HOW TO CREATE A BETTER AFRICA
Africa’s growing economy, rich cultural heritage, and totalling up to an eighth of the world’s population, makes it a vastly important continent. We interviewed George Shadrack Kamanda, a Sierra Leone native and currently a student at the prestigious University of Oxford, to discuss nation-building, becoming a responsible citizen and the vital changes needed to create a better Africa.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND
Growing up in Sierra Leone was challenging and memorable. The war started in the 1990s, or so, and I was born just a couple of years after that. It ended in 2003. That had a significant impact on my understanding of the world, society and my belief in the human race. It gave me a sense of seriousness and fear. Seeing people who got shot right in front of me, seeing my house burn down and seeing amputated legs… that was scary. It gave me a sense of purpose. That purpose is that I have to do right to every human being, my nation and myself.
TELL US ABOUT SIERRA LEONE
Sierra Leone is one of the most beautiful countries on the African continent. We are blessed to have rare resources and impeccable climate to help with agriculture and farming- it is a privilege to have such natural honours. At the same time, we’re yet to figure out the unique formula to feed our 7.2 million, or so, population. If the natural resources were well-diversified and used for a collected good, we’d have a different story. That is not the case. It’s only now that this process has begun to take shape.
HOW DO WE CREATE A BETTER AFRICA?
“We have to see Africa beyond foreign aid.
— George Shadrack Kamanda
First and foremost, we must make sure we get our democracy right. It is critical to get this formula right in all its forms. Africa as a continent is on the rise and every African must rise with it in all spheres of human endeavours. We ourselves have to be the change, we have to evolve and be better at choosing our leaders. We need collective activity to give expression. I think once the leadership is corrected, Africa will be on the rise at a global stage.
I propose the Five D’s & L formula. Democracy. Development. Delivery. Discipline. Dignity. Leadership. To achieve these benchmarks, we have to reimagine and create our own unique path for our own unique circumstances. This, however, does not mean the end of international trade, partnership, cooperation or regional alliances. Most importantly, we have to see Africa beyond foreign aid.
HOW CAN WE HAVE CIVIL DISCUSSIONS WITHOUT INCREASING POLITICAL TENSIONS?
The reality is, we have it in all of us to be civil. We have to depoliticise civility. Civility has nothing to do with politics, it is the manner in which we relate to one another. However, I feel society is losing some of its cause, morals and etiquettes. We talk about change but we fail to do the things which drive sustainable change. We want development, yet we participate in corruption. We want good governance, but we continue to elect bad leaders. It’s hypocrisy.
HOW CAN ONE INDIVIDUAL BETTER THEMSELVES AS A CITIZEN?
We’ll never get to the point of a Utopian state, I’m not dreaming. It is a matter of responsibilities and accountabilities. If you truly desire the best education or better workplace free of discrimination, we have to lead by those principles constantly.
We have to get to a point of humanising the situation. We should humanise how we think about governance and how we argue about political ideologies. We have to be empathetic, good listeners, critical thinkers and above all, we should not leave our faith behind, nor our value-based systems.
“We are not the leaders of tomorrow, we are the leaders of today.”
— George Shadrack Kamanda
Comment On SARS in Nigeria and Other civil and political conflicts on the continent: With the ongoing electoral violence in Guinea, Ivory Coast, CAR (Central African Republic), and elsewhere in Africa, my message is to continue to be hopeful. We are the next generation and we should be the change, once we have the opportunity.
A message to my fellow young Africans: I believe we have to see things inclusively. Be resilient, be peaceful, be focused and determined. We are not the leaders of tomorrow, we are the leaders of today.
Find out more about George: https://georgekamanda.com