Excerpt from We Will Lead Africa Vol 1. Available on Amazon for full story and stories of other everyday African leaders, leading change and transformation on the continent.
I am honoured to create spaces for the genius of our people so that their wisdom builds the future for their children and their children’s children.
…In 2010 while working in Nairobi, Kenya with the African Leadership Centre, I was introduced to this incredible man, Dr. Martin Kimani. By this time in late 2010 I had developed a deliberate practice. I had seen Dr. Kimani twice and I automatically thought rugby player as well as Wall Street, both of which turned out to be somewhat right. We got along very well and right from our introduction we started talking about major African challenges and how to address them. I showed him the visual facilitation brochure for the work we did in Ibadan as well as the subsequent work on mitigating election rigging in Lagos, Nigeria. As Director of CEWARN-IGAD, he was quite intrigued and, unknown to me, he was looking at how a strategy could be created that would be participatory and live up to the purpose of his organisation. CEWARN (Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism) is a co-operative initiative of the eight IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) member countries. The IGAD countries are the Horn of Africa countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, the Sudans, and Eritrea. It is to his credit that he took a risk with this stranger and asked me to develop a process for him for this strategy.
Strategies are usually designs of the executives framed by reams of paper and multiple projections of the likely terrain. I was asking Dr. Martin Kimani to take a punt on a participatory process yet to be practiced by anyone we knew. If he was worried, it did not show. Such was his leadership that once he decided I was his man for the job, little would sway that. The staff were interesting with their own skepticism; the idea of eating an elephant one bit at a time was quite the attraction. Dr. Kimani and I seemed to have a good-natured pact whereby he would use his authority to clear the path and I would facilitate a participatory design and implementation. We would crowd source a strategy using the wisdom of multitudes across Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan. Eritrea, the 8th country, had suspended all IGAD Activities. We would work across Pastoralist Communities and war affected regions.
The need for original thinking rather than a pale copy of prior western approaches is fundamental. I believe I offered a complementary leadership approach embodied in the design, development, and facilitation by challenging social engineering assumptions that have been the bedrock of many ‘paper’ strategies. We pioneered replacing past approaches with adaptive social technology that is embedded deep in my work around the Omoluwabi system. Omoluwabi is a term from the Nigerian Yoruba language, meaning good character. The Omoluwabi system I have developed is a new generation of Social Technologies and transformative systems based on our Pre-Colonial African culture of excellence.
Adewale Ajadi is a creative consultant, leadership educator, change agent, and storyteller. Born in Ibadan, Nigeria, he has over twenty years’ experience working with people, organisations, and communities on issues that transform human interaction in the direction of meaningful dialogue, authentic interaction, and empowered value creation. He is currently the Country Director, Nigeria at The Synergos Institute. His book, Omoluwabi 2.0 – A Code of Transformation in 21st century Nigeria, offers guidance on achieving African excellence through values-based transformation. A barrister, Adewale has an MSc. in International Business Economics; he has also studied Leadership Education at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and Complex Systems Theory in New England Complex Systems Institute, MIT. Ajadi is also a successful playwright, and his play, Abyssinia has toured the UK.