CP Scott’s centenary essay: A Hundred Years. What individuals and, collectively, organisations, i.e, management, can learn from it regarding character.

CP Scott’s centenary essay: A Hundred Years, is timeless, powerful, compelling, seductively liberating mentally; or at least, seductively calls and challenges one to seek for mental liberation. It offers valuable lessons on business and organisation management. And above all, it stresses on the importance of character, for instance, how a self-respecting individual in any organisation, irrespective of their station, ought to comport themselves.

Beyond its apparent critical concern on running a newspaper and how to do independent journalism; it’s cross-sectional in terms of its immense relevance to and lessons on business and organisational management. It must be required reading in business courses (studies) and business schools as well as public governance schools and studies, and other forms of social education.

Those who run public (government) and private institutions and other organisations, particularly African governments and other organisations run – rather on personal whims than on public policy and public interest – would benefit greatly from(by) reading this powerful piece on unfettered business and organisational management as well as individual and organisational character building.

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainability/cp-scott-centenary-essay

It always fills me with great joy rereading it, trying to make sense out of the nonsense – the garbage – spewed out dressed in fancy garbs of officialdom; using unintelligible business jargon to project a superior grasp of the theoretical business and organisational management nonsense they do not understand its origin, let alone remotely understanding its proper application.

Character and integrity.

Character and integrity are critical components to the development of both the individual and organisation. Character and integrity not only make an individual a great person, but it’s what makes and defines a great organisation. Organisational character and integrity are critical factors to the longterm sustainability of any organisation, public or private.

Nothing can compensate for the inadequacy or complete lack of character and integrity, in an individual, demonstrable in the willingness – and possibly desire – to self-dehumanise to appeal to – and appease – the whims and fancies of another exalted individual who equally lacks in character and integrity themselves.

We are faced with a new and enormous power and a growing one. Whither is the young giant tending? What gifts does he bring? How will he exercise his privilege and powers? What influence will he exercise on the minds of men and on our public life?” CP Scott, A Hundred Years.

Without character and integrity, it’s impossible to have a sense of duty to oneself: to live one’s ideals and beliefs. One risks living on others’ whims, being tossed back and forth, left, right and centre, much to their delight than – even as reprehensible but at least – to their service.

To the man, whatever his place on the paper, whether on the editorial, or business, or even what may be regarded as the mechanical side– this also vitally important in its place–nothing should satisfy short of the best, and the best must always seem a little ahead of the actual

It is here that ability counts and that character counts, and it is on these that a newspaper, like every great undertaking, if it is to be worthy of its power and duty, must rely.”  CP Scott, A Hundred Years

The Horse and The Horse Rider Relationship, and Leadership Failure.

The relationship of a horse and its rider, is such that the horse is under the direction [leadership] of the horse rider; effectively its master. The horse’s life and livelihood is dependent on, and at the mercy of its master.

When and if the horse strays off and goes into a wrong direction, particularly during a ride, then it’s the fault, therefore failure of the horse rider; and not of the horse. When and if the horse runs into a wall (an object) sending the horse rider flying down on the ground with a bang, possibly into a concussion and/or sustaining a broken back; it’s not and cannot be the fault (failure) of the horse. But it’s squarely the fault (failure) of its rider. That’s leadership (and management) failure in brief.

But the horse rider has the privilege, the prerogative and power to blame the horse for his/her failure. That’s what power does; that’s the privilege of power.

Remove the ability to impose, out of power; and you castrate power.

Power gives almost unlimited options. When you’ve power, you can make vice into virtue and virtue into vice. Power without the ability to impose one’s will or the unwanted and have it stick and prevail in the face of formidable resistance is no power. It’s power in name or on some fancy paper signed; but realistically the teeth to bite have been knocked out and left with the muscle and the tongue to massage, that is, persuade.

But if the horse rider whips the horse into the right direction, and keeps the horse away from running into a wall; is that punishment or leadership (management)? It depends; on whether the whip is part of the necessary tools in the system of horse [leadership] management.

