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Why East Africa remains poor?(Part 2)

Why East Africa remains poor?(Part 2)

In my view, Walter is right. It is true that since independence we have failed to nurture creativity and collective orientations. We as a nation lack a workhorse mentality and behave like 13 million civil servants dependent on a government pay cheque.  We believe that development is generated 8-to-5 behind a desk wearing a tie with our degrees hanging on the wall. Such a working environment does not offer the opportunity for fellowship, the excitement of competition, and the spectacle of innovative rituals.

But the intelligentsia is not solely, or even mainly, to blame. The larger failure is due to political circumstances over which they have had little control. The past governments failed to create an environment of possibility that fosters camaraderie, rewards innovative ideas and encourages resilience. And this is true to Zambia as it is to East and Sub-Saharan Africa. Whether it is Kenneth Kaunda, Mwalimu Nyerere, Daniel Arap Moi, Chiluba, Mwanawasa, in power.

They all embraced orthodox ideas and therefore failed to offer many opportunities for drawing outside the line. "The new Zambian President Michael Sata (King Cobra) seem to have  reset his mind cast in the same faculties as those of his predecessors. If today I told him that we can build our own car, he would throw me out. "Naupena? Fuma apa." (Are you mad? Get out of here).

Knowing well that King Cobra will not embody innovation at Walter's level let's begin to look for a technologically active-positive leader who can succeed him after a term or two. That way we can make our own stone crushers, water filters, water pumps, razor blades, and harvesters. Let's dream big and make tractors, cars, and planes, or, like Walter said, forever remain inferior.
A fundamental transformation of our country from what is essentially non-innovative to a strategic superior African country requires a bold risk-taking educated leader with a triumphalist attitude and we have one in YOU.

Don't be highly strung and feel insulted by Walter. Take a moment and think about our country. Our journey from 1964 has been marked by tears. It has been an emotionally overwhelming experience. Each one of us has lost a loved one to poverty, hunger, and disease.

The number of graves is catching up with the population. It's time to change our political culture. It's time for Zambian intellectuals to cultivate an active-positive progressive movement that will change our lives forever. Don't be afraid or dispirited, rise to the challenge and salvage the remaining few of your beloved ones.

Kenyan researcher Prof Calestous Juma has done and continues to do research in agricultural technologies that have direct impact on farmers lives. However he is based in Harvard University in the US. Prof Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development and Director of the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project at Harvard Kennedy School.

Professor Juma also directs the Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. His latest book, "The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa deals in depth with these issues of technology and African research relevance. Part of this piece was taken in a report by Zimbabwean PhD student, Field Ruwe. Field is a US-based Zambian media practitioner and author. He is a PhD candidate with a B.A. in Mass Communication and Journalism, and an M.A. in History.

Mwandishi: K"OYOO NICK

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