I have come to notice that literature is awash with boy characters in distress. They seem to be the norm ever since I started reading. This is in sharp contrast with the concept of the damsel in distress, which I pick from all around me. I hear that what I am talking about is actually called “the dude in distress.”
Actually much mainstream literature in all languages across the world, across ages, is about boys or young men who wake up early in their lives to find that they are caught up in very difficult circumstances.
For example the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of Mark Twain’s best-known and most important novels in American literature. The novel takes place in Missouri in the 1830s or 1840s, at a time when Missouri was considered a slave state.
The novel tells the story of Huckleberry Finn’s escape from his alcoholic and abusive father and Huck’s adventurous journey down the Mississippi River together with the runaway slave Jim.
At one distressing point, Huck’s father Papa goes out, he locks Huck in the cabin, and when he returns home drunk, he beats the boy. Tired of his confinement and fearing the beatings will worsen, Huck escapes from Papa by faking his own death.
Huck is running from his father while Jim is running away from slavery. Jim’s escape is prompted when Miss Watson considers selling him off to a slave trader despite the fact that Jim has served her well and knows that such an action would separate Jim from his family.
It is a life of hide and seek and offers a great measure of distress for the two male characters, Huck and Jim.
Think about Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, which is for a great deal a story about a boy’s distressful upbringing.
This is the story of Pip, an orphan boy adopted by a blacksmith’s family, who has good luck and great expectations, and then loses both his luck and expectations. Through this rise and fall, however, Pip learns how to find happiness. He learns the meaning of friendship and the meaning of love and, of course, becomes a better person for it.
The well-known novel opens with the narrator, Pip, who introduces himself and describes a much younger Pip staring at the gravestones of his parents. This tiny, shivering bundle of a boy is suddenly terrified by a man dressed in a prison uniform.
The man tells Pip that if he wants to live, he’ll go down to his house and bring him back some food and a file for the shackle on his leg.
Then Oliver Twist, another of the novels of Dickens, explores the worrying squalor and poverty of the London of his time and at the centre of the story is the other distraught boy, Oliver.
It is said that Charles Dickens was well versed in the poverty of London, as he himself was a child worker after his father was sent to debtors’ prison.
Oliver, an orphan since birth, spends much of his childhood at a “child farm” (orphanage) with too many children and too little food.
Oliver is accused of asking for more gruel after a meal. To ask for more is unacceptable! Oliver is punished by being sent to work as an apprentice to an undertaker.
After ill-treatment, Oliver escapes into the crime rich heart of London where children are taught pick pocketing and burglary.
Oliver suffers arrest, assaults, shooting, kidnapping and many other ills and his is a tormented childhood.
Sometimes I think that perhaps Ikemefuna of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is the most pathetic and distressed child character in African literature. In a settlement with a neighbouring tribe, Umuofia wins a virgin and a 15-year-old boy.
Okonkwo takes charge of the boy, Ikemefuna, and finds an ideal son in him. Nwoye likewise forms a strong attachment to the newcomer.
Despite his fondness for Ikemefuna and despite the fact that the boy begins to call him “father,” Okonkwo does not let himself show any affection for him.
Ogbuefi Ezeudu, a respected village elder, informs Okonkwo in private that the Oracle has ordered that Ikemefuna must be killed.
He tells Okonkwo that because Ikemefuna calls him “father,” Okonkwo should not take part in the boy’s death. Okonkwo lies to Ikemefuna, telling him that they must return him to his home village. Nwoye bursts into tears.
As he walks with the men of Umuofia, Ikemefuna thinks about seeing his mother. After several hours of walking, some of Okonkwo’s clansmen attack the boy with machetes. Ikemefuna runs to Okonkwo for help.
But Okonkwo, who doesn’t wish to look weak in front of his fellow tribesmen, cuts the boy down despite the Oracle’s admonishment.
Nwoye, Okonkwo’s own son who had grown fond of Ikemefuna is the most shocked and wrecked person on instinctively learning the fate of the boy whom he had grown to know as brother: “As soon as his father walked in, that night, Nwoye knew that Ikemefuna had been killed, and something seemed to give way inside him, like the snapping of a tightened bow. He did not cry. He just hung limp.”
