Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another Case for Integration

I will take another time off investment talk today and a bare a little thought for our consideration.

It was a huge (though simple for most people) decision I had to take if I was to travel to Ghana by air or road. Two natures I have dominant in me were truly at contest. I hate unnecessary stress, and road travel through two different West-African countries onward was a guaranteed bet to provide lots of stress. But, I love travelling and seeing places. I love to peer into the eyes of the ordinary people because I know their silence rhythms out the answer to a long sought bliss. The quietness of their struggles flames my vision for a future filled with possibilities. With an online booking already in place and the desire to avoid stress, it took the other nature of me…curiosity to sway my decision to go by road with other members of the team put together from my country to attend this 1st African Youth conference in Accra, Ghana. Moreover this will be my first time to travel to a fellow West African country, so why not start with a quick skim-through of the country side.

When some decisions are made, you must be prepared for some trade-offs. I got a full dose of “African Hospitality” unfortunately the “un-Proper” Naija way! I (we) have never witnessed such attention to unnecessary detail as witnessed exiting my country. Our custom men apparently have had some FBI or CIA type training and they were willing to snoop everything on you…how best will you explain asking to scan through my memory card because I took a picture of a curious looking “okada-type” tricycle. Unfortunately for the entire team, I wasn’t the only guilty party. By the time the drilling and over 3 hours grilling was through, the steam was out of most of us by the time we crossed into no-man’s land between Naija and Republique du Benin. Though we were quickly attended to in our fellow brother’s country, we were treated like spies by our fellow country-men….so much passion for a nation seeking for true identity!

I have always shared the opinion that to further the possibility of African renaissance, we need a sense of urgency on how integration is achieved in the continent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for (mediocre-thought) amalgamation of Africa, just some simple basic things that will ensure seamless mobility across the entire landscape of the continent…for the real people of the continent. Apparently, I observed(please tell me I’m wrong, cos I really could be) that travel options within the continent for the so-called poor and lower end of the various countries, those who will be readily considered to use ground travel is much more difficult and burdensome when compared to air-travel within the subcontinent. My little submission here: another dimension to consider in solving the multi-faceted poverty problem in the continent is to address so much unseen opportunites such cumbersome structures deny us.

My point? Across the length and breadth of the continent, the faces of ordinary people seek for interaction with other ordinary people, and the more this interaction can be facilitated through simple infrastructure, flexible customs procedures and willing government de-bottlenecking, the better our chances for creating extra-ordninary possibilities.


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