Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was recently in Kampala, where he, among other things, urged youths to develop a commitment to service as a vehicle to success in life and leadership.
Speaking at Vision group’s Pakasa forum, President Kenyatta, one of the youngest leaders in Africa, lamented that rather than focus on service, most young people were after personal monetary gain. He referred nostalgically to the olden days when more people took pride in excelling in service to the public.
In a continent with a glaring paucity of selfless, visionary leaders, young people need to take a step back and think about Kenyatta’s words. Some might argue that it is all too easy for Kenyatta not to have been too money-minded as a younger man. His father was, was after all, a president of Kenya and head of one of Africa’s wealthiest families.
But that would be to miss gold in Kenyatta’s words. We also know that people such as US President Barack Obama distinguished themselves as community mobilisers before launching themselves onto the big political stage.
There is nothing wrong with aiming to make lots of money without money, it would be difficult for anyone to afford basic goods and services. But for those who aspire to lead others and make an impact in society, money should be seen as a means to higher ideals, rather than as an ultimate end to live or die for.
The excessive obsession with ‘being rich’ is partly responsible for giving us leaders who cannot be said to stand for any g public-interest causes. Because such leaders crave elective offices, they have mastered the language of political campaigns, and they promise voters bridges in anticipation of rivers.
Yet often, even if a river does, somehow, emerge, they never deliver a single culvert. Such leaders are partly responsible for the growing political apathy in Uganda (and elsewhere), as seen in the gradual decline of voter turnout at elections. They undermine our faith in politics as a means to address society’s problems. And our politics is all the poorer for them.
Source : The Observer