What we can do together
The time has come to break down the walls we erected inside our societies creating groups of fellow citizens who no longer speak to each other, no longer know each other, no longer understand each other, bump into each other, speak the same language, share common values or believe in the possibility of a present and a future built together. The time to break with our elitist reflexes.
The time to call ourselves into question, we who have been fortunate enough to be born into families where we eat our fill, where we speak the official language of the country, which is also the language of the élites, where parents have the means to send their children to school then university. We who have the possibility of travelling, discovering the rest of the world, when a large majority of our fellow citizens can only imagine it from the pictures they see on television and the Internet, and project some thousands of their number onto the roads and maritime routes of fatal migrations.
The time has come to call our certainties into question by assuming and defending the values of liberty, solidarity, justice, moderation and respect for diversity, which are the property of no continent, of no civilisation. The time to clearly choose the side of those who are not content to dream about another West Africa and another Africa, but who propose to work at it in concrete ways, patiently and resolutely.
Choosing the side of those who do not only see problems, flaws, drama, all real and serious that assail their country and their societies but who appreciate with the same exactness the amplitude of the efforts accomplished every day by women and men of exceptional courage and determination, as well as the formidable creative energy of the current generations and the even more immense potential of the a future generations.
Dreaming again, in West Africa and in Africa as a whole, of great collective achievements. Dreaming of another present, and above all, of future other than the one we can glimpse. Dreaming by night but waking up in the day time, and staying awake as long as possible, to look at West-African societies as they are today. Waking up to decipher the political, security, economic and societal trends, as they sketch themselves as prolongations of the realities of the present and summon all the knowledge ceaselessly renewed by the universal efforts of the human spirit, more accessible today than ever.
Looking at the actual realities of our countries, to concentrate our energy, time, creativity, collective intelligence on the most crucial questions for the future, the future of the tens of millions of young people who are already here and of the even more numerous cohorts who will join them over the coming years.
Thinking and acting together to change the present and the future. This is the outlandish ambition of the WATHI, a free variation on the theme of waati which, in the bamanakan or bambara language, evokes time. The time of urgency which procures the adrenaline necessary for action and the time of the long lasting that makes it possible to change the world by giving a depth and scope to collective actions which transcend our insignificant individual ambitions.
Laboratory of ideas and toolbox open to contributions from all the women and men concerned by the current state and the future of a West Africa which knows its fate is linked to that of all the other regions of the continent, the WATHI is first and foremost a state of mind. A state of mind comprising realism, idealism, confidence and impetus. The state of mind that will allow us to change Africa without being afraid of losing our multifacetted identities.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
(Nelson Mandela, 1918–2013)
WATHI is grateful to Linda Herbertson and the Mapinduzi Unit for the translation of the original full text, « Changing the future in West Africa : WATHI’s Wager », in Mapinduzi Journal 4, Civil society in Africa, http://peaceworkafrica.net/IMG/pdf/Mapinduzi-4-Engl-Web.pdf