Donald M. Bishop, "Quotable: Kristin Lord on servant leadership, entrepreneurship, and the Mandela Washington Fellows," publicdiplomacycouncil.org; see also.
Sunday, October 2nd 2016
Nowhere is this emerging tide of new African leader more manifest than with the nearly 2000 young women and men from every country in sub-Saharan Africa who have been selected as Mandela Washington Fellows of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) since 2014.
Author: Kristin M. Lord (President and CEO of IREX)
Source: The Hill
Date: September 12, 2016
- Sixteen years into the 21st century, Africa’s narrative is shaping up to be very different than those of earlier centuries. Africa is, right now, richer, healthier, safer, more peaceful, better educated, and more democratic than anytime in modern history. Substantial challenges persist, to be sure, but overall Africa is on the move – and, mostly, on the rise.
- Across Africa, there is an explosion of entrepreneurship, artistic creativity, cutting-edge design and scrappy tech-savviness.
- There are three cell phones for every four Africans; and, in Nairobi, the Silicon Savannah, it is easier to pay for a cab by cell phone than it is in New York City.
- Business incubators are popping up at a steady clip, and more than half of Africa’s 49 countries now have a start-up type tech hub that is providing critical digital and business infrastructure to a burgeoning class of technologists.
- And these new entrepreneurs and business people are not just enriching themselves. In visits to five African countries in the last several months, I witnessed among young people a stunning commitment to positive social change, as well as economic growth.
- Africa’s transformation stems not just from shifting demographics, but from changing conceptions of leadership as well. Young Africans are turning from a past dominated by leaders like Sani Abacha, Idi Amin or Charles Taylor, and instead are embracing the transparent and hopeful model of “servant leadership” embodied by Nelson Mandela. They are also bringing leadership to every dimension of their societies.
- Across the continent, young Africans are taking control of their futures and doing the same for their towns, cities and countries. They are rejecting clientelism, corruption, greed, authoritarianism and fear-mongering; and, instead, they are innovating a distinctly-African form of leadership that draws its energy from what Mandela calls the “endless heroism of youth.”
- Nowhere is this emerging tide of new African leader more manifest than with the nearly 2000 young women and men from every country in sub-Saharan Africa who have been selected as Mandela Washington Fellows of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) since 2014. They are a microcosm of Africa at its best with established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation, inclusion, diversity and openness in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries. They are start-up entrepreneurs, environmental champions, LGBTQ advocates, paralympians, journalists, media content providers, AIDS activists, judges, city council members, mental health pioneers, mayors, and members of parliament -- to name just a few.
- The 2016 Mandela Fellows convened in Washington, D.C. earlier this month, meeting with U.S. congressional, administration and civic leaders, culminating with a spirited and inspiring Town Hall with President Obama.
- Mandela Fellows are exemplars of servant leadership, the main characteristics of which are listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community.
- In just three years, the Mandela Washington Fellowship has already begun to yield a dramatic return on investment. It is effective, cost-efficient and personally and professionally transformative for the participants.
- And it is emboldening an entire generation of young Africans to reinvent what leadership means by giving them both hope and the practical tools they need to reshape a continent that is at a critical tipping point. Africa is beginning to show the world what the new face of servant leadership could look like, and it serves us all to recognize and encourage this movement.