The greatest leaders the world over emerged out of one key thing; sacrifice based on principle that endeared them to society thereby bestowing on them the moral right to lead.
A few examples would be in order here; Nelson Mandela earned the moral right to lead South Africans (and a great part of the world) through his stand on apartheid. A stand he was ready to die for. However, at the same time he had the greatness of heart not to seek vengeance against the people who imprisoned him for nearly 30 years. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi stood for non-violent rebellion against the oppressors.
They suffered and eventually paid the ultimate price. They were ahead of their times, for they understood that, sometimes our weakness - such as the fact that African-Americans were a tiny minority that would have very quickly been destroyed - is our biggest strength. Their legacy, however, will guide this world for many centuries. Jesus Christ ultimately gave his life on the cross for exactly the same reason. He came to save humanity and was not willing to renounce the calling even on the face of death.
What about our leaders today? Kenya has a myriad of problems that leadership ought to confront with courage and honesty. That it is the right thing for the country. Let me give a few examples:
- The internally displaced persons (IDPs): I do not know of any leader who has offered a long-term solution to the problem, especially one that ensures it does not recur. What I hear are opportunistic statements that are no more than posturing for the next elections due in 2012.
- Famine: I know of no leader who has done a paper or offered a long-term solution to ensure we never beg for food again. Instead, what we have are smartly dressed politicians criss-crossing the land giving food donations and ensuring it is highly publicised for short term political gain.
- Land Policy: Here is one issue that makes brother take a weapon against brother. I have not seen any politician suggest a long term solution that optimises the productivity of land while maintaining harmony amongst the people.
You can argue the same about education, trade, agriculture, health and many more.
We choose politicians whose stand on critical issues we do not know. Little wonder then that after a few months in Parliament, they become a serious disappointment and Kenyans get disillusioned.
We must devise a way of assessing our potential leaders before we actually elect them. In any country, there is a group of people or a section of the population that is best placed to do that. This is the middle class and the professionals. We in this group must get out and sensitise our families, friends, church members, club members, and communities to demand that leaders declare their stand on issues affecting the people. We must establish what it is that our leaders can die for. This is the only way of ensuring that we nurture a crop of leaders upon whom we can entrust our future.