The urgency of AU reforms may distract African leaders from recognizing the contribution of African people themselves. Physical and aerial borders may be open, but the question of who will take advantage of them remains unanswered. The question of who will be the private sector remains unanswered. Of course there are some of us who are eager to hop on a plane from the south to the north and the east to the west, but an overwhelming majority of Africans might not even understand what integration means, let alone buy themselves a $300 ticket.
I suggest we invest heavily in our education systems. For Rwanda, it is obvious that our education system does not really produce innovative thinkers who are ready to solve our problems. One cannot argue with the fact that our massive unemployment is due to a disproportionately large number of college graduates who sit down looking for jobs for years instead of creating opportunities through entrepreneurship. They do not even get tired and give up and do something like cultivating their inherited land for commercial purpose! The private sector is mostly driven by foreign investors and companies, majority of them being exploitative Chinese, and a few privileged nationals who had a chance to get a Western education or were exposed to modern thinking in some ways.
It is possible that we may achieve “prosperity.” We may claim our place in the world, but I shiver down my spine of who “we” is or how long it will take. I do not want to grow old in a continent that shows “prosperity” on the outside while inside majority of people are homeless or cannot afford a daily bread. We must provide opportunities to all if we want a truly prosperous future Africa before it is too late. We may not have money to hand out or to build luxury houses for everyone of our people –even if we did, that’s the most expensive and unsustainable way, but we can help them get those things and more themselves. True education is what we need. I fail to think a better way beyond enlightening people’s mind. We need an education system that will impart knowledge in a form of imagination. It must preserve “the connection of knowledge and the zest of life” as Whitehead puts it. It must be an education that inspires exploration and discovery, where academic material is seen in connection to surrounding society and vice-versa.
That education system must be available to all Rwandans. There is no amount of money that is too much for such a noble investment. We have ignored it for years, and perhaps we will continue to. But for the sake of the future we dream of and we deserve, we must act sooner rather than later. Imagine a place where all citizens truly understand the problems they are facing and have knowledge they know to exercise to solve them. Development would be must faster and collective. Hard-won prosperity would be enjoyed by all and the ultimate goal would be realized.
For those who remind me of the practical skills being developed through WDA, I will ask you to look around and tell me who is leading the private sector. Look around and tell me that we can condemn to poverty millions of Rwandans who cannot access WDA. Besides, WDA in itself stands for Workforce Development Authority. Developing workforce without work, alas! We need problem-solvers, thinkers, men not electricians and tailors. We may need electricians but the Roman Empire was not built by just masons; it was built by thinkers and then masons-turned thinkers.
A reaction to a NewTimes article: “VIDEO: Kagame calls for more private sector involvement in African Union affairs.”