Africa challenged to come up with indigenous philosophy of development
Angeline Masowa, who spoke on Friday at a Conference on African Renaissance, Integration, Unity and Development in Pretoria, South Africa noted that the western model of development posed as the benchmark, which every nation wishing to be regarded as developed, had to follow, with the requirements of development dictated by the west.
She said development, just like any other aspect of society like philosophy, the arts, religion among others, was culture-relative.
“Development that is holistic is what is needed in Africa, development that covers the whole person, cultural development, social development, economic development as well as political development. All these have to be drawn and linked to our own values and principles we celebrate as Africans,” Masowa stated in her paper, “African philosophy of development as expressed in Shona proverbs” which she presented at the conference which ended on Friday.
The paper examined indigenous knowledge systems, particularly proverbs, in order to understand African perspective about development. It also analysed the African peoples' perspectives with regard to the question of development as expressed in their arts and beliefs.
Masowa explained that because of multi-ethnic and linguistic structure of Africa, it was impossible in her paper to examine and exhaust African philosophy of development as expressed in all African proverbs and that was why the Shona proverbial lore was used as illustrative example.
“Our understanding of development is anchored in our own culture, philosophy of development and traditional experience,” Masowa said.
She arguing that Africa had its own philosophy of development which was clearly outlined and embedded in its proverbial lore and if Africans were to go on with development, there was great need to go back to the source (our own oral art forms), to find tried and tested solutions to our problems.
Masowa cited a Shona adage, “Zano pangwa uine rako,” (It is better to get advice from someone when you also have got yours), saying this proverb rightly pointed out the importance of formulating Africa’s own models of development rather than simply borrowing ideas, information and models from foreigners because the ideas might not suit the situation in Africa.
“It is highly imperative for Africa to work towards the formulation of its own development plans because past experiences have shown that models and theories we have borrowed from the North have done us more harm than good. African nations have not been formulating their own models and this has had serious implications and reparations.”
“This conference’s main theme is African renaissance, integrity, unity and Development, which means that Africans have realised that for long they have been cheated and bribed by the north through copying and borrowing models wholesale, without thorough evaluation and assessment and these models have proved to be of not much use so now it is high time we need to formulate our own models of development that suit the African ways of life and that place Africans at the centre,” she said.
Masowa, stressed the need for Africa to draw from its rich indigenous knowledge systems, lessons of sustainable development and desist from the idea of merely borrowing foreign theories which had proved to be detrimental to the development of Africa.
The conference, attended by scholars and practitioners, was organised by the African Union’s African Academy of Languages, in collaboration with the Institute for African Renaissance Studies, University of South and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance ( IDEA).