Posts tagged change
Posts tagged change
In order for people to take the time to listen about anything that won’t directly affect their lives, what you’re saying has to be remarkable. As stated by Seth Godin, something that is remarkable is something worthy of making a remark about. With the number of tragedies that befall people in nearly every country on this planet, there seems to be only a select few that are deemed, by this definition, remarkable. What does it take for a remark to be made? Why is it that often the killing of so many is never reported but the attack on a single, specific person can incite an uproar? Not to say that that one life wasn’t worthy of making a remark, but why not report the entire group? In the same way, an ad on TV for a Pillow Pet can excite people or at least give them something to make a remark about, but an ad or an article on recent killings in some foreign country is left unexamined.
These ideas aren’t new. The sad, but obvious, part about this is that tragedy isn’t new. Targeting the average person with an idea that seems to have been around for decades and centuries is not going to elicit a response that remains for more than a few minutes. You’ve lost the attention of that person and are left at square one. What you find remarkable, and what may even be the only item that truly should be deemed remarkable at that time, is not necessarily what that person finds to be remarkable. But then how do you get the message across? At a 2003 TED Talk, Godin stated that “people who can spread ideas, regardless of what those ideas are, win.” In a world where times are continuously changing, new gadgets are constantly being put out into the market and new trends are making their way in fashion, ideas can’t stay remarkable for very long. If you lose the attention of the person you’re talking to after five minutes, then you’ve lost because that idea won’t spread, and there’s a very small chance that you’ve even struck a chord with the person in front of you.
Making your ideas spread is key. Making the things that are truly remarkable appear remarkable to someone else is the only way to have your message spread. Targeting an audience that is interested enough to care might be the first step, but finding a way to connect with everyone else is how you create a revolution. Our world has made tragedy too common, to the point where lending a hand is just something else to do. I think the most important part of trying to create change is convincing everyone else that tragedy doesn’t have to be common, and with right intentions, can be stopped.
Between the late eighteenth and early to mid-nineteenth centuries, the continent of Africa was heavily colonized by Europe. The lands were haphazardly divided to the contentment of imperial powers so much to the point where not a single African country today can attest to having not been once occupied by foreign entities. The motivation behind it? Natural resources, many of which the continent had in great abundance and still bountifully harbors, from the highly coveted Libyan oil to the globally acclaimed South African gems. According to historians, the process through which this took place is known as ‘the scramble for Africa’, but in the minds of the continent’s inhabitants, it was a large scale looting operation whose adverse effects are still presently evident. In fact, the robbery never ended; it simply continued under a different name.
In today’s world, people associate Africa with long-term government to government aid. This transaction traces its origins to the independence days of the 1960’s, when most African countries were just waking up from a colonial slumber and reclaiming their land, their people, and their rights. However, the West didn’t fully retreat, and in an attempt to rebuild the lands that colonization ransacked, the idea of sending money to emergent countries was born, fully derived from the Marshall Plan that was used to rebuild Europe after World War II. The only problem with the aid plan to Africa was the fact that these monetary handouts were prolonged, and after forty years, there are more poor Africans today than there were at colonization’s end. This aid has served to pump resources out of the continent. For every American dollar or Euro that African governments receive, a loss is suffered in terms of oil, food, and minerals. In a bitter twist of irony, Africa exports large amounts of food each year to the United States and other fully developed countries while its own people starve to death, bitten by the sadistic pains of hunger.
The most recent form of continuing colonization, however, has come in the guise of foreign investors, such as China and India, who seek to buy cheap land to use in the manner they please. While some argue that the land is leased, the terms and conditions are not intended to benefit the African people and, in the long run, plan to leave inhabitants penniless and completely disenfranchised. Others counter that if the government permits it, there should be no complaint, which would be a sound rebuttal if only African governments properly represented their people. Countless foreign investors are simply wolves in sheep’s clothing, looking out for their own interests. The continent has become a doormat which several countries not only step on but also proceed to wipe their feet with. It is no wonder that most Africans argue that the only answer for the continent is self-reliance, where governments not only break ties with industrialized powers in terms of aid but also become answerable to the people, as part of Africa’s plight not only lies on the shoulders of outsiders but on the very political leaders whom many call ‘president’. Unfortunately, the continent will never develop as long its capacity is hindered, what with the constant loss of resources and the rigged elections that ensure certain leaders are kept in power in order to secure the interests of foreign nations. Africa’s development is not in America’s interests any more than it is in China’s interests. The only question is where Africa will be twenty years from now. Most of its population is under the age of eighteen, and this is a group of angry, frustrated, yet markedly hopeful youth. Perhaps there will be a revolution, a change that can truly be believed in, a turn of events that will restore the continent to its former glory. Who knows? Only time will tell, but as for now, I choose to ignore those who doubt the success of the so called ‘dark continent’, and instead tune in to the sounds of innovation, technology and education that echo throughout all corners of Africa, begging to be heard.
To learn more, visit Aljazeera News.
Margaret Mead (1901-1978) - American cultural anthropologist