Sunday, March 3, 2024

African leaders have conscience different from the masses

African problems are mostly attributed to leadership crisis.  From Cape to Cairo, from Lagos to Mombassa, there are no visionary leaders.  Our leaders’ vision is to accumulate as much wealth as possible.  Those in opposition also want to get into power as soon as possible for the same reason of accumulation of wealth.

The question we ought to ask is why African leaders in the ruling and opposition are not ashamed of what they are doing.  This is a fundamental question which we need to answer if Africa can move forward.  This is a moral question which demands a moral analysis to reach a correct answer. 

A realistic analysis of the problems of human society reveals a constant and seemingly irreconcible conflict between the needs of society and the imperatives of sensitive conscience.  This conflict, which could be most briefly defined as the conflict between ethics and politicians is more inevitable by the double focus of the moral life.  One focus is in the inner life of the individual and the other in the necessities of man’s social life.  From the perspective of society the highest moral idea is justice.  From the perspective of the individual the highest ideal is unselfishness.  Society must strive for justice even if it means its forced to use means such as self-assertion, resistance  and perhaps resentment which cannot gain the moral sanction of the most sensitive moral spirit.

The individual must strive to relief his life by losing and finding himself in something greater than himself and this is where the question of conscience comes in.  It is only conscience which can lead or direct to something greater than yourself.  What this means is that for example; you lose your position of power for the common good.  You lose certain privileges for the common good.  Through serving others, you serve yourself.  And this is the most difficult thing to comprehend.  If so because is a conscience is a moral issue.  The moral command is unconditional because it is we ourselves commanding ourselves.  Morality is the self-affirmation of our essential being.  This is where conscience comes in.

Conscience has been interpreted in different ways.  The concept of internalization points to the fact that even conscience is not above the relativity which characterizes all ethical contents.  It is neither the infallible voice of God, nor the infallible awareness of the natural law.  It is, as the German philosopher Heidegger has said, the call of a man to himself ÔÇô often a silent call.  But the calls are the essential, not the existential self

Even the conscience can judge us erroneously.  It does not help us to a valid moral decision of one said by many theologians and philosophers: always follow your conscience.

This does not say for example, what to do if conscience points ambiguously in one direction, it is confirmatively safer to say follow it.  Split authority has a double meaning and double function in the context of our discussion here.  One is born into a moral universe, produced by the experience of all former generations.  That is why in Setswana motlapele a re LEINA Wee! Meaning whatever you say or do reflects where you come from! your parents.  You ought to protect your name.  Whatever I do, people will ask: A o morwa Moenga ake ene yo a ka dirang jaana.  A moral universe is not only an ideology that is a product of the will to gain and to preserve power.  It is also a result of experience and real wisdom, if it gives the material in which moral decisions are made.

It is from this background that African leaders should be seen.  We should look at them from the eyes of those who are in the periphery looking at those who are at the centre.  Forget about their charisma and political rhetoric, they are not with you! Their world view is totally different from your world.  It is not surprising that some of these so called African leaders including here in Botswana sell drugs.

These include opposition leaders here some of who are well-known drug peddlers.

Do we want to be soon led by drug dealers?  We all want change but not change to be led by criminals.

We are suspicious when the ruling party leaders behave and say strange things. We must equally be suspicious when opposition politicians behave and say strange things.

There are so many critical issues affecting Batswana and I doubt if marijuana is one of them! Politics, they say is a critical analysis of critical issues in order to find a permanent solution.  African Masses should never repeat the mistake they made during the struggle for independence when they voted for anyone who promised them freedom from white rule only to be more oppressed and exploited by black rulers.  Chiluba of Zambia and Zuma of south Africa are living examples of how it is possible for criminals to be voted into power.

African masses should put into power people who have the same conscience as themselves.  African masses must learn to scrutinize everyone who wants to be their leader. The behavior and lifestyle of our political leaders in Africa including opposition betray their political euphoric.  We want leaders defined by African conscience not by Asian’s money or Holywood lifestyle.

Dr Cosmos K. Moenga is a BNF activist. He writes in his personal capacity


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