Africa, genius at mimicry

By Brian Sedze

IT is a real Thaumoctopus (mimic octopus) of human culture, economic models, social norms, health management, culture and traditions, education, intellectual engagements, laws and constitutions, democracy and politics, and even food and etiquette.

It’s a hollow imitation of superstates like United States, Great Britain, China, Canada and European countries.

Unfortunately, mimicry is neither preservation of the core of a country or is it innovation. By copying super States, a country will fail to compete with super-State mirror economies.

Incremental innovation of existing products and services will make African economies subservient to super powers.

We are at a point any African country should discard mimicry to invest in radical and disruptive innovation to enable it to compete with other nations.

In this world, the weak are downtrodden by the strong.

There is at least a half dozen categories of mimicry in nature, such as the hawk-cuckoo, a cuckoo that has feather and wing patterns, like a hawk; the false cobra, which has the same distinctive hood as the Indian cobra.

Many insects copy the African monarch butterfly due to its legendary bad taste and in a very impressive display of mimicry, octopuses of the genus Thaumoctopus can change colour and shape to resemble a poisonous lionfish or even sea snakes.

The weaker cultures are eventually subsumed by the stronger cultures. History also proves that without moving outside the mimic culture, we are doomed to extinction. On the continent we are doomed by the adoption of our colonial powers’ fashion and constitutions.

We are even moving closer to becoming more British, Portuguese and French than being African even in dress, styles, mannerism, religion, marriage and etiquette.

On a competitive platform, who wins or loses in a direct contest is eschewed as a determinant in a struggle for domination, one could reasonably deduce the progress of the fight by which entity begins to mimic the other as a defence mechanism.

When one entity begins to adopt the trappings of the other, it is often a sign that the battle for supremacy is lost, and the weaker entity is signalling it can no longer expect to win and end the predation and is merely looking for a means to survive in an environment in which it can no longer hope to dominate.

Our new-found friend, China decided to let its mask of mimicry fall off by being a leading force in science, technology and engineering. It is time for Africa to move in that direction.

Africa’s innovation funnel is often worse than incremental innovation which our leaders often base on a false fad of globalisation of brands in food, medicine, dressing, religion and other things.

We are not even a continent copying and improving but one that is always trying to play catch with the super States we adore.

I will use a few pointers at how we face a future of perpetual control by super States in food, medicine, education, banking and finance, democracy and politics, culture, and intellectual engagements.

Countries in Africa are failing to preserve the core in animal breeds and seed varieties of cereals, fruits and vegetables. The companies leading this thought “better” varieties were controlled mostly by Americans and Europeans.

In a few years from now, Africa would have lost control of the food chain as they will control the entire food chain from research, genetic engineering, farming methods, disease control, pesticides, storage, distribution and retailing. At each point along the chain, it’s profit for the owner of the variety.

It is even possible when they desire more profit, they will manufacture a crisis in the entire food chain so they can profit from a crisis only themselves can solve.

The super States, through pharmaceutical giants, sponsor our teaching methods and students in medicine, pharmacy and biochemistry. If you find a scientist who deviates from the super State norms, he or she is unemployed. Yet Africa is better off with joint research and has enough wealth to enable or up-scale traditional medicine and disease control.

In Zimbabwe, the Chinese have been allowed to establish a Chinese traditional medicine institute at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals ahead of existing African traditional medicine.

It is time alternative home-grown medical research and outcomes are accepted by medical and drug control authorities who are funded by Africa.

Most of the continent mimic European and American dressing, etiquette, food, drinks, and ceremonies. What is not seriously considered is that Africa has become dependent on foreign brands for affirmation and acceptance.

Super-State brands like Gucci, Nike, Adidas and so forth are considered to be of the highest standard. African’s attempts at developing own brands, dress codes, consumption patterns and traditional ceremonies are increasingly becoming obsolete, resulting in over-reliance on super-State supply chains in the sectors.

Made in Africa is a sign of inferiority and cannot gain traction. In fact, adoption of home-grown dress codes, music, art, etiquette, norms and traditions is frowned at as cultural regression.

The major albatross of innovating outside the familiar is lethargy to investing time, energy and intellect to design our own models. We are heavily reliant on Western ideology, education systems, democracy and politics.

It is unfortunate that we are still reliant on Western-educated intellectuals and a new breed of activists, lawyers, journalists, civic society leaders and politicians.

The world is paying our people to continue the mimicry in every aspect of our lives, disguised as activism.

To imagine circumcision was only accepted and adopted when it came from the West after years of it being defined as genital mutilation.

If we do not wake up from the deep slumber, we shall continue to mimic and be subservient to the super-States. The world will have nothing to fear from our continent.

We have a choice, a say in this matter and that is Africa must desist from innovating around the familiar.

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