Leadership & Montreal’s Black Community

Leadership & Community Part 1

By N Oji Mzilikazi
(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact volume 20,#22)
November 18, 2010

In his response to “What A Waste” (Community Contact, 23/9/10) Clarence Bayne makes the point, “We use up physical assets and human resources and don’t want to take individual responsibility for replacing them.”

I found his statement offensive. It would be nice for individuals to contribute, but the onus is always on an institution to have an astute plan to supplement government funding.

Additionally, an association has to market itself, have strong programs, ample users, display organizational efficiency, transparency and financial accountability, and be relevant to the community to attract volunteers and make soliciting donations easier. Anything else, including ineffective administrators, internal power struggle, perceptions of elitism, mismanagement and corruption, and its fossilization and inability to attract volunteers begins.

Many in the community are willing to serve. It’s just; they’re not into wasting time with an organisation that is sloppily run. Never spoken about is the inability to utilise the skills of volunteers or the unwillingness to make use of them, because “they” don’t like the person politics, or have a problem with his or her sexuality.

Our past is littered with bones of endless failures, yet those thrust into leadership spare no thought as to the success model they want, learn nothing from our failures, do no research, seek no advice, and do not surround themselves with company that could help advance their cause.

Consider the fiasco surrounding the CCFA and MCDF. We have been down that road before. One year we had one parade going west and another going east. One of those in the present debacle was involved in that division two decades ago.Is that which divides us greater than what binds us?

Invocation of “crabs in the barrel syndrome” or referencing the failed West Indies Federation as contributors to our disunity does a great disservice. They are trite and inaccurate as a means of analysis to an understanding of the roots of our condition. Those two things are merely by-products, manifestations of the symptoms of our dysfunction.

Federation failed because of island tribalism, the adherence to which is responsible for some of the conflicts and fractures within our diasporic community. The “crab ideology” can be observed in communities of every race and ethnicity when faced with limited resources. Each person looks after his or her own interest. Furthermore, usage of the “crab ideology” to us and by us infers or gives the impression to us having ideologically a racial unity, and is somehow betraying it, when such a unity is non-existent.

Moral cowardice has brought us to our current state of infirmity. Since in our community we more or less know each other, silence covers ineptitude and wrongdoing. Thus we are exposed to persons spoken of as being this and that, contributing this or that, role model for this and that, leader this and leader that, when they are nothing but self-serving culture-vultures, con artists, thieves and hustlers who will rip you off for a nickel.

Then we wonder about the disengagement of our youth, they seeing us as failures and hypocrites, and how our once strong community centers are disappearing, dying or supported by the aged and the very young.

While leadership or lack thereof deserves blame, we are very much contributors to our own impotence. Endless are the sidewalk politicians itemizing all our ills and proffering solutions, but wouldn’t put their foot where their mouth is and be contributors in one-way or another. Even as they spread dissension, they are unable to process that non-participation contributes to our inadequacy.

Then there is complacency of rank and file; uninterested in seeing to it principles are upheld, stewards held to accountability, entrusting the most capable into leadership roles instead of the politics of friendship and cliquishness, and allowing themselves to be manipulated by leadership bent on being Gulliver among Lilliputians. They elect officers and believe their job has ended.

They’d complain bitterly about what’s not being done, yet when the time comes to voice their concerns, tongues are stilled, and they return inefficiency back into office.

To Be Continued.

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