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A fitting leadership test

Thursday March 2 2017

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That none of the African leaders who retired between 2014 and 2016 left a legacy deserving one of the continent’s most coveted prizes is hardly surprising.

Africa has over the years earned notoriety for selfish, mediocre and autocratic leadership that shames us all. Last year, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which awards the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, found nobody to fete.

While some might feel that the bar has been set too high, which selection committee chairman Salim Ahmed Salim, a retired top Tanzanian diplomat, seemed to acknowledge, it’s certainly not a compliment on the quality of leadership.

Those bypassed include former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Ghana’s John Mahama, Mozambique’s Armando Guebuza and Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan. 

The prize is meant to celebrate truly exceptional leadership. After all, the inaugural honorary laureate was South African icon Nelson Mandela. The $5 million prize is an inspiration to provide excellent leadership.

It is also a reminder that Africa does not need despots like former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore and the Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, who had to be literally dragged out of office after losing an election. The next round, we sincerely hope, will yield a winner to restore dignity and pride to African leadership.