Africans: are we intellectually self-sufficient?


‘Autarky’ is a word used to describe the quality of self-sufficiency and is usually applied in economics and political systems of governance. Self-sufficiency is a state of total independence, impervious to external support as a means of survival.

In any public discourse in Africa, as on other continents, self-sufficiency is much more questionable than anything else aimed at aiding in the calculation of economic and political systems, given the type of self-sufficiency in question.

‘Intellect’ is the faculty of logical reasoning, understanding and interpretation of abstract matters relating to the theory of knowledge. We define intellectual self-sufficiency, therefore, as an act of independent thinking to seek the truth, which in turn aids us in determining self-reliance, in order to become totally independent in terms of our thinking.

African societies have produced many intellectuals from universities around the globe, but the question is whether we as Africans are intellectually self-sufficient? If yes, how? If no, why not?

Consider this: Africans depend on religions that are historically rooted in Europe, why? Africans rely on technologies that are invented on other continents, why? Africans speak and respect foreign languages that originate from other continents, why?

African people abandoned their traditional languages and cultures, relying on languages, such as English to claim that we are educated, why? African systems, whether judicial, economic, political, educational or health-related are dependent on systems from other continents, but why?

Africa has witnessed long periods of colonial oppression. This grievous oppression victimised African people and caused serious harm in terms of our thinking. It takes a serious evolutionary process, which needs black supervision and knowledge of self for Africans to realise themselves and be confident of themselves, because currently everything that we do seems to require white supervision, or intervention in order to be regarded as perfect or to be seen as viable, sensible or even logical.

That raises the question of whether we are intellectually self-sufficient. A good example is that whenever we need development, which in many cases is pro-white, we need some foreign-owned companies to have a stake in such a project in order to mitigate faulty situations, which will lead to incomplete projects due to incapacities or even incompetence on the part of the locals.

When are the systems of development going to be converted into the languages of Africa? For example, the courts of law. Are we not recognised by the world? When are computer software packages going to be converted into the languages we are born into? We can no longer think and speak in other people’s languages.

These are all the regrets we live with today. The scramble for Africa deprived us not only of our ancestral land, lives, and spiritual resources, but also our knowledge and confidence of self, leaving aside the rest.

We have a lot of universities in Africa today, but given that most African people are not educated, we remain in the hands of the oppressor. We operate in the locality of the white man and it raises the question whether we are intellectually self-sufficient.

In the final analysis, education remains the most important tool to overcome intellectual dependency on other continents. As politically independent countries in Africa, our intellectual independence is yet to be realised, once massive investments are directed to educate the people of Africa.

We have gained political independence, but we need to become a nation that is totally independent economically, and above all, we must begin to raise a generation of educated people in order to become a continent that is intellectually self-sufficient.

* Shivute Kaapanda is an African leftist writer from Eyanda village


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