By Tichaona Gumunyu
Author| BSc Honours Psychology| Program Developer|
New ideas are key to global development. With new ideas, life becomes more meaningful and bearable. However, not every new idea is captured and accorded the respect it deserves. In this article I will explain the value of ideas and how as human beings we need to develop a positive attitude towards new ideas for the development of our world. To share my views on the value of ideas and the need for a positive attitude towards them, I will use Africa as a case in point, not necessarily that Africa is the only continent where ideas are not well captured and utilised, but simply because that is where I come from and it is from an African perspective that I can effectively tackle this issue. What I will talk about in this article applies to any country or continent with such scenario.
The beautiful continent – Africa!
Africa is a very beautiful continent endowed with abundant resources spanning from grass to gold, from olive to oil and from humus to humans. Of late, Africa has managed to capture much of its natural resources and has become one of the world’s largest producers of raw materials specifically produced from its vast natural resource bases – the land, the water and the sky.
However, it pains a lot that even though Africa has all this in place, the continent has done little on its own human resource with due regard to new ideas and talents, especially from amongst the young and ordinary people.
I want to believe our main problem as Africans is not that of lack of new ideas, but it is that of lack of concern and action for those new ideas. There are so many young and ordinary people who have great ideas which, if only implemented would immensely contribute to both our national and continental development.
As a young person I grew up with so many other young people who had very powerful ideas, but those ideas just washed away because no one cared much about them. The attitude of many people by that time was that of learning to attain a certain qualification in order to get a decent job. Only a few thought about the value of their ideas and which is why only a few have also managed to strike a big difference in life today by starting their own companies – the rest are only crying for better salaries in their places of employment. Sad thing!
Today we also have so many young people with amazing ideas, but those ideas simply perish under the vice of poverty and ignorance. Many youths with powerful brains exist in Africa, but because they lack access to resources, they simply remain ordinary.
“Unless Africans embrace a culture of capturing new ideas and placing value on them, our continent will remain backward and lagging behind other continents like America, Europe and Asia.”
In its 2017 theme, the African Union put much thrust on youth involvement in development issues by “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth.” The past AU Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma affirmed this as she said, “By involving young people, they have a sense of ownership and stake in the future. On our part, we will this year appoint a special AU Envoy for Youth to mobilise and advance for the Youth.” (Sunday Mail, Zimbabwe 05/02/2017)
Another author from Zimbabwe (Sunday Mail Newspaper of 05/02/2017) also said; “Africa’s young population can bring economic independence to the continent just like the older generation in their youth brought political independence. This can only happen with strategic investments in health, education, government and the economy that promote a demographic dividend. A demographic dividend emerges when the working population outnumbers dependents (children and the elderly).”
Youth involvement in development issues is of great importance to both national and global development. There is need for the responsible authorities to tap into youths and extract ideas for development purposes. Our continent will remain lagging behind other continents as long as we do not involve young people in development issues.
Young people should be assisted to advance in life by allowing them equal access to education, health, investments and everything key to human advancement.
In this article, I am going to focus on the value of ideas as a building block to global development. I strongly believe that ideas are indispensable to meaningful development at both national and global level. Entrepreneurship is the key to sustainable development and it must be harnessed across the whole world. If we are to advance in Africa, every African needs to embrace a positive attitude towards new ideas. We should respect and value new ideas because they form the basis for an advanced society.
What is an idea?
Before we go into the details of this article, let me first explain the word IDEA. Literally, the word idea means a concept, a notion, a thought, or knowledge. In this case, an idea is a projected thought that is in relation to a future activity or possible course of action.
The value of an idea
Most of us use or talk about this word called ‘idea’ on many occasions in life, but sometimes without knowing the value of it to our lives. Ideas are very important in our lives and the world as a whole.
# Ideas are game changers
Ideas are very important because they shape our lives, and give us value. They are indispensable for economic, social and political development. They act as drivers for national development and shape our society as a whole. New ideas act as game changers as they give value to even the most neglected people in the society. With new ideas, people continue to advance in life and add value to our society.
Many people take ideas for granted. You see some people have very powerful ideas, but they never do anything about those ideas and instead waste the opportunity to make a mark in this world.
# Ideas are wealth creators
I personally take creative ideas as determinants of personal wealth and success. I believe in innovation because I have discovered that it is through ideas that people advance in life.
Today we talk of people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Strive Masiiwa and many other world renowned business people because they realised the power of ideas and captured them to their ultimate greatness.
# Ideas set the difference
Ideas are life enhancers. We are all born equal with the same features, but it is through ideas that we end up being different. Take for example students who graduate with the same degree class from a reputable university. If you track those students after a period of time you will realise that they would be leading totally different lives. On one hand because they are working in different organisations, but on the other because they have different ideas with regards to life and their future.
