Leadership refers to the position of heading a group of people, a team, an organization or any other undertaking in the society.

In our modern society, different individuals have almost similar knowledge on leadership. Among others, the following are the common thoughts people have about leadership.

   Leadership today is understood as having the power to control the affairs of the community. For this matter a leader is held responsible for all the community's undertaking and is always consulted before a decision is taken. The question of “who gave you the authority?” can best explain this point.

   To some individuals, leadership is one's commitment in serving the needs of his or her people. People therefore expect leaders to serve the interests of the community.

   In our modern society, leadership has to be learned. People expect leaders to undergo some training in order to acquire the skills necessary in the execution of duties. This is why qualifications are required in almost all public positions.

   Leadership nowadays entails being morally upright. To be a leader, the society expects one to have a sound moral background with regard to his or her behaviour.

   Some people associate leadership with wealth. Majority of people expect a leader to be richer than the subordinate. Besides this, others look at leadership as being the true source of getting rich.

   Leadership is being regarded as a form of employment but not a service to the society. Such individuals do feel that leadership is simply an occupation for one's own benefit.

Some individuals associate leadership with enjoying privileges in the community. This may include respect, having an office, free transport, medical care, accommodation and many

A good leader should be a person who is resourceful. Such a person should be able to initiate his or her own way of dealing with practical problems, threatening the survival of the subordinates.

A good leader is also a person who is optimistic (hopeful). Such a fellow should not abandon his or her duties during times of difficulty. He or she should expect that the best could still be achieved in the near future instead of giving up.

A good leader should be intelligent. He or she should be able to use his or her wisdom or knowledge in a meaningful way. This is important in solving problems affecting the smooth running of the community.

A good leader should be able to delegate some of his duties to others at a lower level. This is important because he or she may not be perfect in doing everything.

A good leader should be exemplary in both words and actions. This can work as a driving force for other members to follow and behave in the same way. This eventually creates an atmosphere for harmonious living in the community.

In the modern times, a good leader should be a person who is educated. A trained leader can serve a society characterized by many tribes, religions and cultures in a better way. This is because of the knowledge and the skills acquired.

A good leader should also be energetic. This is important for one to carry out the assigned duties effectively.


Anyone who exercises leadership is expected to play some significant roles in the lively hood of that given community. The roles may differ from individual to individual depending on the different nature of the leadership. Among others, the following are some of the roles of our modern leaders.  

Leaders should protect and guard against mistreatment of one party by another. The police and the local councils among others are on the forefront in doing this duty.

Leaders also play the role of building and developing the spiritual life of their subordinates.

This is a function of religious leaders such as bishops, priests, pastors, sisters and others. Such leaders engage and encourage constant prayers, baptism and bible studies among their subjects. This eventually leads to spiritual growth and maturity.

Leaders also provide employment opportunities to their people. The leaders in this case may appoint and promote people into a job or position. Others give out loans; set up projects such that their people are self-employed.

Leaders in some circles are playing the role of sustaining families. This is the case with parents who are providing their families with basic needs such as food, clothing, medical care and others.

Some leaders are playing the role of upholding and preserving the cultural values of their people. Traditional cultures including circumcision, funeral rites, twin dancing and others have not died because there are people assigned to protect them on behalf of the people.

Leaders are also playing the role of providing social services such as education, medical care and others. Building schools, hospitals and others are making this possible.

The leaders are playing the role of keeping our environment clean and healthy. This is done through providing facilities such as slashers, containers for garbage and even vehicles for collecting garbage.

Some leaders are acting as lawgivers. Leaders such as parliamentarians who are representing the views of the electorates are actively playing this role. This is aimed at creating an atmosphere for harmonious living.

Failures of leaders today.

Some modern leaders have failed to realize the need of serving the interests of their people. In such cases, the leaders tend to put themselves above their subjects, mistreat them and above all deny them the services they rightfully deserve.

The failures of some leaders therefore include the following.

Some of the modern leaders are corrupt. Such leaders tend to use public facilities such as funds, drugs and others to meet their selfish gains. This leaves the general population to suffer.

Some leaders impose heavy taxation on to their subjects. To make it worst the method of collection is always cruel and harsh even when one cannot afford to pay. Such taxes leave the people poorer. This renders them helpless to obtain the basic needs in life.

Other leaders practice and promote sectarianism, nepotism and tribalism. Such leaders tend to favour one group of people at the expense of the other. This is what is promoting disunity and lack of understanding among the masses.

Through engaging in arbitrary arrest of their subjects, some of our modern leaders are failing to play their roles as servants. In such cases, the victims are tortured for no good reason even to the point of death.

