A collective vision for Africa

2009-05-28 00:00

CONTRARY to popular belief, I am an ardent Bible reader. There is one scripture between the many pages of the good book that never fails to hold me spellbound. It declares: “Where there is no vision, people perish.”

Even though I am not sure what it is, Americans have what they call the American dream. During his acceptance speech, the ever-endearing Barack Obama made mention of it. This dream is a collective vision of all Americans, something that they all aspire to become or in some instances, not to become.

On May 25, Africa Day, I found myself wondering if perhaps the reason that Africa is in the state that it is in, is because the people of this continent don’t have a collective dream. What is it really that we aspire to as people of the African continent?

In the absence of a convincing answer to this question, I beseech you to come with me and be my guest. Perhaps, before this mighty pen of mine dries up, my dream is going to be your dream and my vision, your vision. Perhaps at the end, we are going to have one African dream and begin a well-synchronised walk towards realising it.

Let me begin by saying, just as not all Americans are loud and ignorant, not all Africans are poor and sick. As I share my dream, there is no fly crawling on my face while I lie dying of malaria or malnutrition. I do own a decent car, have decent shelter, eat nutritious meals every day and, thank heavens, I am very healthy. The only reason that I don’t own an iPod is because I do not want to.

I know this flies in the face of many international news wires — the CNNs and the BBCs of this world. Shame on them for perpetuating a lie about people like me.

First and foremost, my dream is of a peaceful Africa. To all the statesmen and women of this continent, let this be your priority too. History will be very harsh towards us if we keep on fighting and devouring one another. This one is not open for debate. No more strife, finish and klaar.

My dream is of a healthy Africa. The stories of malaria, tuberculosis and Aids must never again be synonymous with Africa. We can do well to start by being outraged by these diseases. Let us not get too used to death and pain. Let us be outraged by HIV/Aids and do all we can to obliterate it from the face of our continent.

Poverty is another thing that we can live without. Colonialism, imperialism and apartheid notwithstanding, given the vast hectares of land at our disposal and the natural resources that this continent is endowed with, it is difficult to fathom why there is poverty in Africa. I will leave the how part for another day. Suffice to say, we are better off rich than poor.


I am not advocating a homogenous Africa, far from it. I am advocating continental social cohesion, starting in our own back yards. If as black Africans we are able, sometimes not convincingly, to speak and write decent English, imagine if our white counterparts would do the same, to be able to at least hold a decent conversation in Zulu, Xhosa and other African languages. Imagine if I was able to speak Swahili, Shona or Wolof.

I dream of a continent that is able to hold its own against the world’s best in technological advancement. Where even the most rural among us understands the basics of computer usage.

It would help us to jettison and leave behind those parts of our cultures and traditions that do not contribute to our advancement as a people and hold on for dear life to those that make us better human beings.

I dream of Africa where Africans are comfortable in their own skin. Where we seek validation from nobody for us to believe that we are a significant global player. Where Chinua Achebe makes more sense than William Shakespeare.


• Dedicated to Moky Makura, a Nigerian-born, South Africa-based journalist.


• Sihle Mlotshwa is an independent social commentator. He writes in his personal capacity.


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