South 2 North

The business of good governance

Mo Ibrahim and his daughter Hadeel discuss the need to brand Africa by its good leaders, not just its failed ones.

No subject is off limits in the first ever global talk show hosted from Africa in which Redi Tlhabi talks frankly to inspiring and intriguing personalities from across the world.

Do businessmen have the right to reward good governance? And is it ‘un-African’ to challenge your elders?

On this episode of South2North Redi Tlhabi is joined by business mogul Mo Ibrahim and his daughter Hadeel to discuss African leadership, the politics of identity and a mutual love of Arsenal football club.

Mo Ibrahim is a mobile communications entrepreneur who made $3.4bn when he sold his company Celtel in 2005. After the sale he set up the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which aims to encourage good governance in Africa. The Ibrahim Index of African Governance is seen as a global indicator of progress, while the Ibrahim Prize for African Leadership is awarded to presidents who have shown good governance. Winners of the prize include Joaquim Chissano from Mozambique, Festus Mogae from Botswana and Pedro Pires from Cape Verde. In 2009 and 2010 the foundation chose not to award the prize. Mo’s daughter Hadeel is now the executive director of the foundation.

Mo tells Redi about how even though he has been voted the most influential black man in the world and has a British passport, he still gets a second glance when coming through Heathrow airport. Identity is a complex and fractioned issue for him.

“I really think now we live in a global world, we have multiple identities. When I say I’m African, what does that mean, to be African? Okay I’m a Nubian. Nubians are one of the oldest civilisations, so that’s part of my identity. I was born a Muslim and that’s part of my identity. I live in Britain, my adopted country, and have a British passport, so that’s also a part of my identity. I support Arsenal, so that’s also a part of my identity ….”

Mo responds to Redi’s challenge that he should perhaps not be rewarding presidents for just doing their jobs by reminding her that the prize is to promote good African leadership, and therefore a good image of Africa.

“The perception in Europe, in Asia, in America is that African leaders are not really that good, we have a very bad image …. You [Redi] work in the media, all you guys talk about all the time are Mugabe or Mobutu or Idi Amin …. They don’t know that we have some really good decent leaders …. We need to brand Africa by successful leaders, not by failed leaders,” he says.

While Hadeel’s upbringing has influenced her career path, she tells Redi that she did not expect that her work would necessarily be with her dad.

“I grew up in a very political environment you know, my parents and their friends were always arguing about issues and values. So that’s always been a part of my life and I could not ever conceive of working in a field that did not somehow involve public good and to promote change,” she says.

While Hadeel laughs off Bono referring to her as being “frighteningly smart”, she tells Redi that it is exciting living at a time when men have to listen to women.

“I think it’s an exciting time to be a young woman at this moment in the world, and especially to be a young black woman. There’s no other time in the history of the world that I could be doing what I’m doing. I could be sitting in rooms, talking to older men from other cultural backgrounds and they have to listen.”

Macky Sall: ‘I struggle against inequality’

Redi also talks to Macky Sall, the Senegalese president, about democracy, Africa’s future and love.

Sall was elected president in 2012, taking over from former ally Abdoulaye Wade. Wade attempted to change the constitution to allow him to remain president for a third term, which resulted in massive violent protests in Senegal.
The west African country has been historically peaceful and the threat to the constitution was not taken lightly by the Senegalese population. Senegal’s stability is an abnormality in the area, with neighbouring Mali and Mauritania struggling to remain stable through a series of coups and civil unrest.

“I think he [Abdoulaye Wade] lost his way trying to impose a new candidacy because our constitution was very, very clear. I think the time where a man can have more than two terms is over, because we are living in a new age of democracy in Africa,” Sall says.

He also mentions world-renowned musician and Grammy winner Youssou N’Dour. N’Dour ran for the presidency first independently, and then supported Sall after he did not earn enough votes to qualify. He is now the minister of tourism.

Sall explains that N’Dour’s career as a musician does not affect his leadership abilities: “I think the value of people is not only in terms of the value of their diploma, not only because you come from Harvard …. I think Youssou N’Dour is a very intelligent man and he has good values.”

Redi jokes about never having met a president with a background in geology, and Sall explains his dedication to struggle for a better country.

“I don’t like injustice. The bad things like when the unions don’t have what they are supposed to have …. I struggle against inequality.”

Many Senegalese nationals returned home after the economic meltdown in Europe, a phenomenon Sall believes will be the start of a new era of development in Africa.

“In life we are in dynamic evolution. Africa gives people to develop places like America and Europe. Then after that we have colonialism, and they come and say ‘Okay we need to civilise these people … we have to show them what God is …’ So today I think the development will be in Africa, after Asia. And it starts today.”


South2North can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 1930; Saturday: 1430; Sunday: 0430; Monday: 0830.