We owe it to all the peoples of the sub-continent to ensure that they see in us, not merely good leaders waxing lyrical about development, but as the front commanders in the blast furnaces of labor, productive investments and visible change." Nelson Mandela.
e are surrounded by change that bears on our lives in ways never thought possible. The application of programmed instructions to equipment eliminated the need for routine manual tasks and increased production efficiency. Even more striking is the unanticipated ways innovation in mobile technology is altering human behavior. Blue ocean innovation has almost muted the traditional notion of resistance to change as consumers flock to new products they never knew were valuable until they saw them.
As change swirls around us, the question to ponder is whether change is happening to us or we are making change happen. If flying through the eye of a storm provides meteorologists a deeper understanding of its force, and equips them to prepare for future storms, then change is not only to be embraced but engineered in order to direct its course. Only those who lead change will have a vantage point to determine the path of the changes they engender.
No one can deny that urgent change is required for quality of life in Africa to improve. But collectively Africans seem to be passive consumers of Western innovations, blind to the political and economic forces that drive change. If a way forward is to be found innovations adaptable to Africa's peculiar needs must be the focus of our creative energies. New social and political structures must be built from the ground up, to make the most of African strengths, while avoiding the pitfalls that have impeded progress for decades. Advances in technology have eliminated barriers that limited access and opportunity.
Reviving the traditional African spirit of community activism is key to addressing many basic needs at the local level. When the creative and productive potential of community members are mobilized toward a common goal, greater and longer-lasting progress can be achieved than by individual effort or reliance on outside forces. This requires translating that great pride in our communal traditions into a collective energy for the development of Africa, taking a positive attitude toward the future backed by action that seizes the wide range of possibilities that now abound to create real and lasting change.
As we advance into the first quarter of the 21st century, there is an urgent need to position ourselves to shape the course of change not as passive actors, but active agents. Solutions can be engineered to address even the most daunting economic, political and social challenges. All resources must be channeled to create change on a continental scale. Each of us must find those brilliant moments of our own to make change happen. The choice is ours to make it so. Incremental micro-level changes can yield enormous macro-level results, with the necessary investment of time, energy, and resources.
Your small step can make a big impact. Join the movement to shed black Africa's burden.