It’s pretty telling that on researching the theme for today’s Africa Day, I came up with nada. It seems nobody was bovvered this year (or last year either, for that matter). Go figure. I’ve decided to take some creative liberties and come up with a theme of my own for Africa Day this year, *drum roll please* and the winner is, “Do Better!”
Yes, yes, I’m well aware that today is meant to have a celebratory tone to it and we are meant to be gushing about how far we’ve come and the amazing qualities of this beautiful continent that many of us call home. Thing is, it’s kind of hard to have my pom-poms out today given the fairly recent horrific events that transpired *coughs, xenophobia*, not to mention the continued atrocious injustices that have gone on long enough on the continent.
You don’t even need to squint really hard to notice how The 4 Horsemen of the African Apocalypse; Drama, Devastation, Denial and Debt have made themselves quite comfy on this here continent. Heck, they’re the kind of tenants who are long overdue an eviction.
I know you would all prefer if I had written some effusive piece on how Africa’s Rising (…again) or how fantastic that country X and country Y’s GDP’s are the fastest growing in the world. Yippee. Here’s the thing though, I wouldn’t be so deep in my feelings today if I didn’t care. I just would like for us to call a spade, a spade…even if it’s only for one day…today. .
We really need to “Do Better!”
I have no doubt that the African leaders who established the African Union back in 1963 had very high hopes and good intentions of us forming a more unified, engaged and collaborative network of African citizens, leaders and nations on the continent. Sadly, you know what they say about good intentions *sigh*
“And what exactly does ‘doing better’ constitute?” I hear you ask. Great question, one that I’ve taken the liberty of answering by outlining ways in which Africa as a continent and people can elevate its game.. Now I’m not saying my list is an exhaustive one, not by a long shot, or full of unique points of view. What it is an introspective list of suggestions and recommendations, from yours truly, on how we can “Do Better!”..
7 Ways Africa and Her People can “Do Better!”
1. Learn about each other.
It’s a scientifically proven fact that we fear that which we do not know. I don’t know about you but I wasn’t formally taught any African history at school. It’s a travesty, I know. Everything I learnt and continue to learn has been from family members, independent reading, documentaries and meeting individuals from those respective countries. This is truly puwa…not poor but PUWA (say it out loud for the true effect of the word).
Within our respective educational systems on this continent we need to learn about each other and not in a “these are the many ways we are better than them” or “why they suck” kind of way, but in a “here is country X’s rich history and this is what it has taught us and means for us.”
2. Applaud results that truly matter.
I don’t care if the growth of your country’s GDP has surpassed every country on this earth, whether every member of your country is literate and fluent in 5 languages or whether your country made it to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Semi-Finals. If you don’t have basic infrastructure like, you know, fully tarred roads, 24 hour access to electricity and non-contaminated drinking water then you must have SEVERAL seats.
*Gerara herrrre ya know what I’m saying’*
There’s an African Proverb, that I’ve just made up, that goes,” If the basic foundation of your cake is rubbish, who the heck is complimenting the icing?” *drops the mic*
3. Target a common enemy.
From what I’ve observed it seems that us Africans only tend to work the best together when we have a mutual enemy. So let’s stop trying to hope that basic commonalities like, errrr living on the same continent are sufficient enough to make us like and respect each other.
Let’s find ourselves a common enemy instead, there are so many to choose from. Yesterday it was colonial rule and today it could be Unemployment, HIV/AIDS, Poverty, Corruption, Debt, Oil Companies, Foreign Aid, Colonial Borders and Materialism & Greed.
My proposed strategy is genius: Pick one issue, get really angry about it and work together to fix it. Tah-dah.
4. Determine whether Pan-Africanism is a dream deferred or a just a dead dream.
The solidarity of Africans at home and abroad is the stuff every Pan-Africanist’s dreams are made of. As far as dreams go, it’s a beautiful one to have and strive for. Beyond the airy fairy, feel goodness that the ideology stands for I find it hard to understand how any African nation is meant to implement, nurture and measure it in a real and practical sense.
The Zanzibar International Film Festival will be hosting dialogue sessions in Zanzibar on the 21 and 22 July 2015, discussing “The Way Forward in Pan-Africanism”. It is a very pertinent discussion to have and reassess whether Kwame Nkrumah’s ideology has any place in the 21st century.
5. Stop taking a monarchical approach to governing.
Kanye West once wisely crooned, “No one man should have all that power”; a sentiment I hold for all Presidents and Prime Ministers in the world, but African rulers in particular. Listen, I will be the first to empathise with the luring effects of power…even the type that has you manning the office kitty will drive the meekest employee into an out-and-out raging psycho.
So there is a reason why people in power are given one or two terms that last no longer than 8 years. Well, first to give everyone else a chance but also to ensure that it doesn’t go to said-ruler’s head.
Globally monarchical rule is having its last swan dance (read: I’m looking at you Queen Elizabeth and your Windsor brood). In governing, as is found in being a party attendee, one must never be seen to overstay one’s welcome. ‘Tis a faux-pas that is seldom easily forgiven or forgotten.
6. Remember that Africa has the advantage.
We are the continent with the things that everyone one else wants: Gold, Diamonds, Oil, Metals, Fertile Land, Minerals, Impressive Dance Moves and Innate Swag. They want it. We have it. So why for the love of all that is good, do we not behave like we have the best hand in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker?
We are so rich but we’ve developed this poverty mentality that is quite unattractive and works completely against us. Why can’t we see the potential in what we have to offer the world and stop relying on our potential being recognised by China or some moneyed-up Western nation?
7. Enough with this “crabs in a barrel” mentality!
This reputation we Africans have of being self-serving is the reason why we are not as prosperous, as a general collective or individual nations, as we should be.
There’s a reason why the levels of poverty are the way they are on this continent and we only have ourselves to blame. We cannot celebrate the successes of others without trying to undermine or bring them down.
If instead of trying to shine separately we instead choose to help each other succeed, this continent would be much better for it.
I could go on, but I thought I’d save you another 7 points/1,200 words and quit while I’m still ahead 😉
Feel free to chime in, in the comments, with ways that you believe African nations and its people can “Do Better!” individually and collectively, so that this time next year I’m not writing another rambling and disgruntled Africa Day blog post, lol.
Be good, chickens!
*The exception here are spiders, we don’t need to know them to fear them. Our inherent fear of them has been scientifically proven to be genetic. Random fact, I know.