The Secretary-General, Association of African Universities, Prof. Olusola Oyewole has called for transformational leadership to resolve Africa’s developmental crisis.
Speaking as a guest speaker at the SALT Institute Maiden Graduation Ceremony in Accra, Prof Oyewole explained that the “change that Africa needs is to have a new set of leaders. These leaders with work with different values from those that have led us thus far. These leaders will work with another spirit that will motivate our future development.”
Delivered on Saturday 13 August, 2022 , Ghana
Permit me to congratulate the Sundoulos Advance Leadership Training (SALT) Institute, which is a University College in Accra, Ghana on this first graduation ceremony.
I am delighted that the SALT Institute is committed to raising, training, and developing servant leaders for business and public life in Africa as well as the global marketplace.
Let me, therefore, congratulate the graduands on this epoch-making occasion, for being part of the history of this new move in solving the problems of Africa.
This institution had its origin on a revelation that African nations did not have good, proper foundations and nations did not have servant leaders in their governments and leaders in nations did not know how to apply biblical principles to leadership”.
Today, I am glad to note that today’s graduands are our first results of the directive to train and equip leaders who will bring about the desired transformation in the land. Indeed, we can look at these graduates of today and say that ‘these are fellow servants of the same Lord, which is the English meaning of the Greek word; ‘Sundoulos’, as used in Matthew 18 vs 29.
To commemorate this very great day, I have been asked to speak on ‘The Quest for Transformational leaders in Africa’.
I see our continent, Africa, as a continent that is blessed, as we are highly endowed by God with various natural resources. Unfortunately, we have been doused with a history of colonial interferences, which has operated in Africa to exploit our natural endowments for various selfish purposes. Colonial interferences have left us divided and confused and have seen our people not benefitting from our God-given resources.
Like other continents of the world, Africa has experienced its own share of challenges over the years. Many scholars have noted the challenges of disunity, illiteracy, natural calamities, and human calamities through wars and corruption. Our mishandling of these challenges has brought to Africa problems of poverty, poor infrastructures, civil unrest, violence, social fractionalization, poor health facilities, and poor education.
Poncian and Mgaya (2015) report that the real problems facing Africa is of dependency, corruption, underdeveloped infrastructure and production sectors, leadership and governance, etc. These are some of the impediments to Africa’s quest for sustainable and equitable development.
It is unfortunate that with over fifty years of independence, many African countries are not fully independent financially, and mentally. Poor leadership in African countries has been a major contributor to Africa’s under-development and poverty.
Africa needs to re-identify itself. One of the resources needed to get it done is to have the appropriate leaders that can transform us into what we ought to be.
Leadership Problems in Africa
Zamokuhle Mbandlwa (2020) reported that one of the major problems confronting the African continent is leadership. They opined that African leader are responsible for the current poverty and underdevelopment of Africa. In their own opinion, Africa has not been fortunate to find a model of leadership that will work for Africa.
It is true to say that Africa has been blessed with many leaders who fought for her freedom from colonialism. It is true that Africa has had great leaders like Kwame Nkruma, Samora Machel, Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, and Alpha Oumar Konara among others, who have put their lives at risk for their people.
The unfortunate record of leadership in Africa is that today, Africa is in a deep leadership crisis. The story is the same in many countries of Africa; of rampant unabated corruption, tendencies for tenure elongations, rigged elections, and perpetration of leadership beyond their welcome. The results of the leadership problems in Africa have seen gross underdevelopment, poverty, poor infrastructures, weak institutions, devalued national currencies, irresponsible borrowing, and putting generations yet unborn into debt, among others.
Africa has seen them in different shades – corrupt leaders, selfish leaders, confused leaders, visionless leaders, armed leaders, oppressive leaders, and wicked leaders, just to mention a few. Things cannot continue like this ; there is a need for a change.
Kalemba Mwambazambi and Albert K. Banza (2014) reported that most of the nations of the continent of Africa have been facing issues of persistent dictatorship, poverty, corruption, selfishness, exploitation, tribalism, social injustices, neo-colonialism and aimless armed conflicts. These are the challenges that urgently call for transformational leadership in order to bring about effective transformation.
The change that Africa needs is to have a new set of leaders., These leaders with work with different values from those that have led us thus far. These leaders will work with another spirit that will motivate our future development. The leaders needed for the future advancement of Africa in various fields of development should be transformational Leaders.