From the very beginning, Ikemefuna is the ultimate victim; his fate is completely out of his control since he is taken away by his family so early in life for a crime which he had no part in, had any knowledge of.
In his new life, Ikemefuna is subject to the whims of his new father and the Umuofia elders, in whose hands his fate ultimately lies.
Do you know that in times of war, the boys grow very fast even when they are tense and unhappy? They become both adults and boys in a very special way.
In Pepetela’s Nguga’s Adventure, Ngunga is a boy growing up in war times. Ngunga who feels that he has lost everyone around him during the war of liberation of Angola decides that he must just travel across Angola and become part of the war. Ngunga’s quest is very unique.
Ngunga is a 13-year-old orphan. One day, when they were working in the fields, his parents were taken by surprise by the enemy. The colonialists opened fire.
His father, already an old man, was killed immediately. His mother tried to run away, but a bullet went through her chest. Only Mussango was left, and she was caught and taken to the army post.
Four years had passed through that sad day.
Ngunga had remained in the village and he becomes enamoured in the mores and life of the MPLA structures and its guerrillas who work from among the people as they fight against the Portuguese settlers.
However, one day Ngunga looks around himself and makes a very critical evaluation: “It was so good here sitting on the sand, his feet in the water. Why should he leave this place? Nobody was waiting for him in the kimbo, nobody would be worried if he was late or even if he didn’t come back. He could sleep in the bush. . . Nobody would ask the question, ‘but where is Ngunga?’’
Ngunga continues with his sad reflections: Who would leave guarding their cassava to look for Ngunga? Who, on seeing him naked, would even find him the bark of a tree? The distress is overpowering.
Then there is Mpho’s Search by Sandra Braude, a young people’s novel based on a quest by a 12-year-old boy, Mpho. He moves from Witbank, Transvaal, to Johannesburg, in search of his long lost father, Paulus Mapanga, who is thought to be working in the mines. The distress is palpable.
As the story begins, Mpho is being fired from baas du Toit’s farm for failing to look after the white owner’s sheep.
The grandmother who Mpho has been staying with died just six months back. Grandmother had cared for Mpho, fed him and looked after him when he had been ill.
She had talked to Mpho and told him about his own mother and father whom he had never known, related stories to him and read to him from her tattered Bible. Mpho’s mother had died when Mpho was a baby.
Mpho’s father had left when Mpho was very young, to go and work in the mines.
That was the only way Paulus Mapanga could earn money and send it home. Mpho could hardly remember his father.
Armed with R500, Mpho sets off to look for his father in Johannesburg, not really knowing the hazards in front of him and the near impossible task of finding a man in the mines.
Mpho rides to Johannesburg and puts up in a squatter camp in a space owned by an elderly woman. He is caught up in the violence that goes on between various violent groups of people in the squatter camp, until he runs away in the middle of the night.
He runs into Hillbrow, where a Good Samaritan shelters him for the night, giving him a free lift into central Johannesburg the following morning.
Soon Mpho realises that it was not easy to find a man whose address you don’t know in a place like Johannesburg. He becomes a street dweller, learning from other city children how to beg and how to pilfer from supermarkets. He meets sex perverts, who take him home and try to abuse him.
He runs away and one day, he meets another Zulu boy called Themba, who teaches him about making money through offloading goods from trucks for shops and shining shoes for passers’ by.
Eventually, Mpho and Temba, who are now a formidable pair, get to a Catholic-run shelter house where they put up during the night and with the option to return to school.
They also team up with a notorious boy called Stephen who intoxicates them with drugs and teaches them to break into shops in search of guns, knives and other things until Mpho is arrested when he has not committed crime yet.
The Catholic safe house secures a lawyer for Mpho and as soon as he is discharged, he bumps into his father’s long-time friend, a Dr Nkosi. Nkosi indicates that Mpho’s father is apparently abroad, studying and has sent him to search for Mpho!
Then there is that fast growing writer, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma of Zimbabwe who has a novel of 2012 called Shadows. There is another Mpho in there, a boy in distress. As Tshuma’s novella begins, Mpho (the narrator) is already steeped in being who he is; a man on a sharp decline.
