Happy New Year folk.
How are you getting on with your New year’s resolutions so far?
I know this is an odd question but what exactly are New year’s resolutions? Are they goals or aspirations?
I recently stumbled across an an article by Linda Raftree with her wishes for the year 2012 specifically on issues of Inclusion, openness and authenticity.
Linda reflects on the events that have shaped the world in 2011 and her wish for 2012 is for the voices of the excluded to be included in development conversations amongst other things. I share Linda’s wish for more Inclusion and authentic stories especially on Africa in 2012.
I attend several events on the development of Africa throughout the year, where I hear from development experts, academics, NGOs and big corporations and I always feel something is missing from these conversations- the voices of the recipients of development programmes. As I recently learned if we don’t listen- WE GET IT WRONG and send out the wrong message about those that are on the receiving end of development programmes
An ordinary man on the streets of any given western capital tends to learn about Africa from a television set. This median does not always pull together those authentic stories about life in Africa and anyone with no knowledge of Africa would be forgiven for thinking that Africa is a lost cause on which resources should not be wasted.
In his BBC Radio 4 interview Mo Ibrahim has (quite rightly) recently complained about the popular media failing to present a comprehensive image of Africa.
But the question is who has the right to tell the authentic story of Africa ?
How do we add their voice to the development conversation and why is it important that we hear these voices?
If we learned anything in 2011 I would like to think that it was the citizens who own the right to tell their story and that social media has made that possible consequently the world has changed in ways we could never have imagined. Social media platforms enabled ordinary citizens to take action and oust the big men of politics and the rest of us to rally around those citizens. We heard the voices of those citizens!
Villages in Action- Is a little unknown conference that came about in response to the UN summit of 2010. The Villages in Action platform gives us a rare opportunity to hear from residents of a Ugandan village- we learn how they live, what they do to generate income, the impact of their lifestyle on their environment and why development initiatives do not work.
Why don’t we have more of these platforms across the world? Better still why aren’t conversations on development based on this model?
In 2012 the first development event I will attend will be in Masindi NW Uganda on 14 January 2012. This will be the second Villages in Action conference and I am really looking forward to it. If you can’t join us you will not miss out, the organisers will bring the event live to you in your living room.
What ever the new year holds in stock- like Linda my wish for 2012 is to hear more from those at the receiving end of development!
Happy New year and please do share your New Year’s wishes