Abdalla Al-Baalawy – Since independence, African countries have sought to work on building robust economies for their societies’ progress. For the most part, most of the countries have not had much success due to many reasons. I would like to reiterate one of these reasons, division within the societies, and speak on the importance it plays in keeping success and prosperity a far-fetched fantasy for societies on the African continent.
Division and the inability to work together for a common purpose has led to local, national and regional grand plans being drawn up but never executed. There has been many plans (and resources put forth) to tackle many of the issues that hamper progress; the inability to execute these plans is always the result of division in the society and disagreements among the many stakeholders. Africa is one of the most diverse continent (if not the most diverse continent) on earth. This diversity has so far been a roadblock to getting anything done. Ideas, practices, and beliefs are a plenty, and consensus can never be reached on the most important issues. This leaves societies divided and stagnant, unable to grow and become prosperous.
Some of the most economically prosperous regions on earth are ones that have embraced diversity and used it to their advantage. The United States of America (USA)’s melting pot, Canada’s multiculturalism, and Europe’s long history of encouraging immigration has led to these societies being some of the most diverse on earth. Immigrants from around the world dream of making it to these countries due to the opportunities presented there. It is this diversity and infusion of different ideas and perspectives that have led to the success of these nations. Of course there are many other things that have also played a part, but diversity brings ideas, and ideas bring innovation. Innovation is the driver of long-term economic growth. Furthermore, many of these immigrants have also brought resources (money and knowledge) to these countries. USA, Canada and Europe have had turbulent histories (with slavery, colonization and racism being some of the worst), but their contemporary societies have learned to harness the power of diversity. Today, they are the most economically prosperous regions in the world.
USA, Canada and Europe have all learned the lesson of ‘united we stand, divided we fall’, but African societies have not been able to adopt this mindset. Division will continue to create an environment that will never be conducive to progress and economic prosperity.