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As part of our celebration of the month of May which is Africa Month, our third issue reflects on the role of African intellectuals and intelligentsia. The African continent through its continental body, the African Union had in 2015 adopted a developmental programme entitled, Agenda 2063. The programme’s time horizon sets out a development trajectory for the continent towards the centenary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) - a forerunner to the African Union.  Established in 1963. Agenda 2063 has the following seven developmental aspirational ends for the continent:
  1.    A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development;
  2. An integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance;
  3. An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law;
  4. A peaceful and secure Africa;
  5. An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics;
  6. An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children;
  7. Africa as a strong, united and influential global player and partner.

In order for the continent to deliver on the above compelling and noble developmental intentions, we need to focus on building a cadre of critical thinkers and intellectuals who are committed to partner with the continent as it traverses this complex and yet inspiring journey of renewal and development. We need to set ourselves high standards and ceaselessly pursue the attainment of these standards. Excellence should be the expectation we place on the table as the standard of our intellectuals. Largely, this attribute must entail having an army of young scholars who would be able to be absorbed in theoretical acumen, contextual discipline, and possess a foresight to embrace socio-political complexities of the continent.

There must be an impatience with binary simplicity and dogma positions mostly derived from intellectual paradigms that are devoid from Africa’s reality. Our intellectuals and intelligentsia must be of service to the continent.  Their strategic and critical thinking should be dedicated towards reflecting on progress, challenges and opportunities that the continent needs to consolidate, address and exploit as it implements its development programme. The continent cannot afford to produce intellectuals who generate knowledge that does not contribute to propelling the continent to occupy its place amongst the family of nations – as a fully liberated continent marshalling its own development.  

The essence of working towards achieving Agenda 2063, will certainly have many challenges and contradictions. Some of these challenges and contradictions will be of an objective nature, while others will be subjective. It is the task of intellectuals to take a lead in analysing and proffering scenarios and solutions on how the continent should respond strategically and tactically to objective challenges and on how to mitigate in a forthright, authentic and constructive fashion the subjective factors arising out of the need to implement as a collective Africa’s development programme.

At all times, the test of our intellectuals and intelligentsia would be on its capacity and capability to surface the aspirations and interests of Africans at the centre of the discourse to renew and develop the continent. The renewal agenda of Africa should be about and for the peoples of the continent. This should be underpinned by an enduring and resilient democratic system buttressed by the values of social justice, Ubuntu, human solidarity, love for the people, service, freedom, responsibility, and sustainable development amongst others. 

I therefore invite our students to study the continent’s development programme and commit themselves as the young African intelligentsia to making their contribution in changing the prevailing conditions as we continue on our collective crusade towards the Africa we want.

Posted on 14 May 2019 15:16:41

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This platform serves as a reflective, discursive and connecting space between myself and the entire student community of our beloved university. Through this platform, we converse with our students and broader stakeholders on all matters of student life, wellbeing and development at Mandela University.

Dr Bernard Sebake, Acting Dean of Students