What is Transformational leadership
5.1 According to Burns (1978), transformational leadership “occurs when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality’’, and results in a transforming effect on both leaders and followers.
5.2 Venkat R. Krishnan (2001) reported that Transformational leaders throw themselves into a dynamic relationship with followers who will feel elevated by it and become more active themselves, thereby creating new cadres of leaders. They look for potential motives in followers, seek to satisfy higher needs, and engage the full person of the follower. It is a leadership that builds themselves in the followership and raise up leaders like themselves for the advancement of the community
Burns noted `The result of transforming leadership is a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents’’
5.3 Bass (1985) defined a transformational leader as one who motivates followers to do more than they originally expected to do. Transformational leaders inspire, influence stimulates and motivates their followers to rise up to higher heights of outcomes and moralities that will cause a positive change in society.
5.4 Transformational leaders are those who generally observe principles of human dignity and worth, human rights, good social values, and individual and socio-political transformation; such leaders are able to recognise and enhance existing needs or demands of potential followers, as suggested by Burns (1978:4).
5.5 A transformational leader is a leader who understands his or her moral responsibility as that of contributing to the transformation and enhancement of individuals and communities or organisations for a higher communal good (Mathafena, 2007) ‘Transformational leaders transform followers by creating changes in their goals, values, beliefs and aspirations.’ principles and hence become admired role models who are respected, emulated and trusted.
5.6 Transformative leadership is about making or influencing positive change and addressing inequity. The concepts of critique and promise are central: transformative leaders see a problem and ask themselves ‘what can I do?’ to solve it.
5.7 Transformative leaders are creative visionaries, who care deeply about promoting a more equitable society and improving the lives of others. They exhibit qualities such as courage, altruism, empathy and resilience. Personal authenticity is a key feature: transformative leaders are influential because of their character traits, even those not conventionally associated with leadership.
Models of World Transformation Leaders.
The world has seen some transformative leaders at work in our continents. These leaders were not superhuman beings but simple people who have visions of where their country should go and empowered the people to be able to move towards that target. Some of the world’s transformational leaders include:
6.1 David Ben Gurion
Among these group of leaders are David Ben Gurion who was the primary national founder of the State of Israel and the first Prime Minister of Israel, who changed Israel from a desert to an economic and military giant.
6.2 Nelson Mandela
In the same class is Nelson Mandela who fought against apartheid in South Africa for which he was inprisoned for many years, after which he came to lead his people as a transformational leader. During his time as the leader of South Africa, Mandela successfully used the country’s love of sports in 1995’s Rugby World Cup as a medium to promote reconciliatory efforts, which instilled a sense of nationalistic pride in all of South Africa’s peoples. His promotion of rights to all citizens through this event was a major factor in elevating public awareness of equality.
6.3 Lee Kuan Yew
In the same category is Lee Kuan Yew who led the transformation of Singapore, a small country of 640 sq km with no natural resources, and helped in transforming Singapore from a third world to a first world country. Under his leadership the per capita GDP of US$400 in 1959 , when he took office as Prime Minister moved to more than US$12,200 in 1990, when he stepped down, and US$22,000 in 1999.
6.4. Oprah Winfrey: Media Mogul
Oprah Winfrey, was North America’s first black multi-billionaire. Time Magazine named her one of the most influential people in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Winfrey’s communication skills, beginnings in poverty, and charismatic leadership enabled her to connect with people from diverse backgrounds, inspiring people to dream big. She is able to inspire her staff to execute her vision while maintaining mass appeal. .
6.5 Jeff Bezos: Amazon
In 1994, Jeff founded a little-known online bookselling company. The plan was to sell books online and hopefully break even eventually. He changed the way we read books by turning them into digital content, where many books can be loaded on one device for consumption. Transforming book sales, and later introducing multi-product sales has given Amazon a market value of $1.14 trillion as of April 2020.
6.6. Peter Drucker: Entrepreneurship
Peter Drucker was a transformational leader, working as a management consultant and professor primarily. He transformed the industry’s understanding of what a worker would be in the future as well as what entrepreneurship would entail. He saw this as a vehicle of innovation.
