I just read an article shared by Jonathan Glennie on the revolutions sweeping through so many developing nations. The writer, Paul Mason, makes specific mention of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Having spent big chunks of my life in both Brazil and India, and seeing principles here which apply to Africa, I thought I’d write a little bit about this.
Revolutions have been going around for a while now. A little over two centuries ago some Americans, tired of being ruled and taxed from far away with no say in the matter decided that the system was broken, and fought to create a better system. Shortly after some Frenchmen were feeling miserable because much of the power and wealth in their country rested in the hands of a very few, so the people rose up, heads rolled, and voila – a Republic was established (i believe it was a bit messier than it sounds). A little while later poor Russian peasants who lived on potatoes and turnips (which get old fast I’d imagine) became outraged that their nobility had caviar with their Faberge eggs while attending the ballet; and boom, revolution ensued there too. In the following decades dozens of colonies – outraged that the wealth and power of their nations lay in the hands of a foreign minority – went boom like dominoes so that from 1945 to 1985 around one hundred new sovereign nations came into being.
Just a couple of years ago we saw another wave of revolutions start for much the same reasons – the Arab Spring – the wealth and power of nations rested in the hands of a very few, the increasingly educated masses felt disenfranchised and hopeless, and corruption at all levels of society just made it sting all the more. Revolutions went around and regimes fell, or in some cases are still falling. More recently Turkey went up, and in the last week, Brazil did too. That hits closer to home. Brazil was my home from 3 to 12 years old, and i still have a deep love for easy-going Brazilian culture and the open, accepting, unbelievably friendly people. Yet I remember even in my early teens – way before people started talking of BRICS – reading that no countries at the time had greater disparity between rich and poor than Brazil, South Africa, and India (possibly in The Power of One, a book I highly recommend to everyone, everywhere!).
Mason writes that given the injustices and the differences between what life could be like and what it actually is for increasingly educated populations in developing countries, unhappiness is bound to be fomented. He ends his article by stating that until those injustices change, this ‘Human Spring’ seems destined to continue. I agree with him, but I don’t think he’s gotten to the root of it. Power may tend to corrupt, but I’m pretty sure a whole government doesn’t suddenly become corrupt the moment they take the reins of power. Replacing a corrupt government with another corrupt government, which tragically seems to have become a habit in Africa, is no improvement at all.
Without societal transformation from the bottom up instilling integrity as a core value in society, without teaching the importance of transparency and accountability – both governmental but also personal, neither general populations nor leaders are suddenly going to be transformed into incorruptible bastions of virtue. Beyond this, until a mature citizenry realize that leadership starts here, at home, and not with Government; until individuals and groups begin taking personal responsibility for the development, improvement and transformation of their countries, things aren’t going to change. They might get shifted around on the plate, but it’ll be the same old meal.
This blog was established in part to help determine the best way that we, as a family desiring to see transformation, could be used to help see it happen. I think vital to any solutions we think we might see, to any systems we think might work, would be a component of this – one on one speaking into people’s lives, encouraging transparency, promoting accountability, modelling integrity. Could you imagine the difference that a generation of leaders who live out these values would make?