Windhoek-African leaders must be told that State House is a holy place and should not be converted into a den of thieves.
This reminder came from visiting Kenyan academic and lawyer Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, speaker at the New Era Publication Corporation Thought Leaders Series initiative held on Wednesday in Windhoek.
Lumumba’s presentation was titled ‘Africa unleashing her potential’. He said Africa can only succeed if its nations unite. He stated that African leaders must be told State House is a temple of justice and a repository of decision-making. “It is designed to liberate all from the chains of poverty and worry.
“It can be done and must be done and if it is not done, we will be done ourselves.”
“When you [president] have a wife you must tell her, it’s a holy place, you must tell your brother, and your friend that it is a holy place, and you are not going to convert it into a den of thieves,” he told a packed hall of over 600 attendees.
President Hage Geingob and First Lady Monica Geingos also graced the event – and Lumumba recognised the first couple’s humility for their unheralded presence in the audience.
The Kenyan said such humility displayed by the president and his wife will form part of his future public lectures across the African continent, where pomposity within political elites is a daily occurrence.
Among others who came to witness Lumumba deliver his lecture were local academics, lawyers, high-ranking members of society and young professionals.
He indicated that good things are happening in Africa but the only thing that stands in the path of Africa is corruption.
In his view, the best civic education against corruption is for nations to arrest one or two corrupt high-ranking officials, take their properties and send them to jail.
Lumumba said African problems are real and they fall and rise on leadership. “If you have bad leaders you will not go anywhere even if you pray and fast,” the executive director of The Kenyan Law School told his hyped-up audience.
He said African problems are real to a woman who has no place to rest because of civil war in her country, to a man and woman who cannot go to school or have food to eat, or people who risk their lives crossing the Sahara Desert to face the Mediterranean Sea to go to Europe, because they believe it is better to die trying to do so than live in their country of birth.
Lumumba stated that the per capita income in Africa does not begin to tell the story because one African leader or government minister in Africa can own more than his entire village, and the tragedy is that the same minister still goes to church on Sundays and prays. “But he (minister) is stealing on an industrial scale.”
He also pointed out that many an African leader does not have faith in their national systems such as health and education.
“Leaders tell us on a daily basis they have improved the education situation in their countries. But oh, ask them to take their children to those schools, no, their children go to the United States of America, Australia and France.”
“So it is you and me who are godforsaken that we take our children to these schools that are local. Talk of low self-esteem.”
He added that African leaders have also become hunters and gatherers. “Our ancestors gathered wild fruits, but today our leaders are in the business of gathering cars, buildings and many things.”
In the 1960s, Lumumba said, the promise of independence was clear – that countries alleviate poverty so that people live in dignity, fight ignorance and do things on the basis of evidence and fight diseases.
“Even in Namibia life expectancy is not beyond 53 years. That is a toddler in Japan,” Lumumba added.