So I sat and thought it out for a minute and realized that I was actually furious about this. Deeply furious as in: why the fornication do I live in a society that's so hostile to intellectual pursuit? Why am I ashamed to read a book in a public space and casually insulted with the collective derogatory term "nyie wasomi" whenever it suits a person to do so? Who the hell made Tanzanians so excrement scared of knowledge, of deep, broad, rich, beautiful knowledge? Who mislead us to believe that education is about schooling and degrees? And what are the implications of all this willful ignorance for our survival?
That's the article that I ended up writing instead:
"Our traditional methods of addressing questions of human development are letting us down. We've been getting excited about our so called resources- speculating in gold, producing gems, rubbing our hands over the fossil fuels lurking underground, and getting ready to rape the Serengeti so we can bring more Uranium into the world.
We're not up to managing these resources. Not when we have ignored our most important factor: people. Not when students are “graduating” from schools unable to read, or write, and this has been going on for years. Graduating? Ha! Where do we imagine the skilled labor to master a complex economy and a complex society is going to come from, exactly? How many of us even know what Uranium is, let alone what we'll be mining it for? Our system has created a nearly unbridgeable divide between those who can read and those who won't be allowed to contribute their natural talents to the polity. I used to believe this to be just another effect of our broken public sector, but I am beginning to suspect it's worse than that."
I think that this Africa 2.0 business is only a fart in the wind unless we can leverage this "emergence" to garner real investment in the stuff that matters: African grey matter. No amount of Vogue Italy special issues will convince me otherwise. We're fashionable now, and our exploitation by the rest of the world will be "gentler" and more participatory but it will still leave us at a disadvantage. We can't take control of our destinies without knowledge. China arises because they have science and technology and a gajillion Chinese who can think, think, think as well as do everything else that builds a solid economy. Japan rose on the power of it's ability to innovate and sell us stuff we didn't know we wanted. Korea. India. They all invest heavily in the knowledge industries. But Africans? We're still trying to sell raw commodities and act like this is a great idea. We need to wake the fuck up. Uninformed choices is not the way forward.