Inclusivity in Governance: A Way of Promoting National Cohesion and Development in the Africa Continent

Africa experienced the worst full-blown humanitarian crisis recorded in its history, in the April 1994 genocide of Rwanda. Within hundred days, an estimated eight hundred thousand to one million people were brutally slaughtered (Britannica,2016). Over 336,000 people were displaced and state infrastructures were destroyed within this period. Although there are multiple causes associated with the genocide, its root cause dates as far back in the 1950s. The tension between the two major tribes in Rwanda, the ruling minority Tutsi and majority Hutu, had been escalating since 1950. Before Rwanda gained independence, the minority Tutsi were the traditional ruling class, and the majority Hutu were agriculturists, while the French ran the country. After they gained independence, the Hutu took over the government and would not allow the Tutsi to gain a place in office(“Rwanda,” 2011). Following the assassination of the president Habyarimana (a Hutu), this lead to the genocide of the 1994. The cause of the Rwandan genocide, like all genocides, is deeply entrenched in the issue of alienation. When people feel they are discriminated based on their political, religious, ethnic, ideological and racial affiliations, then there can never be an inclusive society to promote development. How can inclusivity rooted in political governance promote National development and cohesion in the Africa Continent?

An Inclusive society is one where its people are valued, respected and supported on equal basis without prejudice. Inclusivity is “[its] focusing on the needs of every individual and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve his or her full potential” (RBC, 2015).We are all human beings and we are all alike, but the simple paradox is, human beings are all uniquely different. We all hold different ideologies on issues, we belong to different religious, political, ethnic and racial backgrounds. The diverse nature of humans is its strength, and should be a course for great success. Imagine how much can be achieved when people with different strength, diverse perspective, work experiences, cultures, talents, and abilities amalgamate to work. Diversity is the driver of major innovations in most parts of the world in recent times, the very nature of recent inventions such as the internet, social platforms yields for diversity in the global economy. However, achieving inclusive growth and development is a major challenge facing developing countries today. National development is the ability of a nation to improve the lives of its people. Its involves a transformation in the economic, social, and political lives of its citizens. Such a transformation is shaped when all its citizens engages at equal levels with their ideas and abilities in a political environment that is all inclusive and cohesive.

Inclusivity in governance promotes collective action among the citizens of a nation. According to the United Nations Research Institutions for Social Development(UNRISD), “recent political developments underscore the contemporary relevance of social inclusion and have drawn public attention to the corrosive effects of deep inequalities in both the global North and the global South” (2015). The Rwandan genocide was as a result of political exclusivity. When people feel that they are not accepted among their own people, then they tend to perpetuate repressive practices which can lead to major violence within a society. Human beings have the propensity for affinity bias (to surround ourselves with the people we like), we however have a fundamental deep-seated need to feel included(Tedx Talks, 2013). When people feel a sense of belonging in their social context, this can be a very powerful tool that can empower them to contribute massively to their society through team engagement. Inclusivity in this sense is focused on empowerment, which can promote collective action to accelerate national development and cohesion.

Inclusivity in governance promotes peace and national stability. It is often measured based on three metrics: Equal life chances, Equal concern for people’s needs and meritocracy (that is the idea that, rewards and positions in every society should reflect differences in effort and ability, and based on fair competition). Any political structure founded on the basis of these metrics, will lead to social content among its people and the rising levels of trust in government. This will break the barricades on the capacity of individual and social groups to participate actively in society, reducing unrest and resentments towards the state and promoting peace and stability within the country. Inadequate attention to social policies that will ensure equity in the distribution of benefits and costs and non — discrimination policies to ensure that individuals enjoy their full rights can threaten our progress towards other developmental goals and may escalate into violence and conflicts. “Unsustainable development can be caused by not only environmental and disaster risks and inappropriate natural resources management, but also poverty, inequalities, discrimination and sociocultural exclusion, insecurity, human rights abuse and corruption” (UNRISD, 2015). This is because no true development can ever be sustained in the midst violence and conflicts.

An inclusive government is a fair and effective one. It is one that consciously encourages and promotes participation in decision-making in the country. An effective government is an integral part of sustainable development. All the major characteristics of an effective government such as accountability, transparency, responsiveness, equality, and participation are inherent in the ideology of inclusivity. A recent research shows that “inclusion has the promise of many positive individual and organizational outcomes such as reduced turnover, greater altruism, and team engagement. When employees are truly being included within a work environment they are more likely to share information and participate in decision making” (Riordan, 2014). An integrated and effective system of governance is desirable for all types of organizations and can make an invaluable contribution to achieving sustained organizational success, according to the International Federations of Accountants, IFAC (2012). This is possible because an effective government ensures the creation of equal opportunities for its members, though the promotion of social justice, leading to cohesion at the local and national levels. An effective government promotes the welfare of the people since it seeks to eliminate discrimination and massive participation in decision making and provision of equal opportunities for its members.

