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M.N. Masheke: Africa, Which Way Forward?

Address to a UPF-Zambia Seminar on “Africa, Which Way Forward?”
Cresta Golf View Hotel, Lusaka, Zambia
March 7, 2012

I hasten to welcome my fellow participants and most distinguished dignitaries from abroad and our great country Zambia. I count it a singular honour and privilege in order to be part of you in this conference and to be one of the speakers on this topic: “Africa which way forward?”

It seems to me that the more we talk of peace and development in Africa, the more elusive it becomes. Therefore, from the very outset we need to understand that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that defenses of peace and development for Africa must be constructed.” As Africans, we must begin to involve ourselves in preemptive dialogue and constructive engagement among ourselves and those outside Africa.

One Ambassador for Peace I met in Malta last November shared these thoughts with me “In a world of particular urgency, exception, and emergency a ‘culture of peace’ remains very mobilizing as it offers possibilities of harmonious co-existence built on respect for cultural diversity, expressed in the ethos of dialogue and animated by a humanistic vision of development. One observation is critical in this regard: the benefits of the virtuous cycle between cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in a context of rapid social transformation are not automatic: they have implications for policy design to meet the challenges of our times.”

When we speak about the way forward, we usually mean development, peace and security, an expanding free economy, a democratic environment, equality before the law, equal opportunities, the church, and a free media which should continue to defend the weak and the fragile and question the strong on their iniquities

In spite of many advances and improvements towards these ideals, progress is usually slow, and often new unexpected problems arise- hindering implementation and progress. Which is the best way forward? What is the right solution?

Nowadays often sustainable development is considered as the solution. What is it? Let us have a closer look:

What are the requisites for sustainable development? Sustainable development is a pattern of growth in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present but also for generations to come. It is sometimes explained as ELF-Environment, Local people, Future)

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." It contains within it two key concepts: the concept of 'needs,' in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."

This is very important for continued growth, but it considers only one aspect of development:

Human needs have to be considered. People not only have physical needs but also should live according to the values and principles. God’s love must be shared, and His principles have to be observed. The building of one’s character and external development go hand in hand.

Responsible, sincere leadership and good governance are keys to the way forward. Leadership can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the direction or purpose of governance.

We are interdependent; therefore, even the term independence is not really accurate; no country today can exist on its own. Links between countries are necessary, manifested through agreements, trade, education, travel, tourism, information technology, etc.

Everyone has to seek partners. Cooperation and a culture of peace are inclusive.

Partnership is expressed in the ideal of co-prosperity. Africa is an exporter of many natural resources and agriculture products but the prices are decided by buyers. Co-prosperity is a political idea of joint participation. Africa is developing fast. However, education and modern technologies seem to be reserved for the small elite, and the majority of the population is still far behind. Also, the world has to share its wealth with Africa to keep its blessing.

Peace, democratic ideals, freedom, and fraternity can never be realized without justice and God’s true love.

Co-righteousness is an ethical, moral ideal which is realized in our global society by observing universally accepted ethics and morals.

Here I think we need to come together and take a critical look at our values, ethics, and morals: identify strengths and weaknesses, examine how they are managed, and find common ground and ideasl. No culture can claim absoluteness; we should learn from one another.

Co-living necessitates harmonizing the ideals of capitalism, which is based on private ownership, with socialism, which advocates social ownership.

Which is better, capitalism or socialism? Neither have kept their promise for a better society. The socialist economies have their problems, but capitalist countries are heading from a one crisis to another as the world, particularly Africa, gets poorer by the day.

We are God’s children and are, therefore, brothers and sisters. In a family there is shared ownership. Africa has the tradition of the extended family, where people care for one another, but also everybody contributes to the family. The state cannot replace the family ties where there is a feeling of belonging and care.

It is essential for any leader (in religion, politics, business, family, etc.) to act with selfless love and care for their people. They are responsible for caring for the welfare of their people, understanding their situation and needs, being capable of finding solutions, and leading by example. Further, as the people’s representatives, they are also accountable for maintaining and developing (public, family, etc.) assets.

In short, a leader is to be a true parent, a true educator, and a true example of living for the sake of others.

Real development begins with sincere leadership from within (oneself, the family, the community) and spreads outwards from there. Good leaders must think of the people they are leading before focusing on their own comfort.

What are our priorities in the way forward? First, we need to have knowledge about God, His true nature, His ideal of creation, sin, and restoration. Since there are many divisions within churches and religions, we can know the whole picture only by overcoming our barriers. We need to have an interreligious dialogue; understand our weak and strong points, and agree on universal values. A true culture originates from God’s heart as the purpose (motive).

Next, going forward, UPF supports the Millennium Development Goals of the UN:

  1. Eradication of extreme poverty with all its consequences: hunger, ignorance, disease etc. Often sustainable agriculture must be implemented to make an impact.
  2. Achieve universal primary education: everyone needs to be given an opportunity to participate.
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women: girls and women have often carried the burden of families and have not been given equal opportunities
  4. Reduce child mortality: in Africa and Zambia child mortality for children under five is still very high, often a result of poverty, ignorance, disease, lack of planning, etc.
  5. Improve maternal health: health care for mothers and childreb is very important. The maternal mortality rate must be reduced by 75 percent as soon as possible.
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other infectious diseases: HIV can be prevented by a correct lifestyle. Malaria is still a major killer, especially for weak children.
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability: deforestation, soil erosion, pollution, the spread of water borne diseases, and degradation of cities are just few of the consequences.
  8. Develop global partnerships for good development: we are independent, but interdependent.

Let us pay tribute to the women here. Education begins from home. Women are key partners in development. Often women have shown themselves to be more sincere than men. Not only physical strength but also character is needed in leadership. God created us as complementary partners, one to one another.

I strongly believe there is a way forward; God has a plan for Africa, whose time has come. In the final analysis one can see a greater degree of understanding evolving from this kind of interaction. The contrast between the past and the present is very evident and supports a theory that we should adopt, that “… a peace based exclusively upon the theoretical and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind.”

Let us emulate the lyrics of song: “Let there be peace and development on earth, and let it begin with me.”