Playful but serious article about the economic future of Africa resting in the hands of the current generation and their ability to overcome the issues relating to identity and values that hold the continent back in terms of the GDP and HDI numbers.
The world has been defining and interpreting African realities since ‘they’ first landed on our shores. This interest in the African reality has never stopped being cultivated, and with the prevalence of globalization the world often informs and to some extent even directs, the African reality today.
For the longest time we have focused on the external factors affecting and impacting upon the growth and progression of the continent. We have neglected to note ourselves as individuals and the basic questions that can help us avert many troubles on the personal journeys we are on that impact upon the bigger picture.
This letter is written with love. Sending love in it’s most pure and abundant form to you as you aspire to be more, inspire others to be and also as you achieve within this year.
So, African Child, the world believes it knows you, but Who Do You Believe You Are??
We have been working towards the economic and industrial independence of our continent for decades now. We are blessed to be here, in the belly of an era that has had the honor of seeing our currencies gain traction, Multi-National Corporations flocking almost every nation, developments in cross-border and intercontinental regional trade, the ending of Apartheid in South Africa, the instillment of Youth Parliaments in countries like Mozambique, the banning of plastics in Rwanda and Kenya for the sake of the environment, the Decolonization of Education within spaces of Higher Learning and the implementation of strategies and policies in line with Agenda 63 in a majority of the AU states.
I have heard it said countless times that any business that is serious about money is serious about Africa, and this is why they continue to come here. The employment opportunities created by these businesses though, are seldom the type of opportunities that can create generational wealth or at the least improve the social standing and economic bracket of the individuals employed. Yes, we are no longer reaching for mere employment but for sustainable and wealth generating employment, because Poverty will not be eradicated by an overburdened middle class but by a growing stable upper middle class and wealthy population.
Balancing this out is the responsibility of my generation; the creation and development of spaces, industries and policies in order to cultivate a culture of serious entrepreneurship which can uplift the communities which collectively call Africa home.
Our aspirations are highly reliant on the security and stability of our nations. And the stability of our nations is highly reliant on our ability to rise up and take charge of ensuring that security is guaranteed. We cannot rise without knowing who we are rising as. Before we can define who we are as a collective, we need to decide who we are as individuals, nice and early in the year.
What we believe about ourselves informs whether or not we strive towards the seemingly impossible. And Africa needs a whole lot of people who believe they can acheive the seemingly impossible.
It is then paramount to spend the year creating habits and applying behaviors which are in line with who you believe you are, moving towards the economic and industrial liberation of Africa and her people, intentionally and always ready to grab the opportunities that open up as Africa constructs herself.
To make my point a little clearer, I’ll alter the quote by Anais Nin “We see others not as they are but as we are.” And we need to know who we are, and what we value in order to protect Africa’s growth.
Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela published an article many years before my birth where she spoke about the challenges we face as a result of measuring reform by European standards. This method of evaluating “development” continues to create problems in and for Africa as it rejects purely African values for being in contrast with its own interests.
It is possible, as uMama uMadikizela Mandela states, to restructure life within our cultural contexts, to modernize while remaining intrinsically African and develop economies that are not dependent on the West nor the East.
So in defining oneself, in 2018, it would be a great injustice to do so without noting the “Africanness” of your identity even within modernity.
“Africanness” requires humility, honesty, a good work ethic, the application of knowledge and intelligence, and self-respect amongst other things.
I hope you believe in defining yourself first and foremost from an African perspective and that your beliefs about yourself propel you towards a year of unparalleled growth and success, for the sake of mother Africa.
Thobeka Wandile Nyathikazi