Elites and transformational leadership in Africa: dialectics of internal and external (60th Anniversary of UN Declaration on Decolonisation)

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Deputy-Director, Institute for African Studies, RAS
Affiliation: Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameAsia and Africa Today
EditionIssue 12

"Agenda 2063", the main policy document of the African Union (AU), posits: “We aspire that by 2063, Africa willhave capable institutions and transformative leadership (ТА) in place at all levels". As a political phenomenon TL has not yet been researched by Russian Africanists. To our knowledge, the current article is the first attempt to fill this gap. This paper explicates the essence of the phenomenon, shows the degree of real readiness of African elites to carry out such a mission and possible responses of African society. It reveals the role of external influences on the course of the process under consideration and its expected final results. The author researches the instrumentality of leadership policy as a tool for both developmental and manipulative ends. Leadership policy is seen as a tool for renewing and managing old elites. The experience of many African countries has shown that such pressure instruments as targeted Western sanctions and other regulatory instruments are gradually becoming less effective and do not lead to the expected rapid changes in the political orientation, policy lines or behavioral patterns of ruling elites.


The author argues that the significance of TL as of a real goal, tool or measure of success is greatly exaggerated. He insists that without dismissing the importance of personal example and the ability to inspire and captivate the masses, both are subjective factors that can only to a degree speed up or delay social, economic and political transformations, whose timeliness and success are determined by objective causes and conditions. 

Keywordsdecolonization, elites, counter-elites, leadership, sanctions, digital targeting, destabilization, regime change
Publication date09.12.2020
Number of characters30383
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