Written by Aydn Parrott
Africa is a land of potential. Africa is thought by many to be the origin of human kind. South Africa has been described as alive with possibility, the rainbow nation with cities like the place of gold and city of good hope. A large amount of these images relate to Africa’s image as a seed, Africa as a place of potential, as a place where great things can emerge and great things can happen. However, the truth is that Africa is not a place of hope. Africa is not a land of opportunity. Africa is not a seed from which great things can grow and emerge.
Africa is so much more. Africa is a continent with so much more to offer than just seeds of opportunity or grains of hope. Yes Africa is a place with a history, with a culture of its own. It is a place in which many cultures, societies and individuals have clashed, connected, disconnected, given birth, died and been reborn. Africa is the continent of great leaders, sports people, thinkers, academics, entrepreneurs, artists, entertainers, adventurers. Africa is a land filled with conflict and crises. There exists a conflict of the legacies of Cecil John Rhodes and Hendrik Verwoerd with the legacies of Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe and Steve Biko.
Africa is a place where ideas are constantly being produced, examined, discarded and recreated. Africa has always been this place. Africa has always been a birthplace for knowledge, development and leadership. African citizens of all socio-economic backgrounds are in conflict everyday around their identity, what they stand for, who they are. In South Africa and especially at the University of Cape Town we have seen discussions around race, gender, class, education and living standards being brought to the surface of our everyday lives. These are discussions which have been and will for the foreseeable future play a big role in the growth, development and perhaps the rebirth of not only South Africa, but also Africa.
These discussions have the potential to form the building blocks for where Africa will be in the next 20 years. These discussions will probably affect the world in which future generations, our children, are raised. The world in which their minds, culture and society will develop and the outcome of these discussions will affect that society.
It is important to note that although these discussions may appear to be limited to a handful of humanities students and political science majors, the truth is that the outcome of these discussions will affect all faculties and all aspects of our society. I repeat the outcome of these discussions will affect all faculties, all aspects of our society. Therefore as the future leaders of Africa it is our duty, our responsibility to engage with these discussions and how they affect us. You as a student at the University of Cape Town and a resident of Smuts Hall have the social responsibility to engage with the challenges and problems facing South Africa. Engage with the challenges, related to your field of study or not, and find a solution.
You are an African; you are a citizen of this great and historic continent. You are a leader, you have the potential to not only realise your own potential but also help the African continent realise its potential.
Inside you lies the answer to the question: When and How will Africa take its place as a world leading continent?