There are many forces that seek to determine our lives.
I have wondered why most of us Afrikans—(or black people, in general)—don’t seem to take our existence seriously, or why we don’t seem to have ‘that drive’ to analyse our collective suffering more seriously, especially now in the Information Age. But I have concluded that generally, we are too “individual”, some of us perhaps “dumb”, others “distracted”, the rest (as usual) “irrelevant” … But I would still think most of us are really just scared! I think most blacks are “mystified” by the power and unity of “whites”. Embedded Fear!
In my view, I think one fact we mustn’t lose trail of as blacks or Afrikans—(for the sake of “retaining” our identity)—is that Afrika is ours; that Afrika is about the only space any Afrikan can confidently lay a natural claim on, on sole account of being black or Afrikan, without any risk of being called all those funny names we’re all very familiar with. And so your reference to Australia and America (& what happened there) makes sense. We can only imagine what was happening in the backwoods of America and Australia between the 15th and 20th centuries, picture what is happening there now in 2006 and take that imagination as a warning.
But perhaps there’s just too much fear and stereotypical thinking permeating black people’s psyches (even about other black people, regarding other people) that I find it fair to wonder if & when all black people will get out of the rut and ‘be FREE’! I have found out that apparently, we may actually be a “community” of totally misguided people, self-deluding people. Apparently, blacks (or Afrikans) could never collectively & successfully work together for the benefit of black people, whether that benefit is material or immaterial. At least not yet. We, it seems, haven’t yet reached that “maturity”, after all that we endured and still keep enduring … I think time will come, though, when we Afrikans will simultaneously see no other way but to lift ourselves to higher heights of consciousness and rediscover our life potential.
And so for Afrika, my own view is rather optimistic, but with a tinge of cautious pessimism. Talking about Zambia in particular, I can say the “material quality” of average people’s lives in the country seems to have improved over the last 10-15 years, (even though it was still much better in the 1970s), but I wonder what we even understand by such adjectives as “material” … The problem is that in a case such as Zambia, people (or at least those who think they can afford to “keep abreast of the white man”) are becoming too hooked to material things, including material things they shouldn’t waste time to buy (e.g. ridiculously expensive camera cell phones, expensive cars, “designer clothes” etc) … even in Afrika, especially in Afrika! But personal or individual material “success” alone, or gain, especially in Afrika, is nonsense, and will not wash away the growing sea of poverty at Afrika’s doorstep. Nothing like that would solve the many complex problems that our people are facing as a whole.
I know everyone can say similar things, but I’d say as far as I am concerned, we Afrikans need strong civil, education, health, political and information systems, ahead of anything else economic. We need a strong culture of organisation and work. We need stable infrastructure that can sustain all, strong and reliable institutions that we ourselves must create or vie to create, and stop relying on “breadcrumbs from Massah’s table”! We need intelligent socio-economic planning, good schools, clean hospitals, qualified personnel, more trades training centres (or vocational training institutes), honest civil servants, selfless leaders and a fairer distribution of wealth among the country folk. We don’t need a flood of latest Nokia GPRS cell phones, BMWs or expensive Audi A-8 limos for our political rulers!
I’d rather Zambia had fewer well-equipped primary & secondary schools than many run-down schools and its shabby universities, more well-stocked clinics (evenly spread out through the countryside) than a few too many white elephants mistakenly called “university teaching hospitals”, all of which are concentrated in the country’s one and single capital, Lusaka. I’d rather the country had more shrewd mechanics and more simple field electricians, plumbers, “low-level” skilled workers etc, than TOO MANY mis-educated, lazy and arrogant mechanical and electrical engineers, who received “colourful” degrees after prolonged academic and mental torture in the halls of Western universities.
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