It is the conviction of the University for Development Studies (UDS), that African leaders have the opportunity and the resources to transform the continent by pursuing prudent scientific and development policies as well as nurturing indigenous talents.
The UDS also holds the view that, African leaders can transform their individual nations and the continent by recognizing and harnessing the contributions of experts and individuals inside and outside their national universities.
Moreover, in Africa’s quest to achieve internal integration and become a key player in global affairs, the UDS believes there is the need for deep reflection on the sort of leaders the continent requires. The continent, it indicates, requires innovative leaders and thinkers who will drive its development and growth.
The African Leadership Lectures (ALL) is therefore in the estimation of the UDS, a platform to subject the issues of leadership and development in Africa to the required critical thought.
Launched 5years ago, the lectures intends to contribute to a national and transnational discourse on productive leadership culture that will support and enhance African development. It also seeks to facilitate and create an environment for a discourse and action on leadership; create a forum to inspire positive and innovative leadership initiatives as well as stimulate and initiate a platform for an action on constructive leadership in Ghana and Africa.
Since 2012, the UDS has hosted former African Heads of States such as Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Festus Mogae, Botswana, Joaquim Alberto Chissano, Mozambique and Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba, Namibia.
Relevant topics centred on Africa’s economic development, integration, conflict management and peace among others have been delivered by the various former presidents. For instance, former President Chissano chose topics such as: (i) The evolution of the strong visionary leadership of the frontline states and its contribution to the liberation struggle in Southern Africa; (ii) Reflection on leadership, good governance and development in Africa; and (iii) leadership and conflict resolution in Africa.
Former President Pohamba also delivered his lectures on topics such as: (i) Inspiration and extraordinary African leaders; (ii) Africa integration; and (iii) My vision of a fully integrated Africa.
Come Wednesday April 26 to Friday April 28, 2017, the UDS would host the fifth ALL at its Central Administration under the theme: “African Development: From Freedom to Union”. The guest speaker would be Benjamin William Mkapa, former president of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Mr. Mkapa’s three-day series of lectures would focus on topics such as: (i) Resistance against colonization and empire building as African development; (ii) Self-determination and independence as African development; and (iii) African Union as the ultimate development.
The UDS ALL has not been without challenges since its inception. Key among the challenges from my own perspective are: poor sound system in the auditorium, inadequate space in the auditorium to contain all invitees and inadequate support for journalists especially with regards to request for information and printout.
But overall, ALL has been a success over the years considering the fact that public lectures are quite infrequent in the Tamale Metropolis and in the numerous tertiary institutions in the area. So far, UDS is the only institution of learning that has been consistent in organising public lectures.
Besides, the event which is often well attended by academics, business executives, students, traditional and religious leaders, politicians and actors in civil society among others, can be described as a melting pot of knowledge and a converging point for people to network.
Going forward, I wish to appeal to the Academic Board and the Governing Council of the UDS to consider looking beyond former African Heads of States as their only choice but also consider progressive and successful business executives, business owners, accomplished academics, industrialists, research scientists, journalists, philanthropists, traditional rulers, religious leaders and among others.
My suggestion is based on the assumption that, there are many people in the aforementioned careers or leadership positions who have made enormous accomplishments and if their knowledge is tapped into as a University, Ghana and for that matter Africa would benefit greatly.
Established in May 1992 by the Government of Ghana, the UDS exist to blend the academic world with that of the community in order to provide constructive interaction between the two for the total development of Northern Ghana, in particular, and the country as a whole.
It began academic work in September 1993 with the admission of thirty-nine (39) students into the Faculty of Agriculture, (FOA), Nyankpala campus. The Faculty of Integrated Development Studies, (FIDS), Faculty of Planning and Land Management (FPLM) and Faculty of Education (FOE), Wa, School of Business, Wa, School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), Tamale, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources (FRNR), Nyankpala, Faculty of Applied Sciences (FAS), Faculty of Mathematical Sciences (FMS), Navrongo and the Graduate School now in Tamale were phased in from 1994 to date.
UDS is unique compared to other public universities in Ghana considering its location and multi campuses which are spread out in rural Northern Ghana where the incidence and depth of poverty is high. The UDS has four (4) campuses, seven (7) Faculties, a Business School, one Medical School, one Graduate School and three (3) centres. Several programs are run at these places.
By Joseph Ziem
The Writer is a Freelance Journalist/Blogger
He Volunteered for the Citi FM 2016 Election Project
You can reach him via [email protected]