Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Celebrating the Teacher: An Exemplary Leader

For many years I thought the word “leader” was synonymous to statesman. To me , leaders were those who held political power. After attending the British Council InterAction Leadership Programme, my perception changed. Everyone is or could be a leader. A leader is simply a person who makes a significant positive contribution to his or her community. On this basis, I am so proud to say teachers are great leaders. They teach, motivate, transform, encourage, and influence members of our communities. THAT IS A TEACHER! THAT IS LEADERSHIP!

My father, Ntunibu James Azefor, was a teacher. One, whose leadership qualities still call for celebration today. His students still remember him as a selfless, respectful and determined person, devoted to the cause of sharing knowledge. Every one of his former students I meet has a story of how he influenced their lives. They describe him as a good teacher whose diligence, vision, attentiveness, and passion to teach and share knowledge enabled them to achieve success and reach great heights. In InterAction parlance, he would be described as “enabling others do great work”. That is leadership.

Dad died in 1996, but stories of his leadership from the vantage point of his profession as a teacher have lived on. As a teacher, he believed so much in the importance of education that he used to provide lodging to “less fortunate students” of our community to ensure that they did not drop-out of school. By displaying such passion for his community he was demonstrating leadership; what is referred to in InterAction as “walking the talk”. Many years after, I still think he was an Exemplary Teacher and Leader.

Like my father’s students, you and I have also been influenced, motivated and transformed by teachers or a teacher we met in primary, secondary or tertiary education.

One teacher I would not forget is the late Rev Father Anthony Fonteh. He was the principal of my secondary school - Saint Augustine’s College Nso (North West province, Cameroon) and our phonetics teacher. I loved the phonetics class. But I didn’t really see how useful it could be apart from speaking well. Then all changed when during a phonetics class Father Fonteh said these words, “you see miss, I see you becoming a Journalist and doing a lot of public speaking” then he laughed as he often did and continued the lesson. From that moment onwards, I started thinking of a career in journalism and communication.

Wasn’t that leadership from my teacher?

While at the University of Buea (South West province, Cameroon) where I majored in Journalism and Mass Communication, Dr Enoh Tanjong (then Head of department), gave me the name “STAR”. I never bothered to find out how he came about this name. However, by calling me a “STAR”, he undoubtedly increased my self –esteem and made we work harder (I remember crying once when I was asked to read a pile of newspapers in less than an hour and do a complete review). I graduated with a BSc. Hons In Journalism and Mass Communication and have since worked in different areas in the field of mass communication ( PRO/ Print and broadcast media; Reporter/Radio Anchor/ programme producer and presenter for radio /TV Presenter).

I recently had Prof Enoh Tanjong on the Breakfast TV Show “HELLO”. He said to me, “Mabi you remember I named you MY STAR back then?” I burst out laughing and I replied, “ indeed Enoh the star was bound to shine after you named it”. This also is what leadership entails. Recognizing the potentials of others, encouraging and enabling them do great work, influencing others and making a significant impact in their lives and society. Teachers also know how to do that.

I believe they have helped in teaching and shaping you as well as society in one way or the other, using their different leadership qualities and foresight.

Looking at the importance of the teacher, and in the spirit of “UBUNTU” which implies ‘I AM, BECAUSE YOU ARE , BECAUSE WE ARE’ Let’s celebrate the TEACHER! The GREAT COMMUNITY LEADER! Remember! October 5, is World Teachers’ Day.


Nengela said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nengela said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nengela said...


Thanks for that great tribute to teachers, those who help shape the future!
You know in my opinion teaching is first a vocation (calling to serve) before being a profession (Means to an earn).
When the call to serve meets with leadership skills, in my opinion, an enabler is borne. Yes, some of the greatest leaders and enablers I have known are teaches. I join you, in saluting those great minds!
Interestingly, many still struggle between teaching as a job or profession and teaching as a vocation! When you have the calling, the results are sure: passion, leadership, inspirational versus followership.
I salute my Dad! I salute Rev Fr. Fonteh! I salute all who helped enable me and a multitude of others! May their leadership skills and spirits live with us forever!
My five cents.
Great job Mabs!

mabsfominyen said...

Thank you for the comments,I like the way you describe teaching "a vocation".

Gwendoline said...

Hi Mabi,
Congrats on the good job you are doing. I join you in the acclamation of teachers as the “Greatest Leaders” of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The accolades we get for our achievements today is thanks to them. I wish our authorities that be can recognise the importance of this noble profession and give teachers their due place in our society.
Move on girl.
Best regards
Gwen Nyambi