In many institutions, leaders are subjecting their subordinates to corporal punishments like terrible beating, carrying on heavy work without resting, blind folding. These punishments may cause permanent damage to the victim,

Some modern leaders are agents of murder. They may either plan for the killing or get involved in the actual killing. This is a failure because they should have been the ones III preserve and protect human life.

In other sciases, leaders do instigate civil wars as a means of solving conflicts or disagreement within the community. During such wars, atrocities including raiding, looting property, rape and defilement are committed. This subjects the population to a lot of suffering.

Some modern leaders are power hungry. They feel that they are the only ones capable of running the affairs of the community. Such leaders have failed to hand over their positions to others even when they are failing in their administration.

Some leaders tend to oppress and exploit their subjects. Employers oppress and exploit their employees through long hours of work with low or little and delayed payments. This is selfishness in serving others.

In some families, parents tend to ignore their duties. Children are denied basic needs such as education, medical care, and food. This is a failure on the side of parents to serve their children and the community.     

Some leaders deny their subjects the right to associate. For example, in political fields, leaders of some ruling parties are always against any opposition grouping. This means that such leaders are after serving their interests only.

Service and Leadership in African Traditional Society

The idea of leadership in African traditional society was an important entity in the life of the community. Leadership was linked to the existence of God. For this reason, leaders were greatly valued and respected among the traditional Africans.

How Leadership was attained in Traditional Africa.

In traditional Africa, there were known ways through which one could acquire leadership. Among others, the following summarized considerations were important for one to become a leader.

Some people became leaders by right of birth especially in a royal family. In such a situation, the King would pass on his authority to either his first-born son or the nephew (son of his brother).

In other cases, people became leaders through heroism. Such individuals must have done something wonderful for the benefit of the rest of the community such as winning a war, killing a lion or a leopard that could have attacked a given village.  

Leadership in traditional Africa was linked to getting aged. Elderly people were considered physically nearer to the spirit world, respected for the more experience in life and above all for transmitting life. The elders were therefore considered the living wisdom and symbols of the continuity with the past.

In some communities, the marital status of an individual was considered for one to become a leader. In this case, a married man with many disciplined wives and children would stand a greater chance of becoming a leader. It was believed that such a man would use the same administrative skills and knowledge to control the affairs of the society.

Some people acquired leadership through a general consensus. A council of elders who would agree on one particular individual during their meetings conducted this process. This council of elders was the body responsible for appointing clan leaders, local chiefs, advisors and ritual leaders. Their decisions were therefore respected and observed by all people.

In some given cases, elections were held in choosing a leader. Here, the general population was given the chance to choose a leader of their own interests.

Material wealth such as having many cattle, goats, sheep, enough food stuff and land was also important in acquiring leadership in traditional Africa. Such people were believed to be generous and that they would be able to support the subordinates in times of difficulties such as famine and death.

Specialists with artistic skills such as black smith, hunter, dancer, magician, diviners and musicians would naturally become leaders in their different fields. Such people were valued and respected tor their services being rendered to the community.

Some societies considered qualities such as strength, courage, up rightness, preserving and protecting traditional community values in choosing leaders. Any individual with such qualities would be elected as a leader to represent the interests of the members.

Some individuals became leaders through inheritance. A son for example would be responsible for heading the family upon the death of his father.

Weaknesses of African traditional leaders

In the African past, some leaders were cruel and tyrannical. They had absolute powers. This was the very reason that made the subordinate to serve them with fear. This gave room for the leaders to oppress and exploit their subjects as summarized below.

1.         Leaders in the African past were dictatorial. Leaders such as Kings and chiefs put themselves above their subjects. Their words were final and not to be questioned by any other known authority.

2.         Leaders in traditional Africa were warmongers. Quite often, they would drag their subjects into inter-tribal wars with the intention of conquering more states. This only served to their selfish ambitions of being regarded as powerful and respected in the society. But this was oppression on the side of the subjects who had to lose their dear Iives.

3.         Some leaders in the African past levied heavy taxes on their subjects. Whoever could fail to fulfill this obligation was regarded as an enemy to that community. The method for tax collection was even very harsh and ruthless.

4.         Some traditional African leaders practiced forced labour. This was exploitation because the subjects were pushed to do so against their will.

5.         Some leaders in African past claimed the ownership of all property in the community. In Buganda, the king (the Kabala) had full authority over land, cattle and even peoples wives.

6.         Slavery practices were recognized and officially accepted by the leaders. This was even made worse when the masses looked upon it as being their service to the leaders such as the Kings and the chiefs. This instead subjected the subordinates to suffering.

7.         The traditional African leaders oppressed their subjects through, forceful military recruitment. The male youth in particular were made to serve in the army even when they were not interested.

8.         Some African traditional leaders engaged in forced marriages. In such cases, leaders like parents would push their children especially the girls to get married because of the desire for wealth such as cows.

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