The Future Is Bright, The Future Is Africa

Posted By on 25th November 2015

‘She has produced 22 Nobel laureates, given you Oscar Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o and there is an increasing number of billionaires who have capitalised on the business opportunities,’ writes Dr Mwenya Kwasonde.

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  1. IT HAS become a well-known fact that seven out of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa. Yet when you ask the everyday person what they think about the continent you will get answers such as “those poor African starving children”.

    The billions in aid Africa receives from donor countries continues to perpetuate this image, to the point that many Africans themselves have accepted this as reality, labelling themselves victims in this oversimplified narrative.

    It is so deeply engraved in our minds that the world, natives and diasporans included, has accepted it as gospel. Yet whenever I spend time in my home city of Lusaka [Zambia], I cannot help but ask myself: “Where are these starving children with flies around their eyes?”

    I walk around Manda Hill shopping mall, eat at Subway for lunch then meet friends for drinks at a trendy rooftop bar that has just opened in town. Like me, most of my friends have been educated abroad and are now keen to take their new found knowledge and skills back home. It might surprise people to know that actually one in three Africans is middle-class.

    Fifty years ago most African states were under colonial rule. In the 1960s and 70s, after independence, many were troubled and had difficulty rebuilding what they had just regained.

    For a while, Africa was the most tormented continent on earth. No less than 28 African countries were at war after 1980 and HIV killed 2.2 million people in 1999 alone. That was then.

    Things have and continue to change and our eyes cannot remain fixated on this distant, dark past. Today, peace and democracy is widespread, conflict continues only in Congo, South Sudan, Somalia, and most recently the Central African Republic, and perhaps Nigeria, through Boko Haram. HIV related deaths were down to 1.1 million in 2013.

    My book, A Brighter Shade of Black, was written to tell the world about the other side of the story; to remind Africans and non-Africans alike that there is so much more to this continent than poverty, war and disease.

    Africa is a continent made up of 54 different countries, with over 2,000 native languages. Africa has produced 22 Nobel laureates, she gave you the Grammy Award-winning musician Akon, Oscar Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o and there is an increasing number of billionaires who have capitalised on the business opportunities that the continent has to offer.

    Africa is not a continent just comprised of jungles and deserts. Today glistening skyscraper cities are being built from scratch in many countries.

    There are examples from Kenya to Ghana; from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Rwanda. Africa is going to have the biggest and the best in many ways – the biggest dam in the world in the DRC; the world’s biggest investment in renewable energy in South Africa; one of the world’s biggest deep space telescopes also in South Africa.

    Dr Mwenya Kwasonde

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