I recently watched a TED talk that really inspired me. It was a talk given by Jon Jondai titled ‘Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard?’ In it he talks about an early life in a small village on the northeastern part of Thailand.
Life was fine until with the advent of the Television, someone told him that he was poor and should move to the capital and pursue success. He recounts working eight hours each day and only being afford a simple meal of noodles. He recalls enrolling in the University and discovering that most of the things we learn in universities are destructive knowledge. i.e the more architects we have, the more forests have to be cleared so man can make a home. When you study agriculture in the university, you learn to poison ground water with fertilizer etc. He eventually dropped out and went back to his village.
When he got back home, he cultivated a piece of land that produced four tonnes of rice. He found that his family of six consumed only half a ton of rice per year. He also grew vegetables which were more than enough.They sold the rest of the vegetables and made some extra money.
He decided to build a house and worked two hours a day. He built the house in three months using earthenware. He compares himself to the brightest minds in his class who also built houses in three months but spent 30 years to pay for these houses. He ends on the note that the basic necessities of life should be cheap. Once they become expensive, life becomes more difficult and more complex.
This got me thinking about Africa.
I got to thinking that I hope Africa does not develop the way Europe and the Americas have developed. I pray that Africans will chart our own course of development and not just accept the definition given to us by the rest of the world.
I took a trip to Austria and noticed on my way through some of the towns along the route that many of the houses were built with brick. It made me wonder why we are shunning our clay and brick technology in favor of cement which costs so much and does not help the environment in any way.
It got me thinking of my friend Issa Ouadrego who lived in Germany for 20 years, came back to Ghana and started farming. I think of how much simpler life for him is and the people who do not live in hectic Accra or other cities. I was reminded of how much i enjoyed myself in Bolgatanga. How much simpler life is without Traffic!
I wonder if we are not going wrong in this our mad rush to be more westernized when many people in the west come to Africa and fall in love with how uncomplicated life is.
It got me thinking about how many shops in Germany are selling more bio- friendly food and how even though those ones are more expensive, people still buy them. We in Africa on the other hand are beginning to use more and more inorganic fertilizer when we have a lot of natural fertilizers.
It got me thinking about how much we do not appreciate how blessed we are as Africans. It got me hoping that we will take the best of what we have and not leave our identity behind in our quest for ‘development’.