by:Turwanire Kimathi-Tecumseh Mandla and Professor Paul J. Cook

“In transactional leadership, rewards and punishments are contingent upon the performance of the followers. The leader views the relationship between managers and subordinates as an exchange - you give me something for something in return. When subordinates perform well, they receive some type of reward. When they perform poorly, they will be punished in some way.  Rules, procedures and standards are essential in transactional leadership. Followers are not encouraged to be creative or to find new solutions to problems” (, 2012, p. 2).  This simply definition easily found on Internet, provides us with clear capsulation of the relationship Europe forced upon African states, and African peoples.   Transactionalism as a way of organizing political-economy is one of the most primitive and creativity crushing forms leading and organizing society’s human resources.  Transactional thinking grew out of the organization of industrial labor in eighteenth century Europe.  It was precisely this rigid , oppressive  transactional method of organizing, which led to the labor upheavals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, even to the rise of Bolshevism.  Applied in the African context it was fully supported by the various European militaries, the missionary societies and the racist ideologies promulgated to support colonial imposition around the world.  Unlike in Europe where this method of organizing was applied in certain industrial and agrarian sectors, in Africa it was applied to the entirety of society-every state on the African continent.

Reward and punishment meant that those conquered African leaders placed in position, or who wished to remain in some position of officialdom, were required to provide European companies Africa’s primary products cheaply; less they suffered severe punishment, often on a societal level.  African accomodationist leadership in collusion with foreign corporate and government representatives often developed forced labor schemes, to provide cheap labor to foreign enterprises engaged in extraction industries; the most extreme example was the Belgium King’s brutal slave labor in the Congo.    African societies were distorted by the application of transactional methods, designed to support product export to fuel Europe’s expanding industrialism. All leading forces at the macro-state levels in Africa were dealt with by the colonial states, using transactional methods, involving reward and punishment, which was decided by a constantly changing set of colonial administrators.  Any Africa oriented leaders who sought to function in the national interests of their states were routinely removed or even exiled, to other colonial territories.  African compliant leaders were rewarded with symbols of power and wealth, leading to the emergence of repression and corruption as normal tools of governance, to facilitate export transactions.

Repression involved the creation of a societal condition of compliance, if not quiet on the part of the populations of these states.  Repression provided the fertile environment for the growth of corruption at all too many levels of society, not only were the ills of African social society further inflicted on to the daily life of the people, but the corruption involved with transactional behavior were added to these as legitimate forms of governance.  What this meant was that the rights of workers, women and youth were subject to vagaries of the existing African class structures, but these along with the agricultural sectors of society were consistently made to suffer in the interest of making favorable transactions.  Often as the terrain of the political-economy adjusted to the colonial export needs fathers were pressured to provide their daughters as instruments of pleasure for those who controlled access to jobs or favorable government treatment.  Workers were forced to provide financial lick-back to job bosses to continue employment, and small traders were forced to pay graft payments in order to operate and serve the needs of the workers.   In many areas of Africa, colonial transactional corruption methods led to such a discouragement of business by local Africans that large sectors of the retail economy became dominated by foreigners from India in the case of East Africa, and to Middle Easterners in the case of West Africa.  This influx of foreigners with colonial ties, and exploitative interest furthered the destruction of an African controlled political-economy, while facilitating retail transactions easily favoring the interests of European colonial forces.

The entirety of the African political-economy under the aegis of a conquered leadership was slowly but surely transferred as a transaction, out of the hands of Africans, and in to the hands of global corporate networks such as the British Commonwealth or the French Overseas Community etc.  Middle-Eastern merchants from Lebanon and Syria could sell surplus goods such as clothes, cloth and food stuffs produced in these countries in West Africa; serving to stifle local industry development.  Similarly, in East and South Africa surplus goods and surplus people from India could be dumped in these areas undermining local resistance to settler colonialism, and acting as a buffer group, with greater privilege in Africa than Africans could enjoy.  In East and Southern Africa workers from India were brought in to displace striking African workers resisting European settlers.  These south Asian immigrants were more pliable on foreign soil, subject to draconian immigration laws used to control their behavior.

Africa, as a place to export people, and things from spills over in to the very natural environment itself. In recent days farmers and fishermen, along with environmentalists in the Niger Delta have taken Shell Oil Company to the court in The Hague for severe damage, resulting from oil drilling in the Delta. The transactional mindset with regards to Africa leads to notorious environmental degradation; treated essentially as costs of transactions in Africa.  The differentiating question that must be asked is do we see such callous transactional-ism in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf of Mexico?

