Crowdsourcing African solutions on African soil
Africa’s politicians who are often expected to be revolutionary saviours — always get the stick for lacking ingenious policy ideas. The few who seem revolutionary don’t have enough homegrown knowledge capable of scale to underpin their typically grand, socialist, and/or communist policies. They must depend on the knowledge produced in Bretton Woods institutions such as World Bank and IMF or the Big 4 consultancies such as KPMG, Deloitte et cetera.
On the other hand, African universities whose primary motivation should be knowledge production are underfunded, bogged in labour strikes, and lack the necessary infrastructure to do original research. They — in the words of Olufemi Taiwo — “are now all too content to have e-connections with libraries elsewhere, having given up ambitions on building libraries to which the world would come for intellectual edification”. Consequently, there is not enough production of original knowledge to irrigate the intellectually arid mindscape of the African youth trapped in the milieu. The few who succeed typically secure tenure abroad to produce original knowledge.
As Africa’s policymakers and politicians wobble on the national stage, the future of the continent — its youth — ambitious as they should be, sometimes find that they are over-educated for the challenges of their continent and that their ambitions can only be funded by well-oiled patronage systems in the West. They discover the truth too late. They discover quite late that Africa, may — in the words of Laiqa Walli — be westernizing and not developing.
Summarily, there is a gaping hole for the media to fill. A knowledge junction that it must become, between Africa’s three biggest actors — the political class who can’t rely upon untested, uncultivated knowledge, academics/intellectuals whose original knowledge is locked away in peer-reviewed journals or foreign archives, and her burgeoning youth — projected as the fastest growing globally — who must seek knowledge to become the biggest actors on the continent today.
Hence, our goal is to create a newspaper-styled journal that will be the clearinghouse of crowdsourced, fit-for-context, economic-friendly solutions with the potential for scale. The mission will be to irrigate the intellectually arid mindscape of Africa’s youth and future political class by migrating knowledge — the many underreported concepts, hypotheses, evidence-based stories, and insights — from dog-eared papers stashed in anonymous university and private libraries to mainstream media.
From Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu’s discovery of Tassa a traditional irrigation method that has yielded 553 kilograms of millet per hectare in arid Niger republic to Gacaca, Rwanda’s community-based judicial system whose 12,000 courts tried a record 1.2 million cases in over 15 years: emphasizing reconciliation and reintegration over the more punitive criminal justice system known in the West. Our vision for Africa is to — paraphrase Olufemi Taiwo — become a place where knowledge production expands the economy”.
Africa needs solutions for African soil and global challenges and in the coming days we will share a Call for Contributions from academics, policymakers, activists, researchers, and intellectuals from all walks of life to contribute to this hybrid paper (electronic and print).