Development rooted in heritage and culture — Lessons from China


The Chronicle

Vincent Gono, Features Editor

SOCIO-ECONOMIC growth has been elusive in many African countries, mainly because development models are prescribed by imperialist countries and are divorced from national beliefs and identities with no emphasis on knowing how to inherit before become good innovators.

China, however, presents a good example that economic prosperity is possible without necessarily following the political path of conquest and exploitation that defines the prosperity of most First World Western countries.

He demonstrated to a large extent that culture is of colossal importance in developing societies past and present and his model can be used by most third world countries still struggling to undo and decolonize. their identity of imperialist systems.

Cultural perspectives illustrate the values, attitudes and behaviors that influence development.

Development in China has been rooted in a pride of identity, the use of traditional cultural resources, and an unwavering focus on indigenous knowledge systems as the umbilical cord that connects its people to all facets of development.

Chinese President Xi Jinping in The Governance of China compendium argues that it is inevitable for China, a country with unique culture, history and basic conditions, to choose a development path with its own characteristics.

“When it comes to traditional Chinese culture and foreign things, we should make the past serve the present and foreign things serve China; discard the slag and select the main thing; weed out the fake and keep the real, and embrace traditional Chinese culture and foreign things after careful and thoughtful consideration of both,” he said.

He insists that China does not use borrowed solutions that are foreign to its values, beliefs, ideologies and philosophy, but uses local solutions that have a moral basis in the culture of the people.

Culture generates assets such as skills, products, expression and ideas that contribute to the social and economic well-being of a community and many third world countries that are reeling from various economic pressures can inspired by the Chinese development model.

The difference between China and most third world countries in Africa, especially Zimbabwe, is that most African countries follow a prescribed pattern of development strongly tied to their colonizers.

Their cultures have suffered heavy falsification by former colonizers from which most countries fail to detach themselves both culturally and economically.

Many East Asian countries, especially China, have resisted the traditions of Western culture. It is the use of Asian values ​​and institutions that is responsible for Chinese economic progress.

Zimbabwe is highly diverse in most human dimensions: ethnicity, language, culture, history and economic well-being.

Despite the diversity, there are commonalities that contribute to the lack of economic development. There is no proper definition of what the national question is and what constitutes the national dream and as such patriotism towards core national values ​​and aspirations has been elusive.

African philosopher and scholar, Mr Joel Mukusha, told The Sunday News in an interview that most African countries are bent under the weight of a history of oppression and need solid lessons from China to stand up. redefine, their development objectives, their values ​​and their philosophy without being prescribed. to them by the former colonizers.

“China has managed to define itself without prescribed doses of imported ideas. Local solutions have been developed that people identify with, Communism, Socialism and Marxism have been popularized to define and reinvigorate the Chinese dream where patriotism is cultivated and inherited culture and traditions meet harmoniously with the innovation to produce a modern undivorced country. cultural beliefs that bind society together,” he said.

China has successfully managed the relationship between heritage and innovation properly, emphasizing the transformation and development of traditional beautiful culture in a creative way.

Mr. Mukusha said Africa should follow the philosophy and culture of Ubuntu/Hunhu which emphasizes the ideals of communism, patriotism, respect, trust and hard work. He said such values, if maintained, would see Zimbabwe develop its societies.

“Culture is a socially transmitted behavior, patterns, norms, beliefs and values ​​of a given community. It is a set of shared and enduring meanings, values ​​and beliefs that characterize national, ethnic and other groups and guide their behavior. Culture is dynamic, interactive and synergistic, and it intertwines with all elements of a society, especially economic development.

“It is measured by indicators of individual values ​​and beliefs, such as trust and respect for others, and confidence in individual self-determination,” he added.

Former Ambassador to China and Zanu-PF Spokesman Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa said that while DNA is the foundation of institutional memory in living organisms, culture is its equivalent in the institutional memory of the society.

Culture, he says, is art and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement considered collectively. It manifests itself through the ideas, customs and social behavior of society. It is the embodiment of shared values ​​that define the identity of a social group.

“China with the largest population on earth has developed its culture over 5,000 years. His ability to defend himself ensured that, as a whole, his society could fend off, resist, or absorb repeated ructions from other outside societies. It is this aspect that has given Chinese culture a prominent place in its society and the admiration of other societies,” said Ambassador Mutsvangwa.

Last year, President Mnangagwa spoke about using culture as a vehicle for development when he launched the Bulawayo Arts Festival and visited various historical and cultural sites in the city in what the historian and cultural activist Pathisa Nyathi has rightly described it as a reduction in the importance of politics.

The visit gave practical meaning to the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) which emphasizes that culture has the power to transform entire societies, strengthen local communities, foster strong family values ​​and forge a sense of identity and belonging for people of all ages. Culture plays a vital role in promoting sustainable social and economic development for future generations.

The NDS1 makes this clear when it says: “As a collective phenomenon, national identity can result directly from the presence of elements of ‘commonality’ in people’s daily lives. These include national symbols, music, language, nation’s history, national consciousness and cultural artifacts.

“The expression of national identity seen in a positive light is patriotism, which is characterized by national pride and the positive emotion of love for one’s country. Cultural programs help to improve social cohesion, a sense of national identity and pride.

The objective, according to the economic master plan, is to increase the level of local consumption of cultural products and services from 15% in 2020 to 40% by 2025.

Culture extends to all dimensions of social capital such as mutual trust, trust and responsible civic behavior.

UNESCO stresses that culture is a key element in the fight against poverty. The preservation of cultural values ​​is very important for development and Zimbabwe should develop and enhance trust in its institutions to validate the social contract between the government and the governed.

Trust is a measure of how people value the moral fabric of their society and lack of it breeds other evils such as dishonesty and corruption.

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