Many people were offended by my article titled Black People Are Inferior which I wrote for FEINTANDMARGIN last week. As expected I was called all sorts of names and accused of having an inferiority complex for daring to write what I think and to present a question which we definitely need to address if we are serious about an African Renaissance in our generation.
The response to my article last week just highlighted another problem with us Africans which keeps us from progressing. Africans don’t know how to handle the truth. We would rather live in denial and stay in the same position than embrace truth, because truth may just require us to change. Having been a pastor in a “mega church” in Cape Town, South Africa in another lifetime I learnt a very simple truth about human nature and the process of change which I think is significant for the continent of Africa if we are ever going to experience a turnaround. That simple truth is that change only comes when people embrace truth and stop trying to make excuses or find someone to blame for their plight.
In Africa we are still stuck in the blame-mentality and responsibility-shifting. We don’t like asking ourselves the hard questions that will force us to change because it is too uncomfortable. So we have been stuck on the same post-colonial paradigm for the past fifty or so years. We never ask ourselves whether we ourselves indeed have had anything to do with our own impoverishment. We don’t question our own actions and conduct. Anyone who dares ask the introspective questions that cause us to look inside ourselves and take some responsibility for our plight is accused of “Afro-pessimism and Euro-centrism” among many other labels. This is a tragic reality because progress only occurs through change and real change can only occur when people embrace and value truth. Change is not a set of external structures or systems that we build (although that is a part of it), but more importantly it is an internal issue.
Not until the African himself changes will the continent experience the Renaissance that we have been talking about for so long. We can create a whole lot of external structures and systems in the hope that this will take us forward as a continent, but unless that is preceded by internal change and transformation it will not be sustainable and the African will remain at the bottom rungs of global civilisation in the twenty-first century. We need to become a continent of people who embrace truth in our dialogue and discourse if we desire progress, even if that truth is an inconvenient one. The truth is that most of our impoverishment is self-caused, self-induced and the only way to turn things around is to become a different kind of people, embrace a different sort of mindset.
Like most of my peers I have a passion to see change, progress and growth on the continent, but I am personally frustrated by the lack of personal responsibility which characterises so much of Africa’s analysis of why it is where it is. This is frustrating because it keeps us where we are as a continent because if we are not to blame for our plight then we never have to change and yet if we don’t change we can never develop or progress. This is because progress is more what we become as a people than what we can build or create externally.
All the great civilisations throughout history were built on the basis of what the people in those societies where, the values they embraced and the ethos they subscribed to. This needs to be a core focus for us in our quest for rebirth and renewal as a continent. This is why I have been calling for the development of the concept of the “New African.” It is this “New African” cadre who will be the hope of the continent because he will be the kind of person who understands that if he doesn’t build on truth, everything he is seeking to construct will fall apart. He will seek to take personal responsibility for the direction his life takes instead of looking to find excuses why things have never, or can never work out for him. He will be the kind of person who realises that passing blame actually does him no good because it keeps him static whilst the world is evolving and progressing. He will be able to ask himself tough, introspective questions about the plight of the continent without getting defensive and straying into ad hominem arguments.