Tuesday, January 17, 2023
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Africa’s yearning for transformative social reengineering

The pursuit of social reengineering, which is connected to the continent’s socioeconomic and political development, has become a topic of contention. The discussion also looks at the relationship between African politics, leadership, governance, and development in order to better understand the problems African countries face because of different levels of social crisis and their effects.

It is helpful to look at these issues from different points of view and to figure out how politics, the economy, and government worked during the postcolonial era.

A society is not a static phenomenon in any manner; rather, it is organic and dynamic in nature, and it is continually open to new changes. The ability of a group of persons to interact with one another in accordance with a set of norms, standards, and normative principles that they all share is what defines a collection of humans as a society.

Every society is diverse because it practices its own culture in distinct ways. People adhere to a distinct set of cultural norms and beliefs around the world, not just in Africa.

Despite the fact that African countries have varied cultural and societal standards, the continent has numerous similarities. Cultures, for example, can be classified according to their major economic activity, such as “hunting and gathering,” “pastoral,” “horticultural,” “agricultural,” “fishing and seafaring,” “industrial,” and so on.

However, many undesirable behaviors are on the rise in African civilization as a result of societal collapse, poverty, and unemployment.

The essential question is: what steps can we take to prevent Africa’s social collapse and subsequent crisis? The deterioration of institutions, the rise in crime and violence, the loss of cultural identity, and the complexity of the socioeconomic system are all examples of society breaking down.

As concerned citizens, we still have a big issue on our hands, and we must act quickly before the situation unravels before our eyes.

Economic stagnation, political upheaval, an increase in unemployment, a lack of an adequate quality of living, criminality, religious extremism, and widespread despondency are all present.

In this regard, two main weaknesses must be assessed: the first is the leadership’s competence, and the second is the misappropriation of national resources.

Leadership competency is linked to the ability to rule and propel society forward. In other words, when society’s leaders lack the required abilities and moral rectitude to serve in the highest positions of leadership, society pays a tremendous price on many fronts.

The second is theft of wealth, clientelism, and corruption, all of which have severely impacted African governments and frightened society.

In short, if national project funding is misused or improperly planned, someone will be homeless, the road will be in disrepair, medical facilities will run out of supplies, and schools will be unable to function.

Where did we go wrong as humans, and particularly as Africans? Why can’t we harness and benefit from our continent’s abundant natural riches, hardworking people, welcoming environment, and rich cultural traditions? How did we get to the bottom of global society?

Who is responsible for our society’s socioeconomic failure and misery? What should be done to break free from these never-ending cycles? When is the best moment to consider these social and cultural issues?

I pose these questions because, with a few significant exceptions, the situations of most African countries are relatively comparable.

And the answers to these questions will help us make a succinct diagnosis of the education and governance systems. The discrepancy between Africa’s resources and its level of poverty begs the question: are resources a curse?

It’s what I call “the myth of the mineral resource,” and it’s why a natural resource without suitable institutions and marketplaces within Africa makes no sense. African governments have no say over how their mineral products are manufactured or sold. They are instead at the mercy of the global market.

As an alternative, imagine that African countries had a natural resource export sector that provided great revenues for the government while simultaneously causing economic stagnation and political instability. How does one explain a situation in which Africa wants a different method to change this reality?

It’s a word used to describe the negative economic consequences of mining nonrenewable resources like petroleum and minerals. The paradoxical relationship between economic growth and the availability of natural resources is known as the resource curse.

How can Africans adjust their thinking to account for these realities?

In Africa, the discussion regarding afrocentric social reengineering and the transformation of local entrepreneurialism has not yet begun. Fragments of evidence illustrate the deficiency in this regard.

Social engineering must incorporate both bottom-up and top-down governance strategies for influencing social entrepreneurs’ attitudes and behaviors. Public, private, and non-profit organizations all have a role to play in shaping public opinion and behavior so that society’s goals can be met.

The term and concept of “societal reengineering” have been taken up for usage; in this context, it refers to the operational concepts of reconstructing, rejuvenating, and energizing. In domains such as education and development, it is imperative to implement benign efforts and scenarios based on better individual performance.

Consequently, the ultimate objective is to achieve a fundamental, systemic change in society that is consistent with a local and genuine philosophy. Some African nations are home to “prestigious” educational institutions, while others provide formal tertiary education.

Each of these universities annually produces a substantial number of graduates with proficiency in a variety of subjects. Clearly, this raises the question of how these educational institutions have affected society and responded to urgent social issues.

Also, as a society, we must discuss essentials such as what knowledge is and how it varies from qualification and certification. Certainly, one may argue that the objective of education is not to solve current societal problems but rather to gain philosophical insight and effect change over time.

Can we still assert that postcolonial Africa sees “light at the end of the tunnel” despite this history? A Chinese proverb by Wang Yangming gave me insight and summed up the situation in a single phrase: “To know and not act is not to know.”

Education for Africa is a one-way ticket out of the existing situation and toward reform and progress. Africa does, however, need a better education that will help it grow and develop.

It will be required to transition from an agricultural to an industrial and service economy, and the educational system should be designed accordingly. Opportunities and challenges in education over the coming decades will have a significant impact on the continent’s economic and political future.

Africa’s efforts to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution and related ICT projects are contingent on the continent’s education sector. There have been multiple waves of innovation in ICT over a relatively brief period of time, and the majority of African nations have not yet been able to keep up with or reap the benefits of this rapid development.

In this age of knowledge, leaders do not need to know more about how ICTs are utilized in education as much as they need to demonstrate how they intend to integrate and alter the socioeconomic development of African nations.

Africa should progressively engage in a socioeconomic and political transformation that enables citizens to take control of their destinies through a functional shift in African state architecture and the establishment of a people-centered unity.

As a starting point for reforming institutional systems, the well-being of regular people must be put first. This can be done by making sure the African economy is stable so that social and cultural progress can be made. For the institutional transformation to be valid, something local that belongs to the people must be created, and a clear and efficient system of representation and mandate must be established.

In the absence of societal reengineering, poverty, unemployment, criminal activity, and other social problems will prevail.

Social engineering is both a bottom-up and a top-down technique that influences particular attitudes and social entrepreneurship on several levels. Specifically, the responsibility is typically carried out by governments, but it can also be fulfilled by the media, universities, or private organizations in order to instill desirable characteristics in a target population.

In order to reestablish African social and cultural healing systems, social reengineering is a crucial element. It is of the utmost importance to prevent and reduce homelessness, maintain basic infrastructure, repair potholes, stock medical facilities, and provide educational institutions with the resources they need to operate effectively.

In order to solve Africa’s most intractable challenges, new systemic techniques are required; here is where “transformational social reengineering” comes in. For social reengineering to have a transformational effect on the socioeconomic landscape of value generation, technology and social entrepreneurship are needed.

(Seife Tadelle Kidane (PhD) is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Pan African Thought and Conversation (IPATC); Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Johannesburg.)

Contributed by Seife Tadelle Kidane (PhD

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