The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar, on Sunday disclosed that Africa must look inward and jettison ideas fron the West if it must develop.
The Sultan disclosed this while giving his remarks on the topic: ‘Values for Africa’s Development’, a lecture delivered at the 30th anniversary of the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation and the posthumous birthday of the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, held on Sunday.
According to the foremost monarch: “Underscoring the significance of this topic: some scholars have argued that part of the reason why Africa has not developed is the fact that many of the values which came as a result of our associating with the imperial west are values that are at variance with our socio-cultural environments. In other words, many of these values are at variance with our culture and tradition.
“These scholars have gone further to show how Asian countries have been able to develop to the levels of Europe and America by keeping their traditional values, even as they imbibe some western ideas of development. They point to the fact that in Japan, for example, Emperor Hirohito and priests Japanese Shinto religion were involved in their development leaps.
“The rise of the Asian tigers was unique because they did so without losing their Asian values, and they became a model of development for many developing societies.
“European industrialization and development was also associated with the ‘protestant values’, which were said to have shaped the minds of Europeans and facilitated the growth of capitalism. That societal values have always played a positive role in the development of societies is fairly obvious.
“It is important to remember that Africa had built empires and developed their economy over 500 years ago. The famous Empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhay are very well known in history. Many will remember how the pilgrimage of Mansa Musa brought the world price of gold down in Egypt.
“We need to study about the African values that built these polities and their economies. We must also remember that a lot of the European values have no roots in our tradition and religions and even for sustainability we need to build on those African values that motivated and inspired our development. Many of these are preserved in the writings of our historians and the literature of the political leaders themselves.
“I will particularly wish to recommend the work of Sultan Muhammad Bello on political economy, Tanbih al-Raqib ala Ahkam al Mukasib, translated by one scholar as ‘The Dignity of Labor.’
“It is therefore both pleasing and relieving to see that this discussion is taking place at a time when there is pressure on Africa to develop. Nigeria for its size and its history must lead this development of Africa. And as we have seen in other societies development starts with a mind-set shaped by values, which are both indigenous and dynamic.
“Development must be sustainable and to be sustainable it must be anchored in values that are indigenous. This will require us to come back to our roots and prioritize those values that can inspire and motivate development. Of course there values that are universal, but even universal values require local anchors which will give them meaning and traction.
“It is much easier to build on what we have than to try grafting foreign values on local psyche which have no roots in our cultural soil. I wish you successful deliberation. And I thank you for listening.”