Africans should strive to chart their own destiny and be at the forefront in seeking solutions to their problems, because solutions from elsewhere are never sustainable.
This was the view advanced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, while speaking during a panel discussion at the closing ceremony of the National Security Symposium.
Held in Musanze District, the three-day symposium was organised by Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College and the University of Rwanda.
Mushikiwabo was on the panel with Donald Kaberuka and Ambassador Ron Prosor, former Israeli UN envoy and currently with the Hudson Institute.
The panel discussion tackled the theme: ‘The Contribution of African Home Grown Solutions to African Problem: The African Union Perspective.’
She said that the biggest problem is that solutions to African problems have in most cases originated from outside the continent.
The minister stressed that home grown solutions tend to be more successful because they encored on beliefs and cultural values hence resonating with most of the people in the country.
“Home grown solutions tend to be sustainable because they are embraced and give a sense of ownership,” she said.
She however added that Africans by themselves cannot be pretentious to say they have solutions to all the problems they face.
“We can borrow some of the solutions but then we need to adapt them to our situations and to our own countries,” she told the officers from different countries.
The symposium that started on Monday brought together 45 students from 10 countries namely: Czech Republic, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.
All participants hold ranks from Major to Lieutenant Colonel.
Mushikiwabo said that in the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, Rwanda managed to rebuild thanks to the inclusive home grown solutions.
“That has been a lifesaving approach to many of the problems of this country as we had to first understand our problems, realize how complicated it was going to be to bring our country back from abyss and that any decision would be made collectively so that we move forward as a country,” she noted.
She added: “we sat down and looked at our country and our situation and agreed that between sinking and swimming, we were going to swim and to swim we would need some practice.
“Those who are very good swimmers were going to hold the hand of those who are not so good swimmers, all this was to the benefit of our country, our shared country.”
The minister said that ownership, solidarity and efficiency are the three magic words that can help steer Africa towards sustainable home grown solutions.
Ambassador Ron Prosor, on his part urged African to shape their future by first appreciating their continent’s uniqueness.
“You have an amazing continent, you have an amazing asset, the population in Africa is young, your future is really bright you have to take it on your hands.”
“In Africa you don’t need Shakila (artist) to say It’s Time for Africa…what I can say is hard work, persistence, determination and then we will be all able to say not on this time for Africa with Shakila but it’s Africa,” he said
During the symposium, students of Senior Command and Staff Course Intake 06 had an opportunity to interact with high level policy makers, security practitioners, subject matter experts and scholars of security studies in interactive discussions on security challenges in Africa.
Speaking to journalist, Maj David Korsah, an officer-student from Ghana Armed Forces, said; “The symposium was very educative and very informative. It has reinforced my belief that Yes we can do as Africans, we can make Africa walk and stop depending on the outside.”