A leader of hyenas smells like hyenas

By Victor Angula |

If you’re a leader of Romans you must look and smell like Romans. And if you’re a leader of Himbas you must look and smell like a Himba.

This is a statement that, if understood, can be a game changer for political leadership across the world. More so in Africa, where leadership has been leading around in circles.

In two years’ time the time of President Hage Geingob as head of this country will come to an end. So far he has completed eight years at State House, and looking at his track record for these years of his presidency one can just see that he did not lead the nation anywhere.

Leadership was absent during his tenure. All he has been doing is to engage in management and administration activities. Just managing the country and presiding over its affairs.

The chief responsibility of leadership is to lead, to lead is to let others follow you out of something or follow you to somewhere. Leadership means movement from one place or one condition to a better one.

The state of the economy is possibly worse than how Geingob found it, tribalism might be worse, and, if not for the generous social safety net (grants for vulnerable children and old age grants) the living conditions of Namibians would be worse today than before Geingob took office.

Make no mistake to think that Geingob is a bad president, or that he is the worst head of state Namibia had so far.

President Geingob would have been the best president for Namibia so far, and he indeed has most of the advantages like a sharp mind, and ability to understand some of the most crucial principles of governance.

What made Geingob to fail at leadership is the fact that he allowed his administration to be immodest. By that I mean his lifestyle is far removed from the daily challenges of life of the common citizen. And so his administration became immodest because he himself was immodest.

In other words, both Geingob and his administration (his cabinet) did not look like or smell like the nation they were trying to lead.

They lived in luxury houses while the majority of the nation lived in shacks and in structures made out of grass and sticks. They ate the best food, sent their children to the best (private) schools, and their wives got medical attention at the best (private) hospitals, while the majority of the people they were claiming to lead were living the opposite life.

Geingob failed at leadership because during his time as president he smelled the opposite of what the people of Namibia were smelling. Geingob is smelling money, while the people are smelling poverty.

A leader of hyenas must smell like a hyena. This is because a leader of a group is always a member of the group, always amongst them rubbing shoulders and sharing synergies. There is no gap between the leadership and the rest of the group.

This does not mean that a leader of poor people must remain poor like everyone else. It means that since the job of leadership is to lead out of poverty, as the leader is getting rich and richer the rest of the group must also get rich and richer.

Leadership says “let’s get out of here, all of us.”

It’s when the chief hyena does not look like nor smell like other hyenas that such a hyena will go off by itself and acquire for itself whatever, having no regard for the group which is left behind.

Otherwise a real leader sticks with the group, moving together and leaving no one behind. Or else there is no leadership at all.

– Victor Angula is the Editor-in-Chief of Omutumwa.