He can never go up. His very first wish, which is the first sentence in this book, is: ‘I want to be alone.’ But he cannot be alone in a populous and seething Bulawayo township.
Mpho does not and may not know who his father is. Mpho does not love his mother; an ageing-nearly-out-of-business and sickly prostitute. Sometimes he watches through the key hole as she is being laid.
He has already taken his mother’s prostitute friend, Holly to bed (during a freak sexual storm). Holly cannot wait to have some more from Mpho. This symbolically incestuous act stays with Mpho up to the end.
He is going out with Holly’s daughter, Nomsa, whom he beds at will. He desires her the way one desires to perform an irresistible ablution. Mpho drops out from a prestigious Chemical Engineering degree at NUST after a students’ riot.
Mpho smokes dagga and only when he is like that, does he see more clearly the political and spiritual degradation of his country. He writes very desperate poetry and uses his brush to paint pictures of death and doom.
Mpho has no political ideals besides wishing to be happy. He attends both ruling party and oppositional party rallies interchangeably (for the abundant food and T-shirts).
That makes his subsequent arrest and harassment misplaced and unjustifiable.
The only release available to him towards the end is the hope to meet his dead mother ‘in dark places.’
At some point, he leaves behind his mother’s decomposing corpse in the morgue and skips the border into South Africa. Unlike the other Zimbabweans who take this archetypal route, Mpho is not in search of a job. He is only after Nomsa, the love of his life.
He cannot work. Mention of a job riles and makes him bitter. He eventually learns, like the other stock characters, in Christopher Mlalazi’s Many Rivers and Brian Chikwava’s Harare North, that whilst Zimbabwe is in inimitable turmoil, there is necessarily no sweetness abroad for the unwanted Zimbabweans.
Mpho eventually returns home to be hounded relentlessly by both the incognito spirit of his mother and the police. Rasta, the dagga-intoxicated artist at the Bulawayo gallery summarises it all: “I am coming my man…Forever coming. I never reach the place where I am going. And this is the whole point. To be forever coming.”
The writers pick their boy characters to show how treacherous the world can be.
I think they choose the boys because it is the boy and the young man who traditionally goes out to hunt or to work for the family.
He becomes the so-called dude in distress. His experiences necessarily become our experience. He is a typical character under typical circumstances.
Who will speak on behalf of Basotho?
A clash was reported to have taken place a few weeks ago between police officers, on the one hand, and an MP and his bodyguards, on the other, was always inevitable. It is a direct result of arrangements where people we have lent power to represent us in Parliament now use that power to come up with schemes by which they and their bodyguards should be exempted from equal treatment, and be treated differently from the rest us.
This conduct is anti-seMohlomi, and anti-seMoshoeshoe. And so are many other behaviours we have seen perpetrated by our MPs.
We can expect that those who behave this way will not stop at violation of road traffic laws but will go on to carry contraband in ‘MP’ registered vehicles, and claim exemption from police searches when confronted by the police.
The principle of ‘equality before the law’, and the principle that we should all be treated the same, is a fundamental requirement for the maintenance of social order. MPs who ignore, or violate, it are sources of social disorder. Such MPs have to be regarded as enemies of social order in Lesotho. They should bear in mind that they are opposing society when they oppose the police’s attempts to enforce the law.
We should all obey traffic laws. And, we should all stand in long queues for poor services at the Passport and Traffic Offices. Otherwise, if those we have voted into power use that power to exempt themselves and their bodyguards from poor public services, MPs will have no incentive and interest to work for improved quality of public service.
The failure by MPs and governments to address problems of poor public services is an important reason why everyday many Basotho cross into South Africa in search of better education, better medical services, and lower prices of basic necessities. That traffic includes cars which bear red registration numbers ferrying Lesotho public officials to South Africa for better services.
As always, MPs, Ministers, and other public servants will probably be exempted, or expect to be exempted, from the torment that comes with the new customs regime agreed by Revenue Services (SARS) and Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL), and implemented at RSA-Lesotho border posts. Exemption of officials and MPs will mean that they will have no interest, nor incentive, to lessen its toll on Basotho.
The new regime started early in August 2023. To educate travellers about it, the RSL staff at the Maseru border have been giving people leaflets that explain the new procedures.
