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Long live our sages

A quick solve to our problems is to look within. When I say our, I mean Africa. We live on a very practical continent and solutions are supposed to emerge  from dealing with issues practically.

So, for instance, if energy is a problem within our continent and we rely heavily on hydroelectric power as a primary energy source, should we not be investing more in solar energy systems? Does the sun not shine brightest on this piece of earth more than any other continent? Why are our leaders (and us too) failing to connect the dots and come up with solutions that embrace our reality and innovate within our true context?

Truth is, we are either selfish, lazy or buy into the notion that we are under resourced, yet we are filled with abundance. Bountiful wealth exists on the continent, yet it remains untapped and unexplored. By wealth, I am not talking about mineral resources, a default response for many politicians, who continue to cling to the debilitating crutch as our only saving grace.

We are more than our mineral wealth. Our intellect is our prized possession. An asset we have neglected for so long that it now needs to be brought to the fore once again and leveraged to take us to new frontiers. One thing we need to appreciate is that assets left or taken away from those who were colonised was and still is reserved for a limited few. This is what has led to the current shortages we are experiencing across the continent. We need to let go of unnecessary protocols of hierarchy and myopic levels of discomfort and embrace a simple fact.

Our ancestors’ sweat was leveraged as an input to a process whose outputs were hoarded, and excluded them from partaking. This exclusion led to a false sense of abundance for those who ran things at the time, providing for no more than 10% of each national population, including the set-up of infrastructure to support these errant systems.

Let us also remember that these developed systems were outward focused, that is, exploitative in nature with the wealth of what was generated being repatriated back to their respective motherlands. Such a standpoint resulted in the continent’s development being limited, hence the term developing nations.

So how do we right these wrongs? We start off by accepting that the old system and its associated infrastructure will not lead us to the promised land. Our population growth is not a stigma nor a curse, but an expectation. By this I mean, there is a lot to go around and as a people, we were taught the value of sharing and helping each other. Let us re-visit our way before our evolutive disruption, where our forefathers were celebrated traders. Ponder on what they could have achieved were they left to their own devices.

Let us redefine our wealth systems, leveraging legacy as the guiding light to classify relatable identifications of rich and well to do.

For we were doing just fine without this thing called money, yet it has now become the measure that we gravitate towards to stand out and be a cut above the rest. Thinking in monetary terms has eroded the intellectual wealth I mentioned earlier. We need to return to this thinking and resolve existing and imminent problems.

For those who doubt the aforementioned, let me elucidate. Within villages, sages and oracles were consulted often by kings, queens, chiefs and village head men. These people were held in high regard not because of the money they had in their pockets, but because of the experience and expertise they had amassed through their trials and tribulations. Some were referred to as wanderers, free spirits and so much more based on their inquisition.

They walked all corners of the earth to uncover knowledge which could be used to enhance and uplift future generations. These wealth sages were selfless, giving of all they had “earned”, passing it onto the next generation through “internship” programmes that consisted of a rigorous selection of a worthy successor.

These successors would quickly assimilate what their sages knew and strove to leave a mark on this world through finding new information that could also be used as reference to address daily and yet to be discovered problems.

Now is the time for us to reach out to our aged and older Africans. From this generation, we need to gather as much intellectual property as we possibly can. They have a firm understanding of how things were done in the past, how small amounts of worldly wealth could be shared by entire clans in an empowering manner.

Use this knowledge to re-examine the journey we need to embark on to create an enabling and enriching way of living for ourselves and those who will come after us. For it is in the act of passing the torch, that our contribution to building a culture of wealth, prosperity and sustainability beyond our imagination will be judged by generations to come.


Africa’s wealth is in its people. Long live our sages!

Image by: Andile Bhala

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