Friday, February 11, 2005

What can Africa learn from America

Club Afrika Blog : Lessons for African Governments
Above is an opinion piece by Jerry Okungu, on Club Afrika blog, reflecting on the lessons African government can draw from the rcent nomination process for Cabinet members here in the United States. It was a very insightful article, and my comment to it was follows:
I do not know how much I agree with what you said about Condi Rice, but I will definitely give you that there is a higher level of transparency, decorum, and a sense of purpose in he US government. Just how transparent they are might be in question sometimes, but it is definitely more open and principled than in DRCongo, or Rwanda, or CAR, or Cameroon. For having had the chance to attend Government meetings in my country (DRC), I know that the decorum shown after the fact (Press Conferences) are generally highly fictional, as they do not match what actually goes on indoors.

And that is problematic in an environment supposedly in charge of running the country. The levels of carelessness, self-absorption and egoticism in many of our leadership circles is quite appaling. So we do need to learn a sense of purpose in government.

But I take this chance to say that we must not make the mistake the US made of removing civics fron the education system. Because as much as there is decorum at the top, as much the general US population - outside of wartime - could care less about those values of purpose, decorum, and stately work, because the disconnect betwen Washington DC and the people is almost "taught" at school!!! We cannot, in Africa, afford that mistake. Being still in the formative stages of our countries, we must ensure that the next generations (my own, and the ones after mine) have a sense of duty, honor, and country. And I sharply disagree with the militaristic types who want to say that this can only be achieved by conscription: that just shows a lack of imagination.

So we the people have to learn duty, a more formal respect of country, continent and World. Our governments have to learn transparency, purpose, decorum, and the meaning of the word "civil SERVANT" - because right now what they often act like seems to be a bit more like "civil SERGEANT"! Finally, the US people can learn from us our oh! so African ability to overcome strife without losing our basic pinciples and values of charity, social networking, family.

Thank you for your insight.
Ali Mamina
The Salon of News and Thought

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