There’s a common ideology among many African youths about leadership, this has made popular ‘children are the leaders of tomorrow song’ echo in our minds- this is fallacious and inaccurate. A lot of us believe that becoming leaders of tomorrow solely means dominating the political offices. The other aspect of this misconception is the expectation that the old sets should just move aside and hand the mantle to the youths. These notions are what always prompts the typical comments like -the old people should leave politics- when are we going to be the leaders our teachers called us when we were in basic school? I shared this piece because this same thought process reared its ugly head during an earlier discussion on Thinkerspool online readers’ club.
I once stumbled on a list of 100 most influential young Africans for the year 2016, to challenge us and correct this line of thinking that has made many youths nothing but election rigging tools, I will briefly explore three out of hundred profiles.
Dubbed as SA Rocket Scientist, from a poor South African region, he developed a home built rocket fuel and his own rocket (the Phoenix) as a teen in his mom’s kitchen. Xuza has won lots of international science competitions even while in high school. He’s got a small planet named after him (23182 siyaxuza). The Scientist furthered his science pursuit with a degree in Harvard. He’s back in Africa and has founded an Energy (research) firm with the aim of solving Africa’s energy crisis using solar. He’s a member of Kairos International, a fellow of African Leadership Network and the youngest member of Africa 2.0 energy advisory panel. He’s fluent in Mandarin Chinese too, what a future leader in the African world of science and technology?
And there are many more young leaders: Chimamanda Ngozi and Lupita Nyong’o in arts and literature; Julius Malema, in politics; Wiskid Ayo in Music/Entertainment, Iheanacho in sports and so on.
Heshan De Silva
Silva dropped out of US college due to certain problems, he returned to Kenya, his home country and ventured into business in 2007 at age 17- with less than $200 (₦30,000) he obtained from his parents. He was selling bus insurance. He’s now a millionaire, with his venture capital firm investing in diverse sectors of the Kenyan economy. He wants to take part in reducing Kenya 60% poverty rate to 40%. A leader is he, in business.
Dubbed as a potential African Justin Bieber, Abraham was helping her mother with her business on the street of Ghana, before he was discovered and starred in the widely acclaimed ‘Beast of No Nation’ movie. He had no acting background and he was only 14 (though he’s now 15 years old). He’s won a couple of international awards for the ‘child soldier’ role that he played and even bagged an award at the 88th annual Academy Awards. He landed a social contract with Toms shoes and will be starring in Spider-Man Homecoming. A leader he will be, in the entertainment industry (Lord please keep away hard drugs and death from him.
• Leadership is not and shouldn’t be viewed as being in governance alone.
• We can’t afford to sit in our rooms and expect the leading positions to be served to us.
• It is not likely that the political leadership of Nigeria will be handed over to ‘us’ if all the gerontocrats go to rest in the grave. Their equally corrupt and ignorant children/associates are there to take the baton. Lai Mohammed’s son is in government, what of Sarakis?
• You can’t afford to continue seeing yourself as anybody. And we can’t afford to show ourselves as incompetent. In your family, lead well. Assigned a post in church? Show stellar leadership qualities.
It begins with me, it begins with you. Merci!
This article was contributed by Olamide Abiola, a member of Optimus group, Thinkerspool. He holds Cambridge advanced level certificate, and currently seeking admission into the university. Contact: he can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org and +2348103350974.