For the past three hundred years or so, Africa has been an impassive participant in world politics. Even worse, the continent has historically been used as a resource pool for the world and the people accorded all the dignity of a farm implement. This ended in the 1950-90s when African states received their political independence from their former colonists.
However, I argue that Africa is currently experiencing an identity crisis brought about by the loss of our history and culture. The loss of identity is the root cause of Africa's myriad of problems. For profound change to occur, it is imperative that we start with defining who we are as Africans. It’s the only way we’ll be able to cut the cords binding us down and flourish not as we have been permitted, but as we are destined to.
Most people shudder at the mention of a revolution, but it does not have to be the bloody affair. In a cultural revolution, change takes place in the minds and ways of people without the addendum of violence. Some of the things we can achieve through popular movement include:
1. Bringing African ideas to the world
Africa is often accused of contributing very little to the systems and the inventions that make life possible today. From capitalism to Christianity, democracy to medicine, the world runs on mostly western ideas of doing things. No wonder some are of the view that the world is too white. As a native African, I can admit to feeling this way from time to time. Whether this accusation is true or false is a matter of personal debate, but the situation is already changing. Whatever the situation today, we can make the future different. With so many problems unsolved right at home, we have a duty to come up with solutions that will improve lives.
2. Solving Africa’s identity crisis
We all know that Africa is a beautiful continent. But beyond that, we don't know much about it. This creates an identity crisis. Many Africans, myself included, have been trying hard to figure out who they are based on historical record and recorded culture. But this is not enough and more needs to be done. We need to invest more in our heritage - the uncovering of it, the study, the celebration.
A shared African identity will bind people together and hopefully eliminate the tribal competition that haunts us to this day. In an intellectual revolution, we get to forge a common identity based on shared principles and values. A more united Africa is better for the world. We will be better placed to leverage our massive resources to escape poverty. We will also be able to solve common problems around the continent.
3. Determining the place of Africa in the world
Resources are getting ever scarcer as the world population has continued to grow exponentially over the last few centuries. Population pressure is one of the reasons given for colonisation - the West needed resources to sustain their massive populace. Is it possible for this to happen again? If we continue relying on the West for sustenance, Africa risks being counted as a resource pool for the rest of our lives.
As the youngest civilisation on earth, Africa has historically been harmed as much by the actions of others as by her own actions. Internally, Africa has always been maybe a touch too diverse. We let our differences keep us apart and suffered division and conquest from top to bottom. However much we try, the impact of individual countries is very diminished at the world stage. Only the unilateral efforts of the entire black nation will improve our situation.
4. Addressing issues affecting Africans
There’s no denying that Africa is beleaguered with many, many problems. Some of them are easy to solve and simply require the goodwill of leaders. Others are more complex and require greater intellectual and financial investment to solve. Nevertheless, we must mobilise to come up with unique solutions to all of these problems. If the last few decades have taught us anything, it's that other people will never grasp our issues as well as we understand them.
5. Addressing world issues that need to be addressed
There are big issues that require out-of-the-box solutions outside of Africa as well. Some of these are issues that have always been there, and others are emerging from changing world dynamics. For example, Africa has an active role to play in advancing the feminine and all other progressive agenda. These are problems that affect the whole world, and Africa is especially well placed to help.
Africans bring plenty of fresh perspective to the world - untested ways of doing things. These new perspectives could be useful in making the world a better place for all of humanity.
6. Ushering in the future of humans
If you look around, you will notice that humanity has conquered the world. We have filled the earth and dominated over all sorts of animals - driven a few to extinction as well. With resources increasingly depleted and the population rising beyond critical mass, the future of humanity is more unsure now than it has ever been before.
Is there a possibility for space travel to be used to alleviate population pressures and for resource mining? And if so, what role do we play in this new frontier of human progress? So far, the biggest space exploration programs are located outside of Africa. If we are to play more than an audience role in space, we must up our game. Africa cannot afford to continue being ambiguous any more. We are more than the world made us and we must realize our true identity.