Africa Gathering - Thoughts
As with the previous two Africa Gathering’s I have attended, there was a common theme running through. Don’t spoon feed Africa, don’t patronize Africa, leave your ego behind so you can partner with communities to find ways to co-create solutions to their objectives. Julia has written a rather good summery of the event. You should read it here
Technology was the focus, but the emphasis was definitely on the people aspect of technology, and the recognition that technology is just one element within a much larger picture.
Africa is asserting itself. It is about time and it is right. It is becoming a pervasive message. So pervasive that it is having the effect of creating some uncertainty among a group of people who are dedicated to the sustainable development in Africa and who not only have valuable skills, thoughts and approaches to Africa, but also an amazing amount of genuine good will towards the continent.
I had a few conversations where Non African people, who clearly had an interest in working in development, for the right reasons, (attending Africa gathering in itself puts them in the right context) where questioning their goals and wondering if they should indeed bother as Africa clearly wanted to go it alone.
Yet how else are we to get people to listen? How else are we to get the message across? People love controversy and they love to label. We all do it; it is the way we are structured. Shifting the debate from “Africa is poor, I have a photo to prove it, the West is not, therefore we need to show Africa how to not be poor,” to “Hey, don’t discount me, I have a valuable contribution to make” has to be a good thing.
The crucial element here is either getting drowned out or lost within the momentum of the message. Partnerships. It is about partnerships. This brings with it notions of respect, trust, understanding and equality. Effective partnerships are built upon a multidirectional knowledge transfer and mutual participation. A partnerships objectives are shared objectives.
Thank you to all the speakers from this year’s event. I truly learned much. It is wonderful to be caught up in the collective conscious, movement and vision of an empowered Africa.