Celebrations have been rife-from Cameroon to Uganda; Tunisia to Zanzibar; Sudan to Togo, with Chad included. They have ranged from National Day to Independence Day; Revolution Day to Liberation Day. They are significant days in the history of a country’s independence, often in hard fought battles to claim its freedom. They commemorate the birth of a national hero who helped establish the day the country's independence was declared. The days embody the yearning of the countries’ citizens: the desire for change; desire for autonomy; desire for freedom.
Africa has not forgotten her slave history. The slaves came from an area bordering a 3,000-mile stretch on the west coast of Africa. They came, chained two by two, left leg to right leg, from a thousand villages and towns. They came from many racial stocks and many tribes, from the spirited Hausas, the gentle Mandingos, the creative Yorubas, from the Ibos, Efiks and Krus, from the proud Fantins, the warlike Ashantis, the shrewd Dahomeans, the Binis and Sengalese. No! Africa need not slide on the road to slavery.
As African heads of state brace for the AU summit in Sudan, this is the cry of African citizens. African citizens are in need of leadership that shall not lead them to social, political and economic bondage. The importance of leadership cannot be underestimated. Experience has shown that rarely do countries rise above the quality of their leaders.
Napoleon Bonaparte said, "A leader is a dealer in hope." Arnold H. Glasgow wisely observed: "A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of credit." Walter Lippmann, the distinguished American journalist, wrote in a column dedicated to Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on." One of Russia's greatest intellectuals, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, offered this view of leadership. "A leader should not be a man who arbitrarily imported his own ideas but the essential focal point for a group of people who trusted one another and worked for a common aim".
This leadership, Kofi Annan observes, cannot come from outside, but rather must flow from within. This issue explores African leadership.
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