n Journal of Public Administration - Leadership and good governance in the public service : lessons from African philosophy

Volume 50 Number 3
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



This article seeks to make a contribution to the project of narrative development in the universe of Public Administration. As it were, this article is in agreement with the understanding that metaphysics, which is a branch of philosophy that studies reality, that is both physical and social reality, does in several ways have an influence on the narrative construction in social and political philosophy. This suggests that studies in natural reality, in more ways than one, informed the content of studies on social reality, as in social and political philosophies. Every society in the world has its own worldview of both the physical and social realities that issue from their cultures. Western philosophies, as well, come across as products of western cultural systems with major influences on social and political systems. African philosophies, too, are found to be products of African cultural systems, political philosophies and legacies. In world communities' social and political philosophies, we come across these communities' concepts of leadership and good governance. This is with reference to the leadership and governance models that would assist with the delivery of an enabling environment for the attainment of public value, the life of dignity and the pursuit of happiness for the communities in question.

This article seeks to add to the project of narrative construction and development in Public Administration with some of the insights drawn from the philosophy traditions in Africa that also draw their materials from, and talk to, the African reality. This is with reference to the traditions and epistemological frontiers such as ethnophilosophy, nationalistic-ideological philosophy, professional philosophy and philosophic sagacity. Some of these traditions are found to be in resonance with the principles that serve as guidelines for leadership and good governance in the public service, and they are also found to have outlived the colonial overlay. This article argues that there are leadership and good governance lessons that can be learnt from these traditions, philosophies and systems. This is with reference to those values borne of African worldviews that are found to be still relevant to the worlds of both leadership and governance in the public service such as respect, a caring public service, a considerate public service and a public service that is able to do more for society with limited resources. The public service landscape presents leadership and governance approaches that are in some ways out of kilter with the African social reality. This article postulates the integration of some of the enduring African philosophy elements into the Grand National Narrative for the delivery of the public servants and public service of the future.

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