Feature of the Week

March 4, 2013 12:02 am

African chiefs and queens go back to school

Obaahemaa Afrakoma II, Queen of Juansa Paramountcy

Obaahemaa Afrakoma II, Queen of Juansa Paramountcy

Some may be hard pushed to picture Queen Elizabeth II, the British monarch, sitting in a classroom learning how to conduct national affairs, but a new programme funded by Ceibs in China is doing just that for African community leaders.

Launched in February 2013, the programme, called Service Management and Leadership for Traditional Authorities, aims to enhance the role of traditional institutions in the socio-economic development of African countries. It will focus on service management and innovation, leadership and land administration, contemporary issues in leadership and financial management.

“If you talk to any African, you hear a lot of stories about mis-management,” says Atuahene-Gima Kwaku, professor of marketing and innovation at Ceibs and executive director of the programme. He believes the course will be a positive move in addressing this situation – which, being from Ghana, is close to his heart. “Even if we don’t achieve anything else, we will be bringing these leaders together to debate ... find solutions and listen to each other, which is a major milestone in the improvement of our country,” he says.

A total of 30 participants have enrolled for classes to be held in Kumasi, in Ghana, including several Paramount chiefs – the highest level political leaders – and four queens.

“When I was nominated to represent my community I was so happy,” says Obaahemaa Afrakoma II, Queen of Juansa Paramountcy. “I am always on the lookout for any opportunity to improve my knowledge.”

The programme has four modules, each lasting three days. For the first module, now completed, participants were given a case study based on the 2011/2012 WaterAid annual report which examined the lack of clean water and poor sanitation for seven million Ghanaians. Working in groups of five, they were asked to present ideas on how to solve these problems in their own communities.

The plan is for each participant to create something innovative for their own community which may then be used as a case study for future cohorts. In future Prof Kwaku hopes the numbers of men and women on the course will be more equal. “The Ghanaian culture is that of the king and queen working together all the time, the matrilineal system of inheritance makes this natural ... [so] a class that has 50 per cent representation of each [gender] will create a better experience,” he says.

Despite being in a minority, Queen Obaahemaa Afrakoma II is happy with the course so far. “I have enjoyed every bit of interaction with my friends from the monarchy ... Three days was too short for me,” she says, “I would have liked to stay for at least one week.”

After being shown a documentary about the British monarchy, she plans to follow examples set by Elizabeth II. “I was surprised to learn how down to earth the Queen of England is. I want to be like her with my people,” she says. For other women looking to attend business school meanwhile, she advises them to remain focused. “They have to be hard working, determined and persistent and then they will enjoy every moment.”


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