Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ethics and Law of Rule in African Leadership: Case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Tonight, Jeff and I had an opportunity to go and listen to Dr. Oscar Kashala, 2006 & 2011 Presidential Candidate, Democratic Republic of the Congo and National President, Union for the Rebuilding of the Congo.

It was fascinating!

I was really struck by the humility of this man. To him, those going into leadership must do it to serve the people. When asked, during the Q&A portion, how he intended to win the election when he was not in the country, his response was that his campaign was based on the people and the party in place. He is very well educated, holding an M.D., Ph.D., and D.Sc; He is an internationally recognized cancer specialist. Dr. Kashala is also a faculty member at several universities in DRC and in the US, one of which is Harvard University. On top of all that, he holds an executive position at an American pharmaceutical company. All of this is evidence leading to the assumption that he is humble, because of his willingness to leave all that he has accomplished in the U.S. to return to DRC (a very dangerous country - especially for a presidential candidate!). He seemed to really care about making changes in his country.

I was also struck by how human he seemed. After expressing gratitude to be at the University of St Thomas speaking and thanking many who helped make his lecture possible, he paused to say he needed to consult with his Communications Director because he did not have his speech at the lectern with him. This got a laugh from the audience. Throughout his speech, there were a few quips here and there that provoked subtle laughter from the audience. I thought it really helped to keep me focused.

Here are a few, sparse notes that Jeff attempted to take while listening to the lecture. I, of course, didn't bring anything to take notes with or on, but many of the same things struck me as well.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is very rich in resources.
It has the highest infant/maternal mortality rate in Africa.
87.3% unemployment rate
99% of the population lives in poverty, on less than $1/day.
Many families do what is known as "eating by rotation." (Ex. In a family of four, the parents eat one day, child one the next day, child two the next, then back to the parents).
Africa's colonial past has been devastating, leaving a power vacuum.
DRC is lagging behind Africa in development.

Ethics is a moral compass guiding one to what is right and wrong (can vary).

Rule of law enables obligation, rights, etc.
It allows for arbitration.
It is a standard of how to behave and punishment for failure.
It is necessary for an efficient society.
It is critical - no individual should be exempt.
It is crucial for economic development.

Leadership is the ability to compel all people to do what you believe is right.
It cannot be isolated from the people.

A major problem for post-colonial countries has been that the leadership that rose up against their suppressors was that of a particular caliber. When fighting for freedom, a different type of leader is needed from one who can operate a country. It is a different skill set. This has been problematic for many countries in Africa.

Service in government, at any level, is a privilege - and should be treated so.

What can't people with money affect change for good and take a leadership role for the community??

Good leaders must have some level of intelligence; the current president of DRC was educated only to the 4th grade level!

DRC is selling all its resource rights - mineral, water, forest, etc.

Congolese people are traumatized; rape is rampant; families are murdered.

Overall, Jeff and I truly enjoyed this experience and hope to take advantage of more lecture opportunities in the future. We also hope to somewhat follow the future of DRC. Dr. Kashala seemed to make a lot of sense to us, and we will be curious to see if he is able to get elected and affect the change necessary to end corruption and better his country!


Serge said...

Hi Clarinda,
Thank you for your post.
I wanted to attend Dr Kashala's lecture, but was unable to as I reside in South Africa.
So you really helped, I feel as if I was part of the audience,
I admire Dr Kashala's courage and intellect, We need more leaders like him in Africa.

Anonymous said...

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