6.7 Gregg Stienhafel: Target
Gregg Stienhafel, CEO of Target, inherited a major retailer with annual slipping sales. In 2004, under the previous CEO, their online web presence was handled by Amazon. Stienhafel saw the writing on the wall after taking over, and in 2011, Target brought back their digital presence under their roof to create a new online design that purposely blurred the lines between eCommerce and physical stores. Four hundred stores were immediately equipped with modern technology and curbside pick-up from online purchases. They transformed a stogey, old school social media presence to consistently engaging with followers and customers online. The stock went from a low of $53 in 2006 to around $164 as of October 2020.
6.8 Reed Hastings: Netflix
Netflix was founded in 1997 with Reed Hastings as one of the founders and CEO. This subscription-based video streaming service offers original content alongside popular movies, TV, and documentary titles. When it first launched, Netflix was a DVD rental company that surpassed the leader at the time, Blockbuster, as a favorite of movie lovers. Hastings, coming from the software business, had a grander vision, unfettered by any entertainment experience to stand in his way. He introduced streaming, and his gamble paid off. Today Netflix has about 192.95 million subscribers worldwide and is the largest online streaming provider of video content.
6.9 Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu Entrepreneur
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is the founder and CEO of soleRebels, the planet’s fastest growing footwear brand from Africa. She founded the company to provide community-based jobs in her native Ethiopia and soleRebels has since grown to become an internationally recognized brand. It uses locally sourced materials, and is the only WFTO Fair Trade footwear company on the continent. “We had lots of artisan talent, but no job opportunities, ” Alemu says of growing up in her village. To address this challenge, she used a plot of her grandmother’s land in Addis Ababa to start her business. soleRebels grew from a tiny company to the fastest growing consumer brand from Africa and the very frst African consumer brand to ever open standalone branded retail stores around the globe. Alemu also organizes workshops and mentorships for young, rural girls to foster empowerment and self-reliance. CNN recently named Alemu one of the 12 greatest female entrepreneurs of the last century, and Forbes magazine listed her on their World ’s 100 Most Powerful Women list – Women to Watch. Alemu also serves as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Entrepreneurship and is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.
6.10 Tebello Nyokong
Distinguished Professor of Medical Chemistry & Nanotechnology. Professor Nyokong was born and raised in Lesotho, where she lived with her grandparents. Growing up, she spent one day going to school, and the next tend ing sheep, an experience that taught her she could do anything a boy could do. Professor Nyokong has since become a world recognized researcher in chemistry, helping to develop an alternative way to diagnose and treat cancer called “photo-dynamic therapy. ” She is ded icated to mentoring young female scientists. Encouraged by her father to persevere with her education, she decided to study science only in the last two years before her matriculating year. Professor Nyokong went on to graduate from the National University of Lesotho, and received e Africa Leadership Initiative (ALI) is a her PhD in chemistry from the University of Western Ontario in 1987, and later stud ied as a Fulbright Scholar in the U.S.
Core Values of Transformative Leaders
They exhibit qualities of empathy, resilience, and commitment in a dimension that they are ready to spend themselves and all that they have for the good and progress of their followership.
Transformational leaders operate with q sense of responsibility in a dimension that is open to public scrutiny. They promote trust and model a sense of individual and collective responsibility to promote long-term objectives over short-term successes.
They recognize and value the perspective of others while having the audacity to act on the vision and values for which you were chosen to lead, even
They place your ego and expertise aside so that you can model curiosity and learn from others’ experiences, perspectives, and ideas.
Transformational leaders adopt a learner’s mindset, seek out and use feedback, and enlist others in their personal leadership journey.
Transformational leaders have Trust in best intentions and the power of thoughtful, committed people to drive change. They believe in the potentials for growth and foster sustainability through long-term thinking and by building a value-based culture of leadership that is sustainable.
Traits and Characteristics of Transformational leaders
Anna Montgomery (2018) has identified some traits and qualities possessed by transformational leaders. These include:
1. Curiosity: They strive to find innovative solutions to long-understood problems. When the time comes to implement a solution, they lean on experts on their team to bring their vision to fruition.
2..Communicative: Transformational leaders are effective communicators. They communicate solutions explicitly and are able to frame their decisions in the context of the team’s shared vision of success.
3. Visionary: Transformational leaders use their keen perception to look toward a better future and see the small obstacles hindering smooth execution. They intuitively sense where the direction their organization needs to move in order to compete within their sector.
4. Team First Attitude: Transformational leaders follow through on a shared vision by engaging all team members. They leverage emotional intelligence to understand interpersonal dynamics to drive individual and collective performance. When the team succeeds, transformational leaders receive gratification by giving credit to the team first and watching individuals rise to the occasion.
