Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My New Year Resolution for Africa’s Future

...If there are to be problems, may they come during my life-time so that I can resolve them and give my children the chance of a good life...” - Kenyan proverb

There is an overwhelming outcry worldwide when there is abuse against children. Why? Because we recognize their vulnerability, we acknowledge that they will keep our legacy going when we are no more and we know that they are helpless when it comes to protecting themselves in our ‘rough’ world.

When it comes to making a commitment to making the future better for posterity such as adopting sustainable lifestyles however, the response is usually far less pronounced. People freely express their views on what should be done during disasters; people know what should be done in times of trouble as long as they are not the ones responsible or making sacrifices. It seems that everyone knows what should be done, but no one is ready to pay the price.

I am not sure of what happened to Africa’s rich cultural heritage and the patriotism that was drummed into our heads in nursery and primary school. I grew up to witness the teachers who taught us about the toil of our fathers behaving in manners which I can only describe as “senseless” when they reached different heights. Behaviours that were simply opposite what they taught. I often ask myself if the rules that govern us are different for persons of varying social and economic classes. The once nationalistic preachers who taught passionately about patriotism and sacrificing for the greater good of the nation and future generations seem now to say, “do as I say not as I do”.

We make the daring sacrifices of the leaders who strived for independence and a better future look unnecessary; for if our ancestors only went through all the trouble for us to create even more gruesome situations what then was the use?
As a native of a developing African country, I am gradually growing indifferent to news of policy launches, projects and what has now become known as “the workshop culture”. These used to excite me – they were to me an indication that there is hope. In recent times, I have come to understand that most of them are publicity stunts that rarely get off the drawing board. As Shakespeare would have put it, it is really usually a case of much ado about nothing!

The ministries, departments and agencies are littered with projects and studies addressing issues ranging from health, trade, energy to environmental management. What happens to all the outcomes? I am afraid we have very little to show for all the investments/funds that have been pumped into projects aimed at addressing our problems. It seems to me, we spend a bulk of the funds meeting to draw up plans that have already been drawn and putting up structures as evidence for the money disbursed. . Will our beloved continent always depend on handouts from “development partners”? It is heartbreaking that countries rich in natural resources such as crude oil, gold, diamonds and forest products in Africa have to depend on “development partners” to develop policies on managing all sectors of our economy; depend on “development partners” to launch them and then go further to seek for additional alms to implement the policies. When will our continent stand on its own and stop its Oliver Twist attitude? How do our leaders feel about the future they are leaving for the continent? When will the plans we draw-up come out of the “pipe lines”.

It is about time that we start demanding that our leaders deliver on their promises. It is time to let our leaders know that a bag of wheat once every four years is not enough. The onus does not fall on only them though, we need as individuals to look inside ourselves and contribute to our continent’s development.

As we start a new year, let us resolve to help make the African Continent better than it is now! It is my earnest prayer that the opening Kenyan Proverb guides us in our activities.

Happy New Year!

The author, Afua S. Prempeh, is a guest writer on GEOTHINKING. She is an environmentalist and writer. A product of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana, and the University of Gloucestershire, UK, has a strong background in Natural Resources Management and Environmental Policy and Management. She currently works at the Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana. Afia's previous articles on GEOTHINKING are the two series on "The Untapped Helper in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Ghana – Waste Management"

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