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.”

Makinda continued to say that when researchers convey their findings, they do so in their language; and language cannot be value-neutral. Sometimes scientific knowledge is interpreted to suit the interests of funding agencies. It is this value-laden knowledge that African scholars and policy makers consume. We need to question some of the untenable theories we consume especially because those theories come and go. If one looks at the history of medicine, there were so many wrong things that were not challenged until after a long time. An example is serum injection and lately the history of how Aids spread. It makes absolutely no sense. Vaccines as safe an effective interventions have also been debunked but pharmaceutical multinational companies are pumping a lot of money in funding some scientists and PR firms to embark on propaganda campaigns.

While we may need help from foreign institutions, we should also utilize our indigenous knowledge. Many universities on the continent were run aground by lack of funding for research and meddling of a political nature. African universities should be funded for research and there must be no political interference in the running of those institutions.

By Sam Ditshego

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