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A poorly observed fact is dangerous

Africa, my dream.Passion can overcome any kind of fear and can urge a man to go beyond normal boundaries. A man pursued the ten most deadliest snakes, he watched, studied and observed them in their natural habitat. He studied them from a distance until he understood why they did what they did, what made them attack, what did they eat, how did they mate and reproduce, why they shed their skins and how do they do so. With enough information, man can predict how they will react. With full understanding of the reptiles, man is in a better place to conquer them. Snakes are just one man’s passion, many pursue their interests and find out all they can until they have mastered their obsession. Such persistence and dedication to observe facts that some may feel are mundane or non important is what changes the world.

Change has often come at the hands of one man, one mans obsession can change the world. One person needs to focus on one thing for most of their life in order to understand and learn as much as they can about one thing. It took one man most of his life to develop a light bulb, something we have all come to regard as a integral part of our lives. The Wright brothers spent years trying to understand the theory of flight and we can credit the airplane to their efforts.

Professors dedicate their entire lives to teaching, research, writing papers and publishing books. The books we read and browse through are the fruits of years of hard work and devotion. African culture doesn’t revere research, intellectuals and academics but places a huge premium on money/salaries. Some will do work that changes the world, but that work will not be financially rewarding. Life in the corporate world may be rewarding for some, but ground breaking research often comes as the hands of academic and intellectuals.  If we all observed just one fact and changed that one thing, our world would be a different place.

 Africa needs to observe its own facts and carry out its own research to establish its own facts. Africa continues to wait for the World Bank, WHO, UNESCO and international organisations to observe facts and then give out a prescription. A solution prescribed by those observing from a distance is never adequate and does not obtain the relevant buy in from those to whom it is has been prescribed. An African analysis of African problems, by African’s with an African perspective will produce better results than an analysis conducted remotely. Africans must solve Africa’s problem. To find a solution to a problem requires a thorough understanding of what the prevailing problem is. Without studying and analyzing facts Africa cannot deal with the problems that it faces.

King Solomon the wealthiest man to grace the planet, said “In all your getting get understanding and that wisdom was the principle thing.” Without observing the facts we can never understand the underlying causes of problems and how to avoid and remedy them. Africa needs to start asking the right questions and finding the answers to those tough questions.

Observe the facts.

  •  Why do certain things keep repeating themselves in Africa?
  • Why does Africa continue in decline while other nations grow?
  • What is Africa contributing to the current state of affairs?
  • Why does so much aid come to Africa and no lasting changes observed?

Tough questions demand the truth, no longer can the continent continue to hide behind colonialism. The truth is painful to handle, Africa cannot handle the truth and so the world handles us with kid gloves. Everything should be politically correct or else we will pull the colonialism card or the racism card. The issues of the past have drawn back our progress, but focusing on the past and looking behind does no good. Learn what needs to be learnt from the past and move on. Observe what needs to be observed from the past and then move on. South Africa has been dealing with the injustices of its past and as a nation South Africa is staring ugly raring monsters of the past in the face and dealing with them. This is the road to recovery, recovery is still a long way of, but South Africa has made remarkable progress for a new democracy.

Ever too often a headline in a South African magazine reads, South Africa is not going down the Zimbabwe road. There is no wisdom in following down the road that has led another into dire straights. The Zimbabwe crisis has shown how not to deal with the injustices of the past. There is a lot to be learnt from around the world and by observing history and current trends Africa can map out a track that can lead it to prosperity.

I am dismayed by the numerous professors at local universities who instead of contributing to their sphere, opt to continue furthering their education and getting more titles under their belts. I know professors who go to study CIMA, CIS, ACCA all after obtaining a phd. Is it that we need more education, or we now need to begin to inform our spheres and contribute to the  growth of those sectors. Certainly CIS is not going to teach a professor anything really new or meaningful. The professor should be developing new accounting systems that can be used by those at grassroots who do not know how to use a balance sheet. Our economy is fueled by the informal sector and most of those operating in this sector cannot use a balance sheet or a ledger book. Is it not wiser to develop African solutions for our indigenous business people instead continuing to learn Western methods of business. If these professors do not create such solutions for our environment, then who shall do that. The Micro Mba has created a money management tool that is basically fool proof. It can be used by anyone and this is my favourite money management tool because it doesn’t require any accounting or bookkeeping knowledge.

As I have travelled around Zimbabwe I am struck by the abject poverty of the rural folk. During the the rainy season it is disheartening to see families with wilting crops in their fields because there is no water. Some areas haven’t received goods rains in almost a decade, yet families continue to plant the water hungry maize crops. Certainly it became apparent a decade ago that rain patterns had changed and some areas are now dry areas, yet families continue to plant maize. In bocha where my husband comes from families reap as little as a bucket of maize and that bucket of maize is supposed to take them through the year. It has been observed over the last decade that maize is not suitable for some areas, but families continue to plant maize. Most land is arid and doesn’t produce much even when the rain falls, yet families continue to plant every season. Disaster has struck, famines have come and gone and another famine looms, yet at the end of the year, more families will plant maize and hope to reap enough to feed their families for a year.

Having observed the facts, we need to inform decisions and change the direction that our ship is headed. It should never be a case where a nation needs to respond to a drought, recession or the like, there should be a pro active plan in place that will reduce the effect of the crisis, we should be able to predict and plan ahead. When the economy is facing a hurdle ahead, economists step in with economic forecasts advising and informing what is the best way to respond to the pending reality. It is not just a case of scenario planning or thinking ahead,  robust plans 


Africa (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

 that can counter the challenges that are expected.

The South African Minister of finance announced the budget this week and the South African media has dissected the budget and shredding it to pieces. Each sector has responded to the implications of the budget and a dialogue has ensued. Progress comes when  a meaningful dialogue takes place and industry and every stakeholder with a vested interest responds appropriately. It is not only finance that has a key role to play in the direction of the nation but if each sector plays its part like a well oiled machine, progress will definitely take place. Zimbabwe has missed out on the input of great minds because there has been a lack of meaningful dialogue taking place. Suppressing dialogue is characteristic of African governments and it only deters progress and does damage. The answers that will catalyze growth are in the people, the most important asset any company and nation has are its people. People are not a burden, they are a resource that will bring about growth and change.

A post by a Zambian intellectual called Lazy intellectual African scum calls for Africans to take responsibility of their problems. Africa cannot continue to wait for the West to fund their research or conduct research and find solutions for Africa’s problems. Africa must spearhead its own recovery. Solutions by the World Bank and IMF are never received well, but if Africa prescribes its own solutions, the people will buy into those solutions are change will be seen.


Categories: Development
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  1. March 20, 2012 at 10:57 am

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