Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Genesis Must Take The Community Back by Akindele Akinyemi

There are no conspiracies for our people here in Detroit. Only tragedies. If John F Kennedy had been assassinated in an African country, there would have been no conspiracy but probably hundreds of thousands lying dead, viciously hacked down by their own. The conspiracies will not stop, so they hardly matter. What matters is how Detroiters perceive themselves. It is time to stop being victims. Detroiters must understand that they are masters of their destiny if they are going to stop the cycle of violence that continues to make a mockery of and an embarrassment to the City of Detroit.

I am calling for an Detroit-wide New Genesis movement: Citizens of the renaissance. Citizens of the renaissance will start this evolutionary revolution by teaching Detroiters to demand no less than a bare minimum. What is the bare minimum? A few every day examples come to mind: I pay my rates and therefore demand that the municipality empties the dust bin outside my house. I pay taxes for quality education and demand that the school teacher turns up, teaches my child and marks his work. I pay taxes and consequently demand that the city government builds roads, schools, hospitals and delivers safety for our neighborhoods.

These are bare minimums that the citizen of the New Genesis must not take for granted to the point where our city leaders will go on air to explain and apologize for the failure of city services. For example, if your lights are still out on your streets this must outrage the citizenry to such an extent that it makes headline news in the national press and the evening prime time news. We must not be taken for granted by our city leaders.To accept any less is to tell service providers that it is ok for them to fail to deliver. The New Genesis citizen will abhor the very idea that potholes, power cuts and the absence of quality educational options are his lot.

In the case of crimes that go against the norms and values of any society, the citizen of the New Genesis must mobilize and march in the street (escorted by law enforcement agents) to demonstrate their displeasure at such behavior. In France for instance, when a Jewish grave is desecrated by skinheads, thousands of people, including political leaders, march in the streets to show their disapproval.

The Jews refused to be victims for the rest of their destiny and they actively nurture the painful memory of the holocaust to keep focused on the need for a nation of their own. Detroit leaders take advantage of us because we tend to be fatalistic, leaving it all to divine intervention and fate. Well, divine intervention and fate are at the beck and call of those who take control.

Detroiters should look for leaders who will actively encourage the citizen to rebel against them should they trample underfoot the constitution, corporate governance ethics or whatever rules they have sworn to protect. Civic education must be part of the curriculum from primary school to university level, teaching concepts ranging from the separation of powers, human rights to philosophy. This will set our people to understand that every human being has a right to disagree without being violent and that we can defend the right for others to disagree with us. Our people will live on clear principle and abhor violence, corruption and any form of abuse. Detroit needs leaders who will live for a positive sustainable legacy for their city and abroad.

Our intellectuals should focus on driving the next big global idea, the next big breakthrough in technology as Nokia has done for Finland, Toyota for Japan and human capital for Singapore, instead of dwelling on conspiracy theories. We have the power of choice and it is by focusing on the right choices that we will turn the corner that will allow Detroit to begin to taxi and then take off. We will then become the leaders in solar energy, herbal medicines, blue pill and diamond processing technologies, among hundreds of endeavors of life.

We must choose, here and now, to take control of our destiny as a continent and as a people. When that happens, there will be no more horror stories of gun-toting Detroiters shooting each other to death at the whim of a strong man or two because the people will guard their citizenship role and sense of legacy.

Citizens of the New Genesis must embrace a new standard, a new expectation and a new set of values for Africa. The answer is in our minds and we can hold our heads up high on a continental level. Life rewards action.

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