The call to duty by intellectuals of Africa to join hands with the politicians as administrators of government has not been adequately performed on the continent as expected. It is also noticed that any moment intellectuals are being co-opted and absorbed by national and international establishments, most of them are unable to think beyond the prevailing theory of modernization.
Most of the intellectuals of the African countries have been lacking the will to perform their roles as catalysts of change. Perhaps the new trend towards professionalization is responsible for this, and yet no society can hope to bring about basic changes in ruling paradigms without the active involvement of scholars and intellectuals.
It is an indisputable fact that, outstanding major advances of recent times, which have changed the nature of the world we live in has been the architectural work of scientists, social scientists, journalists, literary men and others, who are mainly in the western countries, the Soviet Union and Japan, all of whom place a high value on intellectual activities.
Kothari (1974) alluded to the fact that, in a number of newly independent countries, too, intellectuals played a considerable role in creating new values and launching new movements of ideas, as well as in the growth of scientific knowledge. And yet when any of these achievements is either undermined, misused or simply ignored, the same intellectuals are unable to make themselves felt.
Many of the intellectuals in Africa prefer to be on the right side of the establishment, while others choose to contract out of the system as a price for their autonomy. Such a situation needs to be changed.
Scientists and intellectuals have to appreciate the value of power in human affairs, something I do think, most intellectuals have either despised or feared. We need to become autonomous participants in the processes of decision-making without, however, arrogating ourselves any superior status by virtue of learning or specialized knowledge. The basic point is, a divorce between intellect and power is undesirable to the continent. It is through the intellectuals involvement in the larger processes of political change on the continent that the ability of governments and their oppositions will accept and implement such new choices based on a new vision and as well to avoid short-term temptations based on expediency. This results in Africans solving our own problems.
It is not enough to undertake a struggle against the force of reaction, it is also necessary to devise new modes of attending to the affairs of society based on a philosophy of life that is at once relevant to contemporary reality and based on an understanding of history, evolution and perennial dilemmas of human life, translated into a set of action proposals. Without these, relevant proposals will remain confined in books.
The hour has come, where the intellectuals need to pool efforts as a means of influencing opinion in national and international settings. One of the observed weaknesses of intellectuals is their inability to organize collectively. It is necessary to cross this barrier without loss of time.
A titanic struggle has been going on for the minds of men on a world scale between the militarists and the multi-nationals on one hand, and on the other hand, a small section of humanity committed to a different model of the world. This struggle necessitates an alliance between thinking strata in Africa, who have nothing to lose but their hopeless encirclement by archaic institutions controlled by new professional classes.
I will conclude my submission on the necessity to guide against pessimistic characters on the continent with the assertion of Kothari (1974) essay, as he recommends to us, to guide against dissenters and prophets of doom who have given up all hope and are advocating catastrophic action here and now, and more by men of science, literature, philosophy and the arts who are possessed by a deep sense of world crisis and are able to perceive the limited perspective in which their civilization has been built without, however, being bewitched by the new breed of charlatans from the mysterious East or seeking a return to their own biblical past.
Rajini Kothari (1974) Footsteps into the future, diagnosis of the present and a design for an alternative
Emmanuel Tweneboah Senzu, Professor of Frederic Bastiat Institute, Cape Coast Technical University | [email protected]