Changing what our future looks like ought to be the business of our generation and yet as each day passes we look to others to do what we can and should do in our interest to make tomorrow a better and brighter day for all.
We hope and trust others to do what we are not willing to do in our own self-interest to make the difference that we want to see in Africa.
During the colonial era, we all knew what was wrong and what time it was. We are now in control and yet the invasion of Africa by outsiders who see more promise in its relatively unexplored and yet to be exploited belly than its majority inhabitants suggests that in 2050 it is not unimaginable that the Chinese investors of today, for example, will be given marching orders by the living generation of Africans who will find cause to blame the foreigners for their lack of progress.
When the generation of 2050 looks back at our generation, what will they say about us? We have the privilege of writing our own story through actions and yet in many African states the preoccupation is on political issues rather than matters that inspire others to scale the heights of progress.
Imagine the future without your input.
That future should have no relevance to you and yet many of us would want to be alive without asking ourselves what precisely is the purpose of life if at the end of the day we make no difference to the environment we live in.
Is the future someone else’s business? It is and should be the business to all who have a stake in it. That makes all of us stakeholders.
On January 7 2011, I woke up imagining what the future holds for Africa. As a Zimbabwean-born African, I could only start by imagining what my motherland would look like in 2050.
Will it be a country dominated by indigenous persons? What would the mining sector look like? What would be the ownership structure of land? Who will be the drivers of economic and political change? Will the current political institutions be still alive in 2050 or will they sink into followers than drivers as Unip and Malawi Congress Party have done in Zambia and Malawi, respectively?
Who will control the economic landscape? Will the brain drain be converted into a resident brain trust?
What would be the state of Zimbabwean schools, hospitals, roads, prisons and all the institutions we generally associate with progress and civilisation?
In the case of Zimbabwe, the last 30 years of independence have produced a toxic mind that regards politics as the key driver of change. It is not uncommon for people to refer to others as, for example, a Zanu-PF or MDC person as if political parties are capable of owning people’s minds.
To the extent that political institutions and the individuals who drive them are accorded a different status in society, it is natural that many will look to politicians to drive the agenda for change.
What we do know is that the current players in the Zimbabwean political drama will all have expired in 2050 and yet it will be the case that people will seek to attribute the lack of development to the actions and choices of a few powerful people.
If one were to ask the question of who most inspires Africans, I have no doubt that the likely response would be the names of political actors.
We forget that politicians are human beings like all of us. They are incapable of solving another person’s problems without the means being created by others. The political market produces intangible outputs.
Therefore, it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of political actors but we generally associate the impact of human development indicators to have a relationship with the actions and choices of politicians.
The behavior of African politicians is no different from the universal behavior of political actors. Their business is to stay in power for as much as possible in as much as the business of an entrepreneur is to remain in business for a long time if not to eat into the market shares of competitors.
Any small-scale entrepreneur will tell you that his/her ambition is to be the biggest and yet in pursuing such an objective it must be accepted that the interests of others may be injured or destroyed in the process.