Even before this new regime, and others that came before it, many people have always been suspicious that a lot of what people who enter Lesotho go through is not in the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) Agreement. For example, it is known that the Agreement is supposed to ensure that citizens of SACU member-countries do not pay tax on a similar item in more than one SACU country. In other words, citizens of SACU member-states should not be taxed twice, or more, for the same item within the SACU area.
But because of the bureaucracy that has been imposed on customs processes at the Lesotho-South Africa borders, many people fall victim to some bureaucratic detail, or other, and end up paying tax in South Africa and Lesotho for a similar item, or service.
In the new regime agreed by RSL and SARS, RSL officials tell us that we are supposed to stamp all receipts of value of M250, and above, at SARS. They say this while distributing a leaflet that says the threshold is M10 000.
For the M250 receipt to be stamped, you need to submit to SARS copies of pages of your passport showing your address in Lesotho, and showing dates on which you travelled to and from South Africa. The implication of this is that if you carry a South African passport you cannot bring groceries into Lesotho for reasons including the fact that Lesotho government cannot claim tax from South Africa on such goods. It is unclear what will happen to a South African tourists coming to Lesotho who might be refused permission to enter with their food.
As said, the requirement that we should stamp M250 receipts at SARS is not on the leaflet RSL officials are giving to travellers. Extraordinarily, RSL officials admit this.
So, at the expense of our time, and standing in receipt-stamping queues that will inevitably grow longer and longer, we are being forced to adhere to a requirement which is nowhere in the official papers.
Has the new regime been negotiated and agreed to by RSL officials alone, or is the government aware of the unreasonable measures that we have to comply with?
It must be said that, at least, for now, the RSL staff remain very helpful, and seem to acknowledge that requirements they are expected to enforce are unreasonable.
It seems nobody thinks of us when government and officials agree to onerous customs measures at our border posts. In part this is because, again, those we have lent power to represent us use that power to exempt themselves onerous procedures that they negotiate and agree to.
We need people who think of us when they negotiate customs and other agreements. Basotho need somebody who can speak on their behalf.
Prof Motlatsi Thabane
Developing close reading skills
One of the most important skills in adeptly dealing with comprehension-related questions lies in your acquisition and refining close-reading competencies and strategies. The word comprehend means to understand, to fully grasp the essence of a text. When you comprehend a text you will take in, as it were, all the elements of a text, you nibble in, to speak using metaphors, your teeth into the heart of the text. You savour the text, immersing yourself in the texture of the text.
Close-reading involves deep observation and critical analysis of a text or comprehension passage. Close-reading strategies demands that the reader of a text pick even the salient nuances of a text, he or she must take in all the hues and details of a text which are not mentioned directly in the text. This skill takes time to hone, but with constant practice and hard work, it can be done. Let’s do that in a practical way. We are going to focus on a very small extract depicting how one aspiring ironman trained rigorously to realise his dream and the social and emotional toll the training exerted on the man and his family and how, finally he won, much to the happiness and excitement of his family. Here is the extract, as you read, please focus on the use of language to create meaning and effect. Let’s try to discern the feelings of the writer when her husband, eventually became an ironman.
“Because it’s there,’ I’d snarl to anyone who dared question why any sane mortal would tackle an Ironman. I enjoyed mercilessly shaming his less-than-supportive business partner into recognising the potentially boundless benefits of Sam’s well-publicised adventure for their newly-established, fledgling travel company. A flurry of online articles described me as ‘a runner married to a triathlete’ – it took me a few moments to recognise our family and beam with immeasurable pride.
Our son missed having Dad around at the weekends, especially if he woke up after Sam had left to train on a Saturday when sometimes there were tears. But he got used to the different dynamic. He was given an ‘Ironman’ superhero toy as a birthday gift by some relatives and immediately started making it swim, bike and run! The poor child thinks that this is how normal families operate.
Having said all that, watching Sam emerge god-like from the water, power past us on his bike and rocket down the finishing chute, head held high as our kids cheered with the crowd – utterly incredible and intoxicating, one of life’s rare pinnacles of perfection. It had been an epic journey for all of us. I’m so glad we did it. And next year? Well yes, it’s my turn.”
