MONROVIA – Liberia’s first female Vice President, Jewel Howard-Taylor says if Africa must realize its fullest potentials and gain a renaissance rebirth, the continent must produce individuals with strategic leadership capabilities who are dedicated to ensure the integration, creativity and innovation necessary to drive a collective vision for long term success for all; in order to produce the ultimate results desired for the African renaissance.
Making the statement yesterday, October 20, 2022, during the occasion of the 6th and 7th Convocation of Elizade University, Ilara Mokin, Ondo State in Nigeria, Madam Taylor stated that the development of a new breed of leadership to drive the African Renaissance will depend largely on a change of mindset of Africans, “to know who we are truly are, believe what we are capable of achieving with all that God has given us, and accept that with our God-given talents, we are capable of building the new Africa”.
Speaking on the theme: “The New Leadership Paradigm Necessary for an African Renaissance” , VP Howard-Taylor said she is of the opinion that the an African Renaissance or rebirth would bring about a totally new dimension and direction turning the continent and its people around from their current dire state of affairs to one which produces and sustains; not only a just and efficient system; but a prosperous, equitable, inclusive and competitive system which builds a new system for the satisfaction and enjoyment of all, especially the youths of the continent.
She said the term African Renaissance was formally introduced by former South African President Thabo Mbeki first in an address to the United States Corporate Council on Africa in Chantily, VA, USA, in April 1997; and then subsequently in a meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa where he addressed an audience of 470 people from academia, business, and politics; in order to define: “Who we were and where we were going to be in the global scheme of things?”
“As one searches behind the scenes at this meeting; it was clear to see that the main objectives of the meeting in Johannesburg was an attempt to provide firstly, the understanding needed to accept the reality of the dire circumstances the Continent faced ; and secondly, a hope that once this reality was accepted; those present would begin to dream new dreams; conceive how to make those dreams come true and be prepared to chart a new way forward for an Advanced Developmental Agenda which would propel all of Africa to a position of a vibrant production center; thus becoming a fierce competitor in the global world economy.
“The discussions at this period in time, suggested the establishment of an agenda which included the following: sustained economic growth, material and human resource development, the building of a modern, robust socio-economic environment and a vast interconnected infrastructure system; a proposal for the cancellation of Africa’s debt; industrialization and cutting edge competitiveness in commerce and trade; increased Domestic, Regional, Continental and Foreign Investment; Continental cohesion and collaboration; and open access for high grade African products into both the markets on our Continents and those of the developed world,” VP Taylor stated.
Sad New World Order for Africa
VP Taylor said, though Mbeki’s conversation ignited a fire for a new World for Africans, unfortunately, as Africa stands today in the year 2022, most Nations have remained at this point of only conversations since then.
“But the truth being told, this conversation about the African Renaissance began as far back as the years of slavery, through the years of the liberation struggle and continues today of years of economic slavery we see today. For though our forefathers gave their blood, sweat and tears for Africa to be Liberated and Free; we remain under the bondage of Economic Slavery.
“It is my prayer that this generation, represented by this Class of 2022, will be reminded of the urgent need – for a new paradigm, a new philosophical mindset and will have the wisdom to clearly understand the types of leaders which must not only emerge today but ones who are prepared to make the sacrifices for rebuilding, industrializing and rebranding our Continent – if the African Renaissance will become a reality sooner rather than later,” she stated.
VP Taylor used the occasion to tell the graduates that while it is possible for Africa to produce a renaissance of leaders that will project the continent to nobler heights, they must understand that Africa is in dire need of a certain category of leaders to do the job.
She said Africa will need visionary leaders who envision a better future for their country and put in place the right formula and resource pathway to that future. They are thinkers and imaginative leaders, able to anticipate and decipher changing circumstances, from political to economic, technological, environmental, and social developments.
They are also resolute in harnessing, developing, and deploying the very best material and human talents within the country towards achieving their visions for their country. Visionary leaders do not depend on the force of their own power but drive their transformative agendas through collaborative relationships and convert to their vision. They create the enabling environment for citizens to thrive.
Going further, Madam Vice President said Africa needs aspirational leaders who have ambitious national development agendas, and are determined to see their country grow across all development indices with a sense of urgency. They introduce, enable, and execute initiatives that ensure their citizens are healthy, well educated, socially cohesive, and technologically advanced. Aspirational leaders seek global recognition and respect for their countries.
“They understand that this will only happen when their countries achieve outstanding levels of development. Accordingly, they set and vigorously pursue very high-performance targets for social infrastructure, healthcare, education, technology and economic development. They also demonstrate their faith and belief in the country’s capacity and potential by ensuring that the material resources available to public officers as well as the quirks of their offices (vehicles, machineries, fittings, and accessories etc.) are limited to only what is produced within the country. Aspirational leaders recognize that international economic competition is war by other means, and their national economies can best compete only when built on the robust foundation of indigenous innovations, creativity and high productivity,” Madam Taylor intimated.
She also noted that the African Renaissance will need exemplary, agile, compassionate leaders, as well as leaders who are imbued with honor, justice, are selfless, accountable and inspirational.
“I am convinced that this type of leader does exist in our parts of the World. Some clear examples are President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; Former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa; Former President Kwame Nkruma of Ghana; and of course, one of many top Nigerian Leaders – President Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe, amongst others.
“Sadly, though such types of leaders exist in our part of the World today; at the political level where they are urgently needed; they are few and far in between. And the traits needed for the kind of leaders for the African Renaissance are mostly found in leaders operating in the business and economic sectors and very rarely at the political levels – where the real changes take place.
“Leaving one to ponder, a question which is definitely for another lecture: Which is – How can we transition or shift such leaders from their apolitical convictions to active political roles where the changes begin to happen?” VP Taylor wondered, noting that above all of these attributes, the African Renaissance can only be possible if leaders are imbued with spirituality.
“As I stand here, in the midst of academic luminaries; I can see through the eyes of faith the wondering going on in your heads; each one asking – where is she going with this angle? I know that this aspect of my discussion is a topic not regularly spoken of in this kind of setting.
“But I am not ashamed to say that I am who I am today, because of this spiritual aspect of man given by God our creator; which is the most important aspect of our being and sets the basis for our mindset,” Madam Taylor cautioned the young graduates.
The elaborate program was graced by the presence of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN, GCON.; the Executive Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu SAN; the Liberian Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Al-Hassan Conteh; the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Liberia, Godfrey A.E. Odudigbo FDC; His Royal Majesty, the Deji of Akure land, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Adelusi, Odundun II; His Royal Highness, the Alara of Ilara-Mokin, Oba Abiodun Adefehinti, Agbekorun II; the Founder, Elizade University, Chief Michael Ade-Ojo OON; and members of the Board, the Vice-Chancellor, Faculty and Staff of Elizade University.
Vice President Taylor was also bestowed upon the distinguished Chieftaincy Title of “Yeye Korede of Ilara-Mokin”, for which she expressed eternal appreciation.
Elizade University is a private University in Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, established in 2013. The University was founded by Chief Michael Ade Ojo and is amongst the top notch Universities and fastest growing Universities in Nigeria and Africa.