African in the 21st Century
By Jerry Skhosana
Published by Jeskho (2015)
ANNUALLY, on May 25, Africans in their respective countries commemorate the unity of Africa which was solemnised through the formation of the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) in 1963 and is now the African Union (AU).
For Africans, Africa day is also about celebrating the strides which the continent has made in various sectors that include social, economic and political development.
Africa Day should also be the day that Africans remind each other that, in order to develop sustainably, they must build transformative and united institutions, not moved or influenced by neo-colonial forces.
Talking about requirements needed to develop Africa is a book under review this week.
Titled African in the 21st Century, the book is written by South African author Jerry Skhosana.
It is a must read for any African who wishes to participate in the development initiatives of the continent.
Divided into six chapters, the book tackles pertinent issues that Africans must take time to reflect on so as to secure a bright future for generations to come.
As he puts across his arguments, the writer does well in asking relevant questions to Africans on and outside the continent about their role in global issues as they relate to wealth and economic prosperity in the 21st Century.
Skhosana highlights how, before the 21st Century, the role of an African was defined by events during slave trade and colonialism.
In other words, the writer argues the development of Africa was not in the hands of Africans. The colonisers were setting the pace for development of Africa.
Africans living in 21st Century should, therefore, ensure that they define their role visibly as the West and Asia-Pacific has done.
However, the writer talks of an African who has gained independence from colonial bondage but fails to liberate oneself through defining his or her terms of development.
“Independence should have brought more than what it brought to Africans all over the world. Freedom has brought more consumption than liberation,” writes Skhosana.
African in the 21st Century is a book that speaks of how some current structures in African societies are failing to create wealth for the development of the continent.
“Liberty is something which has proved to be foreign to Africans all over the world, the failure to create our own multinationals, create our own wealth-creation mechanisms has forced us to self-pity ourselves for decades on end,” writes Skhosana.
Skhosana’s arguments are more like a reprimand to both young and old Africans.
He argues that self-pity is followed by envy and once the two are connected, there is a creation of an African confused about his or her role in the society.
Subsequently, envy and confusion as to who we are and what we represent as a people has resulted in a generation which views going to work outside the continent as an achievement.
It’s a pity that many Africans do not see the benefits of working to contribute more for their economies.
The book also speaks about creating wealth by Africans for future African generations as it was the case with other wealthy civilisations worldwide.
In the book, Skhosana talks about ‘failure’ of African countries that rely more on aid than fruits of their own labour.
Despite gaining independence from colonial rule, Africa is one of the continents that have multiple relief programmes which, sadly, are not planned by Africans operating in Africa in order to help their kith and kin.
Annually, some African countries that boast independence, receive high relief budgets but the irony is that they are never self-sufficient.
The writer does well in reminding Africans that development does not come from donations.
The book lambasts the dependence syndrome.
On donations, he has this to say:
“As an African living in Africa, I often see a lot of donations by First World countries into Africa and by using their standards, these donations are classified as relief programs, but are relief programs serving their intended intention?
Well, like a dog running after a car, relief does not do any good in most cases.
Relief programs are destroying individual initiative in Africa and because most Africans are socialistic in nature, they will always be grateful to receive something they never worked for” (sic)
The other parts of the book talk about education as one of the important aspects needed towards development of Africa.
Correct and necessary education can contribute to progress, not only of one nation but the whole continent.
In the book, the writer highlights that education in Africa continues to produce more academics and scholars but has failed to bring progress to Africa.
His argument is that universities in Africa have produced more graduates who are materialistic and not goal oriented.
“Some of these relief programmes are targeted at educating the people of those poor countries, which again leads to few elite people without the necessary social consciousness to plough back into their environments.”
Numerous educated Africans generally migrate from their countries immediately after attaining a qualification simply because they fail to use education attained to come up with development initiatives.
Other aspects discussed in the book focus on how wealth and role models should shape African perspectives on wealth and abundance.