Land and water resources in Africa have been seriously compromised as the best most productive lands are reallocated to cash crop production, thereby being alienated from local food production.  Water is diverted, where it is often scarce, to support cash crop production and urban development, at the expense of much needed agricultural development. Recently, the Chinese joining in the transactional relationship with Africa’s new, neo-colonialist leaders in Tanzania, are proposing a road through the famous Ngoro Ngoro Game Reserve to facilitate mining of “rare Earth metals” used in cell phone from the area around Lake Victoria.  Such a road can, and likely will have a disastrous impact on the normal life patterns of the area’s majestic animal herds; nature’s legacy to the people of the area and the planet.  It seems clear that the Chinese have realized the tragic state of African leadership thinking, recognizing they could prey upon Africa’s vulnerability in an even more systematic manner than their European counter-parts, to fuel their industrial growth.

Transactional to Transformational

Africa must move form transactional relations and leadership, to transformational leadership and relations, internal to the entire Continent, as well as with the world.  Transformation does not in any sense mean realizing a better transaction, and should not be conceived as such, nor can we allow it to be misconstrued as such.  Apologists for the Chinese assault on Africa’s resources appear, to want to define their rape of Africa as “a new and actual change from that of Europe”.  It may be different in the specifics of the agreements, but it is in no way transforming the conditions of underdevelopment, dependency and poverty on the African continent.  Chinese national interest has shown itself to have the same rapacious intention towards Africa as does Euro-American multi-national corporations.

Transformational leading is defined by its developer as:  “Transformational leadership theory is about leadership that creates positive change in the followers whereby they take care of each other’s interests and acts in the interests of the group as a whole.  In this leadership style, the leader enhances the motivation, morale and performance of his (her) follower group” (Burns 1978).  Imbedded in this definition is the idea of each other’s interests as the interests of the group as a whole.  Transactional activity in Africa has engendered a condition in which the group’s interest have too often been defined and interpreted as so-called “tribal interest”, a misnomer.  A more in-depth examinations have shown that the Inside-Outside-Group phenomenon actually occurs, in which the elites of the so-called tribal interest-group, along with a few consenters form allied groups are the principal beneficiaries, of the “each other’s interest”.  Ethnic group division is the segmentation of society method used to create boogeymen of other ethnic groups. Ina nation-state situations like Nigeria or even South Africa, the transformation from an export of primary product economy, to an economy that develops the capacity of the country to produce finished products, or at least products that have significant value added through manufacturing within the country’s territories, would inevitably be a transformation economically favorable to the entirety of the Nation’s ethnic terrain.

The interests of the whole, in the transformational process applied to Africa demands the setting a series of basic benchmarks designed to substantially develop the internal productive forces, and the accompanying means of distributing goods and services to the entire population.  Currently, the means of production and distribution of goods and services are designed as minimally needed to facilitate the transactions, involved in the export of unfinished commodities; such as oil, copper, gold, diamonds, bauxite to make aluminum etc.  The transformational process in Africa demands the immediate attention innovatively of leadership at every level of society to establishing those fundamentals means and institutions that are prerequisites for national development.  Roads for example must be built linking the whole of West Africa from Angola to Mauritania, similarly roads crossing the center of the continent from Kenya, through the Congo to Gabon, as well as from Algeria and Libya to West Africa via Mali. Modern ports must be built along Africa’s inland rivers, creating conditions for encouraging internal trade. The fundamentals of food self-sufficiency are central to African survival, and economic renaissance.  Those nations ringing the Sahara both north and south, if committed to transformation, must attend to the creation of a modern irrigation matrix, tapping in to the reserves of water under the Sahara, while at the same time better utilization of the river systems and seasonal rainfalls are required to insure productive land is dedicated to food crop production.  Food production for internal consumption must be the priority across the whole of the continent, alienating land away from export cash crops, like flowers for the European retail markets.

While export commodity production continues to be the major income earners for many, if not most African countries, a major paradigm shift is demanded by any real economic planning, with African interests as the priority. The debt crisis faced by Africa, can in large part be directly related to commodity exporting, loans are made based upon the leveraging of primary product extractions; ports are upgraded, roads built and service infrastructures installed, all to facilitate oil pumping, copper mining or other extraction industries.  The addict is in debt to the drug dealer for the cost of production of the drugs.  A state such as Mozambique finds itself in debt to the world’s capitalist financial institutions in London or New York, for the roads and ports to cut down its forest, setting the country up in the future for well documented problems, associated with de-forestation.

