Africa is a continent blessed with potential natural and human resources. But, today the continent is crying with searching hands for it is in the depth of many problems looking for assistance, even though there is a claim that Africans can give African solutions to the African problems. Whether we like it or not, all of us are accountable, and this is not something that few people are responsible, but it is a common problem to which common effort and collaboration is required. Differences in mentality should assist in a way that ornaments our goals and objectives, which may lead to an understanding and reality of applying fuel to the fire.
We have seen many treaties, protocols and meetings held which is by far greater than the number of countries in the continent, to eradicate the problems that the continent has faced and is facing, but our sophistications is still a challenge, and all the signed agreements and the speeches made in the profound words and articulations have never offered reliable solutions to the continent at large. Our own orientation towards our own identity is something that needs new ‘mental settings’, that we still live with the mind set we had been through in the periods before [colonial and slavery], that our independence is still a challenge.
Many African countries are tied up with enormous amount of loans, which inhibit the economic development of any nation in a way that particular nation wants to be. Practically speaking, in one to one human relationship, if some one takes a loan from another, there is indeed a feeling, which one is not comfortable with until the loan is settled. And the person who borrowed the money mat not be confident and independent before the other, for he feels that there is an obligation not fulfilled, and may not be qualified enough to express himself freely, for he is tied up with unfulfilled promise. Since there is a mental setting already created and resulted due to the interaction between developed and developing nations, those who do have strong economic reserve have been influencing the others, and the influence and the effect it has is beyond economical and political matter, rather it has captured emotional attention and influence. It affects every one who lives in the continent that one’s identity is expressed in a way that other people wanted it to be.
Poverty is one of the challenges and complications we inherited from the generations before us, and we are still striving to eradicate it. Other epidemic diseases like malaria, recently HIV/AIDS is another complication we are through. Irreconcilable political differences are the very complicated issues that we inherited from the people before us. These problems are today beyond challenges and rather they are the sign of identity to any African. They become the manifestations of our reality, and other people who reside outside this continent perceive us in a way that our reality [mentality] is as dark as our skin color. Wearing a black skin is considered as a sin, in which our whole entirety is referred.
The sign of identity and the freedom we need to enjoy is not yet ripe, that every time we are facing difficulties that our beloved continent is still in a prison, which is hard to realize, whose boundary line is not even conceptualized by its denizens. We can move from place to place, in which our ‘tagged identity’ also moves any where with us, and we cannot escape from the labeled identity we are already identified as. For instance, if a thieve escapes from a prison, and if he is well-identified as a thief by the residents of a town, whether that man lives in prison or outside the prison area, it does not matter. He carries his name wherever he walks in the town. The same is true for any African, whether one lives in Africa or any other place, that ‘labeled identity’ is still there, and nobody cannot remove that.
Currently, our people are getting addicted with the products of past technology, in which the Westerners have dumped on us, and we are somehow still with such romanticism that we tend to forget our culture and identity. Technology is the primal promoter of individualism, and our African cultural setting is communal in character. Both are like fire and water, in which both cannot exist in one container, but rather here needs great adjustment and deep thinking to balance both, otherwise if we are obsessed by these strange products, we may somehow lose where we stopped before and may get in the middle of nowhere. We are getting obsessed with such products, which are imitations of foreign technology. Whether we like it or not, we are imitating not only the products but also the concepts behind these products, which may be useful or harmful, but we may need to think a little bit further before we may get confused.
Many Africans are busy and excited with new [for them], but old [for the inventors] products of technology, [CD, DVD,] and other entertaining stuff, which does not give enough time for us to think and meditate on essential aspects of our life and development, but some how colonized us in the world of consumerism. This attitude and way of life that many people in the continent are practicing is directing us to a situation, which never helped to abolish our poverty and diseases, but rather put us in vicious circle of problems, to which we could not jump out. We are trapped with products that we do not know, which we kill most of our time in consuming them, not even thinking and analysing on how these products are made. These products may help us to facilitate and satisfy our needs nicely, but may hinder us from the development and progress we aspire.
When we provide a solution to a particular problem, the potential problems that may arise due to the solutions we are providing should be pre-studied and analysed carefully, otherwise the solution by itself may not mean any thing. For life in this world has many tricky issues and there are always uncertainties that may arise and happen, and destroy what we have constructed for centuries and ages. There is one good example for this, which is a kind of tale about China long time ago. These Chinese people who lived in ancient time, they made a campaign to ruin every fly from their territory, and they became successful in doing that. But as a result of destroying the flies, there occurred a kind of epidemic in the nation and many people were dying. While investigating and analysing this situation, they came about with a matter that the reason why all those people were dying was because of another tiny bacteria. The epidemic occurred and killed many people due to the non-existent of the flies, for which the flies were eating the bacteria and those bacteria were not known and identified before, but as a matter of the disappearance of the flies, they became known. This situation has a great deal to tell.
Nowadays, we are currently following the footsteps of those nations who are ‘developed’ before us, and we are trying to imitate their mentality and products, which may need further thought and contemplation, as to why we need to follow them, and as to how far? Otherwise, if we are copying what they are doing, our essence of independence and true reality is under question, and our rational and freedom of choice will be in big dilemma. Material prosperity is good, but it is not the end. We can learn from what modern civilization has brought in terms of morals and characters, we should not commit same mistakes as those who practiced it before us, but can modify in a way those worthy cultural and moral setting cannot be affected and destroyed.
We have a great responsibility to build a realm decorated with high moral values and great intellectual expertise in today, which will be ready as a model for the generations to come here after, so that the people after us will contribute and make positive efforts, and transform society to an age of delight and comfort which will be the corner stone and foundations of generations hereafter.
Written by Dereje Amera