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True leadership does not endanger others

By Cosmas Butunyi | April 6th 2020

Can one still consider himself a leader when he demonstrates utter disinterest in the welfare of those he purports to lead?

Is there any logical reason that could justify defiance to a well meaning public health directive to protect others? Is there even a rationale for taking choices that deliberately put one's society, and the entire mankind, in harm's way by encouraging spread of the highly contagious Coronavirus?

This, coming from the same person who once upon a time took oath to 'truly and diligently serve the people and Republic of Kenya'. By virtue of the office that he holds, he is expected to be at the frontline in working out strategies to protect the people of the county and the rest of the republic from the pandemic.

But alas! Arriving from a place stricken by the disease, he chooses to unreasonably disregard counsel to safeguard others, including family and colleagues – even if he did not care for the people who elected him. 1n the process, he exposes many to great risk, frustrating sustained efforts to contain the disease.

Any woke citizen who does not even bear such burden of responsibility would probably make better choices. Faced with the advisory to head over to self-quarantine, such a citizen would gladly oblige. But not our leaders.

These are the same leaders who live in total disregard of regulations of any kind –from traffic to social decorum - mostly, because they can. After all, they would not want to go through mandatory security checks or be driven in accordance with traffic regulations, like mere mortals.

ln their minds, they are different.

Aren't they our leaders? In an ideal world, leadership is about service to others – always looking out for the greater public good. It is about putting others way before the self. It cannot still be leadership when it puts others in danger.

Strangely, the so-called leader will feel nothing as he continues to enjoy perks of the position these same people put him in. Of course, do not hold your breath, expecting the culprit to resign in embarrassment for deliberately spreading disease - this is Kenya.

Neither will we the people collectively put our foot down, demanding that he steps aside (or is pushed aside) for bringing affliction to our doorsteps and perpetuating its spread.

In this side of the world, all that matters to those of us who are led is the leader's political affiliation and ethnic background; everything else we can work around. Like a local politician once aptly noted, we always get the leaders we deserve.

We have lowered the threshold for public leadership so much. It is not just for elective positions though. The same goes for appointed public service positions too. At some point it seemed like appointing a barely literate old person to chair a parastatal board was shocking.

Not until really senior government positions began being doled out to functionally illiterate people, entrusting them to be our envoys across the world while on cabinet duty. Can anything shock us anymore? 1n our typical function, we initially figured that the problem is not with us - the leaders and the led. How could it? It must have been the laws.

These sharp brains argued that the legal framework was insufficient to draw a line in the sand to keep away mediocrity from leadership cadres.

So, we had it inked in the supreme law of the land, even dedicating an entire section -- Chapter Six of the Constitution of Kenya on Leadership and lntegrity.

Many years later, we are still in a rocking chair at the same spot We continue to be led by all manners of characters. So, clearly, the law is not the problem.

Until we recognize that we, the led, are the problem with our leadership, the trend will continue.

We have gotten so used to mediocrity that we no longer expect, or demand, better. It is so bad that we get mesmerized when, once in a while, we encounter a public servant living by their aths of office.

Even for the leaders, it is worth remembering that everything is transient Positions, like moneY, sound health, fit body and all the friends and admirers that this brings could be gone in a flash.

The only thing that endures is the legacies we leave behind! Who would want to be remembered as that leader who fueled the spread of a highly contagious disease?

[email protected]/ @butunyi

Covid 19 Time Series


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