What makes Microsoft different from other software companies is its ability to capture new ideas and effectively utilise them. Also in the Zimbabwean case, we can see that Econet has managed to dominate the telecommunication industry because of its approach towards new ideas. I always follow the founder of this great company’s founder, Mr Strive Masiiwa on Facebook and I have learnt that it is only through entrepreneurship that our world can change. When we talk of entrepreneurship, whether social or business, we are automatically talking about ideas.
We also have Mr Dangote from Nigeria standing as one of the richest man in Africa because of his distinct ideas which cut across the business divide. There are so many men and women from Africa who have built for profit and no profit empires through their cutting edge ideas. Talk of the Elumelu Entrepreneurship initiative, Higher Life Foundation and many other initiatives which are facilitating entrepreneurship within the African corridor. These are men who realised the power and value of new ideas and embraced them for the ultimate transformation of our continent.
# Africans must think and act likewise
If all Africans adopt this attitude of recognising, respecting and promoting new ideas, be it technological, business, economic or social ideas, our continent would have been on a different level by now.
It is important for us as Africans to identify new ideas, especially those amongst the young and ordinary people and promote them either by investing in them or helping the bearers of those ideas to acquire adequate education to help them advance in life. I put more emphasis on the young and the ordinary people because in most cases these are people who have the potential to transform our world, but only that they do not have proper access to resources which could enable them to utilise their full potential.
The major problem
As I have said earlier on, the main problem in Africa is not a lack of ideas, but it is that so many ideas are wasted or lost because they are not identified and captured. If you go into many African schools today you will realise that many young people in these schools are very intelligent, innovative and ambitious. You will see it through their assignments or projects or even when they speak. Unfortunately, most of that talent is washed down the drain because no one cares enough to nurture it.
One of the biggest reasons why those ideas are not captured is because our society has groomed people to acknowledge school attendance as the only escape to financial constraint or as the only major achievement that can come upon man.
Few parents or teachers nurture their young people in a way that enable them to come up with ideas to change their lives. Or if they do so, there is little or no motive to capture the new ideas as almost everyone would be concerned about getting higher grades for them to get good jobs and societal recognition.
It’s only a few young people, mainly from the elite families, who are identified and are given the opportunity to showcase their ideas to the outside world and hence become successful in life. This explains why most African youths continue to lag behind their developed countries counterparts, for instance form America, Europe and Asia. There must be mechanisms to deal with that and ensure every young person is given an opportunity to showcase their full potential. We need to have the Silicon Valley attitude towards new ideas if we are to advance in Africa.
# Sustainable development needs a consolidated approach
For any meaningful development to take place in Africa there must be: (1) strong ideas in place and (2) a positive attitude towards those ideas. Sustainable development depends not only on the availability of natural resources, but also new and powerful ideas, and the willingness to take action about those ideas. It all starts by the attitude we have towards new ideas, how we capture and implement them.
If a young person comes up with an idea, they should be helped to realise that idea. As a continent, we should jealously guard for new ideas because they are what define the state of our future.
# Money not only the answer
Money alone without great ideas cannot be of use to a nation or continent. There are so many people who have huge amounts of money today, but simply because they do not have good ideas, they use that money on worthless things. When money comes in the absence of good brains, it becomes a problem to both the bearer and the society. There are a lot of ideas lying idle due to lack of funding, yet there are people who spend money on worthless things which is why we have so much untold suffering of many people in a world full of rich people.
# Advancement and Development, a matter of attitude
Development and advancement is a matter of attitude towards the available resources. You will realise that as Africans we have so much natural resources which, if reasonably utilised could help us advance. However, simply because we do not have good conscience towards our own endowments, we end up looking up to the west for more as if we were the new generation of Oliver Twists – always asking for more.
The attitude towards new ideas in Africa leaves a lot to be desired. If the world runs out of ideas, there will come a time when it will cease to advance, not because our minds have run dry, but because they are not fully utilised. We actually need new ideas to keep pace with changing times, but also, we need to have a positive attitude towards those ideas – most ideas come and no one pays attention to them.
Africa needs to embrace a culture of capturing ideas
I believe that ideas come as gifts from God to enable effective human advancement. This means that every idea has to be captured and taken care of because God gives men ideas so that they advance in life. I always talk to many youths and I get so much amazed by what I hear and find from these youths. Most of them have killer ideas which if only they are captured and well implemented will see this continent moving forward and developing with much speed.
The main problem in Africa is that we do not do much about our ideas, especially when they are coming from the young and the ordinary people of the society. We always want to pay close attention to the society’s famous and wealthy people because we think they are the only one with the brains to move our world forward.
Our world needs more new ideas to advance
If we say there are no new ideas in the today we would be lying. The world releases a number of new and great ideas on a daily. People are not sleeping trying to come up with ideas that can transform the face of this world. However, the problem is that sometimes those ideas are not taken care of and as a result we remain behind.
Its everyone’s responsibility to think and do something for our world to advance
As Capital Inspirations, we have taken it upon ourselves to encourage people, especially the young and the ordinary to capture their ideas
Tichaona Gumunyu | Founder, Capital Inspirations