Wednesday, 4 December 2013
A few things to ponder about
Whilst I find Africans who seem to paint everything African bad as pretentious and annoying , I strongly believe that there are many things which can be improved on our dear continent.
Below I have listed some differences in ideologies between the American system and the African system.
1. Whenever there is a national discussion about any issue, I always hear Americans talk about how a policy is going to affect the next generation. Almost all the time, you hear them talking about how they can protect their grandchildren from a current problem. They always make sure they envision the effects of their actions today on generations to come.
From what I have experienced in my own country, even if the issue of how our actions will affect the future generation is raised, it is often a half hearted attempt to score a few political points. I always hear our leaders reciting the very popular slogan 'The youth are our future leaders' but I do not see them acting to that effect. Across various sectors such as health, education, youth empowerment, I really sont see much efforts from them. They( our leaders) with us the citizens, are only concerned about now, and always fail to critically analyze the impact of our decisions. That is why with every new government change, ongoing projects of the old government are abandoned.
2. Americans always learn from their mistakes and make changes to their system so that these same mistakes do not reoccur. One area this practice is very prevalent is the aviation industry. Whenever there is an accident, experts in the industry undergo a painstaking investigation to ascertain the cause. After the findings, recommendations are made to the stakeholders of interest to ensure that all is done to avert the same incident from occurring. This way, they make sure that future occurrences of accidents are minimalized.
I can only talk for my country in this issue because it is the only African country I have actually lived in. There have been so many incidents which keep recurring and nothing is being done to prevent it in the future. A very basic example I can use is related to the seasonal flooding we experience in Accra. It has been known that blockage of the drainage system is one of the main causes of flooding. The blockage is normally caused by the throwing of refuse into the drainage system. The authorities decided that occasionally, they were going to remove all the debris from the drains to enable free flow of liquid. This was an excellent idea except for one thing. For as long as I can remember, everytime the refuse is removed from the drains they are left right by the side of the drainage. Nobody collects them until they go right back to where they were taken from; the drains. Thus removing the work done is rendered as a 'cos 90' meaning it was ineffective job. In this case I would say we know what to do, but because there are no checks and balances to ensure it is done correctly, nobody cares. Why cant the authority that paid for the drains to be cleared go ahead and pay for the remove debris to be taken off the streets as soon as the drains are cleared? The science of the African way of doing things is indeed a complicated one.
3. The American society places a lot of value on hardwork, charity and individualism. Forget about what you see on TV about rappers singing about fast cars, money, girls, drugs etc. The average American does not dream to posses all those material things as portrayed on TV. Infact being so materialistic is seen as distasteful. They believe in the pursuit of happiness, and most times money is not on top of the list. They believe in working hard to get something you want, that is why most people start working whilst they are in high school. They are taught that nothing in life is free, and to get something you must work for it. They are also taught be themselves, and always go for what makes them happy. Before the economic crises, it wasn't uncommon to see people happy and satisfied with just working as a salesperson in a department store. Also I find that Americans love to help people less privileged than themselves. They love the feeling of impacting on the lives of others. Charity work is highly applauded here and the government even gives tax incentives to encourage charity works.
This is opposed to the get rich quickly mentality we have in our parts. No one judges how the wealth was acquired. No matter what, so far as you have the money, you are celebrated and respected. In fact, from what I know, in America you would surely be questioned when you get a large amount of money in a short period in America. All kinds of investigations would be run to ascertain the source of your new found wealth. I know some of our attitudinal problems are a direct result of decades of slavery and exploitation from the westerners, but we cannot continue to play the victim anymore. The world is moving on, and we should too.
4. Everybody in the society is treated equally. Okay maybe not so equally. America has got their fair share of racial problems but it is not as bad as the classism that exists in Africa. Over here, whether you are rich or poor, infirmed or healthy, you are assured that you would be given the same amount of respect as everyone else. No one is above the law, and recently, I heard of the story of a police officer who was given a speeding ticket by his fellow colleague. Apparently the other officer was late for his shift and was over speeding, and the fact that he was using an official police vehicle did not stop him from getting a ticket. The law protects the most vulnerable members of the community. Women, children and animals. It is a common joke among the African men that a dog in America has more rights than a man.
I can only summarize the case of Africa with this quote:
'You can judge a society by the way it treats its weakest members; children, elderly, handicapped and animals'
This was definitely a long post; thanks for reading to the end. What are you views on the issues raised above?