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About the book

The focus of transformative leadership is on changing power structures and dynamics in society such that people’s access to livelihoods, dignity, rights, and wellbeing are systemically ensured, rather than a focus on institutional or organisational change or individual engagements between leaders and followers. Transformative leadership takes as its unit of influence wider social, political and material issues. In the words of Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river and find out why they are falling in”.

Through a series of nuanced case studies, the authors set out how contemporary leaders on the African continent navigate complexity, chaos, struggle, temptation, controversy, and roadblocks, in a context that is both emerging from colonial exploitation and domination, and that suffers from a myriad of post-colonial ills and aspirations. Authors integrate past practices, considering the cultural heritages that animate action, the political heroes (and villains), and historical thinkers that have encouraged current leadership practices and warned against others. They also shine a spotlight on the many ways in which leadership challenges for the future are anticipated. These include the rapid social, technological, and cultural shifts, and struggles around gender, mobility, and commercial practices already sweeping the continent. Multiple essays offer markers for the way ahead for a new generation who must lead and find their own path to the future.

Product information

Format : 240mm x 168mm
Pages : 472
ISBN 13 : 978-0-7969-2661-6
Publish Year : March 2024
Rights : World Rights



  1. From beating the odds to changing the odds: Developing a shared understanding of what is meant by ‘transformative leadership’

Sharlene Swartz

  1. Academic understandings of transformative leadership

Tarryn De Kock and Sharlene Swartz

  1. Leadership and identity in pre-colonial African contexts: A retrospective account

Matthews Makgamatha


  1. The spirit of Kanju: Young Africans amplifying leadership through documentary film work

Alude Mahali and Eugene Paramoer

  1. Blockchain applications: A pathway to decentralised, autonomous and transformative leadership

Krish Chetty

  1. Transformative leadership from abroad: Maggy Barankitse and the Burundian refugee community

Gérard Birantamije

  1. What amaXhosa leadership practices offer to the discourse on transformative leadership

Olwam Mnqwazi

  1. Ubuntu as a resource for transformative leadership in Southern Africa

Norman Chivasa


  1. Women and leadership in African contexts: A review

Relebohile Moletsane

  1. We should all be African feminists: Feminism as an integral part of transformative leadership

Lauryn Mwale


  1. Iterations of transformative leadership for higher education in Africa

Ibrahim Oanda

  1. Transformative leadership in resource constrained schools in South Africa

Andrea Juan and Sylvia Hannan

  1. Learning transformative leadership through student activism in Kenya

Nathan Oyori Ogechi

  1. Using transformative leadership to ‘nibble at resilient colonialism’: An autoethnographic account of student-faculty experiences

One Pusumane and Jess Auerbach


  1. Walking the talk: Shaping a transformative approach to evaluation of leadership fellowship programmes

Barbara Klugman

  1. Climbing the hill: The burden of development placed on scholarship recipients

Sepiso Dean Mwamelo

  1. Leadership for whom? Interrogating the effectiveness of leadership programs in Africa

Ajibola Adigun

  1. Emergent-decolonial development and youth-focused leadership development programmes

Rekgotsofetse Chikane and Monique Atouguia


  1. Transforming the political: Towards a transformative concept of political leadership in Africa

Tarryn De Kock and Anye Nyamnjoh

  1. Transformative leadership in Africa: Lessons from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s leadership stints in Liberia

Kazeem Ajasa Badaru and Emmanuel Adu

  1. Transformative leadership in unconventional terrain: Examining the personality, values, and vision of Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana

Emmanuel Ampomah


  1. Transformative disability leadership in the Global South: Insights from ubuntu philosophy

Precious Muzite

  1. Ubuntu leadership in a technological age

Katleho Mokoena

  1. Transformative social innovation leadership, an Ubuntu infused approach for future African public sector leaders

Maréve Biljohn


  1. A forward-looking ethics of transformative leadership: Re-building societies in the 21st century

Catherine Odora Hoppers and Crain Soudien

  1. Tame, erode, rupture or exit: Strategies for transformative change

Sharlene Swartz

Sharlene Swartz (PhD) is head of the Equitable Education and Economies division at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and an honorary professor of education at the University of Cape Town. She was President of the Sociology of Youth Research Committee of the International Sociological Association (2018–2023), and is a commissioner of the Lancet inquiry into adolescent health and wellbeing. Her current research centres on the just inclusion of youth in a transforming society and the future of work. Her recent books include Educational Research Practice in Southern contexts (2024); The Oxford Handbook of Global South Youth Studies (2021); and Studying while Black (2018). Sharlene is South African.

Tarryn de Kock (MA) is an independent researcher, and has worked for the HSRC. Her research interests include public private partnerships, educational planning and school governance. She is currently completing her PhD in education at the University of Cape Town. Tarryn is South African.

Catherine A. Odora Hoppers (PhD) holds a professorship in education at Gulu University in Uganda, and is a professor extraordinarius at the University of South Africa. She consults on expert panels for UNESCO, UN Department of Disarmament Affairs, the World Economic Forum, and the World Intellectual Property Organisation. She is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and a fellow of the African Academy of Sciences. Catherine is Ugandan.


The important, exciting, coherent, and comprehensive chapters in Transformative Leadership in African Contexts, draw on Transformative Leadership Theory as a means of creating the future. Here, each chapter is imbued with African cultures and traditions, with indigenous knowledges and languages to re-create and interpret transformative leadership in ways that are thoughtful, insightful, and spiritual. It is not a simplistic or prescriptive account, but a tome of insight built on integrity, transparency, values, and ethics. As these impressive chapters accurately distinguish between transformational and transformative leadership, they share foci on community empowerment, collective agency, voice, and decolonialization, always challenging both the historical and current status quo. Covering a wide range of both scholarship and African countries and contexts, this is a must read for anyone interested in re-creating their future.

Dr. Carolyn M. Shields, Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies,

Wayne State University, USA

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