Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Africa challenged to come up with indigenous philosophy of development

Africa needs to come up with an indigenous philosophy of development determined and influenced by the mores of traditional values derived from its own linguistic and cultural repertoire, a university lecturer from the department of African Languages and Literature, University of Zimbabwe, has said.

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).

Pana 01/10/2011

Monday, 14 November 2011

Culture and Development Issues

Culture and Development Issues

One of the round table discussions at the Creative Economy Conference is entitled Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): development, culture and the creative industries: friends or foes? This is such an interesting topic which comes at a time when Africa is battling with MDGs. I just thought it important to share with you an extract from a detailed report prepared for the INCD by Burama K. Sagnia (2005) on that issue.Below is the extract.

Until recently, most development agencies regarded cultural factors as of no concern or serious impact to social and economic development. This lack of concern has often led to failures in reaching the poor. This is what eventually created interest in the need to take cultural issues into account in development frameworks and processes. If development plans, programmes and projects cannot move forward because of the failure of taking cultural issues into account in the implementation process, it becomes imperative that the planning process take this aspect into consideration.

In any local situation, there are cultural values and institutions that can support, constrain or even completely frustrate well-meant development programmes and projects. Examples of development interventions failing to promote quality of life and overall well-being because of their incompatibility with the cultural values and institutions of the populations concerned are numerous and well-documented. The attempt here is to organise a brief discussion around some of the key development concerns and the cultural issues involved.
The international community crafted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from the Millennium Declarations, which has set out specific and quantifiable goals for human development by the year 2015. The eradication of extreme poverty and hunger is recognised by these goals as among the most central challenges before human society. For some time, the dominant view was that poverty could be addressed by raising economic standards through the “trickle down effects” of economic growth. Obviously, economic growth creates the capacity to reduce poverty and, given enough time, it may actually do so. But, experience across many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa for example (UNECA, 2005), has raised growing doubts as to whether it is feasible to attain the MDGs without mobilising more fully the under-utilised capacities of the poor, notably their culture. This makes it imperative that the issue of poverty is addressed from a broad-based and holistic perspective, taking into account the role of women, children and young people, the traditional cultural institutions and values and related problems such as environmental degradation, social stability and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Developing a clear understanding of who are the poor has often been crowded with myths and misconceptions that have come in the way of developing effective strategic responses to take advantage of their dormant and under-utilized capacities and competences. UNCTAD (2004) maintains that “poverty is associated with unexploited productive potential, inequalities within countries and in the global economy, and also non-inclusive national development processes”. As if to buttress the UNCTAD conceptual point of view, the United Nations Global Monitoring Report (2004) for the Millennium Development Goals, did admonish that in order to achieve the MDGs there is an urgent need to implement the “global bargain” whereby developing countries will seriously integrate these goals, and in particular the poverty reduction objectives, into their national development strategies, and the developed countries provide a fair and just enabling framework and the necessary resources.

The “global bargain” implies work on multiple fronts, including market access and debt relief, increased and more effective development assistance, better governance and the full and effective engagement of all stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society. While developing countries themselves have the primary responsibility for poverty reduction, there is an upper limit to how much they can achieve without appropriate international policies, development funding and the dismantling of oppressive barriers.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Revival of kenyan cultural community festival

Bomas of Kenya  has revived community cultural festivals to identify cultural ambassadors for all Kenyan Community and create awareness on what culture  is all about and why it should  be marketed to tourism markets to complement the usual repertoire of wild animals , mountains, beaches and the like.

‘’Culture has for long been misunderstood by many people a showcase of people’s  backwardeness, primitivity and other negative aspects,’’ says Bomas of Kenya General Manager Quresh Ahmed . But this is far from the case and a complete fallacy, says the General Manager of Bomas of Kenya one of the Kenya’s leading cultural centre which is based in Nairobi. Culture ,, he says, is about a people’ s way of life, their heritage and language ,pride and uniqueness as a people . Everyone , he says, has  a cultural heritage that shapes their view of life and their individual identity.

To create awareness about the important of culture , as an important  tourism attraction and peoples identity . Bomas of Kenya and the Ministry of Tourism  started the Community Cultural Festival in 2006. That year a festival for the Turkana Community was held at the banks of Lake Turkana. It was meant, like all the others that followed, to help Kenyans, the world and the Turkana themselves  who they were , where they were coming from, their lifestyle and other social aspects of  that community.

‘’It was a great beginning and success and those involved now understood the  Turkana better, says Bwire Ojiambo, Bomas Production Manager.

The following year Mijikenda cultural festival was held in Mombasa and a Meru Cultural Festival was held at Kinooru Stadium, in Meru Town. After that, there were some hiccups and the event became dormant, until this year when it was revived with a Samburu and Ilchamus Cultural Festival at the Bomas of Kenya two weeks ago.

The organizers say that there is no going back this time until all cultural festivals are held for all Kenyan Communities.

During the festivals, the participants showcase their cultural dances, foods, cultural rites, artfacts, musical instruments, dress and other things that define who are . In the Samburu festival fir example, all these were showcased, and the pupils marveled, asked and were answered on all cultural aspects of the Samburu..

The events are also used to identify cultural ambassadors , who promote their cultures ambassadors in many forums both local and abroad. One such ambassadors is  Senan Kanana, 22 years old who has been a Meru Cultural ambassadors in many forums including the International tourism bourse in Berlin, Germany .’’I have finished  my bachelors of commerce degree in Marketing, as I look for a job, I am currently involving in organizing charity events to promote peace and unity and education through my foundation called Speaking for Good Foundation’’ she said.

Another ambassador, Jecinta Engolan of the Turkana has immersed herself in cultural affairs and has started a Turkana dress and artifact shop in Lodwar. She attends the shop when she is not travelling to preach the cultural gospel. Another ambassador is Tony Bahati of the Mijikenda in the Coast.

The next festival will feature the Teso people and will be held in  Bomas of Kenya, followed by Somali and Kalenjin.

Participants are chosen by organizers at the grassroots level, with practicing ones being guven priority. It is a tall order to organize successful events for all Kenyan communities, and it will be interesting to see how the organizers will measure the impact of their initiative.