General Musings

Collective Effort in Africa: A Paradox?

It is interesting to note that this post has been inspired by a random google search(at this ungodly hour…clock’s marching towards 2 a.m. as I write this) on the “difference between oxymorons and paradoxes”. Not to put too fine a point to it, an oxymoron is a paradox reduced to two words.

I took it further and found some interesting illustrations on paradoxes. Humorous,too, they are.

Picture: 11973825

Picture: 11973856

That ought to adequately paint the picture.

I am one for rhetorics, and I posed this one a while back: Is there a place for Collective Effort in Africa?” (This at the time when the all famous Kenyans 4 Kenya campaign rolled out.)

2002. We witnessed what was dubbed the dawn of a new era, when Kenyan politicians came together in an act of unity to break through the iron gates of tyranny that had cost us way too much. I remember how my heart swelled with joy and hope as we watched Kenya’s key political players come together under the National Rainbow Coalition.  As is the nature of rainbows;no sooner do you spot them,soak in their beauty, than they disappear. I need not take us down memory lane on the disintegration of said coalition.

2008. A coalition government was formed, to put an end to the dark period that Kenya had succumbed to. Fruits of said coalition? (Feel free to generate a list if there have been fruits we can pride ourselves in for a good moment before some saddening news headline on an accident here or drought there pops up!…)

It is that time again. Kenya’s gearing up for an election year; politicians sprucing up on their ‘seductive lingo’…twingo(=twitter lingo) even,before hitting the campaign trail. Without an official opposition leader, or opposition party, this is bound to be an interesting ride. (Maybe there will be some collective effort,and a permanent one at that, to oust Sonko, Waititu and Kabogo…as someone on my twitter timeline called them; the unholy trinity of stupidity!)

Meanwhile, a considerable portion of a disgruntled and very dissatisfied electorate is rallying itself behind one of many initiatives out to ‘make a change’.  I,too, have found myself at the precipice of setting up an initiative to ‘make a change, or a difference’. The common enemy here? The incumbent politicians. It’s no secret, they have done a fantastic job of pissing us all off!! Clever fools they are! (that would be an example of an oxymoron, FYI…)

Said initiatives are in no small number, and it’s been interesting to watch their proliferation. So  I paused on my ambitious tracks to ask myself this all too important question: that which I’m setting out to do, is there someone else doing it already? So I took to my timeline, did a quick search of Kenyan initiatives on change and wow! Like I said,there’s no shortage of ideas and initiatives! It’s been whirlwind ride,trying to keep tabs of who’s doing what on this front!

I’ve spent the last couple of months studying this phenomenon, and it continues to confound me. I’ve spoken with and listened to the initiators/supporters of all these initiatives and one thing is clear: we all want things to be different come next year. But this question begs, where is the collective effort that would prove old sayings true? All those who were subjected to the 8-4-4 education system remember that ‘umoja ni nguvu, utengano ni udhaifu.’

On the matter that is 8-4-4, our country’s education system, did it instill the notion of collective effort, or did it encourage individualism? (Think about your experience, if you have any… When the mathematics teacher would come to class and jot down a ‘conc’ sum to be solved, did you attempt at  it with the rest or at least some of your classmates, or did you struggle with it on your own till you either solved it or gave up altogether?). In my experience, 8-4-4 has been a subtle instigator of  the ‘me, myself and I‘ school of thought, and unfortunately,a way of life that too many of us subscribe to, and while it’s not a bad thing to look out for oneself, it is a dangerous thing to be all that one ever thinks about/acts upon.

There have been instances where collective effort has manifested, but as for sustainability of said effort, well, I am looking for a success story.

Taking it to the rest of the continent, how are the economic and trade blocs and other alliances helping us fight the maladies that have plagued Africa for generations? Through their existence, is Africa a better place? Is Africa more united?

Collective effort in Africa: a paradox?