If the horse rider feeds the horse, is it (not) reward, incentivisation and/or the horse rider’s obligation to serve and meet the needs of the horse, so the horse is fit for purpose? So the horse can serve its rider well? Or is it (not) corruption?

There’s a thin line between reward, incentivisation and corruption. But power is the best arbiter. Power is, ultimately, the arbiter of truth and falsehood, of wrong and right, especially if power defines and determines the boundaries of operation.

The relationship between the leader and the led, specifically in Africa irrespective of the claims of democracy, although this is not limited to Africa, is very clear. It’s that of the master and servant. In some cases (and places), it’s typical of that of the horse and its rider.

The concept of “Public Servant” in Africa

The concept of “Public Servant” in Africa is inverted. It’s pure Orwellian speak. The supposedly “Public Servant” in Africa is, in reality, the “Master”; and therefore the served by (members of) the public. It’s the public that bows, in honour, to the “Public Servant” who has and wields extraordinary power, in most cases (and places) with impunity. The “Public Servant” has the authority of a feudal lord over the public which allows them to indulge in mischief against public interests. The public is terrified of the “Public Servant”, of his/her feudal lord authority. The public, therefore and rightly, feels as if it’s under the “tyranny of the Public Servant“.

We live in a world with massive disparity in power.

Those with power can certainly make positive changes as individuals; but a lot needs to change to curb on power abuses. Behind every facade of power lies untold (and/or unspoken about) mischief that causes deep pain and sorrow. That deep pain and sorrow need to be told; but it requires power and the consciousness of a liberated mind; without which, that deep pain and sorrow, will keep eating away on the soul, and eventually kill the soul.

A gargantuan feat of political contradiction and hypocrisy by African governments and dictators: Cognitive Dissonance?

When western power establishment and powerful institutions are on the side of African governments and dictators, tooting their horn, it’s all hunky-dory. When they dare point to their political mischief, or criticise some of their awful actions; suddenly, all hell breaks loose. And all manner of appalling accusations are made, and begin to surface. From ‘imperialist/colonial meddling‘ motivated by ‘imperialist‘ interests and agenda, to anything they can muster, mostly in a shameful attempt to browbeat those who have dared expose their mischief to retract or back down on their criticisms, and to deflect criticisms.

For many Africans, it’s a badge of honour, something to boast about, to be educated/trained in the West – from western institutions of ‘education‘. The more prestigious the institution, the more the boast, and the more arrogant many such western educated/trained are likely to be and feel entitled. They will boast, with such stinking and nauseating arrogance, about their ‘elite‘ education.

In fact, the best way for the West to appropriate and/or co-opt the African mind, is to ‘educate‘ it. The best way for the West to recruit and get Africans plugged into the western ‘matrix‘, is to extend more scholarships and ‘educational‘ and training programmes to more Africans, and ensure western institutions of ‘education‘ admit more Africans into and walk their corridors.

Western educated/trained African dictators.

Most post-so-called ‘independence‘ African countries have gravitated between governments of military dictatorships and civilian dictatorships. Most of such governments have been led by western educated/trained individuals.

Most post-so-called ‘independence‘ African armies have been led by western trained officers, in one way or another. Many post-so-called ‘independence‘ African military dictators and military coup leaders have either been fully trained by, or gone through and have had military training programmes, in one way or another, in some of the ‘elite‘ western military academies. These individuals ride high on their military training and background in such so-called ‘elite‘ western military academies. And many indoctrinated Africans adulate them and put a high premium on their abilities, often overrated, with no practical relevance to their environments.

It’s not and has not been uncommon, whenever there’s a military coup in any African country, as some sort of indication of quality, that the first thing highlighted and emphasised about the coup leader, is their military training by (and from) some of the ‘elite‘ western military academies.

Most post-so-called ‘independence‘ African armies have been trained, in one way or another, by western military forces. Post-so-called ‘independence‘ African military forces have been extended with and therefore, benefited from western military training and assistance programmes. Many indoctrinated Africans will brag about – and proudly ride on – how some of their top military brass have been trained in some of the world’s (often the West) best and ‘elite‘ military academies. How they’re US, British or French trained military officers. How they’re CIA or M6 (British) trained intelligence officers, et cetera.

