LEADERSHIP AND KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION

What constitute good leadership and what is the role of a leader or leadership? Does one have to be elected in Polokwane or put differently is winning the Polokwane leadership contest an embodiment of a good leader or leadership?

Samuel Makinda says, “the term leadership conjures up the image of an exemplary figure; of someone who can help others set goals and achieve them. It also implies the capacity to control, shape or direct an entity, an activity or a process. This capacity requires creative and imaginative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship. Leadership has to be defined in terms of driving or motivating an organization, a state, a government or any group to achieve something. It is the ability, willingness and a commitment to mobilize and utilize the best resources, operational skills and techniques available to attain a given goal or resolve a problem. In other words, good leaders must demonstrate a commitment to seek the best means, or make the necessary sacrifices to pursue the goals that they have set or provide a solution to an existing problem. They should also be able to motivate or inspire their constituents to pursue their goals with confidence.”

To add on what Makinda pointed out, a leader must be righteous. He must be a parent to the orphan, husband to the widow and provide a boat to those without one, as the ancient Egyptian ethics of Maat teaches us. Maat means truth, justice and righteousness. Leadership is diversified and dispersed in society. Yet in South Africa the leadership is taken almost invariably from members and supporters of the ruling party.

Africa needs leaders who can build the continent’s intellectual capital and not those who want to amass wealth for themselves, families and friend and their inner circle. That leadership should come to terms with the fact that natural resources endowment is not a sufficient basis for economic growth; it must be accompanied by investments in science and technology. Investment in science and technology implies establishing the foundation for knowledge production.

It is Makinda’s postulation that Africa remains on the scientific, technological, economic, political and military margins of the world largely because it is a consumer rather than a producer of knowledge. The global structure of knowledge is dominated by the developed world, and Africa is a net consumer of knowledge. No African scientist or economist has been awarded a Nobel Prize and this situation will not change if the current structure of knowledge continues.

As a net consumer of knowledge, Africa applies knowledge that was determined or shaped by non-African contexts. This is because knowledge production is a social and political process, which reflects the social, historical, cultural and institutional values of its producers. Knowledge is constructed for a social, scientific or political purpose and for a particular community of scholars or policy makers. In interpreting data, scientists and other researchers are often influenced by their cultural, social, political, racial values and beliefs. In disseminating research findings, scholars often emphasize some facts while ignoring others, depending on the audience and their own preferences.

Pages: 1 2