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The Roles and Functions of Leaders in Traditional Africa

The Roles and Functions of Leaders in Traditional Africa

This posting is a sequel to the write-up “A Historical/Reflection: Leadership in Primitive Africa. When the roles and functions of leaders in classic Africa are examined and viewed as collectively with the way leaders were recognized or acknowledged, the conventional thought in African management can be absolutely recognized. In this section thus the job of the leaders will be examined so that one particular can have a entire comprehension of the standard strategy in African management.


In discussing the way leaders had been identified or admit in traditional Africa. Some of the capabilities they performed have been stated in passing. These capabilities will now be mentioned in extra particulars. At this position the dialogue will be focused on kings who dominated greater sections and chiefs, who dominated more compact sections less than him. It would be useful to initial have an thought of the variety of romantic relationship that may possibly exist in between a king and his issue.

According to Magbaily Fyle, it is recognized at the coronation of the Temne King in Sierra Leone that he, the King, purchased the state from all the significant industrial groups, like fishermen, carpenters and shoemakers, by providing them offers. Thus if they fail to give him his customary gifts afterwards, he could legitimately fantastic them because he experienced acquired the state. All segment city or villages sent tribute to him in the type of grain, cattle and other merchandise when a calendar year following every single harvest. These things ended up regarded as as provides, and failure to send these factors is interpreted as rise up. The chief made use of some of these items to reward trustworthy servants and assisted those people who experienced bad harvest. It can be mentioned that in this connection, units have been place in area for the men and women to consider treatment of their king and also for the king to support individuals in will need. In using treatment of the persons, the king performs the following functions: he operates the working day-to-working day affairs of his have city and segment. For case in point, he acts as decide in settling disputes for the people. He requires the final decision to go to war, despite the fact that in session with the elders of the condition. In accordance to Magbaily Fyle, the king did not rule by yourself, he could not misuse his authority. If he did, the persons just shift absent and he would be a king with no topics. Kings and chiefs have council of elders who guide them. In a dispute or a time of decision-building, these folks discussion just before the king or chief pronounces the final decision. Leaders of key societies have been one more group of leaders stated. They have been responsible to teach youthful adult men in pursuits of manhood these kinds of as, hunting, battling, the use of a variety of herbs to treatment ailments etc. Leaders of woman societies also performed a related operate.

These indigenous African leaders did not just occupy positions but truly served the people today. Due to the fact the Indigenous Management was also influenced by western idea of leadership, it would be valuable to look at the regular roles and functions of African leaders who were being affected by western ideas.

THE ROLES AND Functionality OF AFRICAN LEADERS Motivated BY WESTERN Notion OF Leadership

As previously pointed out, western powers proven couple of African states but colonized most. If one particular is to look at the traditional strategy of African leadership, the time period of consideration need to be up to the period of time when most African international locations received their independence. That point marked not only liberty from westerners, but also the enhancement of their standard leadership thought. Functions surrounding the independence of some African states would be considered in this section.

1) Leadership Roles and Functions of the Liberated
Africans and Settlers in Sierra Leone

In his guide “Creoledom” Arthur porter, manufactured the next observations about freed slaves who were being resettled in a coastal space of West Africa, which afterwards grew to become recognized as Sierra Leone. He mentioned that a lot of of the freed slaves who arrived from Nova Scotia had been Christians and on arrival, they set up chapels by themselves. He noted that these church buildings have been not organizations devoted only to support and worship. He mentioned that these churches ended up not firm devoted only to provider and worship. They had been also facilities of social lifetime in the group, offering a area of action in which the freed Negroes could acquire condition and exercise management. In accordance to Porter, “The church offered an simple opportunity for position enhancement to those people with aspiration for leadership. So lots of with fantastic potential and drive of individuality if not academic difference, shortly broke away and gathered their very own following”. It can be noticed that opposite to what some people sense, western concepts have been not imposed on Africans. The freed slaves experienced lost or had been not even aware of the indigenous thought of leadership in Africa. They acknowledged the western ideas as common as Arthur Porter noticed.

“The inflow of liberated Africans into Freetown neighborhood, where by the settlers had already established a normal based mostly on western strategies, had confronted the government with a important social trouble Porter mentioned that the liberated Africans experienced to deal with a folks who experienced acknowledged church going and membership of a religious team as aspect of their way of existence. In addition, all those who exercised political leadership above the men and women were being possibly appointed or elected, and so turned the norm when electrical power was gradually handed above to the individuals. Just before energy was finally handed more than to the Africans, the British who pioneered this venture had succeeded in uniting the indigenes and the settlers under one nation. It is in this context that a single could rightly say that the common management concept in Sierra Leone was totally developed. This influence of western concepts of leadership in Africa can also be noticed in other African nations that ended up colonized by western powers.

2) Management Roles and Functions of African Political

Walter T. Wallbank, in the guide, “Civilization Earlier and Current”, stated that, “the most sizeable accomplishment of imperialism was its transmission of innovative Western political and social tips to underdeveloped societies the explosive notion of democracy, parliamentary govt and nationalism”. Just about every African region that was colonized experienced the affect of western culture, which resulted in the mix of western and indigenous ideas of management in African international locations. Wallbank additional pointed out that the make contact with with the European modes of lifestyle rapidly undermined previous faiths, customs, tribal loyalty and social establishments and in accordance to him “the African as however belong exclusively neither to his old tribal environment nor to that of the white man”. This western-indigenous blend of leadership principles can be viewed in political management as African nations gained their independence. A quick account of circumstances bordering the independence of four African nations can provide out the thought obviously and expose the leaders position and functions. Wallbank stated,” Ghana was the first country south of the Sahara to rise out of subservience to the white man. In 1957, Kwame Nkrumah the primary minister was the idol of African nationalists and his newly freed nation was the image of liberalism and democracy in emergent Africa. But pretty much instantly Nkrumah commenced to muzzle the push and imprison the opposition. In accordance to Wallbank, “Nkrumah designed swiftly into an outright dictator in the typical mould”.

