02 April 2012

Discourse on Innovation vs. Discourse on Control

It is in the reflection of great writings that one can link literate utterances to observations that were lacking words in which to describe them. In the absence of specialist bookstores in a range of over a thousand kilometers, only recently I am empowered to access good books, on Kindle and with Visa Electron downloaded through the internet. A world has opened to me, with a refreshing rain of well wrought wordings.

Each book brings me both balance and unbalance, relieve and stress. I try to recognize and puzzle with thinking patterns, especially those shown by psychiatristic daredevils like Freire or Fanon, or in structural seminal methodological textbooks like Sachs or Collins. Then I augment them with thoughts from inspirational writings on culture, anthropology, theology, humanism, and mysticism.

Has all be told, has all be understood? Certainly not! Context and cultures change, emerge and seemingly do repeat. I just aim to assemble theory to support progress, sustainably, helpfully, inclusively, unitingly, and lovingly. Progress needs new insights and theories of dynamics. Thus I relish my everyday school, which provides a healthy meal of theory and practise.

Oh, what a world of fortunate joy and unfortunate hurt! Through it I can understand cynicism when sharing my experience out of Africa. At the other hand, I feel for a Rwandan friend who shared his hurt feelings after a presentation on Rwanda's impressive achievements in the role out of ICTs. It was the question from the audience that stabbed, which could be summarized like “You are giving a positive presentation about Rwandan developments. Are you giving the complete picture? Could you please expand on what is going wrong?”.

It is Fanon whom for me encapsulated the issue of us as the recipient being confused by the myriad signs of the [developed] world, so one never knows where he/she is out of line. Fanon explains how the subject is always presumed guilty, and how she/he in turn considers such judgement as a kind of curse, a sword of Damocles. This resonates with my own observations. We live in a dual and segregated world, with those being developed living in a world of foreign judgements stating 'you are guilty'.

For its donors, Macha Works creates impressive and often highly detailed reports. Such is rather unique from a rural African environment that is used to share its relationships, not its information. Recently I noticed a comment “I do trust that goods have been purchased, but how can you prove they have been used for the intended purpose?”. This is example of a known cascade of precepts:

  1. when money goes to Africa, Africans will divert it;
  2. when money is not diverted, reports will be cooked;

  3. when reports are not cooked, the utilization will benefit the boss (only);

  4. when use is not for the boss (only), then it is just a matter of time (for it to collapse).

For every step, a recipient in Africa is considered guilty unless proven otherwise, conform consistent cynicism.

The paradox of the wish for breakthrough and innovation and a situation of pervasive fear and urge for control fuels a spiral that almost encourages inertia or wrong doings. When one is labeled questionable from the start, it is most luring to confirm such judgment. It is draining to be distrusted, even before one starts. No wonder that Fanon observes “[the person being developed] is made to feel inferior, but by no means convinced of his inferiority. He patiently waits for the [the person doing development] to let down his guard and then jumps on him”. This is in line with Leautier's observation that such change can come with high speed in Africa.

I will continue to aim to engender an atmosphere of hope, trust, faith and forgiveness. Raise 'can-do' leadership, with creative, innovative attitude, ready to explore. And sustain entities that aim for the stars, leapfrogging vigorously, not necessarily avoiding difficulties, mistakes, or even failure. Such needs focus on Discourse on Innovation, one that I gladly envision.