By Moitse Kemelo Moatshe
You have probably come across this term whilst scrolling through your news feed on social media. This term also features a lot in the discourses of Africans, young and old, in the continent and in the diaspora and is slowly is gaining popularity.
African Renaissance seeks to answer these two popular questions: How do we reclaim and solidify our African identity as well as improve and develop different sectors of the continent to create African prosperity? And: How do we revive and embrace diverse African cultures and in the process use them to advance the continent and change its narrative? In this article, I will be going in depth to find out what this means for us today.
It goes without saying that the narrative that has often been associated with Africa (especially by the western world) has been one of doom and gloom. It’s always about the wars, the poverty, the alarming illiteracy rates, the economic corruption and leaders who fail to be accountable to their citizens.
When Cheikh Anta Diop first coined and pioneered the concept of “African Renaissance”, he addressed the fact that Africa would need to revive its languages and cultures, develop its political structures and ideologies as well as reach economic independence in order to attain prosperity. It is the concept of “African Renaissance” that looks at the potential of the continent and declares that with the right mindset, vision and outlook, Africa can and will revitalize its structures and systems in order to create opportunity for all, and positively change her narrative.
Former President of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, later on popularized this concept, reiterating the fact that Africa must reach a point of restoration i.e. restoring our economic freedom and independence, as well as restoring our identities in order to build foundations for sustainable growth and success.
The underlying question in all of this is: how far have we already come as a continent as far as reaching the African Renaissance is concerned? How far are we in terms of attaining economic independence/freedom, reviving our cultures and languages and developing our political structures?
Even though countries in the continent have gained independence, Africa is still going through a period of neo-colonialism. A huge part of our culture, economy and political atmospheres are still under the influence of the western world.
Currently as it stands, Africa is still receiving financial aid/assistance from the western world. It is reported that in 2017, $45 billion of $75 billion allocated for the International Development Association was geared towards financing more than half of Sub-Saharan African countries. This is an indication that as a continent, we still haven’t reached financial self-sufficiency and freedom, despite being the richest continent in terms of natural and mineral resources.
Southern and East Africa still stand as the regions with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world with an estimated number of 19.4 million people (as of 2016) living with HIV/AIDS in these two regions combined.
Close to 37 languages in the continent are close to extinction, and about 300 remain endangered. We can see from this that the preservation and advancement of our languages and cultures is something that the continent is still struggling with.
So, in many more ways than one, one could argue that perhaps we have not yet reached African Renaissance and that there are still persisting problems in the continent. To reach Diop and Mbeki’s vision of the restoration and renewal of Africa, we, the African youth, need to be taking up leadership roles and being in the forefront of driving and initiating change across all areas and sectors of the continent. These sectors being the judicial and policy-making sector, financial/economical sector, as well as the creative arts, languages and cultural sectors.
We need people from diverse backgrounds who are willing to synergize ideas, and come up with the best possible solutions to solve African problems from an Afro-centric point of view. We need to build African unity and have one voice, that way the continent can have much more power and influence in the international arena.
At ALAMAU, we realize and recognize the power in bringing young people together to be a part of the restoration of the continent. We acknowledge the fact that the youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today, we are in our own way contributing to the renaissance of Africa through engaging young people in conversations affecting the continent.
The question that still remains is:
How and what will you contribute to the revival of the continent?
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1. “World Bank Group Announces Record $57 Billion for Sub-Saharan Africa” (World Bank, March 2017)
“African Region to Receive $45 Billion in Development Aid” (Lisa Schlein, VOA News, March 2017)
2. “GLOBAL HIV AND AIDS STATISTICS” (Avert, August 2017)
3.“LOSS OF LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY IN AFRICA” (MAARTEN MOUS Leiden University)