My generation should take the responsibility of creating first - a peaceful environment to lay the foundation for economic development, and second, to build an equitable, good society, says the writer. File picture: Dumisani Sibeko
There's been so much advancement and technological development, yet we still have tribal, religious and racial prejudices and wars, writes Joseph Makamba Busha.

Over the past 50 years, great strides have been made in the attempt to have one connected world - a world for everyone. This is what globalisation was meant to achieve - the integration of world economies, financial and communication systems; equitable fair trade; and easy movement of people and goods.

Food production, healthcare, education, technology and infrastructure have improved immensely for some nations, but not for others. We can communicate with each other from every corner of the globe in so many ways - cellphones, social media, emails and so on, and we can get to places quicker by air, road or sea.

So much advancement and technological development, yet we still have tribal, religious and racial prejudices and wars.

Companies, and the executive leaders tasked with running them, have also experienced positive changes in relation to good corporate governance practices: disclosure, responsibility, accountability, transparency, fairness; and greater corporate social responsibility duties for a better society and business sustainability.

What is the problem? The problem is that there is no peace in the world and mankind has not changed much. Yes, technologically and infrastructure-wise, massive positive developments have taken place and possibly too fast and too soon. For humans, the change has been mostly compliance, not necessarily principle-based, nor deep-rooted in our hearts. Any change has been in pursuit of power, money and the next jump in profits for some corporates.

Weapons’ manufacturers still arm groups like the Islamic State, Boko Haram and others; drug dealers still feed our children toxic drugs; child labour and child sex crimes still haunt many families, while wars are still being waged in Syria, Iraq and many other places in the world, purportedly to settle differences. We desire and talk about peace, but it seems to be the only option we have not considered in practice.

With everything that has been tried and failed, I believe it is time to try peace as a permanent foundation and solution for human, social and economic developmental challenges. Peace is not the absence of war or unrest. Peace is when one is physically and emotionally totally free, when there is no emotional turmoil.

Without peace there is no social or economic development. Separate development based on class will breed more problems, as history has shown. Today, the US is talking of building walls between nations, yet the destruction or removal of the Berlin Wall is a stark reminder that building walls in the 21st century or any other time in the future, is no solution. It is time to build bridges of peace, not walls of separation.

History shows us countries that have not been, and are not at peace for long periods of time, are the least developed economically and socially.

The lack of peace due to social unrest and wars has been brought about by gross mismanagement of national resources, while corruption, discrimination and exploitation of one another have hindered the development of Africa. The Africa rising narrative has come to pass with no tangible, visible progress for many. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and many other initiatives could have taken Africa forward, only if there was peace and consensus on what needs to be done in Africa by Africans and only if citizens identified with and had a connection with the objectives. Yet those in power still advocate for taking up arms.

Here is a citizens’ initiative, the JM BUSHA 54 RACES for Peace & Unity in Africa (JM BUSHA 54). This is a non-profit organisation whose objective is get individuals, organisations and governments to actively promote and pledge peace and raise funds for the peace cause. This is a peace movement to be established across the African continent. Sports, the arts, culture, music and education will be used as programmes to engage citizens to promote and pledge peace, and become signatories to The Peace Pledge - which reads:

“I am for peace, harmony and unity. I commit myself not to be involved in any undesirable activity - banditry, corruption, discrimination, unfair exploitation of labour and one another, and destructive exploitation of natural resources for selfish gain. Further, I will not make any decision that may cause instability, social unrest, poverty and other socio-economic problems in the country. I am for Peace. I am Peace.”

We want our businesses and political leaders to sign the Peace Pledge. We want our presidents to sign the Peace Pledge. We want them to carefully consider the implications and social impact of the decisions they make. Examples of bad decisions that have left us where the continent is at, are many.

The decisions made by business and political leaders in Zimbabwe have left the country with no currency of its own, 90% are unemployment and displaced citizens. The decisions or lack thereof by Lonmin executives and government officials led to 34 miners’ deaths at Marikana.

The decision by the ANC to nominate Thoko Didiza as Tshwane’s mayoral candidate left vehicles burnt, shops looted and destroyed, and five people dead. I could go on with many other examples, but that is not the point of this article. The point is - let us consider avenues to build true lasting peace for sustainable development and prosperity.

Going back to the question - so what is the problem? The problem is that Africa has not learnt from history and what has transpired in some parts of Europe, America and Asia in terms of positive development over the past decades.

Africa has not learnt how to take itself out of the cycle of poverty and move from under-developed, to developing (emerging) and to a developed, inclusive economy.

What is needed to start walking on the path towards positive sustainable development? Where do we start from and where is the solution for Africa?

The solution lies squarely with its citizens - the indigenous citizens of Africa, to take personal responsibility for the fortunes of the continent, country by country. To quote the words of a great African writer, Chinua Achebe “ The problem is the unwillingness or inability of Leaders to rise to the responsibility; to the challenge of personal examples, which are the hallmarks of true leadership.”

Thus, we cannot leave our future and the future of our children, grandchildren and their children to the decisions (whims) of the few in the business and political class; we must be all involved, young and old. This is my time, your time and our time to get involved and shape the future we want.

The JM BUSHA 54 RACES for Peace & Unity in Africa initiative is a call to action to the citizenry to take the first step, to take a stand for peace, unity and positive development in Africa. From time immemorial, individuals emerge in some generations and are called upon to take a stand for the common good. The Kwane Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela generations took a stand against oppression and colonialism. What about my generation and the younger generations after? My generation, I think, should take the responsibility of creating first - a peaceful environment to lay the foundation for economic development, and second, to build an equitable, good society. The generation after my generation and the next generation must deliver true freedom for all. This is, and this should be, the stand. This is the responsibility.

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU) was founded on May 25, 1963 to foster unity among African nations. To make this a reality, the JM BUSHA 54 intends to conduct 54 Peace Pledge events, one in each of the 54 African countries - all on Africa Day, May 25 each year, to celebrate and fulfil the mission started by our foreleaders.

This is the call - join the JM BUSHA 54 Peace Pledge events, sign up for the fun walk/run and marathons, become a signatory and pledge peace.

The inaugural marathons and celebratory events (sport, music, arts, cultural dances and other activities) are on May 25 at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe, and on May 28 at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg. I am for Peace, I am Peace. Visit www.jmbusha54.com for more.

* Busha is the managing director of JM BUSHA Investment Group and Founder of JM BUSHA 54 RACES NPC.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Sunday Independent