As Africa forges ahead, common challenges still a milestone

The University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), recently held the 11th Mwalimu Nyerere Intellectual Festival, with a call from African leaders and scholars to regional states to form a strong African unity that will help the states collectively solve challenges that still hold regional development.

The three-day festival that was held under Mwalimu Nyerere Chair was officiated over by Former President Dr Jakaya Kikwete, who said that most African countries still face many challenges, including poverty and lack of good governance.

Dr Kikwete said most of the African countries have failed to wage a successful war against poverty, because there are still many poor countries and too many poor people.

“Sadly, 27 out of the 30 poorest countries in the world are in Africa, and when one looks at the [United Nations], Human Development Report, throughout all indicators, most African countries, if not all, score the lowest,” he said.

He named good governance as one of the issues that most African countries are grappling with, stressing the need for unity among the countries to help solve the challenges for a better Africa.

With the theme ‘Pan- Africanism and the Quest for Unity, Democratisation and Development: The State, Markets and Knowledge Society.’ Dr Kikwete said that though some significant strides have been made in good governance compared to the past decades.

There are still challenges that should be tackled to enable the states acquire full governance. He defined good governance specifically to mean democratic development, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and the fight against corruption.

“However, the progress is still very fragile, the interesting thing is that Africa never ceases to surprise with reversals.”

Yet, the former head of state remains optimistic in the area of unity, saying that there has been robust cooperation among the African states, particularly on economic and diplomatic fronts, both at the bilateral and regional level.

“There are vibrant regional economic groupings which are leading the way,” he said.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam, Professor, William Anangisye said that unity is vital among African States towards solving the many challenges facing the continent using its own resources.

“The resources, the critical element and the people, put Africa on a potential path for unimpeded development.

Yet, the resource availability and the level of economic and social development of Africa are unmatched,” he said, noting that it is an irrefutable fact that Africa has unparalleled amount of natural resources, precious and strategic minerals, forests, wildlife, oceanic resources and so much more.

Africa is the second largest continent and the second most populous with an estimated 1.2 billion people, according to 2016 estimates. Professor Anangisye said that many countries are still tormented by internal conflicts that have left many dead or as refugees.

“It is for this reason that the organizers of the Eleventh Mwalimu Nyerere Intellectual Festival deserve a special acclaim for coming up with the theme: “Pan-Africanism and the Quest for Unity, Democratization and Development: The State, Markets and Knowledge Society.” he said.

He called for the states to follow the late Mwalimu Nyerere who was himself a firm supporter of Pan- Africanism by quoting his words he made while he was alive towards the development of the African Continent.

“Our Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, who was himself a firm supporter of Pan- Africanism, once made the following remarks that I think echo this theme: “The balkanization of Africa is a source of weakness to our continent.

Only with unity can we be sure that Africa really governs Africa. We must use the African national states as an instrument for the reunification of Africa, and not allow our enemies to use them as tools for dividing Africa…On each occasion that we attack each other, those who wish to control us for their own purposes jump for joy….”.

The Vice-Chancellor told the scholars to use the theme to provoke their intellect and generate momentous debates for African development.

On the other hand, the Executive Director of HakiElimu, Dr John M.P. Kalage, said Mwalimu Nyerere believed that education should be the key factors to enable the people of Africa to explore their environment to enable them cope with the challenges the continent faces.

“According to Mwalimu Nyerere, education should enable the learner to explore his /her environment and enable him/her to cope with the challenges of today.

Reflecting on this statement, we need to ask ourselves, is our education preparing learners for this?” he noted.

Dr Kalenga said that there is an increasing demand for serious reflection on the state of education today and the kind of education and the delivery systems that are required to realize a vibrant and sustainable industrial economy that Tanzania and other countries aspire to be by the year 2025.

In the case of Tanzania, Dr Kalenga said, “There is rising overt and sometimes not so overt discontent with the overall performance of formal education at all levels, as many challenges continue to face our education system.”

He said, adding that the event (Mwalimu Nyerere Intellectual Festival 2019) comes at the right time to help scholars reflect on African challenges and share ideas on how to address them.

Speaking at the Festival, scholars from various fields who included distinguished entrepreneurs condemned the inseparable link between governance and market forces in the industrialisation processes.

A Ugandan academic and a former research fellow at the Cambridge-Africa Partnership for Research Excellence (CAPREx), Dr Suzan Kavuma, said that African governments need to indulge in self-reflection to “help them realise their potentials and disadvantages – and accordingly shape their actions in maximizing the former while minimizing the latter”.

The Annual Mwalimu Nyerere Intellectual Festival has been one of the most exciting and intellectually and socially rewarding occasions for Africa on self-realization, a place for serious reflections on the past and future of Africa’s development.

“Over the years, we have explored this avenue, not only out of intellectual curiosity on our circumstances as a people, but more profoundly in search for a better destiny for humanity, especially in Africa,” says Professor Anangisye.

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