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Leadership Failure in Africa Key Highlight at Ethics Postgraduate Program Launch in Kenya

Credit: Tangaza University College (TUC)

The failure of those entrusted with leadership in various countries of Africa to live up to their mandate was a key highlight during the launch of a new ethics postgraduate program to be offered at a Kenya-based Catholic institution.

In his keynote address during the Friday, April 9 virtual launch of the Masters of Arts MA) in Ethics and Organizational Leadership program to be offered at Tangaza University College (TUC), a Nairobi-based Catholic institution jointly owned by 22 Religious Orders, Prof. Patrick Loch Otieno (PLO) Lumumba urged participants to strive to acquire knowledge that will “give birth to change.”

“One of the reasons why it is very hard for our continent to realize our potential is because the men and women whom we entrust with critical decisions don’t do the things they ought to do,” Prof. Lumumba said.

The Advocate of the High Courts of Kenya and Tanzania went on to highlight some of the ethics-related transgressions that have made headlines in Kenya, including alleged misuse of COVID-19 funds, creation of ghost schools that benefit from government funds, as well as ghost soldiers on the government’s payroll, among other reported scandals in the East African nation.

“We read on a daily basis how billions have been lost without consequences. We read reports of how our elected officials have been compromised,” the Professor who is also the Founder of the Kenya-based PLO Lumumba Foundation said during the launch of the postgraduate program that is being rolled out at TUC’s Centre for Leadership and Management (CLM).

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The Kenyan-born Advocate bemoaned the fact that the reported unethical “acts are not being perpetrated by men and women who are declared pagans (but) by men and women, some who say they profess the Christian faith, some of whom on the day of their baptism said they rejected the devil with all his works.”

“Some of them profess the Muslim faith and pray five times a day, some profess Judaism and pray daily, some profess Hinduism and pray every day complete with altars in their residences, and some of them proclaim Buddhism and pray daily,” he said referencing perpetrators of reported corruption in Kenya.

The holder of a doctorate in Laws of the Sea from the University of Ghent in Belgium continued in reference to the religious affiliation of Kenyan leaders who allegedly engage in unethical behavior, “Some of them are African spiritualists and they sacrifice every day yet knowing as we do that good is good and evil is evil, we partake of evil.”

Addressing himself to the participants of the virtual launch of the MA in ethics and organizational leadership program, the Professor of Public Law urged them to “go out there, acquire knowledge that ... must give birth to change in character.”

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“Knowledge must empower us to do good because it is good to do good,” he said, and reiterated, “Knowledge must empower us to hate evil and if we do that, I have no doubt in my mind that it will be well with us.”

Making reference to biblical accounts and personalities including Moses and the incident in the Gospel according to St. John when Philip asked Jesus to “show us the Father,” Prof. Lumumba who has authored several books on law and politics remarked, “That is a question that many of us ask. We think that in order to engage in ethical behavior, God must appear before us in a burning bush. We believe that we must see the Red Sea parted.”

“We believe that we must see miracles. No, we must not,” the Kenyan certified mediator underscored during his April 9 keynote address, adding, “What we must do is to do good because it's good to be good and this is what gives meaning to Christ’s famous story about the Good Samaritan.”

Aimed at empowering individuals and organizations to restore hope and trust in leadership and in the future of our societies, the graduate program has gone through all the required approval processes, according to the concept note about the program, which TUC’s CLM leadership shared with ACI Africa.

The program has been underway since January 6 at TUC where the student population includes members of at least 100 Religious Orders and Societies of Apostolic Life as well as Laity from other religions and denominations.

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Courses for the ethics and organizational leadership postgraduate program have been “designed to prepare global citizens with a sense of moral obligation based on high ethical standards, personalized through critique and commitment,” the postgraduate program’s concept note indicates.

According to the leader of the MA program, Fr. Prof. Apollinaire Chishugi, the postgraduate initiative was preceded by, among other things, six surveys, five of which were carried out by CLM leadership, which revealed that there is an “overwhelming need” to introduce ethics in the Centre’s curriculum of studies “especially at a Masters level.”

“Whatever knowledge of ethics is currently being imparted is at a purely theological level and does not aim to (impart) attitudes and habits or actions that will translate in action in the workplace,” Fr. Chishugi, a member of the Missionaries of Africa (M.Afr) said during the April 9 launch of the postgraduate program.

The Congolese-born Professor of Political Philosophy observed, “Most graduates do not study ethics during their universities unless philosophy is offered as part of the university curriculum.”

It’s in light of these revelations that the leadership of TUC, a culturally diverse institution with students and faculty from over 40 countries, decided to introduce the postgraduate program, which will “allow a new generation of leaders to promote ethical leadership and value,” Prof Appolinaire, who was, on the very day of the launch, appointed TUC’s Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension added.

Those to graduate from the program that was launched under the theme, “A future for Africa, built on the foundation of values: Preparing global citizens for the 21st century to restore trust in leadership,” will be expected to implement zero-tolerance policies for ethical violations and influence productivity, the concept note shared with ACI Africa on the eve of the launch indicates.

Speaking on behalf of the pioneer students of the MA program, Beatrice Mugure Shikali said that in their ongoing coursework, the postgraduate students “have learnt, through case studies, sometimes painfully so, the far-reaching consequences of every decision that a leader makes.”

“We are better leaders than we were when we came in,” Beatrice further said.

She added, “We have been challenged to reflect on ourselves as leaders, our perspectives, our biases, our blind spots, how our mind works, who we really are, and what our value and belief systems are, so that when we face ethical quandaries and leadership challenges, we will be anchored on solid moral ground.”

According to TUC’s Vice-Chancellor Designate, Prof. David Wang’ombe, the launch of the postgraduate program is a testament of the institution’s commitment to the “transformation of the society and its endeavor to prepare graduates to engage in an intelligent manner but also lead others in the society.”

“It's in keeping with Tangaza University’s motto of Teaching Minds, Touching Hearts, and Transforming Lives that the MA in Ethics and Organizational Leadership is designed to enable students study how to understand ethical issues, confront them when they become challenging in their everyday work lives,” Prof. Wang’ombe who is TUC’s first lay Vice Chancellor said.

During the April 9 virtual event, various panelists offered personal accounts of how they have handled ethical dilemmas in their respective lives. These panelists offered to support the postgraduate program by being resource persons for the students who enroll in the program.

Some of the panelists included the Governor of Kenya’s Makueni County, Prof. Kivutha Kibwana; the Chairman of Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Archbishop Eliud Wabukala; the Executive Director of Transparency International Kenya, Sheila Masinde.

Others include the anti-corruption activist and CEO of Inuka Kenya Trust, John Githongo, and the former Chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), Kagwiria Mbogori.