Since they won’t lead us, it’s time for us to lead our leader*

July 6, 2011 § 4 Comments

*originally published by the Cape Times on the 4th of July

One of the obsessions I have about South Africa is that of a vision for the country.

If they will not lead us, who will lead us? This question has consumed me for a very long time. We have people we call leaders but none of us have an idea of where we are being led, or why we are being led there.

I listened to Nkosinathi Biko speak at a YFM Gen Y talk recently. He made a very interesting point when he said that we do not have two centers of power but three. The three centers of power according to Biko are Luthuli House, The Union Building and The People. When politicians speak, they often forget the third. It is always about the decisions Luthuli House and the Union buildings make on behalf of The People. Those who are in power put themselves on pedestals often on the backs of the people while grandstanding with arrogance.

I think Nkosinathi Biko forgot the fourth centre of power in his analysis. The fourth being business. We rarely talk about the impact of business when it comes to our politics. It infests every single aspect of our lives and is deeply embedded within our politics. Business, better than The People understands that it needs to influence politics in order to thrive. Some of our politicians enter politics with the intention of power or self-enrichment. The consequence of this being that there is a symbiotic relationship between business and politics – the relationship ultimately benefits business and the politician more so than it does the third centre of power, The People. The People are often an after thought; let’s do something nice for Them so that they think we’re thinking about them.

The ANCYL is correct when it speaks about economic liberation in our lifetime. Man shall not live on political liberation alone, he needs economic liberation too. This is the hard truth that South Africa faces today. The country needs to give economic liberation to young people. Young people form the biggest unemployed grouping in the country. This young group has the capacity and ability to make its anger known. They have the energy and are angry enough.

What does this mean? It means that we need proper leadership from our politicians. Unfortunately, we have lost all faith in our politicians. It seems that it is now up to the third centre of power to drive the nation. Maybe people power is what we need. This is not to say the government is not doing anything. Unfortunately, sometimes the government is so out of touch and in denial mode that it refuses to accept what is obvious to everyone.

I have often lamented the lack of moral leadership in the current generation. Whenever societies achieve great strides, there has always been a great and loud moral voice. We think of Lincoln, Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior. The list is endless.

Perhaps we are entering a different age. An age with a leaderless moral voice. A voice that rises up and is captured by the third centre of power because it is sick and tired and is not going to take it anymore. When we look at the revolutions that have taken place in North Africa and Middle East, we can see that they had no one leader. This new age of leaderless moral voices will be lead by the new powerful social networks, Twitter and Facebook. And who uses these the most? Young people. Who is mostly affected by unemployment? Young people.

It is time that we lead the leaders. Since they cannot give us a vision for the country, perhaps we should lead our leaders and give them one. We cannot wait until it is too late. We need to give our leaders a vision. It is time we led the leaders.


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§ 4 Responses to Since they won’t lead us, it’s time for us to lead our leader*

  • Getting on to Twitter tonight

  • Joseph says:

    “Leadership” is virtually undefined in the mind of the follower. Politicians are usually those people who are willing to take command & lead. But I think real leadership comes from those we are willing to follow. If our will is weak – we will follow anyone that’s takes charge. Instead; our futures depend on how we lead ourselves … To borrow from some old HG Wells stories – His Utopias generally were a society without government & religion. It was people leading themselves and focusing on being independent from help, yet coming together when the few needed assistance.

  • Gabi says:

    How to we make our voices heard? You talk of the era of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook which is grand & being able to lead the leaders. But I think I find it fascinating that we still find ourselves in the streets toyi-toying and burning not only tyres in the middle of the streets but libraries as well. It’s sad. Now that we have this power in our hands, how do we use it and will our leaders hear us?

  • Well said. Young people are very angry. And all they need is one catalyst, one event to push them over the edge. The xenophobic attacks of 2008 gave us a glimpse of that. We cant afford to run the risk again.

    Jobs jobs jobs. The truth of the matter is, we have spent the past 17 years basically dilly-dallying on the issue of skills development. Now is not the time for political correctness and considering everyone’s feelings. Our government and business have to take bold, unpopular steps towards lowering our unemployment rate to “acceptable” levels. At the current diplomatic rate, we won’t get there in our lifetime

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