There is a problem in Africa and is a problem of the mind, a problem of how mental faculties are exercised. The issue is not that Africans do not think. They do. It is not that Africans do not have or exercise their intellectual capacities. The problem is not whether Africans are intelligent or not. The crux of the matter is in how Africans think, how they exercise their intelligence, and how their intellect relates to their social, economic and political relationships.
The issue is not that there is a particular way that African people think or express their intellect. No, a variety of thinking formulations exist. Multiple ways of reasoning abound. The problem is in the kind of thinking that is pervasive; the form of reasoning that is privileged, incentivised, rewarded or celebrated.
It is pertinent to explore how Africans can change their thinking behaviours in order to foster African emancipation and emergence. African societies cannot continue to privilege particular thinking behaviours and expect a different course of development.
Too often the emphasis is placed on challenging the way that westerners or easterners present Africa and Africans. No doubt, this is important. But enough attention has not been paid to examining and prescribing changes to the ways Africans present and represent themselves. A change in thinking behaviours of Africans has become a necessity.
Africa’s fundamental malaise can be traced to its thinking culture, to the reasoning habits that dominate, drive and define everyday life and dealings. The manner in which certain thinking behaviours came to dominate discourses on Africa may be quite problematic, but the influence of thinking processes is evident in happenings and reactions to events across the region, in African politics and economy.
Thus the way Africans mentally represent Africa and how they relate to others thinking about Africa and Africans deserves scrutiny. This is because if Africa must experience a radical transformation in this century, African modes of representation must undergo a sea change.
There has to be a drastic shift, an overhauling of how Africans think about Africa, about anything African, indeed about anybody or anything at all. Or better, Africans must begin to challenge the dominant way(s) of thinking and reasoning formations in the region. Africans need to indulge in a rethinking and a reimagining of the world and the structures therein.
They need to reexamine the idea of development, aids, international relations, foreign investment, trade, democracy, tourism, governance, education, Christianity, Islam, science, religion and philosophy. These narratives and structures are culturally embedded. They come with some social and political undertones.
Sometimes these formations contain ideas and impressions that are not always consistent with a balanced or an informed view of Africa and the African. Sometimes, they embody demeaning, degrading and exotic images of Africa or anything African. These notions constitute mechanisms that are used to legitimise and perpetuate stereotypic views of Africa and Africans.