Strangely, however, when such individuals are criticised by western power establishments and other powerful western institutions, some of which they have been through or worked with, for their egregious behaviour and actions; these proudly western educated/trained Africans – military and civilian officers – defend themselves against their makers by accusing them – their western makers – of their ‘imperialist‘ agenda.

They cry foul and lament about western ‘meddling‘ in their national affairs. Hence, in their defence, they often turn to and mobilise or order their already oppressed and browbeaten populace to protest against what these western educated/trained African dictators conveniently label as an ‘attack‘ on their ‘national independence‘ and/or ‘sovereignty‘. Yet, before the criticisms or ‘attacks‘, they have been cosying up and working with (and/or for) the same forces (people) they accuse of harbouring and being motivated by ‘imperialist‘ interests and agenda.

However, when the same western power establishments and other powerful western institutions are speaking and/or writing favourably about them – tooting their horn, they don’t see or for expediency, ignore the underlying, quite frankly, condescending ‘imperialist‘ interests and agenda. Instead, they’re happy as they can be. They invite some of the powerful individuals in/from western power establishments and other western powerful institutions to their ‘State Houses’ and presidential palaces, villas, mansions for ‘State banquets’ and revel in State sponsored opulence.

Maybe it’s time African governments and dictators stopped boasting about, ordered their indoctrinated and oppressed people to stop pointing to their ‘elite‘ western education/training. Instead, accept it might, after all, contribute to and encourage their dictatorial behaviour and tendencies.

Africa’s search for foreign value and validation: the obsession for foreign advocacy and the expensive (hiring of) foreign PR firms and communications experts (gurus).

It’s hard to confidently say whether it is a uniquely African phenomenon or a widely used tactical approach, mainly in the political world, where foreign advocacy on local (national) issues is given more weight and value than local voices/advocacy.

It’s obvious that African governments and their officials attach high value on what foreigners and/or foreign agencies think and therefore say about them and their affairs more than they care to engage and pay attention to what their people think and say on issues that directly affect them. Consequently, many African governments and their officials have become, and are increasingly growing dependent as well as highly sensitive on foreign opinions about them than they are concerned with local (national) opinions on their policies and the behaviour of some government officials.

Many African governments and their officials are constantly chasing for foreign validation than they care to engage and listen to the genuine concerns of the people they, supposedly and ironically, claim to represent. Local concerns and grievances are of little consequence to such governments and their officials, and therefore can be and are easily ignored without direct consequences. All they care for is foreign (international) concern and perception about their behaviour and actions.

This is mainly due to the fact that, the public – the ordinary citizens – have no effective stake, participation in the affairs of governance: what governments and their officials do, supposedly on people’s behalf. The people are treated as a mere non-essential product in the governance process and government affairs. The government can do with or without them; so, sod the people, after all!

In most cases, the ordinary people have no power at all to influence government policies and actions, and the behaviour of government officials some of whom behave and act with impunity towards and in their often overly patronising engagement with the public. Governments and their officials behave and act like feudal lords over the people – the public – who they evidently treat as their serfs.

Consequently, this government behaviour and mindset, has brought about the phenomenon of the “reign of the tyranny of the public servant/government official“. This is because people have been systematically and effectively robbed of power by the[ir] governments through the mechanism of policy: using policy as a whip with which to whip the public in line with government agenda, whether it’s in public interest or not, and have the public cowed into silence.

Increasingly, many African governments are turning to and hiring, quite expensively, foreign public relations (PR) agencies/firms and influential media houses to speak for them; on their behalf. To do something of an “image building” for them by writing glowingly and painting rosy impressions of their (domestic) policies. Obviously relying on and using fictitious tactics and methods to create a certain desirable reality that enhances government image internationally.

It’s strange and a shameful contradiction that demonstrates a lack of ideological conviction and political maturity as well as independence; to have and hear, on the one hand, many such African governments and their officials publicly, in a rather chest-thumping manner, speaking ill and complaining about colonialists and their “neo-colonial” agenda in Africa; yet, on the other hand, running and paying hefty sums of, what’s assumed to be public funds, to colonialist agencies for their colonialist image building (enhancing) expertise.

