Saturday, January 16, 2010

Africa's Leaders of Tomorrow on Voluntary Exile

You would agree that the future of a democratic, entrepreneurial and innovative Africa, lies in the hands of future leaders of quality and calibre. Africa increasingly needs leaders who can make a real difference to the economy and the society. However, the question is who would make a real difference - with many of Africa's leaders of tomorrow on voluntary exile?

In my many years in school, teachers often reminded us (as pupils and students) that we are the leaders of tomorrow. We gave our teachers hope for the future. They did their utmost best to help develop and enhance Africa's leaders of tomorrow, with the hope that the leaders they create would move the continent forward - with a different approach. Personally, I was very excited by the possibilities. Weren't you? While growing up, did you have the vision to move your country and continent forward? What happened to the dream? Were your teachers wrong to regard you as a leader of tomorrow?

Today, the quest for "greener pastures" has stunted Africa's growth and the prospects of a better tomorrow. Most of Africa's leaders of tomorrow are on self-imposed exile from the continent. In other words, many innovative and enthusiastic Africans live away from their native countries - voluntary absence. Does this help or hurt the continent?

Recently, I was looking at one of my high school group photos. Out of  12 boys in the photo, 9 (including me) are on self-imposed absence from the country. I have been in contact with most of them and it might or might not surprise you that NONE is looking forward to returning home to lead in business, politics or civic life. Whenever we talk about returning home, focus is on entertainment, partying and spending money lavishly to impress the people back home. Is this what Africa needs? Have we misplaced our priorities? Some say they would NEVER return home until "things change." The question is: who would effect the change we expect to see in the continent?

It is true that circumstances force people to travel abroad and people have the right to live in any country of their choice. But it is also true that a continent - Africa desperately needs leaders with the ability to anticipate, envision and work with others to initiate changes that would create a viable future for the continent. Unfortunately, those with these leadership capabilities are on voluntary exile - working hard to further develop developed countries, while Africa lags behind miserably.

It is a good thing to travel abroad - after all, travel is fatal to narrow-mindedness. It's important to travel, educate and empower yourself. But don't forget where you come from. Your country and continent needs you! Make no mistake about it: you don't have to be a politician or run for President before you could contribute to the betterment of your country.

As a concerned African, I'm forced to wonder whether the continent would ever rise out of the stigmatization, misery and poverty that keeps it from being a major player in the international scene. This would not happen with the continent's leaders of tomorrow on voluntary exile. My wish is that Africans abroad commit to improving the continent for present and future generations. We have the power to change the destiny of the continent and its people.

1 comment:

  1. Benz, this is something which needs to be openly talked of the world seems to be going in one direction and Africa in another and any sensible person must ask: why?...then again I believe that change will come - in our lifetime


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