5. Simplicity: Transformational leaders speak clearly and communicate concisely to articulate their vision. For teams to achieve seemingly insurmountable goals they must be intensely focused on the task before them. Simplicity provides structure and enables staff to execute without confusion.
6. Balanced Risk-Taking: transformational leaders are not afraid of taking risks. However, they are very calculative in their action to envisage and minimize the effects of unmanaged risks. They have the ability to control the obvious risks in an initiative.
7. Collaboration among Team Members
A transformational leader is exceptional at encouraging discussion between a group of experts in the topic or industry. They promote inter-change of ideas and supportive spirit in a group.
8. Creativity and Autonomy: They allow free flow-of new ideas and encourage people to think of new ways of doing things. They encourage innovation and creativity among the people that they lead and they are not afraid of new ideas. They show others how to create and build without guidance, and work together for the benefit of everyone.
9. Focus on Scale and Goals : This refers to ability to have a laser-like focus and determination to simplify situations. Transformational leaders develop the skills to identify the source of an organization’s needs, and the ability to know how much work it takes to meet them. Transformational leaders will not waste too much time trying out every idea; they cannot be everything to everyone, because that simply leads to more mediocre results. They know how to avoid extending their influence far beyond their reach, and that keeping objectives simple will lead to a more impressive end for the institution.
The transformational leaders know how to keep their egos in check, and the best way to take risks and keep the organization focused on the most important tasks.
Areas where we need transformational leaders in Africa.
Maxwell (2007) observes: that everything rises and falls on leadership. By that I mean that, more than anything else, the leadership of any group or organisation will determine its success or failure.
Greenleaf (2002) argue that the essence of leadership is to focus on the needs of others and then apply one’s talents, technical, rational, and emotional as well as one’s visualizing abilities to address those needs.
Leaders see themselves as catalysts and facilitators in the creation of something that is only possible with collective effort and the talents of diverse people, something that represents further possibilities for growth.
Every field of development in Africa needs transformational leaders. I however need to state that transformational leadership must start from the home before it can flow into society.
Every area of development in Africa, from health to commerce, from transportation to finance, from energy to agriculture. j
I will therefore be concluding this presentation by looking at the Quest for Transformation Leadership in African Education
Quest for Transformational leadership in African Education
While Africa has been identified with higher education for many centuries, modern higher education, and indeed, modern Universities, have their origin with the colonial histories of many countries in Africa.
The history of modern higher education in Africa cannot be discountenanced from its colonial legacies. Hence most institutions in Africa have been patterned after their colonial pasts
The early objectives of higher education in Africa were to provide manpower to service the civil service of colonial governments. This trend continued following the early parts of independent nations in Africa. Over the years. the countries have gained independence, it is unfortunate that many are still using the colonial curricula to produce their graduates.
Mbigi (2005) has noted that ‘Modern African education has its roots in colonialism, whose agenda was to exploit Africa, dehumanize its people and their culture, and destroy the positive self-image and self-confidence of the African people. Colonial education received in Africa has made many African lose their spirit of communal solidarity and become more individualistic in behavior and lifestyle.
When Universities were established in Africa by colonial authorities, the objective was mainly to provide manpower for the civil service supporting the colonial authorities. Many years after the end of colonial rules in many countries, our universities and educational institutions are still using the curricula bequeathed to them by the colonial authorities. The effect is that many of our institutions are producing graduates that are not relevant to the needs of the African society of today.
Today, we are shunning graduates from our universities that are not useful to the market. The result is Youth unemployment. Youth unemployment statistics across the continent are staggeringly high. In Zimbabwe, the figure is estimated to be around 90%, in South Africa it is around 52% and in Nigeria 33%. The youth are struggling to break out of the cycle of poor education, youth unemployment, and lack of opportunity.
To stop this trend, we need transformative leadership in our national and institutional leadership.
In our quest for transformational leaders in Africa, I wish to propose three strategies that we can adopt.
Strategy 1: Change the Curricula and promote transformational leadership Education
Transformational leadership education is crucial training for effective leadership development, which can encapsulate both theoretical and practical aspects. This education can be geared at combating ignorance and providing people and especially leaders with the needed knowledge and skills.