Have you seen how this extract is written in a very captivating way; it colourfully depicts the writer’s feelings of extreme excitement and euphoria when Sam completed the race successfully. The words, “having said all that” are colourful and conclusive. Before these words were uttered, the narrator was expressing her dissatisfaction about Sam’s involvement in sport and how demanding it was emotionally, physically and financially. But, now, the words show that the success overwhelmed even the sentiments or expressions of dissatisfaction registered earlier. One can also see that the writer is overwhelmed by pride and celebration at the success of her husband and she and the entire crowd were immersed in an “intoxicating” experience. Beer intoxicates, so the writer uses this word as a word picture to graphically show the intensity and pervasive nature of the happiness generated by Sam’s victory — it is as if they were overdrunk with the sense of success and accomplishment. Sam’s win evoked all those rare moments in life when all seems to be perfect and in its place; that is why the writer used the words, “life’s rare pinnacles of perfection” just to express that.
Have you also noticed how the writer uses a lot of word pictures to describe her reactions about people’s views regarding her husband’s involvement in the ironman race? One such word, a word picture is “flurry.” The word explains the immensity as well as the amount of excitement and frenzy of publicity generated by Sam’s attempt to be the iron man. This word is apt in describing the writer’s admiration for her husband’s feat and the publicity and excitement generated.
Let’s now focus on another text, let’s focus on how the extract reveals why people hate snakes as a result of the misconceptions they have about them. But notice how the writer arguably writes to endear us to the world of snakes and some of their very positive attributes. Let’s nibble at the text of the extract.
“In the United States, for example, public outcry based on fear and misinformation recently halted a scientifically sound conservation plan for timber rattlesnakes. Another project at the same location that involved releasing eagles was embraced by the community. Rattlesnakes are no less important than eagles. In fact, they may help reduce the incidence of Lyme disease, which affects thousands of people each year, by reducing the number of rodents that harbour this disease. But emotions override facts, it seems, where snakes are concerned. Snakes play an integral role in maintaining balance in the ecosystem – in most ecosystems on earth, snakes can be both predator and prey. When a large prey-population attracts and sustains a large snake population, those snakes become prey for birds, mammals and even other snakes! As predators, snakes keep prey-populations in balance. Snakes provide an easy, environmentally friendly, free and natural pest-control service. But snakes are worth saving not because of what they can do for us, but because of who they are. Snakes share many behaviours with us, behaviours we value. They have friends. They take care of their kids and even their friends’ kids too. Want to help us change how people view and treat snakes? Visit the World Snake Day website.”
While you were still reading, I hope you saw that this is a really captivating text. It focuses on the misconceptions and lack of information we have about snakes, which information gaps lead us into hating snakes without reason. True, snakes are predatory but they also serve an important function in balancing the ecological balance.
Snakes are not that bad, too; and like us humans, they make friends, protect their young ones and the young ones of their friends. Pretty amazing to learn that snakes, too, have friends.
So the point is that there are a lot of falsehoods and misconceptions about snakes and their true habits and functions within the ecological sphere. Often times, they are shown to be cruel, bloody predators that kill in cold-blood. But snakes are also victims from birth and other creatures. Snakes are a natural means to curb diseases which are brought about by rodents. Thus, snakes help in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. Snakes are relational and friendly.
Let’s now hone close-reading skills a little more. In the following extract, the writer beautifully describes her experiences of meeting snakes in their natural habitats in the rainforest and her excitement of seeing quite an exciting array of species. As you read, focus on the writer’s reaction to what she saw and how she is alive to the beautiful scenery around her and she captures that.
“Three hours later, returning from the trek, I felt bubbles of amazement and wonder rising. I’d seen gliding lizards fly effortlessly between trees, intricate dragonflies of infinite varieties and delicately etched, golden frogs. The overcast sky, saturated to the brim, had poured down heavily, drenching the forest, its native creatures, and the handful of humans who happened to be there. Thereafter began the frenzy of activities and sounds that engulfs the woods after a good rain – rhythmic sounds, musical, coordinated and orchestrated, and pleasantly deafening. Ah! My brimming heart and soothed soul enjoyed restful sleep in the tent that first night. Bonfires and loud music are prohibited to avoid any disturbance to animals and hygienic common bathrooms (with hot-water facilities) were appreciated. Everyone was expected to wash their own plates and glasses after every meal. We were encouraged to separate organic waste into the respective dustbins before retiring each night. All inorganic waste went back with you.”
