Eze’s (Uchechi, 2011, etc.) latest nonfiction discusses different styles of leadership.
Eze assumes the voice of a young man he calls “Chidi King” as he emphasizes political, parental and spiritual types of leadership. Observing his mother’s hens leads him to reflect on the chickens’ human counterparts and how their actions might be related. The lessons are supported with simple, folk tale–style stories and bare-boned biographical sketches of generally well-known historical figures (e.g., Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr.). The narrative suggests that there are three sorts of leaders—destructive, negligent and responsible—and describes each in a separate chapter that ends with a list of associated personality traits. Destructive leaders, like hens who eat their own eggs, are murderers, be they perpetrators of the Holocaust, present-day terrorists or even parents who abort a pregnancy. Chidi relates a story of a couple who did just that; in this rather superficial treatment, gray areas aren’t addressed. Negligent leaders, potentially including parents, are like the hen who failed to protect her chicks from a hawk; they’re to blame, for instance, for children like the junkie whom Chidi encounters near the World Trade Center. Finally, like the hen who provides grain for her chicks, responsible leaders are not only “generally intelligent and well-informed,” but also “compassionate, caring, and loving.” Eze shows how people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Yitzak Rabin and Pope John Paul II proved themselves to be models for this kind of leader: John Paul, for example, “believed that he owed all of mankind an equal share of love and respect.” One chapter, “When Mothers Hens Clash,” discusses the struggles between destructive and responsible leaders who aim to “shape the conditions and limits of human progress.” The goal for leaders is to raise happy, well-fed chicks—a fair though not particularly sophisticated metaphor for the challenges in the world. Although readers may be familiar with most of this material, the author’s earnest, charming tone makes it all the more engaging.
Simple lessons with homely charm.