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 Ebojielu Samuel

Over the years, Africa have struggled to be on the same level of development compared to other continents as most of its countries are underdeveloped regardless of being endowed with natural and human resources that is enough for the continent to stand on its feet. Some factors have hindered the growth of the continent. Of which leadership is one, amongst many others. Leadership plays a key role in determining the growth of Africa's development. There is therefore a need for developing leaders that are competent and whose aim is to contribute success that reflects in the society. Poor leadership is thought to be the source of most problems plaguing african societies. (Salawu 2012).

The afrocentric view of leadership in pre colonial africa argues that traditional african leaders were responsible and responsive to their subjects and avoided corruption as much as possible. Although, the decolonization school of thought disagrees, but we can say to an extent that the precolonial African society did not suffer much as the present African society have due to ineffective leadership.

As a concept, leadership is complex. Thus, to come up with a definition of leadership might be challenging. According to Surest Lahti (2010), leadership is a relationship between leaders and followers. This means effective leadership is dependent on both the leader and the follower. There is need for communication and ideas being contributed by both parties to achieve a common goal. Effective leadership requires trust between the leader and followers. If followers trust their leader, they will do whatever the leader envisions (Bach and Eli, 2011). 

Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others,towards the achievement of a goal.(Forbes 2013). From these definitions we see that leadership requires a relationship between the leader and the followers for the purpose of achieving a goal. Unfortunately, most style of leadership in africa is either autocratic or parternalism. Leadership entails rendering service to the public but most African leaders see it as a means to being served instead of serving.

In order to build and sustain a prosperous Africa, we need a leader that is ready to represent the people and also close to the general public. A leader that puts the interest of the people ahead of his/her personal gains even when the conditions are unfavorable. A leader should be ready to serve at all times, willing to deny some pleasures for the sake of the people and strongly protect the interest of its followers even before international partners. 

Also, for a leader to represent effectively, the leader must have a vision, not just any vision, but one that is capable of transferring the continent into what we want it to be. Having a vision will serve as a guide and help in being focused until the projects are being completed. Africa needs leaders who will always stand for the right thing and be against wrong doings. A leader that will act in accordance with his words and be transparent to the people so that it builds credibility in the heart of the people.

Not to misunderstand my perspective of leadership, leaders are not just those that occupy political positions like president and governors. Leaders are people trained to guard our society. Leadership is the privilege to serve humanity. Although, political leadership still have a great influence on other aspects of leadership in Africa.

Focusing on some demographic comparison, we see that the mean age of an African leader is 62 years compared to an average age distribution of 19.4 years. Without doubt there is a disconnection between the leaders and the followers in Africa.

Africa's large youth population, a great asset, presents a powerful opportunity and can be the major influence in creating a new generation of leaders that is suited for the drastic growth of the African continent. These leaders are in every sector, not just in government. The emergence of youth in Africa's leadership will reduce the gap existing between the leaders and the followers thereby creating a strong level of interaction and allowing the mix of ideas that will draw the continent better on the map of the globe. The youths are able to change the leadership styles that have been existing since the post colonial era to a better style of leadership, bringing everyone else on board, make, persuade and justify their decisions. It is appalling, knowing that many african countries still grapples with some challenges years after it's independence. It is obvious that the leadership pattern have been less effective. Giving the youth a chance will open new opportunities, more creative ideas and passion for the betterment of the continent.

The availability of resources and platforms needed by the youth will help in the economic development and productivity to shift the African community from consumer based to producer based and help to reduce the effects of some challenges like unemployment, illiteracy, involvement in substance abuse and violence that face the African youth in present times.

It is important that the challenges that face the African youth should be addressed for the maximization of their potentials. In my opinion, unemployment is clearly the biggest problem that face the African youth. Unemployment open channels for young people to involve themselves in acts that affects the growth of the continent. The emergence of Covid-19 has likely increased the rate of youth unemployment in Africa but solutions can be proferred to mitigate the effect of Covid-19 on unemployment and to reduce unemployment rate generally by the efforts of both the public and private sectors.

Undoubtedly, we all have a role to play in contributing to the success of effective leadership that we want in Africa. Playing our part will go a long way in the actualization of the Africa we want to see. The youth still remain an integral part of the African future.


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