You have picked words which convey meaning so aptly and beautifully. I liked the expression and the choice of words. The phrase, “bubbles of amazement” is so colourful and this is a word picture which shows or reflects the intensity of the writer’s excitement and frenzy at experiencing the tranquil and pleasant experience of being in a rainforest teeming with a vast array of species.
Here we are! Mastering close reading skills is a journey, but an exciting one, which allows you to immerse yourself in the text and allows you to feel all the juicy aspects of the text, as it were.
Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school. Send your comments and questions to: email@example.com.
The significance of BRICS for the African continent
In the pioneering work titled “Building Better Global Economic BRICs” (Global Economics Paper No: 66), Lord Jim O’Neill, then Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs, introduced the term BRICs, referring to the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. These nations’ economies were experiencing rapid growth, fuelling discussions about their potential to collectively shape the global economy by 2050. In the spirit of this vision, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China convened for the first time in July 2006, on the sidelines of the G8 Outreach Summit in St Petersburg, Russia. This marked a pivotal moment in cementing the idea of forming a consortium of burgeoning economies.
Subsequently, the Foreign Ministers of these countries assembled in New York City in 2006 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and embraced the term “BRIC” as originally coined by Lord Jim O’Neill. On June 16, 2009, the inaugural ‘BRIC’ Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Later, South Africa was granted full membership in September 2010 during a BRIC Foreign Ministers meeting on the fringes of the UN General Assembly. This led to the alteration of the acronym to BRICS. Building on this progress, South Africa participated in the Third BRICS Summit in Sanya, China, on April 14, 2011.
BRICS is firmly anchored in the principles of mutual respect, sovereign equality, inclusivity, consensus, and strengthened collaboration. The foundation of BRICS rests upon three pivotal pillars: political and security cooperation, financial and economic collaboration, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges. These pillars serve as a robust framework for guiding the alliance’s interactions and ensuring its enduring viability. This sentiment is particularly pronounced as the 15th BRICS Summit, slated for August 22-24, 2023, in Johannesburg, South Africa, convenes under the theme “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism.”
Drawing from the World Bank data from 2022, the combined population of the five BRICS nations stands at 3.27 billion, constituting 41.1% of the global population. These countries’ cumulative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2022 is valued at 25.92 trillion, accounting for 25.8% of the world’s GDP. In contrast, Africa’s total population across its 55 countries is estimated at 1.4 billion, representing 17.5% of the global population. Africa’s overall GDP amounts to approximately US$3.0 trillion, contributing 2.7% to the global GDP.
The African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook for 2023, underscores Africa’s abundant natural resources — oil, gas, minerals, land, sunlight, wind, and biodiversity —whose potential remains largely untapped and undervalued. The report highlights Africa’s trillion-dollar investment potential in the climate and green growth sectors, offering a promising avenue for private sector involvement.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) BRICS Investment Report for 2023 reveals that the BRICS economies collectively account for 18% of global exports and approximately $250 billion in foreign direct investment outflows. Notably, the BRICS nations have emerged as significant investors in Africa, with a particular focus on industrial and service sectors, as confirmed by the Africa Development Bank’s Briefing Note titled “Africa and the BRICS: A Win-Win Partnership?” (2003).
Moreover, the BRICS countries have expanded their presence on the continent in terms of foreign direct investment, outpacing traditional partners such as the United States and Europe. This emphasis on harnessing natural resources and boosting agricultural production is also underscored by the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s (UNECA) Report “BRICS/Africa Partnership for Development” (2014).
Leveraging their substantial economic potential, the BRICS nations are optimally positioned to support Africa’s aspirations under the AU Agenda 2063. These countries play a pivotal role in driving investments in natural resource beneficiation, manufacturing, and industrialisation across the continent. They also provide strategic impetus for enhancing productivity and competitiveness, especially within the agricultural sector, through consistent investment efforts.
