There are several misused words in the world of Academia regarding to Africa. One in particular that I find interesting is the use of the word Vis-a-Vis. Now who can tell me the meaning of that word without a reference to an Oxford Dictionary? Off course the authors could choose to use such words like “compared to” or “in relation to” but they chose to use a word that means nothing to many people. Leave it to academia to confuse the people they are trying to speak to.
The other word that is much related to africa is “viable Solutions”. You hear about finding viable solutions for Africa, and you wonder what this means. It is a big phrase to use on a continent that is barely holding on to its people and resources. Off course the lack of control of resources drives people out, and the lack of qualified professionals continues the depredation of the African economy. Back to “viable”….what does that mean exactly?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives me several definitions:
1 : capable of living; especially : having attained such form and development as to be normally capable of surviving outside the Mother’s womb
2 : capable of growing or developing
3 a : capable of working, functioning, or developing adequately b : capable of existence and development as an independent unit c (1) : having a reasonable chance of succeeding (2) : financially sustainable
It can only be hoped that by viable solutions for Africa, the scholars would be referencing to the third definition. However, understanding this definition does little to help in understanding what is really meant by viable solutions. First question that should rise to mind is what are the problems for these “solutions”? The term is used loosely as there have been very few solutions to Africa. Even the Chinese have not succeeded in finding solutions for the quandary of problems that face Africa and its people. Indeed there are more pressing issues that the Chinese’s interest in African resources ( they won’t be the first one to have a “hit and run” policy)
There needs to be a viable Africa, thus the need for the over-chorused viable solutions. However, none are forthcoming. As far as viable solutions go so far, there has been technology and organic farming. But off course we can’t consider africa going “green” as much more viable than the present farming techniques. Let it not be mentioned that IMF and the WB will have a circus of a day when Africa decides to do what it does best….green farming. The lack of subsidies might yet be the gift to Africa and the loosening of the grip that these intergovernmental organizations have on African Economy. It is yet to be seen whether technology in Africa will be to the level of the Western countries. Furthermore, for technology to be of impact, it would necessitate a group of people who know the ins and out of technology-at the moment, there is a very little percentage of people who can use technology to the level that is needed for a greater impact on African economy.
But being neither here nor there, what would be a viable solution for African Women, children and the whole HIV/AIDS pandemic/endemic? It would be good to note that all these grand solutions are on a macro level that the micro level issues like the social status of women, and the status of the OVC is put on a back burner. What are the viable solutions for these marginalized groups? These are the same groups that are highly affected by HIV/AIDS, yet in regaining Africa’s economy, there is little done to establish both women and children as active members of this recovery.
At the end of the day, the question is whether a lot of time is spent researching for these viable solutions rather than spending it in the field with the people to know where help is needed the most. Solutions look good on paper. They look even better when words like sustainable development, vis-a-vis, and viable, are used. However, spending a month in an African country does nothing to finding solutions. It does little to the people who are hopeful that one day there will be a turn-around for them.