In our quest for transformational leadership in Africa, one of the strategies that we can adopt is to teach leadership in our higher education institutions. Some of the issues that should feature in such courses should include Critical thinking, decision making, policymaking, ethics, excellence, negotiation skills, international economics, Human rights, creativity and innovation, conflict prevention and resolution, social movement, and African history among others.
Permit me to highlight the need to teach African history in our quest for transformation leaders.
Okumu (2002) and Mbeki (1998) reported that African History education would make our youths more knowledgeable of where the content is coming from and where it is now, inform their thinking and empower them thus for efficient planning and implementation of their socio-political and national programs as postulated).
Let us change the colonial curricula and replace them with curricula with learning outcomes that can make our youths to be innovative and acquire capabilities to solve the problems of the continent and promote our development.
Strategy 2: – Produce graduates with modern-day Skills and competences
Transformational leadership in the education section should be concerned with the skills and competencies that graduates of our institutions acquire through their training. In a project called Tuning Africa that I was involved in, we were able to identify 18 generic competencies needed by the graduates of the Universities of Africa today. These include:
Ability for conceptual thinking, analysis, and synthesis.
Professionalism, ethical values, and commitment to Ubuntu (respect
for the well-being and dignity of fellow human beings).
Capacity for critical evaluation and self-awareness.
Ability to translate knowledge into practice.
Objective decision-making and practical cost-effective problem-solving
Capacity to use innovative and appropriate technologies.
Ability to communicate effectively in both the official/national and the local languages.
Ability to learn how to learn and capacity for lifelong learning.
Flexibility, adaptability, and ability to anticipate and respond to new situations.
Ability for creative and innovative thinking.
Leadership, management, and teamwork skills.
Communication and interpersonal skills.
Environmental and economic consciousness.
Ability to work in an intra- and intercultural and/or international context.
Ability to work independently.
Ability to evaluate, review and enhance quality.
Self-confidence, entrepreneurial spirit, and skills.
Commitment to preserving African identity and cultural heritage.
Strategy 3: Build Specialized Leadership Universities and Promote the teaching of Transformation leadership
In our quest for transformational leadership in Africa, let us encourage the emergence of specialized universities with a focus on training and building the leaders who will bring about the desired transformation in the land. This I believe is the focus of the salt institute. The graduands of today are products of this great vision.
Let me conclude my speech by letting the graduates know that Africa looks up to them to make a change in whatever space they may find themselves in. I believe that this Salt Institute is just beginning and very soon, we shall see products of this institute transforming our continent in education, in media, politics, entertainment, academia, and social services. I pray that this vision will never die but will grow from greatness to greatness.
 Japhacd Poncian and Edward Simon Mgaya (2015) Africa’s Leadership Challenges in the 21st Century: What Can Leaders Learn from Africa’s Pre-Colonial Leadership and Governance?. International Journal of Social Science Studies. Vol. 3, No. 3
 Zamokuhle Mbandlwa (2020) Challenges Of African Leadership After The Independency. Solid State Technology 63(6):14
 Kalemba Mwambazambi and Albert K. Banza (2014) Developing transformational leadership for sub-Saharan Africa: Essential missiological considerations for church workers. Verbum Eccles. (Online) vol.35 n.1 Pretoria Jan. 2014. http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2074-77052014000100005
 Burns, J.M. (1978) , Leadership, Harper & Row,New York, NY.
 Venkat R. Krishnan (2001) Value systems of transformational leaders Leadership & Organization Development Journal 22/3  126±131
 Bass, B.M. (1985), Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations, Free Press, New York,
 Mathafena, R.B., 2007, ‘Investigating the effectiveness of the leadership development intervention in changing leadership practices in Markham’, Magister Technologiae thesis, UNISA, Pretoria.
 Future of Working (2022)The leadership and Career Blog. https://futureofworking.com/21-famous-transformational-leadership-examples/
 Anna Montgomery(2018) Seven Traits of Transformational Leaders. University of Southern California , Executive Master of Leadership. https://eml.usc.edu/blog/transformational-leadership-style
 Maxwell, J.C., 2007, The Maxwell leadership Bible, Thomas Nelson, Nashville.
 Greenleaf, R.K., 2002, Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness, Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ
 Mbigi, L., 2005, The spirit of African leadership, Knores, Johannesburg
 Okumu, W.A.J., 2002, The African Renaissance: History, significance and strategy, Africa World Press, Trenton.
 Mbeki, T., 1998, Africa – The time has come, Tafelberg & Mafuba, Cape Town.