance, corruption, weak social contract, ethno-political rivalry, greed and grievance. The African political panorama reflects destructive socio-political conflicts and civil wars. Several nation-states in Africa face identity conflicts with ethno-political and religious connotations, which require high attention and investment from the international community. The United Nations have eight peacekeeping operations and political missions in Africa over a total of eighteen in the world.

Such ethno-political divisions and conflicts maintain the African countries in a state of economic marasme. After 50 years of independence Africa remains the home of the less developed countries. The GNI for most African countries remains critical. Despite its numerous raw materials and resources, the continent still heavily relies on foreign aid from the Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank and IMF) and Western countries. The international community has witnessed more or less active initiatives to cancel the debts of African countries without solving the economic disasters of African nation-states.

As a result of the political and economic problems, the African countries face considerable social challenges. Africa is the land of millions of traumatized refugees and IDPs victims of violent conflicts and persecutions. In most African countries, many citizens lack the basic human needs. The education rate is low due to lack of financial means and ad hoc policies. The state is unable to provide adequate health care to citizens. The unemployment rate is high in the majority of the African countries. HIV Aid creates social misery in many African countries. The continent is the theater of massive violations of human rights. In addition, the flight of valuable African human resources continues from Africa to Europe and America (this is true not only for the African intelligenstia but also for African artists and entertainers in Europe and America).

Beside all the issues facing Africa, some positive achievements provide hope and excitment. As Ghana celebrates its 50th anniversary, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon praises the country for setting a good example of leadership for Africa and for the world. It is a positive fact that the African people learn to become leaders of African states affairs. Moreover, it can be said that through the representation of the former UN Secretary-General Koffi Annan, Africa took an active part in the world affairs. Another positive fact involves the recent African journey to democracy and multipartism. The end of the Cold War launched democracy and multipartism in many African countries. The emergence of peaceful democracies in Benin, Mali, Ghana and Senegal demonstrates that democracy and multipartism are promising in Africa with a strong civil society. The end of Apartheid in South Africa in the 1990s is a commendable continental achievement. The peacekeeping initiatives by the African Union to address conflict in Sudan and Somalia indicate positive contributions to regional security and international peace. The emergence of a female African president in Liberia was a good example for the world. The analyst should also salute and encourage efforts by several African governments to design policies conducive to fighting HIV Aid. Those positive achievements could be the signs that Africa is slowly on its way for sustainable development and peace. But the road ahead seems to be long, full of obstacles of corruption and misinterpretation of the meaning of leadership.

Africa cannot reach sustainable development unless its leaders understand leadership as a service. Once leadership is understood as a service the leaders serve common and larger interests instead of thinking of their own personal and narrow interests. Servant-leaders work to design and implement policies that meet the needs of all the citizens, and not the agenda of individuals belonging to a group, a party or a government. Servant-leaders fight corruption, nepotism and bad governance. Africa truly needs servant-leaders for durable peace and development.

Jacques KOKO, Senior Political Analyst -Americans for Informed Democracy

Advertisements