|Bottle-necks of Development in Africa (HABITAT)|
All through the ages the African people have made efforts to deliver themselves from oppressive forces. It is important that a critical mass of Africans do not accept the verdict that the world tries to push down their throat so as to give up and succumb. The struggle must continue. It is important to nurture any new ideas and initiatives which can make & difference for Africa.
In the middle of this century for example, Africa set out to re-kindle the spirit of self-liberation from colonial powers. And some three decades ago, the political leaders of modern Africa identified three major objectives as they became the first post-colonial African rulers:
· to decolonize the entire continent
· to promote unity
· to effect economic and social development.
With the recent political freedom of Namibia and South Africa that generation of African leaders may consider their first agenda virtually complete. A more difficult agenda will be to de-colonize the mind and reclaim the cultural and spiritual heritage of the African people. The new generation of African leaders are expected to address the last two objectives and free their people from fear of war and poverty. They are expected to give Africa back her dignity and self-respect.
That not withstanding, Africa finds herself in the middle of new challenges and in a very competitive and unsympathetic world. And so, even before Africans advance from tribal "state" to the nation state, the latter is already crumbling under the pressure of economic and political forces which are shaping the 21st Century.
It is not an easy battle to fight because five hundred years is a long time to struggle against all forms of oppression. To overcome such a historical burden is an enormous task because the battles of five centuries have left Africans weakened economically, politically but especially, culturally and spiritually. The chains which still hold them in bondage are often the trappings of power, prestige and the comfortable lifestyles exemplified by but a few of their leaders. And, the erroneous belief that in time, they can all get there. These trappings have destroyed African leaders and has left the continent without vision and commitment to social, political and economic progress.
But there is no giving up. There is hope. Generations of Africans have fought many valiant battles against many gross violations of the rights of the African people. The power of evil has repeatedly been overcome by the power of the intrinsic goodness of mankind. There are many examples to give inspiration, hope and a sense of pride. A people less endowed with the power of the human spirit would have become extinct and wiped from the face of this planet. This rich heritage should be the source of our empowerment.
Indeed it is empowerment for me. I draw strength from past triumphs. They give me reason to fight injustices of today. They remind me of the victorious road which we have travelled and they give me strength for the journey ahead. I am always aware that I am not alone. For I am in the company of men and women whose moral strength has always changed the course of history. The collective force of women and men gathered at a conference has the capacity and the capability to bring about the desired change.
We can work together for a better world with men and women of goodwill, those who radiate the intrinsic goodness of humankind. To do so effectively, the world needs a global ethic with values which give meaning to life experiences and, more than religious institutions and dogmas, sustain the non-material dimension of humanity. Mankind's universal values of love, compassion' solidarity, caring and tolerance should form the basis for this global ethic which should permeate culture, politics, trade, religion and philosophy. It should also permeate the extended family of the United Nations.
Without such an ethic the power game, materialism and individualism takes over . So also would anarchy, egoism, hatred, injustices, violence and intolerance. We must make our choice or others, less sympathetic, will make that choice for us.
Nairobi Kenya, August,