This earth is not a paradise where the lion can lie next to a lamb in peace, as the Bible puts it. Life is now measured with three “Ws”, which are who, what and where. Starting with “who”, it consists of who you are, who you are with, who is with you. Secondly “what”, it goes with what you are, what have you achieved, what you are capable to achieve. Thirdly “where”, it goes with where you are in comparison with others. These are what I call the “the transcendence Ws”. Why is it so? Because (both individually and collectively) they test human limits, they define human wits and they assign the distinction mark of power.
Media culture helps to shape the prevalent view of the world and deepest values. It defines what is considered good or bad, positive or negative, moral or evil. Media stories and images provide the symbols, myths and resources which help to constitute a common culture for the majority of individuals in many parts of the world today. Media culture provides the materials to create identities whereby individuals insert themselves into contemporary techno-capitalist culture (Kellner, 1995:1.)
“The world has perceived us in a way we did not totally modeled ourselves, rather in a way they preferred to describe us as it coincides to their own agenda and fabrication. Such way does not conform to us as what and who we are naturally. Now, we ought to model ourselves as an entity, people, culture, value and beauty in the manner that conforms absolutely to what we are, and not to the existing fabricated Western myth. We must rebrand, proclaim and live our unique identities, cultures and values in a well fathomable manner that represents in every ramification exactly whom and what we are, the Africans (Onyeka Nnaemeka, May 12, 2010)”.
The stereotypical-and usually negative-presentation of Africa by the western media has been detrimental to the economic development of our continent.
Our Africa is endowed with plenty of pleasantries such as natural resources, wonderful climate, ethnic and cultural diversity and a huge wealth of population. Despite these, our Africa still remains poor, inadequate and marginalized in the economic development process and the world political scene. Why is it so? Now everyone is witnessing the positive steps taking by Asian counterparts in fostering their countries economic development and growth, becoming extremely competitive in the globe and also improving the standard of living of their citizens. The question is what can Africa learn from the West and the Far East in order to fulfill her potentials? There are lots, but I will tackle them on my next presentation
Even though of lately Africa has witnessed increase in FDI, NEVERTHELESS Africa is still lagging far behind among other continents in the world. So far Africa has been relying on help, aid, sympathy and direction from all over the world. The point is not that Africans cannot do better, it is not that Africans cannot compete better, it is not that Africans cannot function better, rather it is based on three main things which
I termed the three fundamental handcuffs. They are our view as Africans towards life, to what do we attach values as Africans and as Africans are we living our life as a choice or as a challenge or as both? How we answer these three questions will determine how far we can go to achieve our full potentials individual as Africans and collectively as Africa
The time of hideous slavery activities has gone, although the impact is still persistent in Africa’s development and growth. However, what Africa is suffering today is political and economical enslavement. But believe me fellow comrades and African brethren wherever you are, “we Africans can emancipate from this modern form of enslavement” only if we chose so, only if we act in accordance to the utilization of our strengths to badge out of the enslavement and march into our freedom, prosperity and fulfillment. We have to constantly re-evaluate the three fundamental handcuffs and unleash or break them because they are bunch of nuisance to our development.
Codewits, I am not angry with Africa’s condition at the moment, rather I am heavily saddened. Why? Under the influence of anger, I am opposed to logical, thoughtful, methodological, straight, and fruitful positive thoughts. Under the influence of anger, I give room to destructive thoughts; I give room to impeding my strengths. But under the influence of sadness, I wait for the up-liftment of my soul because I know it will surely come, I give room to activities and thoughts that will cheer me up, I give room to my good friends to sympathize with me as well as to encourage and ginger me up and work with me in getting lifted. Under the influence of sadness, I live to create my own happiness.
Believe me in my own words “the treasure you have inside of you is what will help you to create your long lasting pleasure”. And we Africa and Africans have got that treasure in us, now we must endeavor to create our long lasting pleasure from it. Why did I say so? The treasure in you cannot be taken from you because its inside of you, its your embodiment, its your entity, therefore you can utilize it anytime to make life pleasurable for you, and when you utilize it the pleasure you create out of it becomes more appreciated than the pleasure you receive from outside, because the pleasure you receive from outside is given to you and can be easily taken from you by the owner, or the giver might decide to give you just a low quantity to keep you under his or her spell or grip. Alas, codewits and African youths, our brain is not taken from us, our will is not taken from us, our strengths ( meaning what we are at best at) cannot be taken from us, our intellect cannot be taken from us, our courage, our resilience, our attitude towards emancipation of our continent cannot be taken from us, our strong desire for a better and prosperous Africa cannot be taken from us, these are our treasures inside of us, we must use them now to foster the creation of our African long lasting pleasure. The battle is drawn, we must arise!!!
