During the opening address of the 2012 Africa Gathering DC conference (which I had the pleasure of attending), Her Excellency Tebelelo Seretse, Ambassador of Botswana made it a point to demonstrate that the constant "contradiction" of glossing over every African nation as an entire conglomerate country rife with war, famine and poverty hurts the advancement of the region. It also hinders nuanced perceptions of African stories/history as well as ignores the goal of creating customized development solutions.
Africa Gathering DC was a series of break-out sessions and discussions driven by critical thinking. Ambassador Seretse, herself used the case of her own Botswana's history with democracy. "Botswana is the only country in Africa that has stayed democratic since Independence". This "kgotla" system is made-up of community-based traditional democratic councils. As a result of this system, Botswana even has a Global Peace Index higher than the United States. I wonder how many people know that!
Just a snapshot of issues covered at the gathering:
- Who really benefits from the arising "Tech Boom"?
- Can we move production through technology?
- "Pitching Traditional African Media is particularly important".
- "Men need to engage other men [in health and wellness of women]".
- What rifts do the African Neo-Diaspora (most recent immigrants) have with countrymen back home?
Underneath all of these ideas and well-founded concerns, there lies a quite penetrating issue that seemed to gather. This issue could shape the future socio-economic development of the African region if it is to take advantage of its' steady growth. And that is the organizational development of inclusive, innovative African-grown organizations and social innovation movements. Upon my own research, it seems that the concept of organizational development can take quite fluid definitions:
“Organization Development is the attempt to influence the members of an organization to expand their candidness with each other about their views of the organization and their experience in it, and to take greater responsibility for their own actions as organization members. The assumption behind OD is that when people pursue both of these objectives simultaneously, they are likely to discover new ways of working together..."-- Neilsen, “Becoming an OD Practitioner”, Englewood Cliffs, CA: Prentice-Hall, 1984, pp. 2-3.
"Organization Development is a body of knowledge and practice that enhances organizational performance and individual development, viewing the organization as a complex system of systems that exist within a larger system, each of which has its own attributes and degrees of alignment. OD interventions in these systems are inclusive methodologies and approaches..." -- Matt Minahan, MM & Associates, Silver Spring, Maryland
|Photo from Angola “Woman carrying books”|
Personally, I hope to become a "curator" of such information which I believe can give the poorest and most underserved the freedom to express themselves SUCCESSFULLY (so that can provide for their communities) and without fear. Whether that information is big data or vibrant visuals: KNOWLEDGE is power.
-N. R. M