No one can achieve any worthwhile achievement without seeing the picture ahead. What this implies is that the future you cannot picture you cannot capture it. Everything that we see without is a product of the picture within.
Thank God there is Africa. We the people of this beautiful planet should be glad we are so located. The world sees our continent as the virgin land, which indeed it is and our friends across the globe have concurred that we shall be greater. I was recently in South Africa, the Africa’s most ‘complex country’ and the world’s ‘rainbow nation’. My one month in South Africa (SA) was for research but I got more than research from the love and care, the ready hands of all people I met, white, black, coloured and Asians. Even from my conversation with tourists I saw a fundamental hope for Africa and Africans. Our continent might have been brutalised in the past but we cannot afford to continue to agonise about the past. We must appreciate our past while forging ahead with what lies ahead in the future, in the present. And South Africans are showing the way: reconciliation is on-going and development wheel is moving fast, while contradictions in governance and service delivery remain as in any part of the world, developed, semi-developed or developing.
My recent one month in South Africa was not my first time there. I was there first in 2009, for a Democracy and Diversity Institute Programme of the Transregional Centre for Democratic Studies of The New School for Social Research, New York, which took place at the postgraduate school of the University of Cape Town. The city of Cape Town is a seductive city. You don’t ever want to leave there. There are people, from across the world, and there are buildings that would make you think you are still somewhere in Europe. Faces of different people as well as the splendid tourist taste make Cape Town tick. Everywhere you turn, there is an interesting thing going on. People like to dance and eat, they like to hug and gist, and if you are there all alone, like I was, you would want to wish you had come with your partner. But I missed nothing. My friends and associates made the whole period memorable enough.
I am further increased in knowledge of South Africa and Africa. I also discovered once again that a number of African countries have a lot to learn from South Africa. One, you cannot develop if you cannot boast of 24/7 electricity. I understand there could be occasional power outage in certain parts, but through the one month, split and spent between three cities of Nelspruit, Johannesburg and Cape Town, electricity did not winkle, not even for a second. Nigeria in particular needs to set up a panel to go to SA and ask for advice on how it is done there. It is abysmally unbearable for Nigeria, with all its resources, not to boast of 24/7 power supply in the twenty-first century. Two, you cannot develop without social security for the poor and the unemployed. The government of South Africa has built millions of houses for the less privileged and raised the hope previously disadvantaged groups. Education fees, where not free, are subsidised. What is Nigeria waiting for? We need a Youth Development Fund Board, which will give loans to indigent students and young entrepreneurs so as to educate, engage and empower them. Three, you cannot develop without good roads, modern rail system and good airports. All major roads on which I travelled in South Africa were as good as those in the UK. Nigerian governments need to do something urgent about the state of our roads. Four, you cannot develop if there is no security. South African Police are well equipped, and their efforts are complemented by City and Community Policing. Nigeria, with 150 million people and 36 states must professionalise its Police and consider a regulated community policing system. The truth is, there is a big correlation between security of lives and property and development.
All said and done, I see hope. I see hope that Africa will rise above the poverty of its majority and that our people will use what is most valuable in our cultural values and ethics to power the Africa of our dream. Africans alone cannot do it. We will need the collaboration of folks across the world, but the effort would have to be home grown. If South Africa can give a positive sign of a stable political economy and continues to march on, despite occasional skirmishes here and there, I see hope.
I see hope that Africa will be greater.Tunde Oseni is a Doctoral candidate at the University of Exeter, UK.