A call to re-imagine leadership in Africa


May 25, 1963, gave birth to the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which later became the African Union. The day is now called ‘Africa Day’ and is celebrated annually on May 25.

Agenda 2063 from the African Union, is Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future. It is the continent’s strategic framework that aims to deliver on its goal for inclusive and sustainable development and is a concrete manifestation of the pan-African drive for unity, self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity pursued under Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.

Taaka Awori, Managing Director for Busara Africa and Lucy Quist, author of The Bold New Normal and former CEO of Airtel Ghana are two powerful women calling for change and reimagining leadership in Africa. They believe for Africa to reach and attain agenda 2063, our direction in leadership ought to be tackled.  

They spoke with Esther Armah, international award-winning journalist and Creator of a month-long podcast and radio series #reImaginingAFRICA. This dynamic discussion series, podcast and radio show has been airing throughout May in honour of the May 25thanniversary. Its focus is how Africa is being reimagined in the sectors of Technology, Philanthropy, Education and Leadership.  Both Taaka Awori and Lucy Quist made observations about the challenges of Leadership in Africa and the opportunities for change. 

According to Taaka Awori, ‘’Leadership is about influencing others to realize a change, if only a few have the power to do that then that’s very narrow. Leadership needs to be about all of us’’. 

Mme Awori continues: “Too often we think of leadership over, we need to think leadership by example – until they do that our wonderful Agenda 2063 cannot be achieved’’. Taaka believes unleashing the best in her, in others as well will unleash the best of the continent. ‘’For me, leadership is unleashing the best in me and others to unleash the best of this Continent’’. Taaka believes leadership starts with one’s self. “As part of my practice on leadership in Africa, it starts with self. Do that internal work, then you increase the likelihood of what you see reflects that”.

Lucy Quist believes that decisions and actions taken as leaders must focus on the youth. “Every decision, every action we take in our positions as leaders have to be focused on how we going to get the next generations of Africans in whichever country to live a different reality, a different position in the world at large than what we experience today. Lucy also feels leadership is about a vision of Africa that informs what we say. “For me, leadership is about a vision of Africa that informs what we say about Africa. What we say about Africa as Africans informs our mindset. If we can change our mindsets, we can change our actions every single day to create a prosperous Africa”. Lucy believes it is about time we decolonize our mindset. Lucy noted that most people in Africa expect women leaders to be their ‘mother’. This she said needs some reflections. ‘’There are things people expect of women leaders here in Africa. That you’ll be their mother; that you nurture them in some way. I want us to do some self-reflection on this subject”.  

Mme Quist continues: “We have so many women in leadership. We need to decolonize our mindset. Leadership is not new to Africa, it’s an age-old concept; we have Queen Nzinga of Angola; these stories matter”. 

Lucy Quist explains we, as Africans, need to tell our own stories. “Today, the biggest marketing campaign for Africa is charity. If you are outside Africa, the stories you have seen & heard are about an NGO, we need to own our story”. Lucy Quist also believes that every nation in Africa needs to develop its expertise. “Every African nation needs to develop its own particular expertise”.

 The two women agree on one specific thing: it is all about re-imagining leadership in Africa. 

By: Theresa Adezewa Aryeetey

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Joe Bright Nyarko Journalist/Communication Researcher. Environment & Sustainability Advocate. Managing Editor of aptnewsghana.com, a non-profit news portal with bias towards environment and sustainability issues, rural development policies and gender & inequality.