Globalisation has not only made it necessary for states to much closely interact and share interests, it has also ensured that citizens of states play an active role in facilitating the unity and interaction that is needed. One group of the population that arguably plays a significant role in the nature of interstate politicking is students studying abroad.
International students, possess a large well of influence on the narrative concerning their states by citizens of host nations and others of interest. Given their obviously advantaged positions as ‘un-sworn-in diplomats’, the manner in which students studying in another country other than that of their origin narrate and represent their state is significant.
Regularly, I have witnessed that for the majority of events, debates and fora held in which a foreign country is part to the issues being discussed, it is well placed students from the concerned nations that are called as panellists. Whereas, this stage format may appear compelling for one to utter a narrative in a more appealing direction, it at times comes off as the opportunity to vent out the various grievances of national fractures that may affect or aggrieve the individual.
Charles Manning stated in 1975 that “International society is such that the statesman is simply not at liberty to subordinate the demands of national security to those of moral virtue. The most he can do is parade the former clad in the latter’s Sunday-best.” This must be the practice of all international students alike.
The most challenge to this view comes especially in the informal debates that are typical of University life. The discussions in the kitchens or common rooms about the various issues affecting different states in a comparative manner, seem most profound a moment to vent out on the things that may in one way or another affect us personally.
It is true, without a doubt, that the practice of democracy is one that is still, by and large maturing. It is barely half a century since the wave of independence conjured the continent handing power into the hands of our ‘founding fathers’. This was followed, almost 3 decades ago, by the democratisation of states that emphasised a new system of things influenced by the ideological victory of democracy and capitalism over communism and its schools of thought, through the cold war.
As such, the continent; which is a replica of its individual member states, remains a maturing apprentice to the nature and demands of this system we have adopted. It is inevitable, given such a reality, that some structures may malfunction, some leaders – who were raised in the now old fashioned political style, may misunderstand the demands of modern day politicking. A style that we the ‘born-free’, as they like to call us, have mastered so skilfully.
This is obviously not at all an attempt to justify the various breaches in laws and abuses of rights that may by and large be existent in some states. It is however, a call for the role of patriotism to protrude the fibre of our understanding of the great task of statesmanship.
This role, fundamentally, is a duty. Just as those we narrate to, of the catastrophes of our nations, we too have a responsibility to ensure that we protect the pride and dignity of our states. No matter the nature of unfortunate eventualities that may characterise our states, to program ourselves to only speak of the evil that exists is an injustice to oneself.
It is evident that with globalisation has come economic diplomacy; a practice that demands that we attract into our states as many responsible investors as possible, as a means to have access to, and make use of the skills and products that may not readily be available to us, otherwise.
It however, goes without saying, that it is not enough for governments to present books of the beauty of their fiscal policies as a pinnacle for attracting investors. The narrative of the average citizen plays a very fundamental, albeit seemingly obscure role in the image that others have.
It is this unquantifiable role of these young members of the diaspora that must be taken very seriously. We cannot allow ourselves to take up the mantle already designed by western media to present Africa in ways that are despicable and obviously not the true nature of this beautiful continent. We, as Africans, must be the first to dispel any attempt by others to debunk our continent as last place on every scale of measure that exists globally.
We must take it upon ourselves by speaking good and narrating positive accolades about our countries of origin and about our beautiful people. This is in no way a denial of the existent negatives. It is however, a refusal to be subdued by the vocal opinions of others about how malevolent our continent is in their eyes.
Take it upon yourself as a student in a foreign country, to speak of the beauty of your nation, the tourism and abundant wildlife or the mouth-watering variety of food dishes, of course, demonstrate proudly the cultural dances and practices with a good teaching to them and the glamourous attires that set us apart from the world. Speak about such things often.
Take pride in where you come from, it is after all your home. Encourage and invite others to visit as often as you get the opportunity to do, and regularly wear your national flag or colours!
It is our national duty and obligation to represent our countries in ways that make them reputable for good, and ways that raise our African flag, this is our youthful service to mother Africa, and one that we must commit to keep!
A Luta Continua!
Featured image | Nathan Dumlao | Unsplash
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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