Friday, 23 March 2012

The dependency ethic and the spirit of underdevelopment

Dependency is perhaps the most overlooked African problem of today.
Africa is a wholly dependent society. Like the Durkhemian concept of
organismic analogy, every institution (person) is perpetually dependent
on someone or something. Governments depend on developed nations and
aid agencies for development programs, funds and even to tap their
resources. Citizens depend on the government for their livelihood.
Family members feel it is the responsibility of the more financially
buoyant ones to bail them out. Marriages are contracted using the
parameters of 'responsibility bearing', which most times implies
taking care of your in-laws and their relatives. There are hilarious
cases of in-laws wanting as much as houses for bride price. Our
universities which ought to be factory of ideas have gone numb and
dumb, looking up to government for funding. Graduates feel that
society owes them the right of a ready-made job rather than trying to
create one. Even the religious among us have ascribed their primary
responsibilities to God, chanting 'God-dey', 'God would make a way'
   This is what is referred to as the dependent ethic. An ethic
which connotes the buck passing and the provision oversight functions
on bearing and sharing responsibilities. It entails looking up to
external phenomena to initiate a change process.
Several strands of thought have propped up to explain what seems like
a genetic and innate desire to be dependent. Some have attributes this
characteristic to the structure of traditional African institutions. The
communal nature of traditional societies, whereby no member is left
unchartered for has been touted as a causative factor. In traditional
societies, kinship affiliations were the basis for access to land,
wealth, political connections and even marriage.
    Another section fingers the colonialism and slavery for enshrining
this pernicious ethic on the tabula rasa of the African psyche. By
disconnecting Africans from their roots, making them concentrate on
cash crops rather than food crops and tilting their societies towards
consumerism and importation rather than industrialization, the
contemporary African is in a haze, floating in a concealed box.
   Yet another postulates poverty and ignorance as the reason for
Africa's dependent ethic. With 70% of its population living on less
than $1 per day, the continent is already a reference point for
   Though the foregone arguments to some extents hold certain truths,
these represent a great injustice to the ingenuity of the human mind.
Asia like Africa was once colonized and deeply entrenched in poverty.
So why is Africa light years behind them, and is even being subtly
colonized by them? Today, Africa has more schools than it had during
the colonial era, and it governments generate more revenue now than it
did 50yrs ago, yet the continent is now more indebted to western
nations than any time since its history. Its numerous professors and
academia are unable to formulate theories, let alone create
innovations that would solve the continent's problems. Rather they
have embraced the dependency ethic and now seek political appointments
and contracts. This ethic has been institutionalized to the level that
even an indigenous solution needs western approval before it can be
taken recognized. Even in the arts, the most celebrated of African
writers, poets et al, are those who have first made their mark outside
the shores of the continent. The continent is now a mere echo of the
western voice.
   The  result? Foreign countries and companies continue to pillage the
resources at minimal costs and consequences. Some like China, even
export their own factory and mine workers to the continent. Africa is
now localizing global poverty, as the world now sees Africa as the
answer to its economic problems. African economies and resources
create more jobs outside than within the continent.
   The dependency ethic entails a poverty of the mind and an utter
dependence on the natural resources of the land. Studies have shown that
the least resourceful countries are those with the most resources.
Rather than invest in its most dangerous weapon for economic
emancipation, which is its human resource, African leaders chose
to satisfy their vain desires. Scribing one's fate or responsibility to
3rd parties denotes a high level of immaturity. There is an urgent
need to purge our minds from depending on someone or something. The
dependency ethic is the harbinger of nepotism, corruption,
intellectual laziness and inefficient leadership. Any society without
enough faith in its indigenous systems would continue to be a shadow
and periphery of more dominant ones. Like the Asians, Africa has had
it own share of historical misfortunes. Even Europe during the dark
ages was in a perilous state. But unlike these two, Africans have
refused to invest in that powerful tool that lies between its ears.
Africa has failed to look inwards, waiting for an utopic messiah from
across the waters.
    Our submissive culture of no-questions asked, and drunken acceptance
of whatever is given to us has boxed us into accepting the status quo.
History is created when you break specified rules. If Africa is to do
away with its numerous social pathogens, including bad leadership
(which is always given as the reason for the continent's problems),
then it has to rid itself of the dependency ethic. Simply put,
Africans should learn to take their fate into their own hands!

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