Development: Africa Maybe Has a Colossal Originality Drought
By Nneka Okumazie
Some Africans often say that when some Africans go abroad, they act better than they do in Africa. Some others say some Africans excel abroad than when they are at home.
There is something obvious in these observations that is hardly stated, which is that those Africans are simply doing what others are doing wherever they are, having nothing original of themselves.
There are several things that have been adopted in Africa that are meaningful elsewhere but are meaningless in Africa because it was simply copied, then many others in the same era copied, and other generations too copied. So what became obtained were bad copies, far removed from what it should have been.
Education, for example, which should be a tool for transformation, is almost meaningless in Africa. There is no sector in Africa where educated Africans have themselves transformed. All progress continues to be those adopted. There are many Africans with some education who are no better than if they did not have an education.
Many of the so-called new things that proceed from many Africans, as some form of project or business, are derivations of new things elsewhere, lacking originality and capability to make any mass progress or change much beyond limited cases. There are so many contrasts that Africa presents in its own society that makes it plausible that without adopting some progress, Africa may miss nothing.
There are Africans, who complain about bad governance in their countries, saying also that government officials often send their children abroad.
Then some of these Africans often seek nothing else than to go abroad themselves, when they can, showing that Africans seem to want the same things, whether government officials or citizens.
But what is really elsewhere for Africans, better than what is back home? Can infrastructure be bad or education or health or food or water, if they are not made well, or the general users, after the things are made not misuse them? Is the problem in Africa a people problem, not a problem of things or just the government? What are the common outcomes for most of those who leave in terms of achievement? What does success or doing well mean to Africans, for those abroad or those at home? What do Africans really want because it appears not to be development?
All that seems to matter to most Africans is how similar they are to others or how much they can copy, especially a copy of a copy of millions of copies.
It may seem that Africans have forgotten that for a society to make great progress, each sector requires a good percentage of real and intense originality, seeking out new and different approaches so that if some are found, they change the existing paths and benefit society.
But what Africa seems to have is to copy within, then wait until others make progress, then copy, leading nothing, hardly learning and seeming incapable of transforming their own place.
The copying problem of Africa resulted in some being so sure they are right about some ways of life when what they claim to be right about is what they copied. Africans are also blinded to their copying problem, and it is no longer obvious that they are copying. Africans also fight themselves or sabotage each other, not for originality purposes or in originality, but to copy and in copying.
Africans may have gotten shaped by copying; many do not recognize what is original. There are things that were copied that modern society has made unnecessary, but there is persistence in doing them. Some countries in Africa are better at copying, helping them to move really slowly. Others do not even know what, when or how to copy, prompting others to show them.
Originality in Africa seems to exist in how badly the people treat themselves, as well as how indifferent many become to the unprecedented volume of human suffering of their own people.
What Africans should be asking themselves is, where did this originality famine come from? How can several places in modern-day Africa look like what it was centuries ago if a few things were removed?
There are external problems that were brought against Africans by foreigners and continuous exploitations of the people and continent to date. However, what does Africa lack that makes it seem vulnerable to these problems or makes other places seem better than theirs?
Ancient Africa did not make substantial progress in the standard of living. Most of the communities were similar in the way that things pervaded across all their activities, but there was no differential or exponential jump in quality. They had arts, were able to survive in some ways, and were creative in some spheres but failed to explore or transform themselves meaningfully.
Copying or lack of originality, or the ability for exponential transformation, may not even be a huge problem if there are no seeming character deficiencies, which others within see and seem to copy.
There is an absence of certain values that are evident in African societies that are more problematic than a lack of originality. Courage, fairness, selflessness, exploration for collective progress, sincerity, trust, etc. are so few—if at all they exist, that the dominance of the opposite and how people copy the opposite gave what Africa was and still is.
There are many efforts towards progress in Africa that have become corrupted by unyielding low attitudes, which many cannot seem to help. It is possible to guarantee that in Africa, no matter how wrong things are, some would choose those similar to them, tribes, etc. than to do what is right as part of the copying problem.
Other than pleasure, status, same this or that, nothing much is expected from Africans collectively, no matter what it seems has been adopted that brought progress to others.
Africa has an originality famine. This a problem with an old source that should be fought against thoroughly, assuming Africans are serious. The fight, too, should be original and the approach not a fake one or with the appearance of it, as part of the ways many Africans often do their things.
Many Africans are fine, so long things for them and their own people are fine. But if all that is fine for them are things that they copied, told or shown to be what it means to be fine, how are those Africans sure they are not being played or playing themselves?
Of course, there are nations and organizations in Africa who would say or try to show what they have done, but they are either measuring the wrong things or measuring the right things in the wrong units.
[Psalm 124:5, Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.]