Personal Change is the Missing Ingredient for the African Growth.

Last week I stayed in a Jam for over four hours cumulatively in a one day. This is the moment you sit in the car and get tired, walk out and freshen up before you resume sitting because vehicles are not moving at all. I turned to two other occupants, my friends, in the car and lamented about how being African comes with all the bad things. I mean being African is not wrong at all, but often what we observe in the continent leaves us to wonder about our identity.

Why could we be held up in a jam for all that wrong? Just because everybody else was scrambling to be in the front. It is fine to scramble and be dead still than be orderly and move slowly. It is said that if there is any continent that is always in hurry often for no reason, then that continent is Africa. I leave the truth of that statement to discussion.

So after taking my time to think about this situation among the many other things clobbering the continent in all spheres of our economies, I came to a conclusion that it is all rooted in change. And mark my word, yes it is about change but our perspective is all the wrong ones. We tend to sit back and first observe the change in others before we, ourselves, can change.

For instance we may sit all well and wait to see our neighbor take the first initiative of responsive driving before we can go ahead and take it too. This has two implications which are the stem issues of our problems.

First, there are those who will want to first see the outcome of the change before they can deliberate on the action to take. If it is a positive one, then they can go ahead and embrace it. This is explained in an experimental version. Like let us take a small sample and test with them before the rest of the population can take part. And we are imagining that it is not about poison but national order.

The second ones are the lot that is never perturbed by the change. Whether the things changed and everybody else praised the overhaul as good for us all, they are always glued to the stereotype that things have always been done so since the ages of our great grandfathers. This class is the directors of the, “don’t question the status quo crew.” Things have always been done so, so leave them or else the spirits of the dead will haunt you for the disruptions.

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Change has to begin at personal level before it effects at social level. Photo Courtesy of Population Media Center.

In philosophy, this instance is described well by the allegory of the cave put forward by Plato. This allegory of the cave scenario states that if you enclose man in a very dark cocoon for a long time, they get used to the darkness and that sets the standard on how they perceive reality. After some time, and you decide to bring these guys to the light, they will perceive darkness as the reality and supreme of the two. It is their world and hence changing that perception might take ages and you might not even change it at all.

Now if we would love to see any great change in the African continent, we might need to change our perspective and the guys to bring that change is none other than the majority African youth. Why do I say so and why should it be the youth. I will explore this part before I gather my thoughts together on this subject.

I was reading the book Lee Kuan Yew; The Man and His Ideas about the rapid transformation that marked the development of Singapore in the last century and I could see a lot of insights for the so wanting to be change makers of African countries.

Though Kenya and Singapore were at the same level in the 60’s, they can’t be put side to side today and compare. What did Singapore do that we didn’t? It was rapid change. The book describes the travels by Lee Kuan Yew to other countries and observing what they were doing well and went and implemented them right away. That is how the idea of the green garden city came to be. If he went to Japan and observed that continuous innovation was the thing, Yew went home and implemented that right away.

So by simply observing how others are doing it, we can be able to copy things and change our trajectory of development both as individual countries and the African continent at large. The copied has to be sustained and improved, we have lost it here too.

This is what I mean. As of now, South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya and Nigeria are among the leading nations championing for the Silicon Savannah initiative that is intended to make Africa a tech-innovative hub of the world. What measures have they taken to ensure this is achievable? First they have tried to make broadband costs and access cheaper and easier respectively.

Rwanda for instance observed a thing or two from earlier implementers such as Kenya and went and did the same. The story is different compared to the rest of the African countries that are dragging behind in the ICT revolution. Ethiopia had copied a lot from the manufacturing spheres in Asia and they are the country I am following up keenly lately. If everything goes well, of course, their story will a different one for the coming decades.

Here is how the youth fit in this effective change scenario. The fourth industrial revolution is sure about ICT and the guys who are its center are the Youth. The millennial, Z and alpha generations have a unique set of DNA that gets sparked in the face of these technologies and hence make them the best people to implement some of these revolutions that we bring home from other countries and continents.

In the case of my jam issues, maybe driver-less cars could be the solution because technology is the center of this century. The guys to get to innovate and operate these technologies are none other than the African youth. The general population should not be left out because they will need to catch up. Hence as I began, change is very necessary here especially for the earlier generations that looked at ICT and internet as passing clouds which have failed to pass.

In today’s world you either adapt or get out of the way. You can’t go out and sit on the train rails and hope that nothings happens. Soon or later the train will come and run over you and that will be the end of your story and your failure to respond to the need.

As I put my thoughts together on this topic, I want to speak to our able youth and the populace at large. The only thing that does not change is change itself. And so? Forget about the group change, it may take forever for the change we need to happen (if we want to change it as a group). Begin the change at a personal level and as an individual. Be the game changer that the rest of the people will always refer to as the one who took the first step for the great service to humanity. Change begins as a personal initiative before it goes on to become a continental thing.

Let us hold hands together as individuals who are the change we want and the story of Africa will never be the same again. Never estimate a small group of like-minded individuals set out to change the world because they will eventually do so.

Let us be the change we want to see in the continent. It has to begin at our personal levels and then as the youth we are the people to effect this.

End

Copyright @ 2018.

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Politics, Policy, Technology, Current Affairs, Opinion, Agriculture, Energy, Education, Entrepreneurship, Governance, International Emerging Issues, Society, and culture. For featuring, promotions or support write to us at ndegegeoffrey@gmail.com

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