The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar, revealed on Sunday that Africa must look inwards and abandon Western ideas if it is to develop.
The Sultan revealed this during his remarks on the subject: “Values for Africa’s Development”, a lecture delivered on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation and the posthumous birthday of the sage, the chief Obafemi Awolowo, held on Sunday.
According to the most prominent monarch: “Underlining the importance of this topic: some scholars have argued that part of the reason why Africa has not developed is the fact that many of the values that have resulted of our association with the imperial West are values that are out of step with our socio-cultural environments. In other words, many of these values conflict with our culture and traditions.
“These researchers went further to show how Asian countries have been able to develop at European and American levels while keeping their traditional values, even if they are imbued with certain Western ideas of development. They point to the fact that in Japan, for example, Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese priests of the Shinto religion were involved in their leaps of development.
“The rise of the Asian tigers was unique because they did so without losing their Asian values, and they became a model of development for many developing societies.
“European industrialization and development were also associated with ‘Protestant values’, which were said to have shaped the minds of Europeans and facilitated the growth of capitalism. That societal values have always played a positive role in the development of societies is quite obvious.
“It is important to remember that Africa built empires and developed its economy over 500 years ago. The famous empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhay are well known in history. Many will remember how the Mansa Musa pilgrimage brought down the world price of gold in Egypt.
“We need to study the African values that built these policies and their economies. We must also remember that many European values have no roots in our traditions and religions and even for sustainability we must build on those African values that have motivated and inspired our development. Many of them are preserved in the writings of our historians and in the literature of political leaders themselves.
“I would especially like to commend Sultan Muhammad Bello’s work on political economy, Tanbih al-Raqib ala Ahkam al Mukasib, translated by a scholar as ‘The Dignity of Labor’.
“It is therefore both gratifying and relieving to see that this discussion is taking place at a time when Africa is under pressure to develop. Nigeria, by virtue of its size and its history, must lead this development of Africa. And as we have seen in other societies, development begins with a mindset shaped by values that are both indigenous and dynamic.