Predictions are risky but necessary, and could promise a certain percentage of fulfillment, especially when drawn from rational analysis. If so, then, available evidence and emerging trends indicate that the generation that will be in charge of Africa’s social, political and economic action spaces circa 2065 will be a knowledgeable generation. With the rise of the internet and the direct access to news from eyewitnesses, young Africans can afford to shun the misinformation presented as facts by western and other media about Africa, and instead build on the reality they know. With the rise of the internet and the crumbling of the hitherto impenetrable walls of Euro-American libraries, which previously locked out hundreds of millions of knowledge hungry Africans, knowledge, as packaged by the west has been demystified and adjudged incomplete. Africans will begin to search out and re-validate their own indigenous knowledge, and explore home-grown approaches to advancement.
Young Africans committed to the advancement of the continent are asking questions of their elders and demanding answers from the world. In the place of answers, Africa’s young people have uncovered ignorance in their elders and come face-to-face with scorn from the outside world. Young African’s teachers and parents are lacking the wisdom needed to address the myriad of challenges facing the region; neither is the United States, China, World Bank, United Nations, CNN or other representations of global hegemony, so equipped with such wisdom. Therefore, much of the responses to the inquiries of present day young Africans will be self-taught and self-deciphered, and in it will lay the rock solid foundation for the coming generation that will rebuild Africa based on internally generated knowledge, processes and systems.
Majority of the inhabitants of Africa are not yet rising with the so-called Africa rising because at present, the real, home-grown and people centered knowledge the continent needs to transform its institutions and sectors is lacking. On what foundation then will “high rise” Africa rest? Africa cannot rise outside of authentic African knowledge generated by committed, curios and dedicated Africans. Nations whose civilizations have germinated and endured were built on authentic national values and knowledge systems, well located in ideas selectively borrowed from other nations. Japan’s transformation began during the Meiji era and with the mantra “Western technique; Japanese Spirit”. Western ideas were scrutinized against authentic Japanese knowledge and needs and selectively borrowed or rejected. In India, Mahatma Ghandi impressed it strongly upon the hearts and minds of his country people that mental independence must form the basic foundation for the political Independence being clamoured for. The whole nation of over a billion people focused on that truth during and after the liberation struggle. Also, quite a few of what has been scientifically researched and authenticated as western knowledge today can be traced to folklore and indigenous knowledge of Europe. This ranges from the governance systems, pharmacology, architecture and geography etc. The stability being experienced by the aforementioned countries can be directly traced to the grounded knowledge system upon which innovation, creativity and advancement are founded
Africa’s current struggle lies in the absence of the liberal utilization of its authentic ideas in the development of the continent, but the current digital natives and the generation they will raise will change that. Western knowledge was introduced to sub-Saharan Africa with a package that included disdain for authentic African ideas, processes and systems. The curriculum that was designed by the west for Africa came with a clearly defined, if subtly hidden message that knowledge, creativity and innovation belonged to the west alone. Since then, Africa’s generations up till the immediate digital natives have been lacking in access to a wide platform of knowledge in order to transform their minds and society. But fifty years from now, Africa’s young people would have learnt from their elders who are currently the digital natives that no knowledge in the world is better than one’s own knowledge. That an educated mind is that mind that can decipher solutions to the challenges of his immediate environment using easily accessible materials. Today’s digital natives are trying to scratch through the surface of the gold mine that is Africa’s own knowledge system, but the generation they will birth will “beat them hands down,” in fact, they will “not see the back of their children” in creativity and innovation. True, from Nairobi through Kampala to Lagos, young Africans are already developing software, forming organizations and building structures based on what they know to be the need of their environment, rather than what they are taught or are being taught in their schools. But wait until the children of the present teenagers and under 30’s come of age. By 2065, the generation mentored by Africa’s digital natives would have taken the continent to far greater heights in terms of innovation and creativity in different sectors. To an analysis of a few key sectors we now turn:
Africa’s technological needs would have been addressed to a large extent by 2065, not by the much hyped and consistently failed technological transfer, but by home-grown solutions. African trained engineers would have utilized indigenous knowledge based, home-grown and therefore inexpensive and easily accessible mechanisms to address Africa’s energy, water and even access road challenges. The mining and extractive sectors, for instance, will no longer be left in the hands of foreigners and big businesses. The same way internet publishing has freed writers from the clutches of global publishing conglomerates, so shall Africa’s extractive industries be freed from the suffocating hold of multinationals. Simple, locally fashioned equipments will out surpass and outperform the imported expensive machinery that had been used by foreign corporations to hold the continent hostage for several decades.
