If we, as Africans, do not tell our stories, no one will tell them, or worse, someone else will tell them on our behalf. We owe it to ourselves to develop African theory and to practice solving African problems. In order for us to solve our problems, we have to explore and turn our problems apart, find associated theory then apply it to our niggly situations. When that happens there is practical wisdom that is created. We can then replicate that wisdom onto other situations that present themselves and as a result we become better problem solvers in the African environment.
So how do we grow our knowledge? It is by studying and sharing information with others. A classroom allows for this to seamlessly happen but this is by no means the only way! Remember back in the day when communities sat around communal fires and shared ideas? Where is your fire? Who is in your community? What are you reading? Who are you talking to? How are you solving problems? Are you consulting other people to check the robustness of your ideas? Are you looking if this is relevant for your environment?
A big reason why we owe it to ourselves to develop African theory is because our problems occur in a specific context and in order for us to solve them we have to sit with the problems, explore them, turn them apart, find associated theories then apply them. When that happens there is new wisdom – practical wisdom – that is created. We can then replicate that wisdom onto other situations that present themselves and as a result we become better problem solvers in the African environment.
I am a nerd so my way of engaging is in the GIBS classroom as this suits my personality. I am very excited at the prospect of creating new knowledge collectively with my peers through the DBA/PhD programme. The pursuit of a PhD was explained aptly to us by Prof Helena Barnard borrowing from Matt Might. Might points out the following (and I have copied word for word as he states it so well):
“Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:
By the time you finish elementary school, you know a little:
By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more:
With a bachelor’s degree, you gain a specialty:
A master’s degree deepens that specialty:
Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge:
Once you’re at the boundary, you focus:
You push at the boundary for a few years:
Until one day, the boundary gives way:
And, that dent you’ve made is called a Ph.D.:
In our own lives we should explore African problems and look for solutions and one day we will get breakthroughs and make a dent in the knowledge space. BUT this knowledge is only useful if it is SHARED so others can apply and develop it further. We owe it to ourselves to find our community and to find our communal fire.
Leaning on my postgraduate studies, I hope this site grows into a problem solving community, and that it will nurture my love of learning, and our need to develop African theory and stories. I am very excited at the prospect of creating new knowledge collectively. As an African post-grad student, the main reason why I am studying is so I can solve African problems and tell African stories with some authority. I’m excited to travel on this knowledge journey with you!