Nigeria was also yet another region colonized by the British. There were much more than two hundred tribes in the nation and a dozen significant languages. This nation was united in a variety of state-framework and was taught to be the finest case in point of democracy in Africa. The try to mix western and African concepts of leadership was also seen in this condition.

This mix of management was also observed in Ethiopia. This nation was conquered in 1936 and her emperor Haile Selassie exiled. However, the British liberated the nation in 1941 and they introduced him again to his kingdom. Wallbank mentioned that, “although by no implies he was not an enlightened ruler he was able to cope with the new forces of modify and modernity.

Ultimately, the Gambia, according to F.K. Buah attainted interior self-authorities in 1960 when Pierre Njie, a Gambian chief of the united celebration became main minister. Two a long time later on, Dauda Jawara, who had served below Njie turned the 1st primary minister of the Gambia. He led the country to independence in 1970.

The 4 nations around the world cited earlier mentioned, set up democratic governments, like western nations, when they acquired independence. These who pioneered a nation to independence nearly mechanically grew to become the head of condition at independence. This is much in line with how the indigenous leaders had been identify they have to have achieved some thing. In addition, political leaders who lead their region to independence do not tolerate any opposition. Like the indigenous leaders they demand from customers total obedience from their followers. The leadership model that these leaders designed was more authoritative as some thing domineering.

Proof of Common Management Idea in Existing Working day Leadership

This discussion so significantly has been to convey to light-weight the classic notion in African leadership. This was established by a shut examination of two areas: i) By an examination of how leaders were acknowledged in conventional Africa and ii) By an comprehending of the roles and features of leaders in traditional Africa. It was also observed that the regular notion was fully made by both the indigenes and African leaders who experienced western impact.

On the side of the indigenes, it was noticed that leaders ended up identified simply because of exclusive attributes they possess, for instance, a warrior or ‘moriman’, simply because the men and women appear for somebody who can shield them. On the aspect of African leaders with western influence, leaders were regarded by means of election or appointment. Western training was a good gain.

The regular idea of African management was thoroughly formulated by the time African country obtained their independence. At this point a blend of the indigenous and western patterns can be observed. Political leaders soon after independence ended up elected by a democratic method, but they combat like indigenous political leaders to keep their place and will not tolerate any opposition. This preventing to keep in electric power is a reflection of the traditional idea of leadership in current day African leadership.

At this point, it is vital to exhibit hoe this combating to continue to be in power, has designed since independence and the effects it is owning in existing working day Africa. The 4 country-Ghana, Nigeria, Congo and the Gambia, will be reference position for this discussion.

With reference to routines pursuing the independence of Ghana, Wallbank noticed, “But nearly immediately Nkrumah began to muzzle the push and imprison the opposition. Rapidly he made into an outright dictator in the typical mould”. In 1966 a group of army officers seized management of the federal government in 11972 a different army junta seized electricity in a bloodless coups.

The circumstance of Nigeria pursuing independence was pretty very similar to that of Ghana. Wallbank claimed among 1962 and 1966 a sequence of crises – disputed elections, corruption and lawlessness, threatened to tear the new country apart. But as a end result of these activities, the leader of the Ibo tribal area proclaim its independence as the state of Biafra. This resulted into a civil war.

Congo acquired her independence in 1960. The country experienced seventy significant ethnic teams and hundreds of tribes. Fighting broke out right away immediately after independence and the United Nations had to intervene. Wallbank mentioned that the Congolese experienced been specified virtually no instruction in the art of self-govt.

Activities next independence in the Gambia have been considerably more favorable but Jawara stayed so prolonged in electric power until eventually he was overthrown. Two points noticed about the classic concept of African leadership are: i) The battle to achieve ability and ii) the fight to stay in ability, if probable, for daily life.

The so lots of wars in Africa, the coups and counter coups are just a reflection of the common idea of African leadership. Like the conventional leaders, present working day leaders take into consideration their place as family members residence. It can be seen that current working day leadership procedures are not distinctive. These methods have been identified in conventional techniques.


The subject of this paper was to study the conventional concept in African leadership. The strategy taken was initial to study the conventional strategy of African leadership and the then to discover out irrespective of whether things of this thought were being evident in present working day management.

The classic idea of classic African management was examined from two perspective: I) from the perspective of the indigenous African and ii) that of African leaders who were motivated by westerners: the freed slaves from Nova Scotia, Jamaica and England resettled in Africa, and the affect ensuing from colonization of African countries.

Two factors established the notion of African management: a) how leaders were being acknowledged and b) how leaders functioned. African leaders assumed leadership by way of a demonstrate of power and struggle to retain that electricity. This notion is obvious in portent day management, disclosed in the so lots of coups in Africa and the rebel wars. In addition, in the political arena, leaders do not want to give up electrical power.


Buah, F. K. West Africa and Europe. London: Macmillan Publishers, 1960.

Ancient Entire world. London: Macmillan Publishers, 1960.

Fyle, Magbaily, The Background of Sierra Leone. London: Evans brothers, 1981.

Porter, Arthur T. Creoledom. London: Oxford College Press, 1963.

Rush, Myron. Administration: A Biblical Approach. Iiinois: Victor Guides, 1984.

Wallbank, Walter,T. Civilization Previous and Current. London: Scott, Foresman and Firm, 1983.