Agriculture & Environment
Some young Africans unable to find jobs are shunning the disdain of their parents for cultivating their own food, and throwing themselves fulltime into agriculture. As they browse the internet with their phones in the different areas where they are located, they are bound to come across websites extolling the virtues of organic farming. Puzzled, they will wonder why their government is promoting the use of synthetic fertilizers as against the organic farming their great grand fathers practiced and lived to ripe old age. The next generation of African farmers will not only begin to explore indigenous farming techniques, but will be open to combining it with knowledge selectively gained online from India, China, the ancient Inca civilization and the modern American farmer. The result will be a variant of knowledge that is rooted in African reality, but enhanced by foreign inputs. The same goes for animal rearing. After having lost relatives and friends to cancer and other diseases traceable to western food processing and preservation techniques, Africa’s young people, although still craving the progress of the west will hunger and explore the wisdom of their fathers who lived strong till good old age. A foundation laid by knowledge gleaned from the past, combined with home-grown and selectively borrowed foreign technology will make plant and animal farming in Africa a widely advanced and innovative sector.
The high cost, unfamiliarity with, and therefore failure of western copied and other imported governance strategies in Africa is well documented. The colonial generation up till the present generation is at a wits end on how to bring about effective governance without going cap in hand to the World Bank and other developed countries and their agencies. The result is a continued dependence on these nations whose coffers are steadily running dry and who are now looking up to Africa for natural resources to sustain their global position. But this will change. As young Africans begin to control their resources more, and study other successful systems, there will be the tendency to denounce and depart from the present unworkable governance system under which the continent is laboring. Inexpensive and home-grown knowledge based governance mechanisms will be designed and instituted across Africa in the coming decades.
Rwanda is a country that is already leading the way in instituting several indigenous knowledge based and home-grown strategies to bring about effective governance and public administration at the grassroots and central levels. Rwanda’s indigenous justice system the Gacaca, has achieved what no western based justice system will ever even dream of achieving. Other successful indigenous knowledge based systems practiced in Rwanda include the Ubudehe, Abunzi, Umuganda, Girinka, to mention few. Rwanda’s successes in efficiently maximizing its scarce resources by resorting to well-known, understood, appreciated and therefore inexpensive indigenous strategies to manage its affairs is already being studied by other African nations and will most likely be adapted by the next generation. The gatekeeper generation will understand that governance systems are very much dependent on the people who are being governed, and therefore, must be generated from among them, and not superimposed from some other society’s experiences.
Africa’s health in terms of diseases could take a turn for the worse. With the rise of sexually transmitted diseases among the younger generation, and the acquired inclination to snack on western foods and sip fizzy drinks while browsing the web or playing video games, perhaps there is need for alarm for the generation of 2065. On a brighter note, however, improved hygiene and access to preventive information will reduce deaths from diseases such as malaria. Also, the inability of western medicine to treat several diseases has rekindled interests in traditional medicine. Africa’s young people will be able to subject traditional medicine to tests and verification and offer such remedies to mankind. However, intellectual property rights and the rights of communities will become a huge question that must be addressed in order to ensure an all-inclusive benefit for traditional medicine.
Trade and Investment
Africa’s gatekeeper generation will liberate the continent from the shackles of the numerous unjust and parasitic agreements that have held Africa back for decades. Several agreements signed by their predecessors in ignorance or with fraudulent intent, will be revoked and renegotiated on terms that will be hugely beneficial to the masses. With enough information at their disposal, and constrained by the transparency of e-governance, exploitative trade and investment agreements will be reduced to the barest minimum. Intra-African trade will be at its highest since it last thrived in pre-colonial times, and with the dismantling of tariff and non-tariff barriers, the increasing role of regional economic blocs and the possibility of a single currency continent, a united Africa will speak with one voice in global affairs and explore areas of mutual benefits among member states, while shutting out powers of exploitation.
Every sector listed above depends on education to succeed. The challenge with Africa’s education lies firmly in a curriculum filled with irrelevancies and misinformation. Fifty years after colonialism ended, African countries still depend on consultants from the former colonial masters to review the dependency-inducing curriculum handed over to them during the eve of Independence. Even when Africans themselves have to review curriculum, it is based on a made-to-measure approach that relies almost exclusively on foreign and therefore ill-fitting knowledge. It does not seem that African governments are willing to transform the curriculum in the next ten years, but that notwithstanding, present day digital natives are independently searching for knowledge and trying to explore the world; that will be the greatest legacy they will leave for their next generation – the gatekeepers of 1965.
The author did not set out on a pretentious effort to present an accurate and exhaustive analysis of the Africa of approximately 2065. If at all, the article only presents a table of contents for what trajectories can be explored in trying to understand where Africa could be in the next fifty years. Suffix it to note that Africa has not been immunized against the rest of the globe, the region will also be affected by emerging realities including the rise in incidents of terrorism, cyber-crime, sexual predatory and perversion, social upheavals and perhaps rising global inflation rates. These Africa must prepare for and adequately guard against in cooperation with other nations of the world. But in all, Africa’s hope for the next fifty years lies in the right kind of knowledge that, from every indication, will be generated by and from the digital natives and their descendants.
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