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Are you on a personal mission to spread the right knowledge?

Last week on this page we shouted: “enough is enough!” No more indignity for Africa. Africa must stand up for itself and stop being everyone else’s benchmark of poverty and dependence.

Before we fix Africa, however, we must understand what ails it. The easy answer is always to blame the leadership we’ve had to date. Change our leaders, and we’ll change Africa and give it its pride back.

True, Africa’s loss of pride is caused primarily by its grotesque leadership choices and its disdain for good governance and probity. But underlying all of those issues is a singular driving force. It is the one thing we need in order to get Africa’s pride back, and it can be stated in two words: voter discernment.

We are in the mess we are because the average ordinary person does not have the faintest clue about selecting leaders. We elect and appoint leaders on the most spurious of grounds: that they come from around the same river we do; that they make loud noises and entertain us at rallies; that they throw money around; that they have big stomachs and big cars and big wives.

In other words, it is not our leaders we should be most worried about; it is the choices made by their followers. Africa’s leaders only reflect the values and wishes of the majority of its people. Democracy has taken root across so much of Africa, but we are allowing this to be a watered-down version: the recent record of disputed elections and cobbled-up coalitions speaks volumes.

Of course, many, many initiatives are needed to fix Africa. We need root-and-branch overhaul of governance systems. We need to run the election process with foolproof institutions. We need to instal all the infrastructure that powers up and connects the scattered people of the continent. We need all that and more. But we also need to fix the human capital: we must make Africa’s ordinary people wiser, more knowledgeable and more informed in the choices they make.

If you are bothered by the brand you carry as someone from Africa, the only way to fix this is to fix the ordinary person. Many more of us need to make it a mission in life to spread education, enlightenment and discernment to the ordinary people of Africa. Our leaders won’t do this for us – it is in their interest to have armies of idle, ignorant people available to vote as directed. It is in their interest to have unquestioning, sheep-like people at their disposal.

So ask yourself today: what knowledge am I spreading to as many people as possible in my lifetime? What am I doing to help Africa get its pride back?

If you are an activist rallying against human-rights abuses – great work. If you are an investor spotting opportunity and bringing in capital – top marks. If you are a policymaker at the forefront of institutional reform – wonderful.

But this is not just a job for a chosen few, nor does it always require complex projects or massive funding. Every educated African should make it his or her mission in life to spread enlightenment. None of us needs to sit back and wait for others to do it. It needs to become a personal crusade.

I know what I’m doing – I beat the drums everywhere I can. What about you? Are you using your education and influence positively on others? Are you spending some of your spare time spreading wisdom and discernment? Are you using social media to connect with thousands at a time? Are you sitting down with your people to teach them the effects of their choices?

If you want Africa changed in your lifetime – it’s your call. Pick that drum up and beat it.

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