The emergence of the BRICS New Development Bank offers an alternative to the Western-dominated multilateral financial institutions, which have historically contributed to Africa’s infrastructure development at a gradual pace. This bank holds the promise of financing comprehensive infrastructure projects across the continent, thereby enhancing connectivity through rail, maritime, air routes, and information and communication technology — an aspiration cherished by the African populace.
A symbiotic partnership between Africa and BRICS has the potential to elevate Africa’s status as a significant player on the global stage. This partnership extends to bolstering Africa’s role in global governance structures, including institutions like the United Nations and Multilateral Financial Institutions. The expansion of BRICS to encompass additional nations, including those from Africa, is poised to inspire African countries to assume greater responsibility for funding their sustainable development endeavours.
This approach empowers African nations to form alliances with developed countries that squarely address the continent’s priorities for sustainable growth and economic transformation. Most notably, the BRICS initiative lays the foundation for a multipolar world, contrasting the prevailing unipolar influence exerted by the US and the G7 countries (Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, UK, and the US). This envisioned multipolar world rests on principles such as mutual respect, sovereign equality, inclusiveness, consensus, and fortified collaborations. The International Monetary Fund, Economic Outlook (April, 2023) reveals that the population of the G7 countries is around 776.55 million representing 9.7% of the global population. The GDP for the G7 countries is around US$42.92 trillion representing around 30% of the world GDP.
In a recent interview with Africa Business in June 2023, Lord Jim O’Neill, the visionary behind BRICS, shared his perspective on the future of BRICS and its implications for Africa. He astutely remarked, “the notion that the group of seven ‘industrialised’ or ‘more developed’ or ‘early developed’ (G7) nations can single-handedly govern the world is disconcerting, given their diminishing share of the global GDP. Moreover, the G7 often finds itself aligned with the desires of Washington (US). How then can these select few address the world’s most pressing challenges? This predicament highlights the raison d’être behind my conception of BRICS: to advocate for a more effective global governance model than what the G7 offers.”
It is for these reasons that the enduring partnership between Africa and BRICS embodies a shared commitment to sustainable development, economic growth, and the transformation of global governance structures. The collaborative approach rooted in mutual benefit, respect, and a multi-polar perspective has the potential to reshape the global landscape, ensuring a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.
Advocate Batlokoa Makong is a seasoned diplomat currently working for the African Union. He writes in his personal capacity.
MP defies party, backs opposition
Inside plot to oust Matekane
Matekane abusing state agencies, says opposition
‘Bikerboy’ appears in court again
Four BNP activists suspended
Why invest for the future
Fraudster to have day in court
PAC to grill civil servants over Covid funds
News in Brief
The beauty from Roma
‘Monster’ stepfather arrested for raping daughter
Who will speak on behalf of Basotho?
Has Matekane failed?
Mohlolo rescues point for LDF Ladies
Makepe quits Likuena duty
Reforms: time to change hearts and minds
Weekly Police Report
The middle class have failed us
No peace plan, no economic recovery
We have lost our moral indignation
Coalition politics are bad for development
Academic leadership, curriculum and pedagogy
Mokeki’s road to stardom
DCEO raids PS’
Literature and reality
The ABC blew its chance
Bringing the spark back to schools
I made Matekane rich: Moleleki
Musician dumps ABC
Bofuma, boimana li nts’a bana likolong
Mahao o seboko ka ho phahama hoa litheko
Contract Farming Launch
7,5 Million Dollars For Needy Children
Ba ahileng lipuleng ba falle ha nakoana
Ba ahileng lipuleng ba falle ha nakoana
Weekly Police Report
Mahao o re masholu a e ts’oareloe
‘Our Members Voted RFP’ Says Metsing
Matekane’s 100 Days Plan
High Profile Cases in Limbo
130 Law Students Graduate From NUL
Metsing and Mochoboroane Case Postponed
News1 month ago
Lerotholi students want charges dropped
Business1 month ago
LEC lights the way
News1 month ago
RFP rocked by death threats
Business1 month ago
Nedbank posts strong growth
Business1 month ago
Iconics Clothing bags big prize
News1 month ago
Police boss hit in pocket
News1 month ago
The ‘ear doctor’ driving change
News1 month ago
Child neglect cases on the rise