“Wan han noh de tai bohndul” (“A bundle cannot be fastened with one hand”)
African Proverb (Krio: Sierra Leone)
The above proverb emphasizes the message that no person can be completely self-sufficient and that we have a need for each other as humanity. Africa, as well as the entire world, faces many socio-economic and political problems. We should not be in denial but instead we should accept our circumstances for what they are and bring people together to solve these challenges. We need to work together in a joint effort to create commonly desired outcomes that are not only in the individual interest but also in that of the community. As members of the community we need to work together for the success of the whole. Successful collaboration requires that no one abstain and that no one dominates the situation either.
Collaboration in most cases requires breaking away from the norms that often guide our behavior. It entails a review and shift of core values, principles, and beliefs which requires commitment and constant application. People often act out of self-interest and competitiveness. These behaviors are driven by many factors including a limited view of opportunities and possibilities where people think that there is only enough for the few and as a result work towards being the ones who get scarce resources for themselves and their extended families in place of others. Another motive for such behavior is envy. As a result people have become accustomed to acting individually or in limited closed-off groups to advance self-interest and self-preservation. However, we also possess the noble desire to act in the interest of others and to show empathy, respect, courage, caring, and solidarity. This desire is the basis for collaboration.
Here are some principles which prove necessary for collaboration to work:
- Purpose - Participation should be driven by a common purpose. The common vision may be social, economic, political, or spiritual. The absence of a common agenda will result in everyone pulling in different directions
- Knowledge - People’s knowledge should be respected and as a result allowed to participate in the collaborative process. The sharing of knowledge allows us to build collective wisdom at the community level
- Inclusive - The structure should allow people sufficient opportunity to provide inputs. The opinions of those involved should be taken into account and allowed to influence the process and the decisions that come out of it
- True intent - The willingness to serve enables us to prioritize other people’s needs and the interest of the whole community. Participants should engage with the intention of reaching consensus ad idem that is to be of one mind as a group and not to impose our own wishes on others without regard to their ideas and desires.
- Diversity - The environment has to be one in which people can speak openly. We should value diversity and this can also come with what we may consider divergent views
- Discipline - There should be commitment so as to ensure action and implementation on the decisions and resolutions made by the group
- Objectivity – in order to make the best decisions we must have sufficient information and act based on facts not only the subjective views and ideals we may hold. As such everybody involved and relevant authorities should share as much information as possible on the matters being reviewed.
Great collaborative choices can be seen in many significant achievements of the human race so far including ‘The Declaration of Human Rights’, the Apollo Missions into space, the Wright Brothers invention of airplanes, as well as the independence of most African states which was achieved through collaboration of many African leaders under the banner of Pan-Africanism. A central aspect of any community endeavor, whether an organization or nation, is that of decision-making. It is important that we all stand up to participate and be counted in such processes. This can best be achieved through collaboration. History has been marked with decisions and people’s ability to act on those decisions. Decisions should therefore be implementable. Through collaboration we can achieve our own potential, solve social problems and be of service to others. We can feed the poor, extend education to more children, and increase personal and national wealth.
We need to participate meaningfully in the outcomes within our communities through a collaborative and creative process of engagement. To participate meaningfully we should be knowledgeable. We should work together, sustainably, to make the world a beautiful place. Areas to collaborate may include arts and entertainment, business, development, economics, education, family life, business, national government, and within faith based organisations. Communal life entails codependency.