“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter
Presentation matters. When you must tell people news they may not want to hear, you wrap it in sugar. Koko town is in bad shape. My father had been a poor leader. He’d managed Koko’s revenue poorly. Workers had been unpaid for months. Teachers were on strike. The youth were roaming the streets. They’d become hooligans breaking into houses and robbing townsfolk.
I start with praise. “My people. You of great lineage. You who have overcome tremendous obstacles and challenges. Was it not our ancestors who fought valiantly and won victory in the Kiriji war? Were they not the ones who wrestled this land, this same soil on which we stand from the hands of Ibadan warlords? Does the blood of Asipa not flow through your veins and mine? We are the same people and we can conquer the problems that we face today.” The people gazed back at me, bright-eyed, waiting for my punchline.
“I may only be thirteen years old but I was born to lead. Born to this position of Baale of Koko. Leadership is a calling I feel deep within my heart. I am young but I am not blind to the problems of our town. I am small but together, we can do wonderful things to turn around the fortunes of Koko.
We must rebuild our town. And to rebuild, we must educate ourselves for wealth creation. We must not only teach the children, but also adults – rich, poor, newborn and aged citizen of Koko. What kind of education? Education that would teach us to farm well, build well, create well until every town and city around us knows Koko as a center of excellence. When we’re known for excellence, people will come from everywhere to buy our products, employ our kids, and work in our businesses.”
An older man asked his friend, “What is the small boy talking about? What did we gain from all the arduous work we did years past?” Though I acknowledge their doubts. It is difficult to swallow but Koko’s only way out of this mess, is to educate itself for progress.