The Dilemma of Development

Published on 9th August 2005

\"As development becomes imperative, as we approach the turn of the century, we are faced with the necessity of giving the word a new meaning. Reflecting on `development’ is thus the most important intellectual challenge in the coming years,” Boutros Ghali once opined. The necessity for Africans to conceive development differently than the West is a bold initiative. Infallibly, the Western school defines development in material and materialistic terms: either in terms of the quantity of calories taken by the inhabitants of the country, the indisputable GNP, or national revenue. The model of the comparative parallel is necessarily Western, rich and opulent. Now why would a few ‘elite’ characters sitting in opulent surroundings, multi-storied complexes coin phrases whose legitimacy and contextual origin beg questions and leave us with more disillusions than solutions? Again where is the human side of us? The characters at the UNDP who want to ‘weigh’ those Africans, must have had a motive. And that motive begs credibility. These
acronyms HDI (Human Development Index), IPC (Income Per Capita), CM (Child Mortality) produce statistics. Very quickly you begin to imagine that you’re dealing with numbers, rather than human beings. Your focus is shifted to things, rather than people.

Development is used in the sense of reinforcing the permanent exploitation of man by man at the level of the individual, family, national, international, cultural, spiritual: \"ethnic racial and cultural minorities,\" \"economic minorities,\" \"human minorities,\" which presupposes a majority that dominates the system - the rich countries and poor countries. PICO della MIRANDOLA (1463-1494) a learned and a humanist has this image on modern development: \"If you see a man crawling on the floor on his stomach, it is not a man you have before your eyes, but a mouth.\" The \"stomach\" pushes one towards gregarious consumption of everything in the name of modernity. \"Crawling on the floor\" signifies collective abandoning of serious thinking, and clichés, stereotypes, and miming becomes the new mode of thinking. Despite his appearance man becomes a simple piece of wood, a mouth (in Latin Frutex), almost \"an undergrowth,\" \"brushwood.\"

Today the essence of Western development is to develop the empire of the stomach at the detriment of the empire of the human dignity. Africans cannot claim not to know since Professor Joseph KI-ZERBO, historian and thinker, defined development as “a passage from oneself to a superior level.\" This is without doubt the best definition of development outside the Western school. Any development is a passage: hence the various internal, external, endogenous and exogenous national and international difficulties. It is a difficult but necessary passage in order to be, to live, and to enjoy all human faculties, to blossom fully at psychological, moral, intellectual and spiritual level, to breath nature\'s air, and to attain a superior level of humanity, much above the state of nature. One recalls the expression of the philosopher and mathematician, Blaise PASCALE (1623-1662), that development should hoist man above the state of nature.

Development covers economic, social, cultural and other aspects of life in the society. The overall aim is to raise the standard of living and the quality of life ensuing to a greater majority of the community. People must be the subject of development in terms of improved health, comfort and understanding. The characteristics of the phenomenon should be seen in the greater freedom acting upon informed judgements to eliminate hunger, disease and poverty. The main objective of economic development is to raise the
standard of living and the general well being of the people in the economy. The process of economic development proceeds through economic growth in total per capita income of developing countries accompanied by a fundamental change in their economic structures; increased industrialization, exports, urban shifts in population (labor), diminishing reliance on aid, greater democratization of the political system, lessening dependence on imports and the building of a capacity to generate growth themselves. Human development is the end - economic growth is a means (UNDP-1996).

The purpose of growth is to enrich the people as seen in the parameters of: Life expectancy at birth, availability of health services, safe drinking water, daily calorie supply per capita,
adult literacy rates and infant mortality rates among others. The concept of development has been dynamic and words like sustained development have come, alternative development similarly has been used. Sustainable development, the meeting of the needs of the present generation without impairing the needs of the future generation to meet their would be needs. It attempts to strike a balance between the demands of economic development and the need to protect. It may be clear that the moment we begin to compare ourselves with other countries the idea of inferiority
and superiority comes in. In this case even those who consider themselves to be rich, for example in material wealth, may be poor in terms of love, peace of mind and happiness in themselves. Since most of these concepts like development, democracy, education, human rights, poverty, etc definitions originate from the so-called western way of thinking. In most cases the way things are defined cause a lot of confusion in the minds of people. If this is the case then the biggest problem lies with the definitions themselves, which lack rationality and recognition of human experiences. Then from here people begin to panic and see themselves as very backward, and start hating and cursing themselves as to why even they were born. In the whole scenario we should be much more concerned with how that lack of opportunities and other things came about, and then that should be our major area of concern. How do we bring justice to our communities?

Africa which is politically fragmented, is an easy prey; Africa must worry about a new slavery in future. The Federal State of Africa is a Pan African prospect that is vital to realize in the medium term, because strength lies in union. We live in a world where might dominates while the weak is ignored or eliminated. Africa should neither be at the center nor at the margin, or the threshold, or the periphery of the world: prohibited in any place. The civil wars in West Africa and Central Africa should be behind us. A new
African agenda should be in front of us so that weakness and balkanization will never again hold the continent as hostage. With a visionary intelligence, President Kwame Nkrumah rightfully declared: Africa Must Unite. Patrice Emery Lumumba assassinated at the age of 36, echoed: The day approaches when Africa will write its own history.

The African regeneration, long and ever since desired, celebrated by African poets, musicians and artists in the continent and the diaspora is the only issue. All great human adventures regularly begin with a sacred chant. A return which is a jump, a wakeup, conscience, in short a Renaissance, so that the past and the present of the mother land is recognized as a field to till, cultivate and weed for the future generation. The present African generation cannot bequest on the future generation a \"piece of partnership,” failed integration, illusory miracle and successes, dwarf thoughts, ephemeral victories and glories. We will lose nothing in wanting our own Legend of centuries for the days to come. Now I can hear you asking what my definition of development would be. Sorry to disappoint you friend, I will not legitimize it by defining it! Because having accepted that it is a foreign phrase used by some person nowhere near my locality, why then would I want to expend my mental energies ‘defining’ words and phrases that have been thrust upon me and my people? Many writers in the ‘alternative media’ have continually expressed the need for us to evolve and construct words and phrases ‘closer home’ words and phrases that are contextually familiar to us. As long as poverty, democracy and development among others are defined for us, argues  chopenhauer, we shall always see ourselves as lacking something, even if we have plenty of other things in our communities which contribute to our happiness and peaceful environment. In the context of the idea of wanting to catch up blindly with the other people in everything in our lives, we will end up by loosing our aspirations and happiness. \"Thus, the task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everybody
sees.\"







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