Don’t Leave Africa

I think I speak for most Africans who grew up here that we have at one point in our lives wanted to go live somewhere else, far away. Preferably somewhere with snow and no power cuts. Somewhere with adequate water supply and quite possibly better job prospects.

Gaborone. Source: Botswana Tourism Organisation.

I was thinking of this a couple of days ago while in a bus from the capital city and back – my home village in Botswana is an hour drive from the capital. My thoughts about assimilation and the concept of relocating to first world countries were inspired by a conversation I overheard.

This conversation took place between two high school students who were also on their way home. From their conversation I assume that they are in their final year of high school. Anyway, they were talking about their plans for next year and how they wished they could get enough marks to be granted a spot on the Top Achievers list (the Ministry of Education awards the top-scoring students with a scholarship to the university of their choice ANYWHERE in the world).

They spoke about how they would prefer to study in the UK. They had heard from a cousin that it was quite easy to settle there after studying. I thought about how their mindset negated the whole concept of the scholarship. It was not meant to be a way out. It was not a one-way ticket to greener pastures. Instead, it was meant to be a way to garner skills that would then be used to develop Botswana.

This then got me thinking about how most Africans (including myself at one point) would kill to have a way out of their countries and to go settle elsewhere. As a pan Africanist this hurts me. It kills any chance of having our continent develop and be considered a first world place. If most of the skilled personnel would much rather go settle elsewhere instead of holding hands and growing our countries then it will take ages to actually develop Africa.

It’s quite a tricky thing to look at. It’s almost as if one were at a crossroad. Do you abandon the ship, save yourself and go look for greener pastures? Or do you stick it out and work with your brothers and sisters to grow and save your countries?

I would like to think that in most African cultures, one of the core values we are taught is “cooperation”. In Setswana – a local language in Botswana – there is a proverb which goes “setshwarwa ke ntsa pedi ga se thata”, which simply means that any task that is done collectively will never be as hard as doing it alone.

I wish my fellow Africans would understand this. Instead of wishing for the bright and shiny lights that the first world offers, they should wonder how they can use these bright lights to grow themselves and their respective countries.

Kearoma Mosata is a 22-year-old writer but mostly reader from Botswana, “a pan-African feminist who has high hopes for Africa”. Her blog is strugglingbookworm. She wrote this article for Voices of Youth, who have kindly allowed it to be republished. View the original article here