The missing Sustainable Development Goal

On Monday, representatives of various countries gathered at Botho University, Gaborone Botswana, in lieu of a café commonwealth youth roundtable courtesy of The Masire Mwamba office.

From Antigua and Barbuda to Zambia, all commonwealth nations represented at the event had vibrant and eager youth itching to speak their minds on the sociopolitical and economic development of their represented nations.

At the event, we could “jet-set” to other countries; moving from one table to another throughout the 45 minute discussions. Having country hopped from 4 different countriesnamely Botswana, Namibia, Kiribati and the United Kingdom. I couldn’t help but notice the white elephant in the room that we dance around but wouldn’t address.

We know very well that all common wealth countries were once colonies or protectorates of England, where to this day English ties run a heavy influence on these commonwealth countries. It seems as if post-independence, we are sedated on a post colonial hangover – where countries still tackle issues but instead of adapting to a tailor-made solution  with intense consultative measures with religious and cultural leaders , there is still a what would England do approach, using an inferiority complex to solve some of the greatest challenges they have in their nations.

Post independence,  we have taken 1st world countries as a blueprint to solve certain problems that are fairly like ours such as resource depletion and overpopulation, but they weren’t necessarily solved with mind to human rights (case in point, the scramble for Africa). In thus, the ‘western’ approach in dealing with matters relating to countries that were once colonized or protected without an inclusion of our cultural laws and practices leave a discrepancy in our holistic development.

Having noted this as a problem, it may also be the reason there is such a disconnect with the SDG’s and us, and why it seems like these goals that need to be met aren’t particularly our goals, but goals given to our nations as a “this is what needs to be done” without a deeper emphasis on the role players to help enhance our nations.

This leads me to answering a question posed by 2016 Commonwealth Secretary general candidate Mrs. Masire-Mwamba; what is a missing SDG? I believe that another significant goal the world needs to meet is “cultural respect, preservation and integration”. I mention respect and not tolerance as it has unfortunate ties to mere acceptance and not active participation in attaining interest, knowledge and need to integration in a society.

An addition to cultural respect, preservation and integration as a global goal not only allows our custom leaders to shift from a standpoint of mere visibility at national level, but have them participating in the holistic development of their citizens, being at the forefront of critical thinking towards policies and implementation plans for the countries. Personally, on the next AU, SADC or even UN Summit, I would love to see my chief table issues on environmental preservation, indigenous knowledge preservation and safe agricultural practices – as his or her voice plays a significant role in achieving these sustainable development goals.