Africa, Governance, and the Global Future of Development
April 27, 2015
Tony Blair’s talk on governance and development in Africa was an eye-opener on important components of development that visionary opinion leaders in Africa should ponder. Blair finds it unquestionable that poverty reduction depends on economic development. However, economic development cannot take shape in unstable environments; security matters inasmuch as development investors needed to create jobs in the continent, which could improve the livelihood of citizens. This need for security and a relative sense of assured social stability may transpire in varying forms from one country to another. Thus, since priorities weigh differently from one community to another, development policies should be drawn through consultation and evaluation of particular needs of a given community or nation.
In the Church’s social teaching, the principle of subsidiarity says a lot about the freedom that should be allotted to individual choices in the establishment of their strategic development policies. In Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII clarifies that the duty of “the universal authority” should be that of creating world conditions that enable nations to carry out their duties freely . Such facilitation requires sincere dialogue and respect of differences. In my view, this is the direction upon which global development should embark.
In “The Clash of Civilizations,” Samuel P. Huntington foretells the coming of anti-Western civilization. Though his conclusions might be subject to debate, his analysis of the identity consciousness that civilizations [or cultures] are likely to develop is evidently shaping up in many ways. The development of liberation theology in Latin America and the advent of inculturation theology in Africa are just a few illustrations of the way individual elites from different communities try to find meaning of the universal in their particular philosophies. Such a tendency is turning somewhat global and indispensable in nature as people seek to define their rightful place in the global community. With regards to politics and economic development, the global vision of world development cannot escape such apparent imperative of our time. And, in my view, instead of threatening the prospects of universal consciousness, it challenges us to redefine our terms of interaction and manners of engaging our cultural diversity. Thus, the subsidiarity principle becomes an imperative to adopt since each civilization, culture, and nation needs to be treated with respect, and listened to carefully. In doing so, one can expect to create policies that are true reflections of the local needs in given nations.
Finally, it is clear that the principle of subsidiarity challenges us all to reconsider our own responsibilities in the propagation of “the globalization of indifference,” which transpires in our failures to recognize diversity within us. Being conscious of this reality would help us understand that a policy that may work in one place might not necessarily work in another place, unless subtle adjustments are made to accommodate sharp nuances characteristic of our individual experiences. Such a vision of humankind opens up sincere dialogue, and it is indispensable to view the success of global development prospects in the same direction.
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April 27, 2015