Thursday, June 23, 2005

Developed and underdeveloped?

Am still grappling with words that have become the norm when describing, discussing and analysing Africa. Words like, 'black continent, continent in the dark, underdeveloped, information poor... These are but a few of the words that have come to represent my nation and continet over the various decades in society.
But is there such a thing as developed? what is developed?
Are African nations waiting for some 'revolution"?

I think we need to look at ourselves. and define for ourselves what we want. Is it to be like the west.. I sure hope not!! but at the same time , is there anything we can learn from them?
What do we want?

Here is part of a speech by Proffesor Wangari Mathaai during her Nobel ceremony:

"....Initially, the work was difficult because historically our people have been persuaded to believe that because they are poor, they lack not only capital, but also knowledge and skills to address their challenges. Instead they are conditioned to believe that solutions to their problems must come from ‘outside’. Further, ...... They were also unaware that a degraded environment leads to a scramble for scarce resources and may culminate in poverty and even conflict. They were also unaware of the injustices of international economic arrangements.

.....In the process, the participants discover that they must be part of the solutions. They realize their hidden potential and are empowered to overcome inertia and take action. They come to recognize that they are the primary custodians and beneficiaries of the environment that sustains them.

Entire communities also come to understand that while it is necessary to hold their governments accountable, it is equally important that in their own relationships with each other, they exemplify the leadership values they wish to see in their own leaders, namely justice, integrity and trust"

I hope this challanges me and you into doing something for our communities.

Friday, June 10, 2005

A few questions on Policy

Thank you for all the comments. This week i received a question that i thought i might put out to all you out there: i have included my thoughts below the questions and i look foward to engaging with you all on this...

1. Which of the following aspects of sustainable development (SD) do you consider a priority for Africa?

a) Economic – (e.g. poverty, distribution of wealth)
b) Ecological – (e.g. environmental conservation, disaster preparedness/warning)
c) Social – (e.g. political participation, youth issue, gender equity)
d) Cultural – (e.g. our language, traditional practices or indigenous communities)

My thoughts:
While i think all are important here is my ranking:

I believe political participation in all areas of society would lead to economic, ecological and cultural discourses on how we can improve our nation.

Currently, African economies unfortunately suffer from a 'few elite' at the top who use ignorance and an inactive populace to continue fleecing the countries in all areas.

Political awareness is either relegated to the media (who unfortunately take on preferences of the prevailing political masters in most cases) or the few remnants of activists who i must say are hard to find... they exist but in most cases are keen to protect their private lives/pockets/jobs etc at the cost of having bad leadership etc....

My number two is distribution of wealth

Distribution of wealth for Kenya is critical as the concept of wealth is really a historical one for us and stems from the concept of 'land'. I note that many of those termed as 'wealthy' were in most cases given/alloted land.. at no cost immediately after independence and therefore after -to date. Where such has been the case, wealth was grown out of this and while persons have benefited individually it has not been for the good of the nation. This is a subject that is too long to discuss over my lunch break (which is what am doing now..happy to do so another time)

The second aspect of this is the divisible aspect of land. Arable land has now been subdivided to the exent that small units are unable to consistently over the long term provide enough for the nation.. (while i hate saying lets look to the west, the model of giving farmers large tracks of land to farm and putting the rest in cities that grew out of the 18th century revolution in Britain and France seems to make sense since concenssions can be given to farmers etc who sole job is to farm larnd...

This would inturn lead to finding other sources of income such as industrial products-the Jua kali industry was a novel thought that was not given any attention to or any funding.. sadly our workers work hard but do not have tools, training to be able to improve their products etc.... The growth of the Asian economies.. more so China and India is simply based on steady but sure support of local industry over the long whole.... We have cheap labour ...? what makes us so different?

Cheers and happy thinking..
Chanuka

Monday, June 06, 2005

AID, LOAN OR DEBT?

I shudder at the very mention of the word, AID or LOAN.
If one is running a business, tell me, is it not prudent to first see how you can cut losses and see how you can spend wiser before accepting any form of loan or the famous word -AID!!?

There must be something really really wrong with our so called leaders.. I mean really really wrong... is Chinua Achebe right? is the African corrupt through and through!!
I want to think am not, but don't you think there is something wrong with this scenario: : All our leaders live up the lavish lifestyles, drive the lavish cars and their constituents can hardly make bread-let alone afford the simplest form of transportation-a bicyle.....

Why are we so keen to follow the western model of "modernization' why cant we decide for ourselves what comes first?
I used to think it was education or the lack of it, now am convinced that its more than that.. its the person and character.. that, no education can shape or mold.. if you don't understand that leading is serving then you just wont understand....
Ghandi was right all along: if you cant lead by example then you cant lead at all.

What do you guys think?

Chanuka