FOR all its resources, both natural and human, Africa has failed to live up to its true potential. Many reasons have been given but perhaps only one can truly explain the continent’s current state of affairs.
Throughout the expansion of the modern civilisation over the past 500 years, Africans have been involuntary subjects of systems designed and developed by other races. From the trans-Atlantic slave movement, through the colonial subjugation during the expansion of the Franco-British empires to the present day economic trade domination by the Chinese, Africa remains a place highly dependent on foreigners to provide solutions to any problems. This inability by Africa as a continent to find solutions without intervention from outside means it can never be the master of its own destiny.
Centuries of subjugation resulting in the erosion of institutes of self-determination has resulted in a population steeped in a mentality of receiving and making do with what has been received until someone brings a replacement. If a replacement is not forthcoming, the mentality switches into a mode which channels all available resources towards the repair of what has been received. The real cost of this mentality has been a continent with no motivation to invent, re-invent or improve anything. The old cliché that necessity is the mother of all inventions has thus managed to elude Africa because of this repair mentality.
That Africans possess tremendous resourcefulness when faced with some very complex adversities and hardships is beyond debate. Whether the hardships are political or economic, Africans have shown an ability to survive immediate and local problems through improvising and rearranging of old components into effective tools of subsistence, proving that creative thinking is abundant on the continent. Just the fact that there are Africans still walking the planet against the history of the continent is testimony enough of the race’s ability to survive.
However, Africa must look to move from a survival to developmental state, something that can only be achieved through a shift in the state of the mind. The solution lies in what Africans, when confronted with a problem, think about and how they think about it.
The quality of a solution to any problem is directly related to how the problem is perceived. The solutions to Africa’s problems or lack of reside in the whole continent coming to a realisation that its citizens must change what they think about the state of affairs and how they think about it. The intervention required is that of a total shift in mind-set. There needs to be a whole transformation in how Africa solves its issues. The shift involves movement towards a replacement mentality. A replacement mentality simply requires one to believe that when something breaks down, it is of substandard and needs to be replaced by an upgraded version. It requires one to believe that nothing around is perfect. That something always needs to be added to a component or process for better performance. A replacement mentality is total refusal to be satisfied by the status quo no matter how comfortable it feels. It is the removal of the arrival syndrome where one becomes comfortable in a situation forever.
It is this replacement mentality that will transform Africa as it will have zero tolerance to mediocrity. It will challenge and demand change for the better politically. It will improve the quality of the continent’s commercial transactions and boost industrial output. A shift from the repair to replacement mentality will encourage children to do better than their parents. The next generation will always be challenged to outdo the previous.