There is no doubt that, for those who live in urban areas, development for them would mean the building of malls and skyscrapers. It would mean tarred roads, housing and state of the art facilities. It would also mean that, in this process, more job opportunities will emerge and therefore not only reduce the unemployment numbers but also contribute to the national economic growth.
For decades, that has been the narrative. For long, this has been the biggest part of almost every federal official’s speech on every occasion. With it comes well-framed terminologies that in the end would be nothing but inspirational speeches to a layman. Words of hope have become a monologue that leaves everything else to nothing but imagination.
Amid all these, it seems, not one person has once stood up to ask the one question. This one question does not have to be directed to anyone else than the self, and rhetorically for that matter.
The question is, besides all that talk about that mentioned development, what exactly does it mean to one as an individual. This is because so often when it comes to subjects such as development, they are always addressed in general, ambiguous, and vague terms. It is not so clearly dissected and gradually laid from macro to micro or from plural to singular.
That is probably because it is easier to address it that way and hide behind the generalization than being more particular. It is nothing more than scratching the surface in avoidance of awakening the sleeping masses or opening a pandora’s box.
Now all that would mean so much to a city dweller and a student of economics, but what would it mean to a villager? How can development be narrowed down to have an impact on their livelihood?
How can one proudly celebrate, for example, independence with real and tangible evidence of the different development has brought to them? Would it really be that easy?
The answer to these questions will with no doubt point to one thing, and one thing only. It points to the fact that development, by definition, needs a serious review. This may even mean scrapping the premise from which it has been adopted and redefine it enough to narrow it down to the grassroots. It would also be worth to ask as to who the current concept of development is truly benefiting and who is getting the crumbs. This would also include reimagining what, for example a mall, benefits the resident of Ohamuyala.
True development, for a villager, would be emancipation, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency. It would mean empowerment through not only access to basic services but also through knowledge and skills for self-sustenance. It would mean the ability to be able to have food security not only for survival but even for economic purposes. There is no doubt that this development eventually opens portals of innovation and creativity as one no longer must worry about their daily survival. It will help one realize not only their potential but also the unfolding experience of life that lies ahead of them.
The time has come for us to reflect and investigate some of the concepts that were mostly borrowed from the structures of foreign education and economic systems. The time has also come for the Africanization of development and discontinuation of a copy and paste mentality – that is greatly subliminally propagated through well-rehearsed representation through images on our television screens. Now is also the time of a realization of a need for development that is inherent through education systems that produce inventors and job-creators but not mere job seekers.
By Karlos TheGreat
Uncommon Sense is published every Friday in the New Era newspaper with contributions from Karlos Naimwhaka.