…Of Leaders and Followers

Revolutionary leaders do not create revolutions but are at once representatives, instruments, and managers of revolutionary sentiments and faiths.

-Prof. Winston Langley

A country’s and, perhaps too, the world’s progress hinges on two things: leaders and followers. They rub off each other. Now, that’s the basics and root foundation of our existence. Leaders lead; followers, well, follow and lead simultaneously.

However, there’s a seeming difficulty when one tries to arrange them chronologically. What comes first?  Does leadership come before followers or do followers come before leadership? What yardsticks can be used to determine what comes first?

Most times, followers choose their leaders and other times, leader(s) may impose themselves on followers.The latter is often the bane in political terrains. Leaders smash themselves on followers like rotten eggs. In Africa—South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Nigeria etc— leaders use ruses to become the crown of their flock. Usually, followers pay deadly prices for such leaders.

Then again, followers are usually part of the problem. They choose their leaders, work for, and with them to create a better nation. They become pawns on their leader’s board. Often, when sucked in, the followers usually lose their sense of logic and reasoning.

Reuben Abati, a former voice in Nigeria’s presidential villa, claimed in a recent article that unholy forces control the affairs of the country. It’s his belief that these mysterious beings attack every individual who steps into the Rock. This points to our initial statement about followers who have lost their sense of reasoning after mingling with leaders. How can one explain Abati’s current state of mind?

Sanity quickly becomes insanity when respected followers lose their integrity for bowls of meat. In a country like Zimbabwe, the citizens within government and some dedicated patriots believe Mugabe is still a hero even as the country sinks into dangerous recession. They think he’s as effective as a Messi in Barcelona. Simply put, they access their leaders with loyal blindness.

If anything, the worst world leaders from Hitler to Mussolini had individuals that helped them push their devilish agendas. What, if any, made their followers swallow their schemes? Is it their leader’s charisma? Is it the bloody vision the leaders have managed to paint? To borrow words from Langley, revolutionary leaders have the power to instil in their subordinates sentiments and faiths that might look strange to onlooker outside.

History also showed that loyal followers usually do the bidding of dictatorial leaders. Liberia’s Charles Taylor, Nigeria’s Sanni Abacha, Congo’s Mobutu Sese Seko and others had the faithful support of loyal servants.

Again, for emphasis purposes, when followers suck-up to clueless leaders they lose their logical self. Even respected intellectuals begin to behave like dimwits after licking from the dripping spoon of a devilish leader. At any time, they are ready to defend their love with intellectual romantics. What happens is always surprising. Professors profess the faith they have in a particular leader even when they know that: (a) the individual is not fit to rule (b) the individual lacks critical thinking to move the nation forward. Instead, they blindly write epistles about why the nation should give the new leader another chance and often proclaiming that the new leader would bring change.

The fact remains that real followers, these days, are intelligent and, at times, foolish enough to make their choices. As they watch, listen and read about their leaders or leaders to be, they make (un)informed decisions.

There are citizens who have acquired leadership status with their creative gifts. Writers, musicians, and even bloggers now wield power. They control the minds of the world with their works. Political leaders know this and employ them to use their power to win their followers’ heart for particular causes.

One of United Nation’s Messenger of Peace, Leonardo DiCaprio, is one such follower-leader type. With his passion to change the world’s environment, he embarked on a mission to educate the world about climate change. Within twenty-four hours, the video garnered three million views. Now that’s power and influence mixed in a cone.

Followers/citizens have the power to enforce change. In Nigeria, about a year ago, the people voted for change and got it. In some days, Americans will be exercising their rights.  Perhaps we can conclude that followers have untold powers. The followers are the leaders, therefore. Only Logical followers (this phrase means extremely rational individuals) however, can influence change or bring about new ideologies if they work together. Most times, their power lie in unity which can be used to attain a collective goal.

Leaders, it must be added, fail when surrounded by shallow minded followers. They must choose empowering individuals who share their vision and are ready to make the sacrifices for it to be achieved. But, and most importantly, the leader must be willing to be the sacrificial lamb: take the fire, body heat and present his life without protest.

I welcome you to follow me here .

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