Confucius, Chinese philosopher, 6th century BC.
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana, Spanish philosopher, 1863-1952.
In the 1960s, Africa's first era of hope, ‘the white man’s civilisation was on trial.’ People thought at the time that ‘the fate of us all is bound up in Africa.’ It was a brown economic development model, the trial ended in disaster and Africa lost at least a decade. In the 1990’s ‘second liberation’ new trials began based on African civilisations and sustainability. Twenty years later Africa is the new growth engine. Today globalisation is on trial but the brown economy is still dominant and poses an even greater threat to Africa's 3rd era of hope. Africa and the world are at a cross roads. Africa's green explorers have been at work since 1992 and are uniquely qualified and uniquely positioned to lead the way towards a green economy.
Africa is so vast and often so hostile from first contacts in the 14th century it took the Europeans 500 years to reach the heart of the continent. In the 1960s they were leaving after only 60 settled years. The optimists saw a rapid transformation through rapid industrialisation. They thought Africa could feed the world. Pessimists said it was too much too soon, "like laying down the track in front of an oncoming express train.” The pragmatists preferred to wait and see. The world’s most challenging continent was industrial technology’s greatest test. They said “the white man’s civilisation is on trial in Africa.” Those who understood the global consequences of success of failure said at the time, “the fate of us all in bound up in Africa.”
With the right type of "rethink" the aspirations of Agenda 21 can now be practical reality in Africa. The knowledge and information are there. The technologies have been developed. The multi-disciplines are already at work. Business wants it to happen. Policy makers are trying to find ways forward. Global corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars. Investors are throwing trillions more into the volatile roulette wheel. Anyone with money is saying "where can I invest?" As the global brown economy faces a great contraction Africa is well-positioned and well-qualified to provide a great expansion of the green.
Looking closely at Africa today, at the diverse opportunities in diverse river basins across the continent, it is possible to see how Africans can lead us on a greener path. As the late Wangari Maathi, one of Africa’s first green explorers and a great pragmatist, liked to say: “We know what to do so why don’t we do it?”
MICHAEL STREET: A FULLER PROFILE - OBSERVING AFRICA'S 3 ERAS OF HOPE