Thanks to James Surewiecki’s research on the characteristics of the crowds. Have you ever asked yourself why we always think of experts as people who can solve all our problems? Have you ever thought why politicians will exploit the masses by the aura of their speech? If you have not, you are not alone, it is a question that lingers in my mind every time I imagine of the sorry state of our African economies. A question that James is trying to help people see. Putting premium on the crowds, accepting the fact that the masses can take charge of their destiny. They can be responsible for their own development . Knowing this and acting on it is the a start of breaking the yokes of poverty in Africa.
Let us explore some of the features of a crowd that I tend to agree with James Surowiecki as significant for the functional operation of the crowds.
One diversity of opinion- every person has private information even if is just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts, and this where I dislike the Africa elites who ascend into leadership positions and always tend to silence dissent voices. They have no courage to let others contribute to the development of the economies. Nobody has the monopoly of knowledge given the importance of tacit knowledge- one that cannot be passed to somebody else but lies in oneself until death. It pains me to know how many people with great potential who have gone to the grave without getting a chance to apply their knowledge. It is a concept that social entrepreneurs need to take to the masses, that no matter your social status, you have something special. What we need is to know how to collectively use every individual’s information for us to make better and valuable decisions. In his book James Surowiecki says “claims of accuracy by a single expert would seem to be of no practical value”. We should take this and run with it as we dream of great Africa. No one chose where to be born nor will ever somebody chose where to be born, but they will always have a chance to determine their destiny. They have a chance to write their own history. But we need courageous people to challenge the conventional wisdom of the Africa kings and presidents who are drunk with power.
Two independence- we should learn that people’s opinions are not determined by the opinions of those around them. Have you ever been in a situation where you feel you are never valued, have you ever imagined why so many people are ready to die for their freedom? Because they want to make their own decision. I remember how once it was so difficult to share something because of tyrant nature of where I was staying. Once the owner of the house is in the air becomes so heavy that your mouth is shut most of the time. Maybe you share this sentiment with me now in your offices, you are working with a boss who does not value what you do, many think that they are the source all knowledge whereas if one test the importance of letting people speak their mind and device a strategy to harness the opinions, they will never repeat what has become conventional wisdom. Our forefathers took issues with the colonial regime, they wanted to be free, and they wanted to be in charge of their own affairs, that is why they were ready to even die. For us to realize the African development dream we should learn to let other people’s thoughts and opinions count. We can’t entrust this to politicians, just like Abuduba Dida, a former aspiring presidential candidate in Kenya rightly said while in an interview in one of the media house ” I am not a politician but a leader” when asked why not a politician, he said, a politician is associated with theft, exploitation and corruption especially in African context.
I can’t agree more with him. We have soiled the name of politics. Politics should be all about administration allocation of resources faithfully, when people are elected they are supposed to be stewards of these resources but they change to be hyenas who embezzle, steal the resources, exploit the poor and embrace torture of opposition. We live in such time , but I just realized that many of the young people in Africa are angry with this state of affairs, they are hungry of good leadership and they are driving the agenda of change, you want to confirm that as Erick Raymond from Zimbabwe, Grace Mageka from Kenya, Freddy nkosi from Democratic republic of congo, Nelisa from South Africa,Philani in Uganda and many who attended the UN high level youth dialogue conference if you get a chance to speak to this young people, the passion and confidence they exhume will indicate the nature of African leaders we will have if at all they are never corrupted by the system.
Third feature is aggregation- the mechanism of turning private judgment into a collective decision. The only problem has been we never develop a system, we can say everybody has something but we have no means of harnessing the knowledge. Until we get that, our diversity will always be chaos. I know that is why African politicians are able to manipulate the youths to do uncouth things for a mare pay of 300 shillings. But as social entrepreneurs we need to build a system to avert this shortcoming.
According to me, developing capacity of the people will be the best way to develop a system of harnessing private information. It is true that if I understand my strength and weaknesses it is possible for me to focus on my strengths. When you get people who understand themselves, who are informed, they are better than those who are ignorant James indicates that the crowds should be a knowledgeable. It is the duty of those of us who value others to help them discover what they are good at,. This way we will have a pool of well informed people who can drive the change agenda in Africa.
The strength of the youth and the facilities that we have at our disposal will help us to pursue the goals of helping others. I am a strong believer self-development that comes by due to one building others. I have previously talked about social currency, the power of network and how they enable one to grow. With this era of social media, I can easily share with my friends in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and many other places in the world. This is a good thing for those of us who are tired of worshiping the powerful and moneyed politicians who are not out to help you but to exploit you. Help others develop self confidence and you will see the fruits, I believe the fruits will be sweeter than what the politicians have said it will be. In any case one will not be ready to sharpen a spear for himself what politicians are guarding against. Social entrepreneurs, it is our responsibility to help the world move into the next phase of development. Keep dreaming and moving.