Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Vision: A New Model for Change

Though sad, the recent news of President Yar'Adua's death in Nigeria didn't surprise me. He'd been sick for quite a while and with no appearances or statements from him for such a long time, it was clear that his sickness was severe. His passing will no doubt be sorrowful for his wife and entire family, as the passing of any human being is. But it got me thinking.......

In Nigeria, Africa and many parts of the world, presidents come and presidents go. Promises made for an improved life for their constituents go unfulfilled. For many leaders, the office is seen as a means of personal gain and they fill their pockets and hidden bank accounts as their country's infrastructure, economic and educational systems continue to crumble. People wait in desperation for the change that is needed to take place, but it comes slowly, if at all. Often the change is for worse instead of better.

The changes that are required for the betterment of life of people in Nigeria and all over Africa require major financial investments. Generally, in the civilized world, the government would be the ones to make these investments, realizing that it is for the eventual good of the whole country. As we can see, that is not happening. But what if there was a new model for change? What if, instead of waiting for the government to make the major changes needed for survival and advancement, another sector made a commitment to help their country?

I have a vision. And in it, the country's wealthy: musicians and movie stars; businessmen and CEOs; athletes and all else with the means to do so take it upon themselves to do something. But not just to do something: to change their country in a big way.

What's really required is a change of heart. Those with the means must care so much for the well-being of their fellow human beings that they are willing to give of their abundance of wealth. For most of these people, much of their wealth is due to the patronage and support of the average citizen. In a sense, those who get involved will be "giving back." But it will require a lot more than speaking to kids about the importance of education and supplying food for the homeless, though those could very well be components of the plan. But what I envision is bigger than that. I'm talking about hospitals and schools. Community development centers to educate whole villages in everything from common health care to skilled trades. Companies employing people in cutting-edge fields like sustainable energy. My vision includes all of this and more.

The task is too daunting to target a few celebrities and charge them with the responsibility of change for the better. It is one that will require the hundreds and thousands of a country's wealthy to commit to the change.

It is my dream to one day start an organization that facilitates this kind of change. Organize the wealthy of a nation and get their long-term commitment to help their country. City by city and state by state, the nation can change. I would of course want to start with Nigeria, but my vision is really for all of Africa.

Waiting for government to bring change is futile; those who know the work that needs to be done should just do it. In time, one hopes, the government will follow and do what it should. But change cannot wait until then. It must begin now.

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