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Africa’s solutions are home-grown, not from across the shores
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Africa’s solutions are home-grown, not from across the shores
Read about our conversation with Ambassador Ribbon Mosholi. Reflections by Kylen Plasket-Govender

The Amani team were privileged enough to receive a talk from Ambassador Mosholi. This freedom fighter, exilee, diplomat, and mother shared her lifetime of wisdom as well as her musings on the current state of South Africa, pan-Africanism, and the global political sphere in which she operates.

Exiled in 1976, Naomi Ribbon Mosholi, received her intelligence and military training in the Soviet Union. Post liberation she found herself working in the democratically elected South African Government. Playing her part in South Africa’s re-introduction to the world, she received a diplomatic posting in Germany. Ambassador Mosholi had unique perspective to offer us based on her experience working in the South African embassy and being a United Nations observer in New York during exile.
Ambassador Ribbon Mosholi
Our key priority should be education, specifically deccolonised education.
- Ambassador Ribbon Mosholi
The Ambassador gave the Amani team lots to reflect on. One of the key takeaways for our team is particularly relevant on this Africa Day. We picked her brain about whether democracy as it is implemented across the African continent is fit for purpose.

From the outside looking in it seems as though the concept of democracy has failed many Africans, in fact many African countries post-liberation have seen their democratic systems failing the people. Unable to deliver on election promises and campaigning tickets, with some even descending into authoritarianism. Built around a cult of personality rather than on the needs of the people.

Ambassador Mosholi acknowledged the nuances of such a broad topic but was able to give a decisive answer as to what the key priority should be. Overall education, but specifically a decolonised education. She noted that the education system favours the colonial masters, from the perception that it creates for young Africans to the way that politicians are conveyored into office. As Africans we need to think about ways of defeating the mental colonisation that is still present on the continent, and undoubtedly cripples us in our solutions based thinking.

There is always talk of how to integrate Africa into the world stage. While this is obviously important in the globalised world and needs to be discussed, perhaps a more internally focused discussion has to be had first. The continent is very quick to search for outside solutions to local problems, taking loans from Western-orientated global funds, bringing in foreign experts to solve issues of statecraft and infrastructure, exporting our raw minerals only to have them sold back to us post-processing. The list goes on, but action has been slow or non-existent.

Two interesting examples in the world’s top 10 economies (By GDP) are China and India. Twenty years ago neither of these countries featured anywhere close to being economic superpowers, yet through long term planning and applying solutions that were developed in the right contexts they have carved out a well-deserved place for themselves in global economic circles.

Both China and India understood that in order to serve their people and safeguard their country’s best interests they were on their own solutions had to be home-grown and come from within. These countries are by no means perfect but neither are most of the other countries on that top 10 list. The point I wish to make here is that rather than aspiring to be the next India, China or United States- African countries need to aspire to draft plans and strategies that address the needs of Africans.

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Of course Africa faces unique problems and has not yet fully shed the traumas of colonisation. It often feels as though many external actors have a vested interest in keeping Africa divided and stagnant. It, also, should not be taken for granted that China and India share many of these same traumas. So clearly there are ways for African countries to work towards overcoming the difficulties of the 20th and early 21st century. Is the solution a stronger oversight from the African Union? Do we need to rethink the colonial borders we have inherited? It is difficult to say for sure, but it all begins with a longer term vision and African leaders investing in their people.

We certainly had plenty to think about! On behalf of the Amani Team, we wish to say thank you to Ambassador Mosholi for what was an inspiring morning. We would love to hear your thoughts on the topic- What do you think is next for South Africa and the continent?

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