In Chinese culture, there is a belief that represents the two opposite principles in nature, commonly known as yin-yang. Yin-yang ascribes to the idea that in life there are two contrasting values or sides, the negative and positive, feminine and masculine, the good and the bad. Since the beginning of the new millennium, Africa has been strengthening its call for our own solutions to our own problems but it’s the application of this belief that has led to a ying-yang situation in terms of this value.
Let’s start with the yang side, which is the good-positive side. African solutions to African problems owes its existence to the fight led by Kwame Nkrumah against neo-colonialism advocating for Africans to control their destiny, politically, socially, economically. And this above everything else is the prime reason African leaders support this notion. Taking a leaf from Chika Onyeani’s Capitalist Nigger, “Africans should stop relying on the Caucasians, Japanese and Chinese and realise they too can control their own resources, make their own products and economically empower themselves.”
Another major reason we support our solutions to our problems is because simply put, home-grown solutions are always the best way to solve problems. Some scholars such as Dr. Mpanduki have argued that the reason why there is so much corruption is because at independence, African states wholly carried on systems of governance they did not understand. In support of this, Rwanda in 2001 established the Gacaca judicial system in response to the 1994 genocide which has led to thousands reconciling after the ethnic clashes-a home grown solution.
And then we flip the coin to see what the yin or negative side of this statement is. One journalist said, “African solutions to African problems denies Africans world class solutions to its social problems.” The first thing we have to point out here is what are our problems? A simple list would include poverty, lack of education, corruption, ethnic and racial hostility. Poverty for example knows no creed or nationality, hunger is hunger so it would be unfair to say the least that Africans do not want to solve the poverty problems on our continent. Because there is a focus on African solutions does not mean there is an exclusion of world class solutions. If that were the case, there would be no cell-phones and vehicles in Africa which are all “world class solutions.”
A more potent argument against solving our own problems has certainly been the issue of our poor leadership abusing the belief to hide their own transgressions, i.e.-politicking. African leaders have used the notion to avoid scrutiny, hide corruption and protect their own interests, case in point being the stance against the International Criminal Court (ICC). In as much as the argument that the ICC targets African leaders which might have some truth to it, it is still a substantiated fact that Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s President did commit international crimes in 2008-09. And hiding behind the notion that we can sort it ourselves, although true, creates one simple problem-it’s an abuse of what Africa is preaching when it says, African solutions to African problems.
The true gist of African solutions to African problems is or at least should be that Africans should lead their own renaissance in becoming world leaders in the globe. One cannot ask his neighbour to build his house for him and still claim to own it. That sense of responsibility, ownership and right to drive our continent to the next level is what African solutions to African problems means, and we should all embody it. The question remains, what are you doing to make Africa all that it can be?
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