In this brand new year of 2022, we find ourselves at the crossroads of hope, opportunity and struggle, confronted with persistent global challenges like climate change, food insecurity, migration and not least, the ongoing COVID-19 global health crisis. The difficulty in addressing these challenges has underscored the deep fault lines that run through society. When Letta Mbulu sang “Not yet Uhuru” in 1996, just two years after South Africa’s democracy, amidst the euphoria of dismantling the Apartheid regime and the birth of a new rainbow nation, she boldly cried out about the persistent state of poverty black people were living in. In other words, despite the political victory achieved, black people had not yet achieved “uhuru”, which is the Swahili word for “freedom”. She inculcated the message that the struggle for black economic freedom must continue. Unfortunately, over 2 decades later, this is still the context within which we find ourselves today.
As Africans, we are grappling not only with the global challenges of today but with remnants of the struggles of our forefathers demonstrated by the difficulty to unify African nations, and to fully harness our cultural and intellectual resources. The question of African unity is central to our developmental ascent because of the understanding that we cannot thrive in isolation; this is the premise of ubuntu, an African philosophy from which our social and cultural expression has been derived for centuries. As clearly stated in the Profile of HiA, “Hosted in Africa is unapologetically Afrocentric and inspired by the communal philosophy of Ubuntu, a person is a person because of other persons, a force that binds the continent physically, spiritually, culturally and economically.” As Africans in the 21st century, now having to conjure up solutions to the challenges of our nation, the lessons of pan-Africanism from those who faced different battles before us remain ever relevant today – I refer to ideas and attitudes of Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Nana Yaa Asantewaa, Kwame Nkrumah, Marcus Garvey, Queen Nzinga and Steve Biko. Their ideas, if bequeathed to our people of today, can put us in good stead to face the struggles of our time.
Looking ahead, 2022 promises to be an important year for progress to be made in the area of African innovation. It marks the first year anniversary of the African Continental Free Trade Area and, going forward, its proposed protocols may offer a new dawn for a truly African IP and innovation agenda. In addition, this year, the World Intellectual Property Organization will celebrate World IP Day in April with its central theme as “IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future”. As Africa holds the largest youth population in the world, the young people of the continent are an important demographic. The extent to which we are able to invest in young minds this year and beyond, will determine whether they become a demographic dividend or a demographic burden. It is incumbent on us now to nurture a critical, curious, courageous and creative thinking mass of young people who will be able to innovate for the greater good of the continent.
Ultimately, there’s no telling how 2022 will go but what we do know is that the last two years have revealed a remarkable resilience in people across the world to face unprecedented adversity in a concerted manner. Africans in particular have shown great leadership in fighting for life-saving medicines for developing countries and are in a position to make a major imprint on the world by harnessing its rich cultural and intellectual capital going forward. As Africans our history is not one of a defeated people but that of a powerful people – with this in mind, let us proceed through 2022 with confidence and ammunition to make Africa one outstanding continent.
“Rise up you mighty race, for you can accomplish what you will.” – Marcus GarveyRecommend0 recommendationsPublished in