Building a sustainable economy: The human capacity challenge


IN the last episode of this discussion we discussed the importance of technocrats and workers with a correct ideological orientation, people who believe in themselves and in their country.
These we said, are required to build a vibrant sustainable Zimbabwean economy.
A major part of believing in ourselves involves engaging our own local experts to work out solutions to our economic challenges.
These local experts must not be proxies of Western imperialist regimes; otherwise they will craft systems that keep us enslaved.
Clearly we need political will in this area.
Employment of foreign curriculum experts as consultants is fatal to the process of building an Afro-centric curriculum.
That is the challenge before Zimbabwe’s education authorities.
To be Zimbabwean or not to be, that is the question!
Today we hear much talk about building human capacity.
In our Shona language, there is a saying that, “Shiri dzakachenjera dzinovaka matendere adzo neminhenga yedzimwe shiri.”
This translates literally to: ‘Clever birds use the feathers of other birds to build their own nests’.
There is an education transition fund paid for by Western countries.
That alone tells us these countries are securing their economic interests by funding a system that churns out graduates who are conditioned to perpetuate Western economic models.
The same can be said how Western nations have exploited Africa’s resources to build their own economies.
How is it that Africans have stood by and watched foreigners looting their resources in broad daylight to build their own economies overseas?
It all boils down to human capacity both physical and mental.
When the Western colonialists invaded, the Africans lacked matching technologies to fight off and successfully defend their resources and independence.
However, the Africans had the mental strength to confront the enemy and fought valiantly using bows and arrows, spears and home-made guns.
They won many battles.
In Zimbabwe, it was only after the white invaders brought in explosives to destroy the caves and underground tunnels used by the African guerrilla armies that the tide of the war began to turn against the Africans.
The colonialists also deployed the Maxim machine gun which did much to overpower African resistance.
The famous battle at a place now called Lalaphansi attests to the firepower of the machine gun.
As the frontline Ndebele troops were mowed down by the hitherto unknown weapon, those in the rear thought their colleagues were lying down as a tactic.
So they called out to the rest: ‘Madoda lalani phansi! Lalaphansi! (lie down!).
In the Second Chimurenga of the 60s and 70s, however, Zimbabweans acquired and deployed firearms such as AK47 assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft guns, long range mortars and laid landmines along strategic enemy routes.
This way they drove the enemy out of many rural areas to create ‘liberated zones’ where the enemy dared not enter.
The enemy, however, has deployed an even more lethal weapon that diverts the African mind from defending its own to defending Western values that are at variance with our well-being.
Formal education that Africans have so enthusiastically embraced is the most powerful weapon to mobilise human beings.
It plants norms and values that can be totally at variance with the traditional norms and values of the people.
Our current education system is British-oriented to prepare us to service their governance and economic systems.
We need to change it radically so that it serves our own interests; so that it creates a real Zimbabwean who believes in himself, not one who keeps looking to the West for economic salvation!
Africa’s colonisers have used the education curriculum to isolate Africans from their culture and religion.
The language of the coloniser has been adopted as the language of instruction.
The culture and values of Europe have been embedded in the school curriculum while at the same time demonising and marginalising all things African.
All the children passing through the colonial education system are processed to love and uphold Western values and to look down on things African.
They are taught to serve not to be served.
Most Africans are taught to be job-seekers; automatically they are conditioned not to aspire to be the owners of the means of production.
So is it any wonder we are struggling to build our own economy?
We must work hard to introduce a new currency that will allow us to put value to our labour and assets; that will allow Zimbabweans to build and participate in their own economy.
The President and his team are engaging friendly nations to assist us and that is good, but we must not sit by like nestlings waiting to be fed!
We must do our part.
Who says our sweat has no value unless a foreigner brings in their cash?
Foreign Direct Investment we argue is one approach, but not the panacea of our economic ills.
Zimbabwean economists must stand up and think of innovative approaches to build our economy.
The solutions are not found in a Western university textbook.
We will need to identify and engage Afro-centric economists to lead in developing our various institutions so that they serve the African people, not Western conglomerates.
Skilled negotiations backed by our vast natural resources should help us to clinch beneficial deals and to build our own currency.
We must continue to do business with foreigners, but on our negotiated terms.
In order to build a vibrant resilient Zimbabwean economy, our education system must produce graduates at all levels who are not only scientifically and technologically literate, but also Afro-centric in their world outlook.
The most serious challenge facing Zimbabwe today is to develop an education system that produces Afro-centric patriotic hardworking graduates who will put their shoulders to the wheel to build this great country!
In short, an education system built on the foundations of ubuntu/hunhu.
Just as yesterday we were our own political liberators, so it is today with economic liberation; there will be no free lunches for us Zimbabweans!


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