Building African statesmen
The last decade has been demanding on world politics and world economics. Africa has not been spared the anguish that has seen so many nations on their knees. Widespread demonstrations and strikes have been rife as people sought relief from their challenges. Africa has always responded to challenges by passing on the blame. This may be possibly be because we have not attained the maturity to face our problems head on and let’s face it; it is always easier to blame another. Maturity comes with responsibility. Our economics and politics are still at infancy and we are still learning the ropes. I am waiting for the rising of the African statesmen, people who are concerned about their nations and not on their bank accounts. Statesmen who will dedicate themselves to a cause and not rest until they see change. Statesmen are not just political figures, I believe they are agents of change. They are on a mission to be the change they want to see and they leave a mark wherever they go. Intellectuals analyse the operations of international systems, statesmen build them.
There is a great difference between the perspective of an analyst and that of a statesman. The analyst chooses which problem to study, whereas the statesman’s problems are imposed on him. The statesman is permitted only one guess, his mistakes are irretrievable. He will be judged by history on the basis of how wisely he managed the inevitable change and how well he preserves the peace. Tenny Kissinger, The New World Order
Thirty years after independence we seem to have regressed and not made much progress. For our credit, we have produced intellectual Africans. Maybe we need to go a step forward and make statesmen out of our professionals. Our human capital can bring Africa back onto the playing field. Those in the diaspora learn as much as they can and play their part to transfer that knowledge back to Africa. We all must follow someone who has walked a step ahead of us, we should have someone at par with us walking alongside and we should be mentoring the next generation, someone younger than us following behind us. This way, we have a strong support system and we ensure that knowledge is transferred from generation to generation. As we study under the fundi’s, learn from the business and political greats and pass on our knowledge and skill to those following we will begin to build a future for our nations. We cannot focus internally and keep all the knowledge we have to ourselves and expect to build thriving economies that contribute to the flow of wealth in the world.
The word statesmen has been used to describe men such a Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Joshua Nkomo,
Martin Luther King and Thabo Mbeki, but each of us in our own capacity can become a statesman in our own right. As we build systems that work in our local environment while taking on a more global perspective, we become real statesmen. As we transfer our knowledge and skills to others we raise up more statesmen. We need to do more than just analyse problems, we have to become the answer to those problems. As statesmen we do not pass on the buck to the next person; we take responsibility and find a solution to each situation that throws itself us.
I am amused when I see so many conferences and workshops advertised in the Herald. We meet at expensive resorts, point out issues, discuss possible solutions and go back to our lethargy to return back the following year to repeat the same cycle. After I completed my masters I decided I wanted to become an analyst, because I would go into a firm, point out their situation, design a way out and go on my merry way and spend the thousands I would have raked in. Fortunately or unfortunately, fate took me on another road. Lobels, the largest bakery in Zimbabwe fell at the hands of such analysts. They walked Lobels through its dying days, while choking the life out of the company. Some workshops and conferences are profitable and useful for the transferal of knowledge, but we need to do more than talk and listen, we need action.
If each intellectual would take responsibility for their sphere and dedicate themselves to seeing the resurrection of that sector, we would see great change. It is not that we do not have the expertise to change our continent; it may just be that we are waiting for someone else to do it. We hope that a great statesman shall rise up from the East and come and rescue us and revive our economy and take us back to the glory days when the dollar (Zimbabwean/Rhodesian) was worth more that the pound. That is probably never going to happen. One man cannot change Zimbabwe, one man cannot change Africa. The world is waiting for someone to rise up, that person could be you.
History shall judge us based on what we have achieved. Our children shall inherit economies that we have allowed to collapse. We can continue to analyse and take a step back and watch our countries crumble or we can get actively involved and become the change that we want to see. I know many unsung heroes are doing wonderful things out there and taking responsibility, don’t give up. If more people do the same in their area of expertise, Africa will rise up, sooner than we would imagine.