It is regrettable that we [Africans] tend to absorb the identity of others, without consolidating our own African frame of reference derived from our cultural heritage.
The African Heritage Programme encompasses all learning about African people and their heritage, with the aim of increasing attention and reflection on the imperative of situating ‘Africanness’ at the center of sustainable social, economic and political development in Africa. This understanding will be used to shape the nature of development programmes and lead to better results relative to those achieved to date.
It is our belief that a better understanding of ’Africanness’ and a deeper appreciation of African heritage, can be achieved through focused research and rigorous analyses. The overall aim of this information gathering would be to gain a more holistic and inclusive comprehension of “Africanness” and what it intrinsically means to all Africans whose beliefs and value systems are rooted in their identity of “Africanness”. Using this as a guiding point, it is our hope that this we believe that this understanding will shape the nature of development programmes, lead to better results relative to those achieved to date.
KEY ELEMENTS FOR CONSIDERATION WITHIN THE AFRICAN HERITAGE PROGRAMME INCLUDE:
- the mapping of common identities in Africa;
- analyses of distinguishing characteristics between cultures and regions;
- and analyses of knowledge and value systems, institutions customs and governance.
The research and analysis being undertaken as part of the African Heritage Programme’s knowledge assessment will also identify and consolidate principles/identifiers across various thematic areas of ‘Africanness’ or African identity. Some of the African Heritage thematic areas being considered to bring out identifiers/principles of ‘Africanness’ include: governance, leadership, family and marriage, technology, teaching and learning, food and nutrition, health and medicine as well as relations (interpersonal, between or among communities and the natural environment) pivoted in the richness of the African indigenous knowledge systems and practices.
MINDS will then use this body of knowledge as a filter to test the extent to which development interventions have either used or omitted to use “Africanness” as a foundation.