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LEADERSHIP AND LEGACIES: AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL INCUMBENT AND ASPIRING LEADERS 

If it must be done, it must be done well, and since silence is not always golden this write up sets out to draw considerable attention to most especially African leadership (leaders) and their bid to leave indelible legacies.  According to the Cambridge International Dictionary of English, Legacy is ‘money, possessions etc. Which you agree to give another person when you die, or something that is a part of your history or which stays from an earlier time.

For the purpose of this article the second part thus-‘something that is a part of your history or which stays from an earlier time’ will be used as an acceptable definition or construct.

Some leaders are so power drunk that in their pride and arrogance they do not want to listen to anyone (their subjects) when leading. They mistake leadership for ruling almost always leading to either sacrificing peace on the altar of justice or justice on the altar of peace resulting in suffering and crises. Some aspiring leaders have lost their voice and their dreams due to the failed legacies of their predecessors. With reference to this, scripture clearly states, ‘the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ (cf. Jer. 31:29; Eze. 18:2)

This article is a possibility because some have been victims of the circumstances of others’ leadership and legacies. Legacy is no legacy until it is a success, as leadership is no leadership until is backed by good and successful legacies; where there is a successful transition and peaceful tenure of office; where grounds are prepared for the successors to inherit and continue created legacies.

A joke is told of how; when an African leader is shot on any part of his body, would not die, moreover, if shot at the crown on his head would easily die. This suggests that to the African leader, power is life.

Some leaders are so burnt on leaving legacies which may be good anyways but their approach to these legacies wrapped up in the whole concept of change might be wrong or might not be in the interest of the people they lead.

Again, some leaders want to be forever remembered such that once they are no more, by all means their subjects would remember them as having left something  for them. This is the reason—so that no other successor could be termed or named as having been successful or better than he/she was during his tenure of office. This ideology degenerates into over ambitions which results in failed legacies…

Hypothetical Solutions

Some hypothetical solutions will be proposed to this challenge. Taking a point of departure from the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, King David was seen as a successful King, who was loved and cherished by his people. He had his own short falls anyways. Inasmuch as he was cherished and loved by the people, he still wanted to leave legacies so that he would always be remembered. He decided to build a temple for the Lord, but the Lord rejected this offering and gave this responsibility to his son Solomon.  (cf 1 Sam, 16ff; 1 Kings 1:1ff)

No Leader can solve all challenges 

The point here is, as it did not reside with David to build a Temple (a dwelling place) for the Lord after all his great works including leading the people of Israel to win wars, so does it not reside with every leader to do all, or better still solve all problems. After David’s Psalms what else did he need to make him feel or realize that he had left good legacies? Just do the best you can as a leader and you will never be forgotten. Leaders should avoid going about twisting the hands of the people to do their bidding, even if it means destroying other people all in the name of leaving legacies. Leaders should keep it in their minds that it is not their duty to completely change society, make society a place like heaven—but to assist in the growth and development of society. Man is insatiable and whatever every leader does, there would still be more to be done.

Leaders are not indispensable 

Leaders must always know and acknowledge that no matter how they feel they are loved by their people, they would one day come to the end of their tenure. They should never think they cannot be dispensed by the people. Once they are fed up with you, they can easily dispense you, throw you out for another. This will help to conscientise them and keep them on their toes. And they would never leave room for any imbecilities.

Every Leader must cultivate the habit of Listening 

Leaders should learn to listen to their subjects and the people they are leading. They must not forget that they are working with and for the people. It is very important to keep the interest of the people at heart. Would Saul’s descendants not have succeeded him rather than being killed as a response to the killing of the Gibbeonites by Saul? He would have left a good legacy had he listened to God and his people. They should cultivate the habit of listening even if they do not want to. No matter how inferior they think their subjects are to them or irrational they might be in thoughts, they must listen, for that is the beginning of all successes and legacies.

In conclusion, leadership cannot be taken away from the realms of man. This Aristotle puts beautifully by asserting that, “Man is a political animal” however, the bid to leave indelible legacies may go the wrong way resulting in indelible failures, acrimonious feelings in the people rather than successful legacies. And can an angry, hateful and spiteful legacy of a leader which ends up in creating ripple effects on successors of a leader ever be a successful legacy? To avoid this, leaders must listen to their subjects or those they lead; also know that not all can be achieved on their watch, not all the work, problems, challenge scan be solved in their term of office; and finally know that they are not indispensable—in order not for their legacies to be termed as failed.

 

Source: Mensah S. Sixtus 

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