Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Developmental Road to Where?

Jacqueline Mgumia's Response to a Debate on the Economist's Article on 'A Road to Somewhere: What do Africans need most - aid or infrastructure?''

Interesting discussion
on Africa’s Development!

Halimat is right proclaiming Africa development need to be revisited, not only within the shared history of colonialism but also within the present realities of its existence. As much as the conjunction of shared memories defines us, the different experiences of colonialism set different paths, realities and experiences to countries and groups with respective to genders, classes, races, sexualities etc.

Of course, the importance of history cannot be diluted; however, spending amount of time proving how we were exploited and continue to be exploited is a long term project, which relies both on present and assumed future. This calls us not only to understand our future within existing framework of exploitation or underdevelopment, but also to think beyond and try out different works of unselfish minds. As I write, I wonder if we can jot down thinkers/individuals who have proposed or shown or lived a desired path we can look up for change? Is there a noble proposition to disentangleTanzania growth?

A significant question on development lies on capacities of our minds to focus on different development desires of different parts of our societies before our nation or continent. Not of course on comparative bases of existing modes of development or the assumed road maps. A good start could be not only to critique our position in development project, but also to start acknowledging part of our realities, which include but not limited to negative representation of Africa; capitalism and its agencies, leadership crises, mass with lack of hope, and scholars who go astray. Also, it is important to acknowledge people or agencies of social change, to confirm that our lives are not static as assumed.

I think a healthy discussion should focus on different levels of involvement of the development project, and its agencies of development within communities. To start the majority of Tanzanians need to believe on their labour, and hope for a better future. We need to believe into something better for change. Then, there come my favourite part which involves capacity to dream about electricity and water taps in grass huts, cows walking on tarmac roads, a farmer who believe on benefit of labour, town dwellers and professional who believe on work ethics. How does it start? I am really not sure! Or the answer could be, as the author(s) of the article claimed, it requires a total different “logistic”! That is the start!

What we know, the question on how to engineer Africa's development is a classic question and its crises have been on attempts to provide uniform answers. The old stories go – structural adjustments, liberalization, moralization etc. Sitting here at my table, I can’t be sure as Mabala or the author(s) of the article, either its infrastructure or health. I can only think local conditions should set relevant priorities. However, Mabala raise an interesting point of accessibility and connectivity – not only on sharing resources but it helps to get society connected.


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