It’s mainly in Africa, if not a uniquely an African phenomenon, where the affairs and policies of an African government, supposedly in public interest, are communicated, lauded and written about glowingly by, and appear often more in, foreign media outlets. Spoken and written about glowingly by foreign officials and other communications agencies than they are written about by local agencies and/or publicly lauded by the people – the public- who are directly affected by or stand to benefit from them.

It speaks volumes about such governments, many of which claim to be “democratic“, therefore guided by principles of democracy. But what is a democratic government if it is not, fundamentally, or, at the very least; in the words of President Abraham Lincoln “government of the people, by the people, for the people“?

What kind of government puts trust in, values and puts a high premium on foreign voices (advocacy) for its policies and activities on its own people more than it trusts, and can trust its own people to speak for themselves and by implication, speak for it and on its policies and actions?

What message does and should that send about the government’s attitude towards, not only the professional expertise and capacity/ability of its own citizens, but also its own policies on national professional development, i.e, mainly the national education system?

Of what use is a national education system that cannot produce competent people (minds) that can and should be trusted by their own governments, to speak on and about national issues on an international level, be taken seriously and trusted as much as hired foreign mercenary expertise?

What message should such demonstrated government behaviour and actions, more importantly, its clear lack of trust in the professional expertise, capacities and abilities of its own citizens, send to such hired foreign mercenary expertise (foreign consultants) and the entire international community?

If a government, demonstrably, cannot and does not trust the professional expertise, capacities and abilities of its own citizens as to entrust them with advocacy on its behalf, for its policies, activities, actions and other national matters; who should bother put trust in them; and why should they?

The African is caught between two forces in the world

On the one hand, the world is committed to teaching the African out of his/her Africanness – how not to be African; yet, on the other hand, the African is constantly reminded – by the same world – of his/her ‘Africanness’.

So, naturally, the African buffeted by these two extreme forces on both sides, will be pushed to defend himself/herself by demonstrating that he/she has agency over his/her own identity and destiny. Ironically, to do and achieve that, the psychologically battered and defeated African will always, almost unfailingly, turn to the same world that has inflicted that psychological torture on him/her, for what the African has been made to believe are the tools of “empowerment“.

The African will therefore seek, from his/her tormentor, all possible tools of empowerment – mental, physical, socioeconomic and whatever else the African has been made to believe (swallow), by his/her tormentor is what he/she (African) needs to stand up to his/her tormentor. The African runs for protection from his/her abuser.

The African truly believes his/her tormentor is committed to (and can) teach or empower him/her enough to the point that the African can stand shoulder to shoulder with and rival his/her tormentor. Put simply, the African, in his/her glorious naivety, believes the tormentor can and will empower the tormented to torment his/her tormentor.

So, the African will seek his/her tormentor’s education, effectively adopting his/her tormentor’s value system. The African will copy and paste his/her tormentor’s way of life (lifestyle) and socioeconomic development model and the tormentor’s tormenting systems. But more importantly, the African will be extremely concerned with – and highly values – what and how his/her tormentor thinks and perceives of him/her, especially in his/her ambitious attempt to stand up to his/her tormentor, who has been a little generous to empower him/her.

This concern, therefore, creates a certain unpredictable level of anxiety in the mind of the African to the degree that whenever the tormentor raises a slight concern on how the African uses his/her acquired power (tormenting systems); the African will panic with uncontrolled anxiety. Because of that panic and uncontrolled anxiety; and not sure how to deal with his/her tormentor, the African will, again, instead, run to his/her tormentor to seek help.

So, it becomes a cycle of dependency; which, in effect, creates, in the mind of the African, the need and therefore makes the African feel bound to (always) seek for his/her tormentor’s validation on his/her (African’s) actions.

This explains why, when Africans are battered by western forces such as the powerful western media, will still run to western media and other communications ‘experts‘ for help, pay them extortionate amounts, so they can help them out to deal with their own on behalf of Africans.

Pathetic, as Eeyore would say!