A man of baffling temperament and intriguing demeanour is one who resides by the coast, and yet insists on swimming in a small bucket of water.
Moreover, the levity, the frivolity, and the flippancy of such a man’s complaint that he is being squeezed in his bucket may perhaps merit not just a wry smile, but an inspection of his senses, if not a torrential scorching censure. And right here, with cinematographic precision and econometric accuracy, the picture of our continent is unveiled before our sullen eyes which betray a suspicion of moisture.
As situations have it, we have become a bunch who perorate more than we are actuated to practical activities of a transformative value. And unsurprisingly, today, for all our superabundant resources, there are many on the continent who cannot afford the basic necessities of life. While governments keep assuring the people that they are doing everything they can to solve their manifold problems; many continue to suffer and see economies mismanaged and corruption fester.
Considering that democracy is gaining visible roots in Africa, albeit with its inherent difficulties, we may observe that elections bring fleeting hope to many, who after repeating the process for a while, start getting frustrated rather than excited. They are almost weary of elections that fail to deliver meaningful change.
However, we (as the electorate) cannot complain when we live in countries that have nascent democracies. After all, most of the people who end up disappointing us were people who may have talked much when they were in opposition. Yes, they may have mobilised popular opinion and garnered public support, and even pledged to do far better, only to come into office and act worse than the previous government.
Why is the cycle repeated? Why do some people who should never ever hold public office, find themselves in government, and some who perhaps would, or might have done a good job never ever taste the nectar of power?
A Continent’s Fixed Ways
It is quite curious where we find ourselves today. Without doubt, in the last week, I have espied with crystal clarity the second cardinal issue that has become the stumbling block to our development as a continent.
In previous posts, I have tackled our moral decadence which I believe has given us a corrupt foundation. Moreover, if the foundation is very wrong, the structure of the building is equally faulty.
Savour this statement that I am composing purposely for this piece: If guns and bullets gave our captors an upper hand over our ancestors; our lack of proper education will ensure that not only us, but our posterity will linger and straggle behind in the arena and procession of development.
Perhaps an interjection of a sprinkling of pathos is required here. Just this week, I wrote a piece on a hot topic. My headline was deliberately crafted and chosen. I did not set out to carry out any systematic study whatsoever. However, something I later discovered did not only worry me; it reinforced an age-long stereotype rehearsed among ourselves.
When I visited a particular website which clearly had put the article heading there together with a link, I was amazed by the many comments that I read. It showed me right there and then, in a flash, our true position. In effect, that our education is our next major imposing mountain after our moral backwardness.
Believe it or not, it was clear that people were commenting on an article without reading the article. How sad and embarrassing. In fact, I was visibly incredulous how we could ever hope to develop with such a fixed way of doing things.
Whereas the page showing the link to the article had numerous comments, on the page where the article was written, there was barely any—although what existed, reflected the commenter had read the article. I was left wondering: Should a person actually be commenting on something they have not read about? That is the puzzling question we all need to answer.
Our education system needs to be revamped and overhauled. A white paper will be a better place to offer practical and concrete solutions. It is true that we are learning to read and write, but are we learning to think about what we read?
If every African were to spend some time and think about what they read, I guarantee even the way we do politics will be very different. Is political discourse or dialogue intended to be an insulting game where apparently educated people trade insults? Is that what politics should be lowered to?
I have said it, and will say it again: next to fixing our moral decay, it is our education that must receive necessary and prompt attention, if we are to experience the development that we desire. Anything less than that, and we will always prattle on about a development we will never experience.
In terms of our politics, our leaders are simply a reflection of who we are. Even if there are few good ones among the lot, the perspicuous truth remains that the greater numbers are just a collection of us. Our type and style of leadership very much reflect who we are. Indeed, we have our own, in power; and like begets like: thrash begets thrash.
At present, we are not governed by whites. On the surface, we are ruling ourselves. Rather sadly, in many ways, we are failing woefully. This truth may not sound pleasant. We are failing, and we will keep on failing, if we do not change our ways. Optimism that benefits and achieves something momentous must be one that is practical and realistic. Blind optimism in a continent that ducks the serious issues will not prove beneficial. No, it would not!
A pellucid view into our minds reveals a disconcerting picture: we live for today and dice for today. And right here our major challenges emerge.
However, if a higher percentage of the population is truly educated, then very likely, certain people—inept, out-of-depth, neophytes—will never get into power. But today, there is a proliferation of such, as we usually select from a rather circumscribed pool of talent.