Primary commodities such as oil, diamonds, wood products, bauxite (aluminum), copper, gold and rare earth minerals are all finite commodities, they eventually run-out.  Africa’s leadership must plan for the uses of these finite commodities, to fuel her own movement in to twenty-first century real economic development. Oil exports must be immediately quantitatively leveraged to facilitate the transfer of the technology required to realize finished products derived from oil such as gasoline for cars on the continent, plastics and medicines.  Similarly, the center for the manufacturing and processing of refined gold products and jewelry, and diamond products and jewelry must, using normal capitalist market principals, be moved from countries like Holland, to African nation-states like Botswana, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, the Congo and Angola. Forest product states like those in Central Africa or Mozambique must limit the export of forest products outside of Africa, leveraging these primary products in to finished goods like furniture, paper and other forest product industries. Any so-called transformative economic plan that fails to leverage Africa primary commodity supply in to industries in these commodities can only be called “crimes against humanity”, any trade agreements with Africa must shift significant portions of the debt liability to those corporations and nation-states wishing to trade for a much limited supply of African commodities.

The development of the internal trade within Africa is not only necessary, it is critical to real economic development on the African continent.  African must achieve what economist call an “economy of scale” related to production and distribution; that is enough of an integrated utilization of available resource advantages, to leverage industrial development with enough of an internal market to support economic take-off.  Africa, with its externally focused trade regime focused away from Africa itself, each nation-state on the continent suffers a trade imbalance that fosters underdevelopment.  Primary commodities extracted in one African state are shipped to a non-African state, and are returned as finished goods, to another African state.  For example, gold from South Africa or the Congo Basin will end up as jewelry in an oil rich state such as Algeria or Gabon, having been forged in to jewelry in Europe or Asia.  Forest products exported from Gabon, Mozambique or other African states, return to African countries as trendy finished furniture products from Asia or Europe.  In each of these instances primary products exit Africa at very low cost payments to that state, and return as manufactured goods at significantly higher prices.  The export regime imposed upon Africa has created a perfect storm for continued under-development for Africa’s segmented nation-states.  Payments are made at low amounts for African commodities and finished goods are in turn sold to Africa at much higher cost, driving a condition of permanent trade imbalance financially.  Europe and Asia both benefit from the failure of transactional thinking African leaders, to formulate a unified continental trade regime that properly leverages Africa’s comparative advantage in commodities.

There exist differing schools of thought regarding whether the Arabic speaking nation-states of the “middle-east” are an integral part of the African phenomenon, or a separate segmented area merely closely related.  Historical events seem to suggest a greater integration of the so-called Arabic speaking Middle-East with the history of the African continent¸ than with any other area of the world, and language provides an even greater evidential base.  Clearly today, the oil wealth of the Middle-East allows it to ignore its rooting in Africa, largely because it can afford to import nearly all of its consumption needs.  This import capacity trading is almost entirely correlated to the continued dependency of the world on fossil-based fuel from the Middle-East-a shift away from oil will severely damage, if not destroy the flourishing economies of these states.  However, integral linking with Africa’s development in leveraging commodities to achieve industrial capacity can mean long-term economic stability for the area.  A unified African economic trade plan that includes the Middle-East could easily force Europe, Asia and the United States to establish an entirely different economic and political relationship with the unified African states.  The current transactional leadership of these nation-states stand firmly in the way of the true economic development of even a greater Africa area; reducing the people of these countries to economic subservience and an addictive political-economic relationship with Euro-America, and even Asia.

Europe is in the process of continued development of its struggle to create greater economy-of-scale the European Union (EU) and work out the problems in its unification process.  China having realized economy-of-scale during the latter half of the twentieth century has risen to become the second largest economy in the world, displacing both Japan and the European Union.  India, despite its enormous internal disparities that encumber the society is considered a worthy competitor in Asia.  Brazil is on the move as the potential engine driving South America’s economic uplift.  It remains to be seen whether this will have any more than an interesting cultural impact for Africa; as the racist distortions of Brazilian society keep it African majority in a subservient relationship to the European and mixed-race elites.  Africa cannot afford to continue on its present political-economic trajectory.   The direction of most of the world, even under the aegis of capitalism, is towards greater development, while that of Africa, aside from the anomaly at Africa’s southern tip, is structured in such a way as to reproduce greater under-development even where false hopes seem to portend.  New African leadership with new paradigms placing Africa as a whole, as its central focus must take-over at every organic level of society, from political leaders to farmer and fishermen; women and men prepared to wrench Africa out of its current position, and lead it through the rapids of societal renaissance.