Come the revolution…

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In the moments that I get involved in conversations about ways of moving African nations forward in terms of development, some folks refer to the need for a revolution (or a series of mini revolutions) across the continent, to usher in fundamental changes of cultural mindsets. I’m not sure if I agree that the societies need any form of social engineering or purging. Some might think this is due to some sort of ingrained conservatism in my outlook. In actual fact, I am more concerned about the fact that revolutions tend to sweep things away that sometimes ought to be retained in a culture. I’m wary of throwing away the baby with the bathwater.

Some progressives look to the example set by Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba, suggesting that Africa could do with great healthcare and education systems. I agree with this idea, but I sense that there are values and belief systems that have been suppressed under the Castro regime, due to thought processes that could be questioned, regarding racial and cultural biases.

Are there ways of introducing order and infrastructure into communities, without restricting the rights of individuals and families to hold on to the values that have sustained their culture through many generations? I would like to think so.

Is it a good idea to dream of a “one size fits all” approach to dealing with Africa’s challenges? I’m not sure about this.

What role does negotiation have to play in social cohesion? Should negotiation be incorporated into the governmental systems, so everyone can feel as if their presences and points of view are valued? How can activists bring about a revolution without forcing large numbers of people to do things against their will?