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Are we building the right kind of leaders for Africa?

2020 has seen a year marked by reflection as the pandemic has brought to light the cracks in our country's leadership styles. With a plethora of corruption charges and disregard for the country's poorest, are we building the right kind of leaders in Africa and how do we teach our children to be better than the examples presented to them?

It starts with instilling deeper values within the leaders of our schools, communities, businesses and family units, reaching beyond self-serving enterprises and identifying as a whole, rather than the people and the Government. Great leaders are there to remind us of the common ground we walk upon and how only by uniting can positive change occur.

It seems many of our leaders have lost sight of their journey, as they bask happily, disconnected from the plight their people live in from day to day; the lack of empathy is remarkable considering. There is clearly something wrong when government officials are caught stealing food parcels allocated to be distributed amongst the hungry. Our whole existence depends on how we connect with one another, this is not unique to Africa but the world over and it ultimately takes humility and gratitude and the ability to clearly see oneself in order for there to be true interconnection. We cannot afford for our leaders to lead from above, displaying lifestyles so far removed from their electorate, that they’ve become unreachable. Greedy leadership styles, status-heavy mindsets and successes based on materialism, run riot in todays’ world. So how do we switch our mindset to the fact that being humble, grateful and vulnerable paradoxically leads to a deeper sense of empowerment and better leadership?

Former president Thabo Mbeki, who set up the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute TMALI running programmes aimed at producing “thought leaders” in Africa, raised a valid point during his presidency, honing in on the lack of critical self-assessment of the continent’s leaders, asking, "What is the Africa we want?" and… "Did we provide the leadership that is suitable for the Africa that we want?" … "We are afraid to speak frankly with one another about the wrong things that we are doing. Critical self-assessment of the continent is necessary."

Our future leaders, whether in the community, business, families or schools, learn how to lead from those currently leading. The connection between the values of an organisation and the values of the people is what brings about inclusivity and sustainable growth. True leaders are able to reflect the values they wish to instil in the population, by embracing and leading with those around them, rather than far removed from them.

Cornerstone Institute explores leadership within businesses, schools, communities and South Africa as a whole in their annual ‘Reclaiming Agency’ event, having journeyed through five decades of challenges and tackling the issues surrounding community and ethical leadership.

Reclaiming Agency is a three-day event running from 26 to 28 November 2020 and focuses on the concept of leadership and how it unfolds in its various forms. The eight sessions including workshops and panel discussions, culminate in the celebration of Cornerstones’ 50th Anniversary concert, bringing together various artists, with backgrounds in dance, theatre and music, narrating the rich history through thought-provoking, reflective and celebratory performances.

To register for the event please visit:

For more information on Cornerstone Institute please visit

26 Nov 2020 16:11