We are in the twenty first century and some of the key concepts associated with this period are civilization and development .If someone behaves in a way that is contrary to a kind of common behaviour in an area, people say, the person is behaving in a weird manner and that, the fellow is not receptive to the changing trends of the world. Usually, if people do not put up behaviours that are expected of them to bring about improvements in their lives, we say, they are not ready to develop. Development is a continuing process. It is like climbing a ladder: it starts from one level and moves to the other. It should not be stagnant; there should be an improvement every time.
When we are making references to past events, we mostly use words like barbaric, colloquial, outmoded, uncivilized, uncouth, blindfolded and a lot of negative indicators to describe the actions of our forefathers. Some local languages have some translations to describe them as ignorant, gullible and malleable among others. Others try to erase their feature as being humans and compared them with some lesser entities.
Mostly, we blame our forefathers probably because of the stories (histories) we have heard about them.Why do we always count on the negativeness of the past generations but do not want to know about some of the creativeness they exhibited? They designed wonderful, life-touching and inspirational songs in various forms without violating any of the integral rules relating to language. They also had amazing historic records showing their might and capabilities. Mind-blowing and creative folktales were not left out coupled with proverbs, idiom and figurative expressions. They had a lot of moral lessons to learn from. They left all these for posterity to help straighten the lives of their descendants.
Generations coming after them are only beneficiaries of the innovative exploits of those ‘we’ claim were not intelligent and civilized like we are. What have we done for ourselves and what are we leaving behind for posterity? How do we feel when a fellow human being is able to come out with inventions which we rely on to give meanings to our livelihood? What perceptions will such people have about us? Since we are not ready to take risk and more importantly, we do not wish to explore, what would have happened if this generation had come into existence before the older generation?What legacy would have been left behind for ‘our’ descendants? Some people have laid the foundation for us making life easier. Instead of us to build upon it to make life more enjoyable, we do not do that. Inferiority complex, selfishness, bribery and corruption, laziness, lack of creativity and other related ill-thoughts constitute the bulk of our cognizance.Africa is endowed with a lot of natural resources more than any other continent but Africans do not see the significance of this and even say, Africans are cursed. How do you feel when raw materials are exported out of Africa cheaply (the buyers even determine the prices) and are transformed into finished products which are imported into African countries at higher prices where the profits accruing from the sales of these finished products are used to develop their countries? We feel there is nothing wrong. We are experts in consuming than in producing. What a shame. How many times do we hear our political leaders, media practitioners, traditional rulers, priests among others entreating Africans to free ourselves from neo-colonialism?
Apart from raw materials, those developed countries also receive imports but they do not feel relaxed. They always wish to explore more into such areas to be able to produce those products to help reduce their spending on imports and to build their countries. Self-redundancy has made us unaware of our voguish potentials, skills and talents. We have chosen to reject the natural gifts of nature and have refused to move forward in life. One may perhaps say we are moving into the civilization years as every day passes by. This may be wrong and may be correct at the same time depending on the approach that a country is taking towards its development.
Our predecessors whom we mostly underrate their level of intelligence, opted for their own products and were willing to improve upon them. They also tried to be innovative as much as possible in all facets of life. Probably, their level of success never reached its peak. Think of how they cured sicknesses and ailments, how they got their names and once again how they came about with proverbs, idioms and its related forms.
If we claim that we are in the twenty first century and for that matter, we are civilized, then our pragmatic steps towards development should be unveiled and should reflect in the way we think and act. As Africans, we should add value to ourselves, realize our potentials, utilize our resources effectively, and should be ready to leave footprints behind. When this happens, other people across the world will have respect for Africans. In that regard, Africa will never be belittled in any way.
It is of no significance to boast of someone’s past achievements or depending solely on what other people have done. Productive things should come out of us and with this; we can boast of something and be proud of ourselves. Total self-sufficiency is unattainable.Therefore; we should be inter-dependent but should not be dependent on other nations. If we feel we are in the ‘computer age’ and therefore we should drive in‘nice cars’, have exotic drinks, wear fine and fashionable clothing, eat continental dishes among others, then we should also learn how to come about with such products or we should invent other things that will be exclusive to us to be used locally and some for export to improve our economies. We should further explore other fields of study to avoid unpleasant and pathetic situations where high profile contracts like extraction of oil and other construction works are left in the hands of foreigners. The proceeds accruing from such contracts are used in developing their respective countries. When Africans have such opportunities, the profits will still remain in the country thereby helping to develop our own countries.
Whatever the mind can conceive, man can achieve, therefore, let us work assiduously with determination and perseverance. Having this in mind, we have met success half-way.
OPPONG MARFO EDWARD – FOCUS FM, KNUST, KUMASI