When I grew up in Africa it seemed as though there was a military coup in one African country or the other and corruption stories were galore. There was no shortage of some dictators looting the coffers of the nation and leaving the rest of the people in an impoverished state. African economies were tanking and inflation rising leading many in my time to believe that Africans were just not good leaders. Africans here of course does not denote all African countries but there were enough by the 1980s to paint the whole continent incompetent. Then of course as we got older we began to question why seemingly African people just stood for it and accepted the shenanigans of their leaders. This conclusion of course can only come from the mind of a child because situations are rarely as simple as 1 + 1 = 2.
A good friend of mine born in post-colonial Africa to parents who were entrepreneurs made me realize something that explains leadership in post-colonial Africa. My friend’s parents always worked for themselves therefore his mindset was that people should own their own business and exercise autonomy over their own affairs in the true spirit of freedom. At a young age of 15 he was left in charge and began to manage the business when the parents were absent. Management and leadership came natural to him when he was at school and even when he started working because for so many years he had been in this role and developed comfort in the role.
These new governments were similar to having a French speaking person told to run Botswana when they cannot even speak a single word of Tswana or English ( before we had Google translate). Many of the people who came to power had been exiled and away from the nation for many years the Kwame Nkrumah, Thabo Mbeki, Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere and perhaps did not fully understand the change that had occurred in their absence. They had been altered by the cultures that they lived among and change had taken place in their home time in their absences.
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