Africa. What is the real story?
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When deciding what my first blog should be about, I had a bit of a dilemma choosing the side of focus for my post. I had the option of amplifying the negatives of my continent or try to paint a different image of what Kenya and Africa in general is all about. Every young African who is concerned about development is at some point faced with a similar puzzle; why are we always questioning what the African story should be about? And most importantly; who should be telling this African narrative?
The 2013 African Union summit held to celebrate the 50th anniversary since its establishment, the African heads of state projected renewed optimism for the future of the continent. Conference discussions and debates were largely focused on successful African narratives with sharp focus on the “African Renaissance”. The positive aura that our leaders were exhuming injected a fresh sense of Pan-Africanism and positive energy in the continent. It focused on the positives of the continent, its potential as an investment hub, the discovery of oil wells in East Africa, the massive resource base and the increasing number of citizens’ crossing over to the middle income class.
However, this meeting occurred in the wake of various development challenges in the continent. Challenges were current such as the Arab uprising responsible for turmoil in the likes of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, internal conflicts in Central African Republic, Congo and Chad as well as significant democracy challenges in Zimbabwe and Uganda. It was also around this time that several sub-Saharan countries were coming out of a serious food shortage.
This left me questioning whether a positive mindset would benefit the continent at all. It is very difficult to be a young African and pretend that the challenges we are facing do not outweigh the positives. Some of us have found solace in the untapped potential of the continent and chose to overlook the difficulties. Some would rather focus on the challenges and dedicate their energy towards finding solutions. I have personally chosen to understand the existing challenges vis a vis opportunities and explore options of exploiting the latter to manage the difficulties. But this does not mean that our narrative should be written in one particular way.
In the end, I realized that how you write the African story will be determined by what you choose to focus on!