SOLOMON ON LEADERSHIP
The Genesis of the Dark Side of Leadership in Kenya
By Solomon Kimuyu,PhD
Book Review by Wilfred Amalemba
For a young Kenyan who has lived through several government administrations and political dispensations, reading ‘Solomon on Leadership’ is like peeling off layers of history to reveal the political undertones that have influenced the history of Kenya. As I read this book, I realize that effective leadership and political expediency are like water and oil; the two cannot mix.
Solomon on Leadership sketches the present situation of politics and leadership in Kenya in unflattering lines. Contemporary Kenya is being guided by a polity that is least concerned with effective leadership. It is not interested in achieving for the Kenyan citizen development that will help achieve an improved quality and standard of living; it is not eager to give this country victory over the ‘three diseases’ it had identified at independence as being its greatest challenge: Disease; ignorance and poverty. No. Solomon on Leadership shows that Kenya is being held ransom by politicians who are only keen on pursuing personal aspirations at the expense of national ideals.
Is it for lack of leadership knowledge and competencies? Is it for lack of people trained in administration and public resource management? Is it because of a dearth of moral guidance? Solomon on Leadership posits that Kenyans have had leadership training, acquired knowledge in public administration and management, and have been immersed in religion. Therefore, these leadership assets cannot be cause for the leadership crisis that the country is experiencing. Solomon on Leadership begins by presenting what leadership is all about. Solomon gives biblical principles and models of leadership, the theory of leadership and change, types of leadership functions and the purpose of leadership. By drawing the reader’s attention to the definition, description and demonstration of leaders and leadership, Solomon gives the basis on which to objectively evaluate the situation of leadership in Kenya. This overview on leadership reveals that Kenya has had opportunities to build sound leadership structures and systems and to make great leaders; the country has no excuse for poor leadership.
Having been exposed on what to expect out of effective leadership, the reader of Solomon on Leadership can now enter into the Kenyan experience to understand ‘the culture of tribal hatred, violence, impunity and corruption’. The book gives a historical run-down of political trends that shaped the country. It shows how slave trade and colonialism disrupted the traditional African governance system of ruling by a council of elders that was substituted with British administrative set-up. Reference is made of the impact of the Cold War and how the various political ideologies of the Superpowers jostled to gain control of Africa in general, and Kenya in particular, pitted leaders against their own citizens. [ref. Council of Elders: the tribal leadership system that was uprooted by the British colonial administration (pp. 43/44) and competing political ideologies – Democracy, Communism and Socialism. (pp. 165)]. Slave trade and colonialism aided in the vast depletion of Africa’s natural resources and disrupted old African forms of government. (pp. 166)]
Besides the external factors of colonialism, slave trade and the cold war, Kenya’s progress was influenced by tribalism, a negative social practice that creates disunity and disenfranchisement. Solomon appreciates that ethnic diversity is an asset. “The nations of Africa are blessed with many tribes who represent a rich source of history and culture. Tribalism… creates physical, social and emotional barriers.” (pp. 25) It is the exclusion of some tribes by others that is part of the problem in Kenyan politics. A sense of entitlement by the tribe(s) that was (were) at the frontline in the fight for independence has denied the country’s politicians the opportunity to practice the democratic principle of inclusion of all citizens, irrespective of differences in social demographics such as tribe and gender.
Since political leadership is influenced by clan and tribal preferences, leadership development has been neglected. There has been no effort to raise leaders who will serve the nation wholeheartedly. The country lacks leaders that have integrity and that are in touch with the changing times. Instead, Parliament is a place where people of dubious character,who have committed crimes against the nation hide or protect one another. Solomon quotes two Kenyan politicians who give severe indictment against the Kenyan Parliament saying: “Parliament has become a house of mafia… Parliament cannot fight graft when its organs are steered by people facing court cases…” (Hon.Mwangi Kiunjui[sic]). “They [Ministers and Assistant Ministers] are the gatekeepers of corruption… “ (Hon. Paul Muite).(pp. 287/288)
What is the way forward for Kenya? Solomon proposes that Kenya’s hope is in the transformation of individuals. It puts forward a theory of change that starts with spiritual transformation. This spiritual transformation will be realized when citizens elect leaders who have integrity and are God-fearing. “Only good leadership, honesty and integrity can bring a change in the lives of men, women and children.” (pp. 25) Solomon opines that “the battles waged in the minds and hearts of men and women… the greatest battle in Kenya and the rest of Africa is a spiritual one.” (pp. 26) and that “… the only way to bring a change to the society is to change one person and one constituency at a time.” (pp. 25)
Solomon calls on Christians to get involved in the leadership of their country as a matter of principle. Five reasons are given for Christian involvement: First, Christians are dual citizens of two kingdoms – the earthly and the heavenly kingdoms. Second, it is their Christian and civic duty – to pay taxes and obey the laws of the land. Third, they must actively influence the making of laws that will affect them before they are passed [in Parliament]. Fourth, they are obligated to use their God-given talents and gifts for the common good of their nation. Fifth, they are to impact their world since they are the ‘salt’ and ‘light’ of the world. Solomon proposes that the Christian who reads this book and applies to heart the leadership principles outlined hereinwill have started on the path toward making leaders who are God-fearing,honest and with integrity.
It is toward this end that the book Solomon on Leadership has been written – to inculcate leadership principles, values and models in new leaders in Kenya. The reader of the book will acquire comprehensive information and knowledge on leadership and model leaders as well as the political and historical background that have moulded Kenya into what it is today. This is the purpose of the book Solomon on Leadership; this is the mission of Solomon Center for Leadership – to raise leaders of integrity.