Home Foreign MWANGI MAINA: Lessons from Israel: Visionary leadership is all Africa needs

MWANGI MAINA: Lessons from Israel: Visionary leadership is all Africa needs

Israel had a very visionary leadership. A man called David-Ben Gurion, the founding father of the State of Israel saw far and wide

by The Brief
0 comment

By MWANGI MAINA 

Politics and International Relations have always captivated me. Being closely connected to Kenya, where political stability and good relations with her neighbors is something to be proud of, although surrounded by a neighbourhood that is experiencing political, social and economic crisis.

I have seen the importance of international relations in providing a safer neighbourhood.

Once in a while traveling abroad, I have been fascinated by the way in which the world views Africa. The majority of those out of Africa equate us to diseases, death and all manner of crisis. They think Africa is a country with a capital in Nairobi, yet it’s the second-largest continent, covering an area more than three times that of the United States.

From north to south, Africa stretches about 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). It is connected to Asia by the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt. Africa is home to the longest river in the world, the Nile. It stretches 4,100 miles (6,600 kilometers) from Sudan to the Mediterranean Sea. I am lucky to have gotten an eagle glimpse of both the Nile and the Mediterranean when I visited Ethiopia and Israel last year.

When you talk of multilateralism and international, I couldn’t be more proud watching our own Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Martin Kimani’s speech getting global attention when the United Nations Security Council debated Russia’s move to recognise the independence of two breakaway regions in Ukraine and to deploy “peacekeepers” there.

Last week on Thursday, Japanese foreign minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa quoted Kimani’s speech on Ukraine in 2022, during the UNSC Open debate on the rule of law among Nations. We are talented. We are capable. We have the know-how, what we lack in Africa is VISIONARY LEADERSHIP.

The Negev Desert, which covers over 60 per cent of the country has actually shrunk in size over the past century as agriculture has turned sand into green fields, the opposite to the desertification trend that much of the rest of the world is battling to prevent.

Talking of leadership, I visited the Negev in mid-December, a large desert region in Southern Israel and it is evident what visionary leadership can achieve. Desert agriculture in Israel is one of the country’s greatest successes, and something Israel leads the world in.

The Negev Desert, which covers over 60 per cent of the country has actually shrunk in size over the past century as agriculture has turned sand into green fields, the opposite to the desertification trend that much of the rest of the world is battling to prevent.

Even in the depths of Israel’s Negev Desert are gems of agriculture amid the harsh, dry conditions, and relatively mineral-deprived sandy soil. These fellows are reversing desertification. You cannot compare our tomatoes or strawberries that come from fertile lands in Kenya with those that are produced in the Negev. In fact, we cannot export ours to Israel due to the quality standard.

I am told at inception, Israel had a very visionary leadership. A man called David-Ben Gurion, the founding father of the State of Israel saw far and wide. The visionary saw Israel’s vast and barren Negev as holding the future potential for a new society for Israel. He saw life in a barren place. If you read the Bible, the patriarch, Isaac, also dwelt in the Negev, and he faced the challenges of finding water as well. “The Lord blessed him” Genesis 26:12, Isaac sowed and reaped a hundredfold in the Negev.

The Bible tells us that only God gives life in a barren land and in barren lives. Ben Gurion led by example. Imagine the Negev receives barely eight inches of rain per year. Many saw Gurion’s dream as a fantasy. But water piped from the sea of Galilee has helped the desert bloom. It is indeed a land of honey and milk.

Agriculture has gone online. Israel is located in a very fragile region, the Middle East, along the Eastern coastline of the Mediterranean sea, bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt but their food security and water experience is interesting.

Wherever you go in Israel, you are sure to come across streets and markets filled with their best foods. Their national favorites include hummus, falafel, shawarma, and shakshuka. Imagine swimming at a very salty Mediterranean Coast then showering at a hotel in Tel Aviv, be it 5 star or less with very clean and fresh water.

I slept at Tal by the Beach hotel in Tel Aviv, few steps from a salty but beautiful beach. But the water is super clean. Israel water scarcity has made them become resilient. They have purely focused on innovation to beat the water crisis.

A desert with scarce water resources, but today produces 20 per cent more water than it needs. What can Kenya learn from Israeli’s experience?

Drip irrigation is serious here. It has changed the world of agriculture. We are still struggling to become food secure. A lot of water resources but access to clean water is still scarce. Militarily, these people so advanced, the will neutralise any threat so quickly, even with the size of Kajiado county.

Jerusalem was amazing. Very lit holy city. A state with an interesting culture.

Mwangi Maina is a diplomatic affairs journalist 

Israel, Algeria and Guinea back Kenya’s bid for UNSC non-permanent seat

You may also like

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

The Brief will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.