Pa Foday was an ordinary community member with two wives and six children serving the role of a skilled worker in his village all his youthful days. Madina is one of the forested communities in its section within the Peje West Chiefdom. The village is located on top of a steep hill making it very protected with nature. There is an aquatic and swampy environment at the feet of the hills and forests that provides a great source of livelihoods and agricultural activities for many of the villagers.
Before OneVillage Partners’ (OVP) engagement Foday was a skilled worker from the community of Madina. In this village, leadership was patriarchal and hierarchical, with a political leadership system that only allowed close-knit family members to be leaders. Over time, only male family members from a royal lineage were encouraged to be leaders. This traditional leadership trend made it very difficult for others to be included in leadership. This led to a lack of peaceful coexistence, a disgruntled community, and a lack of enforcement of community by-laws.
When OVP partnered with Madina, all community members, not just leaders, were encouraged to be part of their community’s development processes. Foday stated, “OVP allowed us to contribute and take active part in the problem identification, designing of solution, and implementation of our project plans. Being part of our village development has been triggered by the OVP tool that empowers and uses each and every social capital asset in the community to be productive.”
Working alongside OVP, many community members began to feel more motivated to put themselves forward for leadership. It was during the designing and implementation of Madina’s latrine project that Foday discovered that his fellow villagers would recognize his leadership acumen. Chief Foday had already learned how to be respectful of people and culture; how to use one’s own skills, knowledge, and resources to benefit the whole community. Foday started gaining his leadership positions by leading over 10 skilled workers in the carpentry sector to construct 35 latrines for more than 105 households in Madina.
Even when Foday decided to provide leadership, he was still being ignored and disobeyed by his colleague workers and he faced tough challenges from community members in supporting the project work. However, he continued to show his commitments, love and humility for all, accepting each and every person irrespective of their differences. As this continued, community members began to see the good leadership qualities in Chief Foday.
After the implementation of the OVP supported project, Foday’s community began to see a great deal of leadership capacity in him. At a point in time when the whole community was inspired by what Pa Foday did as a skilled worker towards the completion of 35 latrines, the whole community gathered and ceremoniously declared Chief Foday as their new Town Chief. Chief Foday has now been described as the “People Centered Leader” whose popularity and love by the people of Madina has grown to an exceptional and admirable height. He is now a force to reckon with among fellow chiefs. His leadership has brought more inclusion of other women and youths from other families in his governance. Colleague Chief Yankuba stated that, “Chief Foday has encouraged people to be leaders based on commitment, diligence, and public acknowledgement of all. Madina is now proud that there are fewer community conflicts and family disputes, as all are encouraged to work together.”