By Kilemi Mwiria
I recently attended an international conference, where once again, the question of why we know what ails the continent, yet do little about it came up?
And we have the ingredients for lasting solution: A large pool of skilled, innovative and hard working youth, and millions more that can make a big difference with their bare hands; large natural resource deposits, with more being discovered every day; too much documentation on both the diagnoses and prescriptions to our problems; and many examples to learn from.
For years, inaction has been blamed on lack of the necessary commitment to the implementation of change. But to be fair, there have been a few (very few indeed!) African leaders who have attempted to break with the past. Their almost predictable failure could largely be traced to a lack of a supportive national population not grounded in the positive values that could promote the required change.
This population will be hired (by local and external forces) to demonstrate against true revolutionary African leaders.
Reform minded leaders are further handicapped by a civil service that has no interest In change either because of vested interests, their comfort with the old ways of doing things or because they have not been socialised appropriately.
Most of our troubles can be traced to the absence of values that teach us how to: extend love beyond self, family and tribe; practice what we sing in the national anthem not just do it as a ritual; be honest, responsible and committed to serve for the sake of it not always for rewards; embrace patriotism; and to respect and recognise those who have the wisdom and knowledge to make change possible, irrespective of who they are to us personally.
Without internalisation of these values, Africans will still be at the bottom of the world order a century from today.
We need to find a good formula for the inculcation of these values for character formation of the young generation and thought reform of the adult population.
We have to ignore the pain killer approach of donors and cooperating African leaders not keen on dismantling the foundation of inertia.
This calls for large investments in the development of an educational curriculum that teaches the right values at all levels of education. This cannot be left entirely to Government curriculum design experts as most have vested interest in the status quo or simply do not care; or to most civil society types, who are in it for the money and can be as divisive as are politicians.
The development of this curriculum, which should be a blend of the positive values associated with the modern state, religious faiths and indigenous African knowledge, has to be supported by the right institutions. Although these values cannot be effectively tested in school, employers, churches and families have to do their bit.