The truth they say that Africa is poor, sick, underdeveloped, hungry are undoubtedly true. However the words they say that Africa is weak, cannot achieve anything, must be in bad and dark conditions forever are what I call myths and horrendous lies. The fact is that there are forces in the west that are working round the clock to keep Africa in such dreadful condition. But this I will tackle next time, when I am given the opportunity to share it with you. Lets move on, I do not believe that Africa is weak, I do not believe that Africa will always be sick, poor, hungry and needy, I do not believe that there is no way out for Africa from this undeserved misery, I do not accept that Africa cannot be very instrumental in the world, and I do not believe that Africa will always be at the receiving end, taking the blunt of the whole world, seen as the world’s burden. Enough of that hypocritical sympathy and pity from the West and the world. Enough of this sadistic Greek kisses gesture. Enough of these ill meant compliments!!! These are the myths we must discard. We Africans know much better, today let’s separate the truth from the myth, lets accept the truth and works towards embracing the truth for our own good. Let’s use the truth to challenge our wits and minds, our strengths and weaknesses, our brains and hands, our pleasures and displeasures, our likes and dislikes, our success and failures, our inadequacies and our bountiful, our measures of which we can stand on and work with. These truths we must accept, because if we fail to accept them we are just nothing but liars and deceivers of our own very soul. Let’s not find it hard to accept the truth, let our humility and responsibility be shown by our meekness in accepting the truth. In addition, let our fierceness, bravery, agility and perseverance be shown in our efforts to rewrite the truth.
1. Study purpose The Three Fundamental Handcuffs
1.1 Study purpose
The purpose of this study is to point out the major areas that are affecting African and Africa’s positive development. The study will briefly look at the individualistic and collective role in creating a developed Africa
1.2 Problems related to study
- There are three main problems that this study will entertain in respect to Africans and Africa’s development. They comprises:-
• How do we view life as Africans/Africa?
• To what do we attach values as Africans/Africa?
• Do we live our lives as a choice or challenge or both as Africans/ Africa?
2. The Three Fundamental Handcuffs
From my fervently dedicated research into our endangerment and entrapment as people by both the Western economical and political enslavement as well as by our admissibility of the Western myths by imposing on ourselves the hurdles and limitations to develop and be successful in the world; I have come to observe and understand the three major issues that are drastically affecting our lives and impeding our foresight, sense of judgment, abilities and capabilities. These three major issues are what I called the three fundamentals handcuffs. They are as follows; how do we view life as Africans, to what do we attach values as Africans and do we live our lives as a choice or challenge or as both?
2.1 How do we view life as Africans/Africa?
Life is not a bed of roses, so they say. From our individual observations we can attest to this saying. But would you say that life is partial or has treated us Africans badly? My answer is no. What is yours and I want to have your reason for such answer?
I BELIEVE THAT WE ARE VICTIMS OF IGNORANCE, WEAKNESS AND FEAR.
Life is equal for everyone and offers the same tools and opportunities for everyone, but we must find out which life tool suits us best. Which life tool and opportunity is most appropriate for us. Sometimes, we tend to groove under the provisions that have been offered to us by other people, even though it does not suit us nor provide the best for us. But we tend to stay under that groove because we were told that such groove is the best for us and also because we (individually and collectively) do not know our strength to capitalize on (SWOT analysis). This is what I term “our ignorance”
Every human is attributed with personalized and peculiar gift and strengths to distinguish him and establish him (STRENGTH). However, such human cannot attain his maximum optimization when he cannot acknowledge his strengths and his weaknesses, when he cannot concentrate on maximization of his strengths as well as developing on his weaknesses, when he does not poses the “quest” or “drive” to challenge his capabilities and abilities(FEAR), when he cannot strive for what he attaches “ value” to (WEAKNESS).
