“History is a critical complement to contemporary reality. . . . It should charge us not only with a surge of new pride but the electric energy of creative action. For it to animate us thus, it will demand, it will most certainly demand, a corresponding animation of consciousness. . . . The vision of our former stature in the world must penetrate our consciousness so deeply that it begins to transform the degrading and dwarf-like habits of our present thought and action, habits which have crippled our progress. This heightened awareness of the best in our past can stimulate and inspire and heal us but it must blend intelligently with a maturing vision of the living present if it is to be of practical value.”
Dr. Ivan Sertima
The African continent, amongst other regions, is confronted by a myriad of socio-economic and security issues. These are brought to the fore by recent events: on December 7, 2020, 78 farmers were killed on their rice farms in Borno State, Nigeria by the Boko Haram terrorist group; in 2019, xenophobic attacks occurred in South Africa during which citizens from other African countries were killed; Mali is still reeling from the aftermath of a coup d’état while the Ugandan political landscape is marked by violent arrests and attacks on the opposition party. These are due to the widespread dearth of accountability and competency among leaders in the continent. African countries have over the years been mismanaged by their leaders, which explains why the continent has remained lifeless like a stillborn. These raise the question of whether we have leaders who are ready to serve selflessly or not.
This topic is apt for these troubled times. I shall in this paper, ask questions to provoke, engage, challenge, educate not just the reader but also myself on Africa’s leadership crisis while proffering solutions to this crisis.
I begin with perhaps provocative rhetoric. What exactly is the problem with the leaders in Africa? Do we have leaders in Africa? What are the effects of this crisis on the economy of the African continent? After all, this is a continent that people used to be proud of. What went wrong? More questions. Who are youths? What are their roles in proffering solutions to the leadership crisis in Africa? How can they create a future for Africa? In the next subsection, I will be addressing the issues of leadership crisis and why youths have been sidelined from leadership in Africa.
FRONT BURNER ISSUES OF LEADERSHIP CRISIS IN AFRICA
Gone are the days when youths in Africa served to ensure the liberalization of their countries and political formations. Today, youths have demonstrated the potential that they have much more to deliver. We may look even less than a century ago, back into the days when youths like Nigeria’s Nnamdi Azikiwe, Guinea’s Sékou Touré, Mali’s ModiboKeita, and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah spurred a positive revolution leading to their countries independence Or more closely, the EndSARS protest which was effectively administered by youths in Nigeria with the provision of legal, medical, logistics, and security structures demonstrating excellent administrative prowess.
There is no doubt that youths have an immeasurable role to play, not only because of their efficacious position as emerging leaders, but more importantly because of their population size, modernity, and conscious awareness of upcoming global trends of events. Sadly, young people in Africa have been systematically marginalized and excluded as political candidates, and from leadership roles. This is because of their projected lack of experience and their young age. These leaders have failed to realize that, these youths if given a bigger platform in governance and leadership, promise much better. Averagely, politics is believed to be a typical site for politically experienced people. It is pertinent to note that Africa’s “politically experienced people” are mostly dictators and are often between the age range of 55 years to 75 years. Unfortunately, The sad reality is that young people do not even constitute 14% of the policymakers in Africa. This represents the difference between those who make the policies and those who weather its effects.
To have a better understanding we need to define who the youths are? According to the United Nations General Assembly, youths are defined as persons falling between the ages of 15 and 24 years. By current numbers, youths in Africa constitute 60% of the total population. This demographic projection has significant implications for economic activity, public service provision, state stability. And to create a future for Africa, young people have to take charge because their future is at stake and they deserve to be a part of the policy discussions that seek to find solutions to the challenges in Africa. Just a seat at the table for African youths is not enough to build the Africa of our dreams. What next and how?
DOWN TO BRASS TACKS – THE REALITY.
Africa’s next generation is confronted with a real existential threat compared with their counterparts elsewhere who take these things for granted. To help solve the leadership crisis in Africa, and to create a better future for Africa, young people have to be politically empowered, involved in the legislative process, sponsoring bills aimed at public interest, and others. Also, more laws must favor our youths getting into leadership positions, and also there should be bills like a “Too old to run bill” to prevent the boomer’s generation from getting into power and enable active participation of youths in politics. Let’s take a cursory look at other non-African countries. Finland’s youngest prime minister a woman currently leads a coalition government led by five women or closer home, as I write, Adewale Adeyemo “Wally”, a Nigerian -American attorney has just been named as the first black to serve as the US Deputy Secretary of Treasury in the Biden administration. Would he have been availed such opportunity back home, without knowing anybody? To enable youths to create a future for Africa, we need an Africa where the son of a nobody can become somebody without knowing anybody.
