This is Africa in the eves of the North. A continent to be admired, talked about, but not to be touched. Just as the colonial sett]ers failed to educate the Affican peasant for fear of losing much-needed cheap, illiterate and naive farm labour, so does the western world refuse to invest realislically in the development of Africa, for fear of creating a monster that may be uncontrollable. An African Japan would be too much for the North to stomach . That is the truth and reality underlying policy decisions towards Africa in the North. The rest is all rhetoric about some ambiguous sustainable development mythology.
Solutions to the African environment and development dilemma have to come from within the region. Apart from the essential technological and industrial inputs, Africa as a region has adequate human resources. experts ana technical know-how for her basic development needs. The region cannot, and shall never, benefit from the ever-increasing influx of expatriate agencies and workers into the continent to fulfil contractual obligations as dictated by their donors. A true and meaningful development cannot be achieved through craftily brokered contractual arrangements between the implementing expatriate agencies and donor countries in the North. True anc meaningful development is a preserve and right of the indigenous people of Africa. They, and only they, can evolve a realistic and sincere process of human development in the region.
Endowed with the richest diversity of human cultures, and being the mother of the human race, Africa could easily propel herself from the depths of economic and political quagmire into one of the most resourceful regions of the world. For this to happen, African governments must tap the immense diverse indigenous cultures and redirect them into productive development endeavours. Liberal development policies, a favourable political atmosphere, dynamic government systems and, most important of all, educational and training programmes that identify and promote innovative practical skills among the youth are urgently needed.
Africa has had enough of unworkable development formulae and technical fixes hatched from outside. Enough sustainable development sweet-talk from the North has been heard. What the region requires is true and tangible resource support by way of substantial investment and development capital. With a meaningful capital base at her disposal, coupled with ample time to create and innovate solutions from within, there is no doubt that.this immense]y resourceful region would match, and even surpass, the rest in human development enadavours within the next five decades.
Westem colonial cultures introduced into Africa the practice of hunting of wild game to satisfy an exotic lust for ivory, luxury goods and other nonessential psvchosocial desires. At the commencement of politicai independence in the 1950s and 60s, most African countries had lost their best ivory, their finest tropical timber and vast quantities of wildlife species to colonial plunderers from Europe.
As the IMF, through its infamous Structurai Adjustment Programmes,devaluates the Uganda shilling, so does an individual in Washington devalue Ugandan's labour and natural resources. The cultural value of Africa natural resources, as dictated by the ethnic nationalities who own them, is totally ignored.
Wildlife authorities and conservationists seldom consider the cultural significance of natural resources locked within Africa's sprawling game parks and reserves, prior to enforcing laws that exclude indigenous communities from them. Sacred forest shrines and animal totems of immense value to the Samburu, Maasai and Taveta peoples of Kenya are fenced off and access is limited to the hordes of insensitive tourists who frequent the country's parks.
When local communities are evicted from their ancestral lands to make room for gigantic hydropower plants, export crop schemes, and other externally funded development projects, the cultural losses are never considered in impact assessment studies.
Myth: "Africa is poor, it cannot do without borrowing or aid from the
Africa is poor because it is being over-exploited not because it lacks resources. On the contrary, Africa could do very well without aid from the North. But the North cannot survive without resources from Africa.
African peoples, NGOs, governments and the international NGO community should institute legal proceedings in the lnternational Court of Justice to seek redress and compensation for the resources that were stolen by western imperial powers.
Every African state should initiate studies and compile national umbrella laws on the environment to include substantive enforcement procedures on all environmental matters. Such laws should also include general procedures for the implementation of relevant treaties to which the state is a party.
Those who are involved in the development or enforcement of national laws should work in collaboration with human ecologists to understand the relationship between human communities and their environment. This will help elucidate how those human communities perceive their own relation ship to specific legal provisions. ln the process, the laws and their enforcement would incorporate that understanding.
For the purpose of enhancing the efficacy of the laws on the environment and natural resources, it is imperative that African states initiate studies of human ecology in relation to the legal culture of the people. This initiative should be conducted within national institutions, and on a comparative basis, so that the expenences of different communities can provide a comprehensive background for discussion.
Local people, the ultimate owners and guardians of natural resources, must be the direct beneficiaries of the income that accrues from the exploitation of resources by:
African countries should mount deliberate programmes of training to produce top level experts in the various fields of natural resources and the environment. The objective should be to create a pyramidal structure of expertise, with those in the top echelon constituting the critical mass of training for innovation in the sustainable management of natural resources.
Each African country should establish at least one research centre in each of the various environmental sectors. Such centres should earn their excellence through competitive research and establish their own innovative capabilities. Specific experts should organize themselves into "think tanks" and face the challenge of open debate.
African governments and the public must challenge researchers to conduct competitive and innovative research. To reinforce this challenge, governments should remunerate the researchers in a manner which permits them standards of living reasonably comparable to those of their international counterparts.
Locally designed educational programmes on the value of natural resources must be integrated into educational curricula at all levels.