How do we view life as African? Africa’s population and demographic is diverse. We are more than 1 billion according to UN estimates. Even yet our population is on the rise, which means demographic dividend (if well used). Demographic dividend is one of the major attributes that transforms a country’s economic development. However, such demographics must have right and like mind. I am using China and India as a case study. Looking at these two nations demographic dividend it’s quite obvious that the youth have the right and like mind, they all desired their countries to be successful. They knew quite well that their individual success lies on the success of their countries. Thus individual success is a product of collective success, this is called communal development. These people earlier might have viewed life with a telescope, holding onto as well as accepting the myth that there cannot be able to be good or that spiritual life is far much better than material life. This I cannot argue on now, perhaps some other time. But navigating back to my point, I am trying to clear the notion that these nations were backward before until they decided individual and collectively developed a right and like mind towards life. That life is good when we make it so, life is good only by our own making not by relying on help or sympathy or pity or aid. This acted as a motivator, and today these countries are doing extremely great in the globe.
So it comes to my question, how do we view life as Africans? Should we view life as the downtrodden, as the handicap, as the blind, as the hopeless that is waiting on divine intervention, as the weakling that is of no use, as an old aged lady on a sick bed that wishes for only one thing, death!, as they have referred to us on numerous occasions? No, no, no, we must not, because our own view and interpretation of life dictates how we live it. In as much that negativity abounds, we must not dwell on them, though we should acknowledge them, but we must look at life now from the positive angle, we must build and tackle it from an optimistic sense of judgment. If we fail to do so, then we have ourselves to blame, then it means that we are what we have been termed by the West. I challenge African governments to put into existence the incentives that are needed to change most Africans in rural and urban areas views of life. These include good education and educational facilities, good governance and rule of law, and good hospitals and social amenities.
These basic incentives are psychological boost to Africans to start to view life as a purpose, as a choice, as a positive challenge and as a combination of the three.
How we view life in general as Africans will determine how we want to live our life as Africans. How we view life as Africans will determine what we attach value to in this life
Most times I ask myself; to what do I attach value. This is a conscious exercise to drive me into reality and energize me to muster strength for my life activities. Now, I ask you, to what do you attach value?
2.2 To what do we attach values as Africans/Africa?
When one does not have principles, issues or factors one does attach value to, such one will be basically malfunctional. To what do we attach values as Africans is a submissive question that aims at drawing our mind to the importance of our existence as well as our development. Maslow hierarchy of needs pyramid tells us the major the five major steps of needs in all human. These five major steps are physiological, safety, friendship, esteem and self actualization. These 5 steps are the epicenter of human development. It’s the drive that pushes developed nations in the quest for comfort and establishment. Do we attach values to these 5 major steps or do we attach values to sensitizing every issue that is driven our way, in polarizing every good thought that is aimed at helping our development, or in calling ourselves the underdogs (By the way who made us the underdogs?).
It seems to me that we attach value is mimicking other races, regarding them as the real humans. There is nothing wrong with appreciating other races. I admonish that it should be done without contempt by every race. Regarding my argument on mimicking the West, I will like to refer to Peter. J. Schreader in his book United States foreign policy towards Africa: incrementalism, crisis and change.
It was noted that between 1950s and 1960s that saw the end of European colonialism in Africa, there was a huge wind of change and growing nationalism blowing in Africa. This to me was good; Africans at that moment were trying to regain their substantiality and humanity as a people. They were trying to get in touch with their woeful past and navigate through the storm into carving a great world that will entertain and sustain them as a people. They were fighting for their African values. And such was a challenge.
However, these actions were downplayed with a surrealistic goal and bravery to champion it as long as existence lives because of lost of the real values. Unfortunately, this later led to these new African nations searching from the West or East for sympathy, help and guidance in the effort to recapitulate her values. It is a pity!!!
Obviously, there are certain characteristics that are not hereditary. Is Africa assuming or wishing to be modern West? I would say yes. And this is where the major problem is? For this reason, the African nations are roaming in darkness. For example, Europe created European Union, Africa interjected by creating African Union. Today, we see European Union operating in unity to foster the interest of Europeans, and the African counterpart is in disarray, where Gaddafi wanted to uphold to power against the constitution of the African union.
Good characteristics need emulation, but there must be a goal to reach by emulating such characteristics, in addition there must be discipline and steadfastness to accompany the process of processing such characteristic. This is what Africa lacks, when they mimic the West.
Do not misunderstand me when I say the West values. Civilization and all form of positive development are not constituted to a particular race or group of people. It is all human attribute; hence African as well as other races shares in this phenomenon. But my argument is when Africa cherishes the so called world or Western sympathy, rather than challenging herself to offer such sympathy to other racial counterparts, then that is where the problem lies.
For Africa’s development, Africans and Africa must attach values to the 5 major steps in the 1Maslow’s hierarchy of needs phenomenon. We must understand them, assimilate them and let them be our drive for our very own emancipation.
