Africa needs an evolution, not a revolution! Especially that the continent is sitting at the confluence of the transitioning global zeitgeist. Only until this is supplanted into the leadership that has embraced the Kigali Declaration, the effort to take away borders within the continent will forever remain an intellectual concept and the continent will suffer yet another crippling miss of the moment. If Africa does not learn from its past it will suffer another millennia, swimming in the craters where once lay buried riches. If Africa does not re-imagine its own system, then it shall continue being a premium dumping site for other continents’ waste. The biggest opportunity this Declaration offers is that it gives Africa an edge as a result of its immeasurable success at doing so much with nothing. Africa has been, still is, the model for zero-budgeting. However, this, my view pays a narrow attention to the reasons why Botswana, just like the rest of Africa, is in the state it is in currently. Arguments around what is at play in Africa always ever blame someone else, or require someone else to deal with Africa’s mess. These arguments may be true to their proponents, but are they really the universal truth that every African must believe? I say no. Firstly because, not only is the world pushing Africa to attain self-determination but, forces like the shutdown of mines and suppressed commodity prices, also indicate that it is time for Africa to take the overdue leap of faith. Everybody wants it for Africa. Everybody but Africans. Africans want to remain victims because it is easier. They are victims of chattel slavery, which is uncanny because African leaders, at the time, grew wealthy from this trade ÔÇô something that is never highlighted whenever this argument shores up. They are victims of colonialism, yet they have not pushed for self-determination since breaking free from their masters. They are victims of exploitation by the west, east and north; but are the ones signing concession loan after concession loan. They are victims of dictation by western countries on how to shape their education, on how to construct structures of governance, etc; yet, they fail to agree on the most basic of tenets; free, unimpeded movement throughout Africa. Africans! And which African leader has ever been held responsible, from the atrocities of the chattel slave trade days to today’s corrupt governance? Not even a single one! In fact, African leaders would rather pull out, with great vehemence, from the ICC before that happens. Africa!
Standing there, begging for yet another master to buy you out from your current master’s keep. How long will you keep doing that? From Britain to the United States, and now from the United States to China. Bowl in hand, prostrating, promising to learn Mandarin or Cantonese, or whatever dialect, asking, just like before, to be an economic protectorate. African! When will you accept the responsibility for your own self? How many more forced imperial languages and philosophies do you wish to know? How will your voice ever be heard when you hand it over to someone else to use for their own benefit? Should you be preparing to learn Hebrew so that you become a proper heir of Abraham’s wealth in the future? Are you not tired of bondage? Because that is what it is, is it not? But just like an old school friend of mine, Diyane Sebonile once said, Africa is blinded by religion to be able to see this moment in time as such. And I tend to agree. Religion has suffocated Africa’s ideas and thoughts, as it has taught Africans to abdicate their responsibility. God is in control they say. Theirs is to behave like future inheritors of some imaginary city in the middle-eastern desert. How this is not seen as giving over of oneself to a future power, beats me. Somehow an African must never be an African to discover himself. Really? This is why this moment is rather imperative for the continent of Africa. Failure to understand so will undermine the potential intellectual legacy that this generation can leave behind. This will undermine the very legacy this generation says it wishes upon its children. The same legacy that it says will give their generation next a chance. A chance to live a life different from its own. A life that is governed by reason and not instinct. A life of mutual respect and not capital stratification. A life that will guarantee them the enjoyment of such inalienable rights as freedom of individual thought and expression. We cannot keep shifting Africa’s problems to the highest bidder.
The Kigali Declaration is presenting Africa with an opportunity to figure things out for itself. Africa must now create scientific societies on the continent. Africa must embrace the need for African schools of thought that can decipher the metaphysical nature of the world. Africa must investigate how the French and others, including the Chinese, did it. How they attained their renaissance and ultimately their enlightenment. Africa, and indeed Botswana, is held back by a lot more than its reliance on mineral wealth. Africa is mentally and ideologically poor. It is held back by dogma, self doubt, ignorance of global trends and events, as well as indifference towards productivity, efficiency and accountability amongst a host of other challenges. And until Africa looks in the mirror and beholds the specter of its insanity, then its leaders will forever seek a new master upon whose head its problems shall rest. Needless to say, the very wealth that Africa has will continue to create opportunities for whichever master of the day. Indeed, for every square meter that is mined by 5,000 Africans, 200,000 jobs are created elsewhere. Jobs in literature, business, finance, entertainment and all the different sectors of the global value chain that Africa is obviously not interested in developing. Africa only participates in this value chain as a consumer.
As I see it, Africa’s true export is intellectual property, and we all know that intellectual property is the true basis for wealth creation. Thus, this is what the wish; rather is, for this generation’s next and theirs and so forth. That they take the advantage of coming last and study history and pick from it the best parts about every region. They can learn more on ‘Germany’s labour-market policies, Swedish pension management, French low-carbon energy, Canadian healthcare, Swiss energy efficiency, American scientific curiosity, Brazilian anti-poverty programmes, Costa Rican tropical happiness,’ Asia’s ingenuity, especially Japanese; Middle-Eastern tradition and add their own (Africa’s) resilience to the matrix. And from this amalgamation of models from around the world, they can create for themselves an equitable human experience. An experience that is premised on freedom. For freedom is the embrace of self-determination. Therefore, we must give the African intellect a chance. This is the only imperative that Africa must demand of itself. The only imperative it must obsess over. The question is; how do we become the catalysts for this future, Rre Mokgweetsi Masisi?
*K. Gabriel Rasengwatshe is a multi-dimensional speaker, author and presenter of Gabzfm Breakfast Show, Every weekday, 7am-10am. Gabzfm.com.