The 2018 China-Africa youths summer camp ended last week. It was a four-day program with the theme “China-Africa Friendship, Youthful Aspirations” that was sponsored by the Confucius Institute Headquaters (Hanban) and organized by the Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU). It was aimed at bringing youths from across Africa and China to jointly take part in cultural research and studies from five (5) key areas namely; education, culture, economy and trade, science and technology, and to fully experience the charm of the Chinese culture and build a bridge of friendships between Chinese and African youths through communication.
Again, it was aimed at further fostering greater mutual understanding, and strengthening the existing relationship between these countries. That program, which I was privileged to attend and participated actively, has had a huge impact on my thinking of the Chinese people and their diverse cultures in relation to Africa generally, especially my home country; Nigeria.
A program of this nature avails one with the rare opportunity of meeting different people from all walks of life – people of diverse cultures, perceptions and sensitivities to share ideas and knowledge on how to make impact, and help contribute to develop their respective countries. Having a cluster of different nationalities of Africa and China will no doubt bring to limelight the very salient and fundamental reasons why Africa should be repositioned for real, rapid and genuine development. The rest of the world has since gone far in terms of development – the same should be for Africa.
Still in this regard, an argument for instance surfaced while conversing with an African colleague from Sudan, and who was there for the same program as I was, about what exactly keeps most African countries to the very bottom of virtually everything one can think of (think of anything in respect of real and genuine developmental strides) is the “near complete absence of leadership.” Not just leadership, competent leadership that will bring about the needed impetus that will chase away the devil possessed of us; the devil of underdevelopment. Looking at China and its unimaginable developmental strides currently taking shape in the country in terms of technology, infrastructure, education, agriculture etc. and comparing with what is obtainable back home, and in most African nations, one suddenly becomes breathless.
I use to think that for us, particularly in Nigeria where I come from, to get there (where China is today) will certainly take hundreds of years. These years should be years of intense struggle, great commitment, deep love, selflessness and patriotism – all for the country. The youths however should be the champions of these in all they do.
Our old ways have nothing to offer us and the country as a whole. And it leads to nowhere close to what real and genuine development is. Let’s be honest, hardworking, and help in every way possible to make our countries great. It is only by so doing that Africa, the pride of the black race, can develop and prosper. This will make life better, and more and more meaningful for all, and the world over.
Mustapha Makarfi, Beijing, China
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