“Leadership and Governance in Africa – Tradition and Future” KAAD seminar in Heiligkreuztal

|   Afrika, Aktuelles, Seminare, Veranstaltungen

In African countries it is repeatedly emphasized that only a generation with new leadership qualities can bring about lasting improvement. This question was the focus of the KAAD seminar in Heiligkreuztal.

The term “leadership” and its implications are often and heartily discussed, both in debates of KAAD scholars and with many others who observe the political and social processes in Africa. The leadership discussion is part of a search for better and more holistic development of African societies and the frequent demand for 'good governance' is not only a priority issue for European donor countries. Also in the public debate in Africa itself, it is increasingly and loudly emphasized that only a generation with new leadership qualities can bring about a lasting improvement of the public sphere. The demand for responsible leadership is often made together with demands for strong institutions that bring reliability and serve as solid pillars for civil society engagement. The question keeps coming up: is corruption in the countries of Africa a consequence of 'bad' leadership or is a corrupt elite again and again tolerated by the population? The ethnic identity of rulers and leaders plays a recurring important role – a phenomenon that is often still based on colonial structures.

All these aspects were discussed by 31 participants from ten different African countries at the seminar that took place from 28.11. until 01.12.2022 in Heiligkreuztal. The personal and political experiences of the participants generated a lively and complex discussion. The seminar was planned, led and moderated by Dr. Marko Kuhn and Miriam Rossmerkel from the KAAD office in Bonn and spiritually supported by Fr. Thomas Eggensperger OP.

Four ‘external’ speakers provided valuable input with their presentations. Dr. Ursula Eid, President of the German Africa Foundation, and Dr. Michael Vollstädt from the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) referred to the socio-political aspects and prerequisites of 'good' management and leadership. Prof. Dr. Kathleen Otto (Philipps University of Marburg) and Prof. Dr. Christoph De Oliveira Käppler (Technical University Dortmund) had their focus on psychological considerations as well as the discussion of individual psychological character traits playing a role in leadership (e.g. narcissistic tendencies and desire for self-expression).

A plenary discussion with guests from Africa led to the controversy as to whether the democratic, liberal model of the state is an import from Europe/North America that is not suitable for the African context, or whether there is simply no viable alternative to this construct. The model of the ‘benign dictator' was put up for debate and illustrated with examples from widely admired leaders such as John Magufuli (Tanzania) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda).

The program of the seminar was rounded off by five presentations from ‘internal’ speakers, i.e. participants of the seminar. There were insights into 'leadership' in the media sector in Kenya, in the health sector in Ghana, at the local government level in Kenya, in political design with and for Ethiopian marginalized ethnic groups and in forms of traditional African leadership in Ghana.

The spiritual part of the seminar took place in the form of a joint service followed by an Advent celebration. The seminar concluded with music, mulled wine, cookies, gingerbread and ‘Secret Santa’ among the participants, as well as Christmas stories from the home countries of the scholarship holders.