Other people believe true inclusivity cannot be achieved in this highly complex and diverse global community of ours. Such people hold the opinion that an inclusive society is but just an illusion. For instance, these people are often of the opinion that inclusion means everyone must love everybody else. However, this wrong belief will mean that people will have to live under the false pretense that our real differences does not really exist, which can have real consequences for our society. This false pretense is the exact opposite of inclusion. The real challenge of Inclusion is to find common cause for important work that cannot be done effectively if we isolate ourselves from one another along the many differences of race, culture, nationality, gender, class, ability, and personality that truly do divide us (John & Marsha, n.d.).

We might not achieve a perfectly all-inclusive society but if we make the conscious efforts to create the social structures in our society that allow and accept every human being to live and operate base on their unique differences, bringing forth their talents, abilities, and work experiences, imagine how much we can achieve. But again, until we address the legacy social structures instituted in the past that continuous to create discrimination, until we redefine the past meaning of race to celebrate our unique differences rather than as system of classification, then the dream of achieving an all-inclusive government will remain an illusion.

Inclusivity in governance promotes a healthy competition that challenges individual to rise above the status quo and improve their standards of living. People want equal chances to show how one is better than the other. When equal chances are created for all people, people will have no excuses why they are not doing will in society. This will increase their quest to rise above the status quo and ultimately their standard of living will improve. Furthermore, it will mean less resentment and antagonism leading to a gregarious society where social mobility can be harness to promote national development and cohesion. Lee Kuan Yew stated social mobility as one of the great secret to the success of Singapore. In the book the Man and his Ideas he asserted, “The…factor which helps us is that we have not got deep class division. Social mobility is half the secrets of Singapore’s success” (Kwang, Fernandez, & Tan, 2015). When conditions are created in society where equal chances are created in the society, the people will strive to live above the status quo.

No true sustainable change can ever be achieved on the basis of exclusivity. When political structures are constructed on the basis of classification and social stratification in a society, people will feel discontent, resentments, repressiveness and ultimately the results will the chaos and violence in the society leading to mass destruction of state infrastructure and property and severe marginalization of its citizens. However, an all-inclusive government will promote the welfare of its people. This is because when people feel a sense of belonginess within their own society, there is maximum trust and participation in government, social mobility can be harnessed to promote development through community engagement, it can serve as a tool for empowerment of people, there will also be maximum peace and stability in the society, people will be willing to engage with each other promoting collective action, and people will strive to live above the status quo because they are provided with equal opportunities.

References

Editors of Britannica.(2016). Rwanda genocide of 1994. Retrieved March 2, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/event/Rwanda-genocide-of-1994

IFAC. (2012). Effective Governance, Risk Management, and Internal Control. Retrieved March 2, 2017, from //www.ifac.org/publications-resources/effective-governance-risk-management-and-internal-control

John, O., & Marsha, M. (n.d.). Ethics of Inclusion.pdf. Retrieved March 2, 2017, from http://www.inclusion.com/downloads/obrienarchive/Ethics/Ethics%20of%20Inclusion.pdf

Kwang, H. F., Fernandez, W., & Tan, S. (2015). Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas. Marshall Cavendish International.

Riordan, C. (2014, June 5). Diversity Is Useless Without Inclusivity. Retrieved March 2, 2017, from https://hbr.org/2014/06/diversity-is-useless-without-inclusivity

Rwanda: How the genocide happened. (2011, May 17). BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13431486

RBC.(2015). What is Diversity & Inclusion? Retrieved March 2, 2017, from http://www.rbc.com/diversity/what-is-diversity.html

TEDx Talks. (2013). Inclusion, Exclusion, Illusion and Collusion: Helen Turnbull at TEDxDelrayBeach. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdV8OpXhl2g

UNRISD.(2015).Background paper by UNRISD for UNITAR’s Post-2015 Briefing on Social Inclusion.docx — unitar-social-inclusion. Retrieved March 2, 2017, from http://www.unrisd.org/unitar-social-inclusion

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Data Scientist, Software Engineer, Technical Content Writer, prolific Blogger, and a budding Novelist.

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Atule Ayine

Atule Ayine

Data Scientist, Software Engineer, Technical Content Writer, prolific Blogger, and a budding Novelist.

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