How to make our children heirs of SADC: Part Two


IN Part One we highlighted how the vast amount of mineral resources in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) explain why the same region is often referred to in business circles as ‘Africa’s Persian Gulf of Minerals’!
The key question which SADC is obliged to ask itself now and in future is: How do we make our children and grandchildren credible heirs of SADC?
Put differently, the question is: How do we ensure that our independent nation states which are members of SADC go on cooperating and integrating into a unified and powerful region both in economic and military terms in a manner which safeguards for generations to come natural resources with which the region is richly endowed but resources which are coveted by Western countries?
And this is critical, more so when our history tells us that Western countries are prepared to go to war in order to access those resources for a song!
Below are a few of the many suggestions that one can make to address the challenge which SADC faces.
a) Apart from the ongoing institutional and organisational structures which SADC is putting in place together with accompanying timetables and timelines, it is also critical and urgent to pay more attention to the software side of the regional project.
And the best starting point is to look at the history of liberation itself!
We need scholars, researchers, intellectuals and storytellers to narrate the epic story of our liberation struggle from our point of view, before academic mercenaries and professional opportunists from outside Africa do so at our expense!
For instance, we need to know why and how Frontline States such as Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana and later on Mozambique and Angola hosted liberation movements!
We also need stories on why and how liberation movements such as ZANU PF, ANC, FRELIMO, MPLA and SWAPO collaborated in the struggle and the dynamics involved!
All these liberation experiences must be mainstreamed in all our education systems since they constitute the foundation upon which SADC is founded.
More critically, the same stories need to be made part and parcel of the popular culture of the region, indeed part of the popular imagination which informs the aspirations and ambitions of younger generations.
And here one is thinking of music, short stories, novels, films, cartoons, plays etc on heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle as some of the artistic forms which could be of use for such an enterprise!
The aim is straightforward: To hand over a liberation heritage and ethos to our children and their grandchildren in the same way that Americans hand over the ethos of their independence struggle from Britain on every July 4 ever since 1785!
On a more specific and practical level, why not coordinate ourselves in such a way that we end up with one day set aside as a SADC holiday for purposes of paying respect to our heroes.
Practically, every country in SADC has had to be liberated in one way or other? That way we make it obligatory for all of us to reflect on the significance of the role played by our national heroes in a regional and continental context within which they also fought for our freedom?
Why not when it is obvious that SADC countries need to generate a set of common symbols, iconic images, and rituals as part of sharing a common vision for integration purposes!
b) Related to the above suggestion is the need to revisit methodically each of our national education systems so as to deepen and broaden all those course components on the history, geography, peoples, cultures and natural resources of the SADC region.
The idea is that by the time students complete their four-year secondary education, they are well informed about SADC and well armed by way of their general knowledge about the region!
That way, it makes it easy for our children to imagine SADC as something concrete and real, something demanding our attention and energies vis-a-vis the so-called global village which in reality is a veritable jungle!
This kind of educational training means that our children will come to understand themselves first, as part of national entities, second, as part of SADC and third, as part of the African Union (AU) and, finally, as part of the rest of the world, but do so rooted from an African point of view!
This positioning means that the region will produce students who are generally committed to serving in their region because they know it as insiders.
This is in contrast to the current situation where our children know so little about their past, and their surroundings, and so much about the outside world that they might as well be regarded as permanent tourists, always raring to go overseas on the slightest of excuses!
c) Apart from relying on the formal education systems for moulding a regional consciousness, individual SADC countries can also do quite a lot by using the public broadcasting systems to spread general knowledge about the region as a whole!
For instance, it is possible to ask production houses and or national broadcasters to come up with TV programmes, documentaries, feature films, comedies, music shows and programmes and current affairs stuff which, while targeting national audiences can also be easily adapted for regional audiences of SADC! This would mean that a specified percentage of broadcast content would be produced each year by every country in SADC for both local and regional audiences-that way this arrangement would ensure that most people in SADC remain abreast of developments and or trends in the region.
In brief, there should be more sharing of information, education and entertainment programmes by audiences of SADC member states without having to rely too much on outside organisations and news agencies such as Reuters, Associated Press and Agence France Presse in order to understand what is happening in our neighbourhood!
d) One way of creating and sustaining a clear focus on the SADC agenda is to create a number of prestigious prizes for literature, films and scholarship about the liberation struggle for instance, or on the conceptualisation and management of projects and processes of the SADC integration agenda etc!
Similar prestigious prizes can also be set up for the SADC musician of the year, the dance or dancer of the year, the SADC researcher and or inventor of the year and so on.
The idea is to attract attention and energy which focuses on those areas of achievement with potential to bring the region together!
Why not set up our own SADC prizes when the West has used the Nobel Prize for instance, to lure some of our most creative minds to support and legitimise their hegemonic agenda in the world!
e) Last, but not least, creative ways have to be found to bring our people together at the language and cultural level.
The fact that there are Vendas in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Kalangas in Botswana and Zimbabwe, Nyanja speakers in Zimbabwe, Zambia , Malawi and Mozambique, Ndebele speakers in Zimbabwe and South Africa–the mere fact that there is a language group such as the Setswana, Sesotho and Sepedi that is mutually intelligible in Bostwana, South Africa, Namibia and Angola-not to mention Silozi in Zambia and DRC as well as Swahili in DRC and Tanzania means that cultural and language bridges to unite the whole SADC region already exist.
The challenge is how to use these languages and language groups purposefully and productively for economic integration!


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