2.3 Do we live life as a choice or challenge or as both as Africans/Africa?
You will agree with me that due to the long inefficacy attachment of African values to the West, rather than the main principles that governs existence and supports development. It appears typically and inexorably wrong in the sight of the West for Africa to break off from such ill-passion relationship. In other words, Africa has lost the wit to challenge herself because of the ever flowing so called Western sympathy, help and guidelines to be like modern Europe or America. Perhaps it’s based on the mere fact that Africa has interexchanged her values with that of the West, thereby making it easy to relapse into the non-existing values that do not conform to African identity.
We cannot manufacture cars because we receive used cars shipped to us in ragged containers. We glow when we eat hamburgers and moan when we eat fufu. I have seen Africans telling me that they do not want to speak their traditional languages; that they prefer to speak the European language. Wrong!!! This is based on the term called “integration”, of which I certainly do not agree with because there is nothing like integration when we actually look dutifully and seriously in our relationships. So, placing this absurdity called “integration” aside and concentrating on what I termed “witful challenge” it is an essential aspect of our emancipation to challenge ourselves in areas that we are strong at. We ought to build and maximize our strength.
I have come to terms that life is a combination of choices and challenges. Walking through life in my terms means living your strength and capabilities arsenal at your usage and disposal in relation to the existence you find yourself. This I call “optimized life”. So far, we the Africans are not even close to “optimized life”, we are lacking far behind, because we do not know or may not have discovered our strengths and weaknesses in order to help us create our potential developmental opportunities as well as reduce or eliminate our potential developmental threats. Today, we have to ask ourselves individually and collectively, in what are we best at?
I have come to understand that in Africa we live life as a choice; this is the huge difference between us Africans and the West who live life as both a choice and challenge. Living life as a choice means accepting your condition as acceptable and normal as if there is nothing wrong with such condition. And such is Africa, accepting her present condition without questioning why? When one loses the strength to question why or challenge situations or conditions, such one loses the values of esteem, self actualization, safety and security, etc. Such one makes herself or himself the underdog. Today Africa do not have the guts to question issues such as why is the prices of cocoa, coffee and other cash crops that Africa is number 1 in producing be set at NYBOT and LSE; African can not question why does EU grant subsidies to her farmers when such EU is campaigning for fair trade and fair competition values; African cannot question what is the moral that supports Americans and other counterparts trading on commodities such as food, which is human basic need, which through such action cripples African agricultural sector and makes millions hungry, Africa cannot question why does the multinational companies in African fail to keep their social responsibility sustainability of which they do in their home countries. The list goes on and on.
Today, I heard in the news that President Sarkozy is campaigning for Africa to have a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. Funny! Should it be President Sarkozy that will campaign for Africa or speak on Africa’s behalf? Have not African nations (53 in number with huge population) been a long time member of UN? Why does it have to be recognized now? I even heard that there are conditions given such as given Africa seats without veto power and other options, which President Sarkozy called “compromise” in respect to Africa’s request. Saddening!!!
The point is that Africa must now challenge herself by revisiting the, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid, and carve out her own path in the manner it relates to African identity
3. Solutions and conclusion
Africans need to change their view and perception about life. We need to stop viewing life from the negative pessimistic angle because it causes us antagonism and blurs our foresight. We must start to view and perceive life in a positive and optimistic angle. We must acknowledge that life is what we make out of it. We must believe that we have the potentials, ability and capabilities to carve out a very decent, admirable and good way of life that suits us in respect to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. However, we must acknowledge the truth now, lay emphasis on accessing the extent of our load and then work on the plan to foster our progress. Education, knowledge, wisdom, dedication and perseverance are vital tools in this struggle.
In addition, individually and collectively we must tell ourselves the truth, we must analyze ourselves, recognizing our strengths and our weaknesses. We can capitalize on our strengths, developing them even as we work on our weaknesses. Enhancing our strengths gives us the ample opportunity to utilize our capabilities for our development when the opportunity calls. Through such actions we can encourage ourselves in the drive for our self actualization.
Further more, we must develop appetite for challenging our present situation with genuine honesty that we want to be better. We must re-orientate our minds with positive thoughts, with strong desire for positive development and with strong aversion for our present condition. We must hate our present situation, because we know and believe that we can be better than what we are now, we can be get better than where we are now. We must start to live our lives as both choice and challenge, accepting the good conditions as our choice and challenging the hard conditions for better result.
In conclusion, codewits we must show positive attitude, teach, instruct and act willfully.