By Yusuf Hassan
The cliché ‘readers are leaders’ has over the years inadvertently ignored the role of writers in our present societies. In the past, writers were so revered that they were usually seen as a major key to the enlightenment of the people. They have created a lot of concepts that readers have adopted to become great, they have solved problems, they have written words that have caused wars but notwithstanding written those that brokered long-lasting peace. As it is known that only a concept written down cannot be forgotten, it’s only readers who leverage upon whatever they have read that become not just orientated leaders but great and unforgettable ones.
Abraham Lincoln, among other wonderful leaders in history including Ernest Hemmingway; Mark Twain; Sherman Alexie; Phillip Pullman; Malcolm X; Ralph Waldo Emerson, who followed the part of the aggressive reading of written texts leveraged on what he read in his old creaky cabin to become a well-respected and unforgettable man of history. Writers have engendered a lot of reading which in turn has churned out a lot of leaders who because of their determination to follow the propositions of writers, turned words into actions. Action is a major characteristic of a leader who adopts learning from reading towards perfecting solutions to problems.
Writers are makers of good readers who become great leaders. Good leadership usually emanate from good readership because reading brings about clarity in thought processes of an individual and prepares such for better tasks and opportunities. Thereby, creating an individual who is able to juxtapose knowledge acquired and wisdom used, for better decision making. Reading brings out the best in an individual posed for leadership position when he or she is able to judge conscientiously which knowledge to hold on to and which ones to be sieved away like chaff of wheat grains. This makes readers to become personality with good attitude, hence, creating leaders with fine sense of judgment and unique viewpoint on issues of great concerns and that is what makes a leader!
It is also, by and large, believed that if you want a following you must write. No matter how impressive your end results are, it is your writing as well as your thinking that will draw your followers and establish you as a leader. Most importantly readers etch into the opinion of writers and that is basically why editorial is synonymous to leadership, because it leads the attitude of the readers towards certain arguments that can be leverage upon to create workable solutions.
Nevertheless, nowadays ‘ideas make leaders’ not ‘actions makes leaders’. Some social analysts are of the view that action can be drowned out in the cacophony of marketing hucksters all trying to out-yell each other. In the words of Joyce Carol Oates, reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul. Our own Wole Soyinka once stated “my horizon on humanity is enlarged by reading the writers of poems, seeing a painting, listening to some music, some opera, which has nothing at all to do with a volatile human condition or struggle, or whatever, it enriches me as a human being”. Another influential leader also posited that you “either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” which shows that readers and writers exist in a cyclical mode wherein the globe goes round and round in the world of literature application to human existence.
Due to the sophistries in eloquent speech delivery in this modern era, ideas of great leaders still come down to simple unoriginal principles. The people get basically caught in the web of their delivery highlighted with their life experience. But it is the plagiaristic tendency today that misplaces the relevance of written text as some books hardly stretch the mind from the experience despite the kind relayed. It does not mean that the message they try to pass across is no more significant or that it has not been said before but the way they said it makes the difference.