Nevertheless, bringing a fresh perspective and new ways of doing things is solely the role of youths. We are In the 21st Century and almost everything has been automated. Agriculture can be fully mechanized, Traditional way of business can also be automated, young people can create drones. Sadly, young people sell their ideas to foreign countries because, youths are not allowed to express, explore, or showcase their ideas in Africa. Most of their ideas do not end up implemented, these have led to a brain drain in Africa. If youths are allowed to contribute their quota Africa will flourish by 2030.
Lack of accountability and corruption is endemic (like a disease). One of the major roles of youths is to re-orientate other Africans, try to make them see the reasons why this endemic is one of the reasons why Africa is not progressing. Lastly, Youths can innovate, using technology to solve problems and remove administrative bottlenecks.
There is also a need to invest in the educational system of Africa and leadership skills. According to Donald Duke, former governor of Cross River State in Nigeria. He gave an illustration: Nigeria, he said, is like an aircraft that is being flown by pilots that did not go to flying school. He added that when the plane crashes, everyone blames the pilot. The question therefore is: where are Africa’s leadership “flying schools?” How and where do Africans acquire sophistication in the leadership skills required to guide the continent into development? Without adequate leadership skills, Africa would not progress. In a Latin legal Maxim “Nemo dat quod non-habet” A person does not give that which he doesn’t have. Research has also shown that countries with higher literacy rates perform better in positive indices. So, to create a better future for Africa, youths must acquire adequate, sufficient, and qualitative leadership skills and education.
The Leadership crisis in Africa Is not insurmountable with the right attitude and mindset. It’s high time the narrative of leadership changed in Africa. Youths have to vehemently exploit all means an innate device in their society to change Africa with one voice. Our new generation of leaders must be ready to take the bull by its horn. Our next-generation deserves better. It is on this note, I bring this paper to a wrap by referring to the words of Patricia Lumumba ” African unity and solidarity are no longer dreams. They must be expressed in decisions”. These were his words are the opening of the All-African Conference in Leopoldville on August 25, 1960.
YOUTHS ARE NO LONGER LEADERS OF TOMORROW BUT LEADERS OF TODAY, OUR FUTURE STARTS NOW!!!
 Youths’ role in building a better future <https://www.activateleadership.co.za/voices/youths-role-in-building-a-better-future/> Retrieved on 10th December 2020.
 Nigeria: Boko Haram killed 76 farmers in Borno State
< https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.dw.com/en/nigeria-boko-haram-killed-76-farmers-in-borno-state/a-55792576 > Retrieved on 10th December 2020.
 South Africa: How common are xenophobic attacks? <https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-africa-47800718> Retrieved on 10th December 2020
 Mali: A revolt that led to a coup d’etat < https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.dw.com/en/mali-a-revolt-that-led-to-a-coup-detat/a-54623258> Retrieved on 10th December 2020
 Opinion: Ugandans are tired of Museveni but can’t vote him out < https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.dw.com/en/opinion-ugandans-are-tired-of-museveni-but-cant-vote-him-out/a-55701246> Retrieved on 10th December 2020.
 End Sars protests: The Nigerian women leading the fight for change < https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-africa-55104025> Retrieved on 10th December 2020.
 TVETipedia Glossary https:/unevoc.unesco.org/home/TVETipedia+Glossary/filt=all/id=9
Retrieved on 10th December 2020.
 Africa’s first challenge: the youth bulge stuck in ‘waithood’ < https://mo.ibrahim.foundation/news/2019/africas-first-challenge-youth-bulge-stuck-waithood> Retrieved on 10th December 2020
 Finland’s New Government Is Young And Led By Women—Here’s What The Country Does To Promote Diversity < https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/carmenniethammer/2019/12/12/finlands-new-government-is-young-and-led-by-women-heres-what-the-country-does-to-promote-diversity/amp/> Retrieved on 10th December 2020.
 Adewale Adeyemo: US President-Elect Joe Biden nominate Nigerian born ‘Wally’ for Deputy Treasury Secretary – See who im be < https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/pidgin/world-55127684.amp. Retrieved on 10th December 2020
 Africa doesn’t need charity, it needs good leadership < https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/05/africa-doesn-t-need-charity-it-needs-good-leadership/> Retrieved on 10th December 2020.