Would Africa Change?
A writer invests time and effort to indite what he or she believes. Nonetheless, if I offered you a window into my soul, there are times when I am almost dolorous and dejected, considering that many who must read, will not read.
It is regrettable but true that the people who ought to read and imbibe workable ideas fail to do so. Sadly, it is alleged that, if you want to keep something from an African, hiding it in a book, appears to be the safest place.
Yes, call a demonstration and there are many who will hit the streets. Well, there is a time and place for such, although, I personally remain sceptical it always produces the desired results. On occasion, it may bring the required change, but often, it appears to benefit a few people who seem to have won the lottery.
Pursuing an aggressive and targeted education of the populace is one of the purest, one of the truest, and one of the greatest commitment to our determination to develop. It will ensure that we cultivate a different crop of people to govern our countries. The point is clear: we need to make a strong commitment to education, if we are bent on seeing a transformation of this continent. To bestead this worthwhile resolve, a revamp and an augmentation of our levels of education is a no-brainer.
Eating The Fruits Of Education
If by concerted effort, by our titanic determination, and by our own gargantuan strength of character, we force and forge our dreams of aggressive and targeted education to fulfilment, then numerous areas of our continent will truly benefit. A key area will be trade, not to mention the sort of leadership that we get. With astute leaders at the helm, we should be able to collectively bargain our way to make certain we are treated more like genuine and equal players at the table. In essence, stringent trade tariffs and punitive restrictions will be eased, and we will be rightly placed to build the relevant and stable economic capacities to engage in not just free trade but fair trade.
An educated person will not easily get treated as a dice that is tossed around. Knowledge empowers, equips, elevates. Such knowledge influencing our economies should help reduce the disparities that are currently associated with us, and have given us the label of weak partners rather than redoubtable competitors that deserve respect at the marketplace.
In truth, an Africa that rightly harnesses her resources—having stopped the incessant haemorrhaging and sale of posterity’s valuables—will soon be considered as a formidable partner. But as long as we fail to do such, and rely on the generosity of others, like squatters, we can never hope to share the same bedroom—even the shed may be construed as being too generous a gratuity.
However much, we cannot fully blame the advanced economies, as they are in the market to win—it is capitalist fisticuffs for the brave and determined. And if, by giving aid and lending, they can assert their authority over us, even how we govern ourselves; why would they not take such a path? Indeed, the Good Book captures the poignancy of this reality when it avers: “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
By employing and deploying the most accurate techniques, the most advanced methods, and the most cutting-edge and practical education suited to our continent, we should rise in the ascendancy when negotiating and demanding better terms from transnational corporations that on occasion hold some of our countries to ransom. Such informed changes will enable us to call off their bluff and bluster, and assert our right of control and direction.
Moreover, education should ensure that right here on our shores, we will demand a higher accountability of crooked governments. Throwing dust into our eyes will not be done with the same facility and customary impunity we have been victims of. In a sense, even the electorate—now fully educated souls, and not morally bankrupt—will not sell votes or rig elections to satisfy their selfish desires, in striking similitude to waltzing to an Esau-like philosophy.
The point is obvious: it is our accentuated education that will start rebalancing relations. What we need is not fish: we need to learn how to fish—and education is our best route to such empowering pedestal. It is the same factor that should help ensure that while we are augmenting our fishing skills, we keep away the tremulant trawlers that are bent on cleaning our waters of the fish that we need for our dinner, leaving us to struggle over scraps of leftover anchovies. In fact, if we don’t stop these subtle scavengers, then we may soon learn that our determination to see significant improvement evaporates like dew in blazing hot sunshine.
We all owe it to ourselves to commit to accelerated and continuous education. It will ultimately pay huge dividends for the continent at large. For when the froth of ignorance has been effaced by the alembic propensities of education, then will we see our development course more clearly, travel more swiftly, and live more comfortably as a transformed and advanced continent.
I shall return with my talking drums, but be sure to get a free download of my gripping story—Gravellatina—on 27th or 28th February, 2015 at Amazon.
Angelina K. Morrison is interested in national development, true religion, and self-improvement. She enjoys thinking, and writes stories only when the muse grips her. Her first short story for public consumption is available for free at Amazon on 27th & 28th February 2015. Strangely titled Gravellatina, it is part of a breathtaking five-part gripping series.
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find her at www.angelinakmorrison.wordpress.com.