This is perhaps the most obvious yet profound statements that John Maxwell, the prolific author on everything leadership has ever made. This statement lingers in my mind daily. I ponder about it at night on my bed before I go to sleep. I ruminate the idea during the day when I am at work and yet I always come to the amazing conclusion – everything! everything! rises! rises! falls! falls! on the leadership.
Why does this idea not occur to my Member of parliament? You see I live in a small town in Kenya that is tucked in the savannah that is Kajiado County. I came here to pursue my undergraduate studies in Law and I loved the place so I decided to stay. The rent is cheap. You get to feast your eyes on zebras, hyenas and if you are lucky or might I say unlucky you can meet a lion straying their way home- the wild, which we have selfishly encroached.
In spite of this amazing scenery and the beautiful people in Rongai what bothers me is that for four good years the main road has not been repaired. This is the road that leads to my university. An International university with a populace of roughly two thousand students. This is the same road that leads to where these students reside around the varsity. This is the same damned road that killed Douglas with his motorbike.
I met Douglas in my first week of school. We were living in the same hostels at the time and often we would share a table in the cafeteria as we waited for our different lectures to start. He was enthusiastic about life and you could see it in the way he moved about. Later on he got the love of his life and they had a kid. Yet, this same road took his life away. He was driving his motorcycle when he hit a bump and fell on his head. He did not make it!
According to Maxwell, the leader is to be blamed. If the road was tarmacked Douglas would still be working in the Agrovet and fending for his small family. If the road was tarmacked it would not be as dusty as it is at the moment. If the road was tarmacked the Tuktuk fare rates would be cheaper. If the road was tarmacked, maybe I would be getting to class on time.
You and I can be so quick to judge the County government, National government, The Chinese – heck even the world. We always talk about how the MCA is siphoning our hard earned tax money to fund his new mansion and fuel his/her newly imported v8 engine. But what about us? By us I mean you and I. Yes, we are part of the problem. I dare say Douglas died because of you and I.
Very few come to the realization that regardless of what we think or feel, we are all leaders in the little corners that we occupy. Let’s start with your room – your bedroom. Is it decently clean or does it look like Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the United States bombed them. Dr. Jordan Peterson postulates that if you can not take of your room then you ought not to criticize any institution or individual on how they are running their business.
Here is the interesting thing, leaders especially the ones we vote for, are not elected or chosen out of a vacuum. They are part of us. They are us. This means that if you are a hairdresser, student or hawker and exercise bad leadership the whole country is in jeopardy. This also means that if you are corrupt today as a student, you are not likely to change in the near future.
I am writing this not to discourage but rather invite us all to rise to the occasion and learn about leadership so that Kenya and Africa at large would be delivered from ignorance, disease and poverty that our fore fathers lost their lives to.