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Taking Development To People Is A Fallacy

2939 words - 12 pages

LESSON 7: CHARACRERISTICS OF AN EMPOWERED COMMUNITY 7.1 Introduction Other than its definition, we have also noted in previous lectures three important facts about empowerment, and these are: a) Empowerment is a process that takes time; b) Every human experience has a contribution to make towards that empowerment; and that c) While individuals and communities are at the end of the day responsible for their own empowerment, external inputs too have value. In this lecture we will be discussing characteristics of an empowered community over time; community’s role in its own development; and also the role of external input, especially that of people’s government, in this empowerment process.
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Perhaps we are all too busy “with living” our normal lives – and for some this living is such struggle to make ends meet that the kind of thinking proposed here would look a mere luxury. Others may be living in what psychologists call a “state of denial”, that is the state of refusing to accept one’s reality. Perhaps a review of Freire’s three levels of awareness – levels at which we all fall – might help us clarify our realities to some extent. a) Do those at the magic level of awareness know that although they look so dependent and that their “bosses” seem and pose to be powerful that these bosses are also totally dependent on them? Do they know that if united they have power no system can withstand? b) Do those at the naïve level of awareness accept that – though welleducated and certainly crucial to the life of the organizations in which they work – they are mere servants of faceless and brutal forces and systems and that they are also dispensable? Do they also accept that due to their privileged positions as managers in these “foreign” establishments, one of their key responsibilities is to empower their subordinates to also climb the ladder? c) Do those at the critical level of awareness accept that they too still have a lot to learn? Yet, for them, if they worked in unity and not as lone do-gooders, the sky is the limit, their possibilities are limitless and that together they could turn this world around? At whatever level, this understanding and acceptance of one’s reality, is the first step in a journey to empowerment. 7.3.2 The factors that shape our reality An empowered community should have the ability to identify the following two crucial factors that shape their reality: • its historical setting; and • the resultant social/cultural/economic system in which the community finds itself.

7.3.2.1 Historical Setting A community needs to understand its history – past and also recent – and how this has shaped its reality. Let us take us Africans as an example of such a community in search of its reality. a) It would be naïve to dismiss colonialism (sometimes even the centuries ago slavery) when considering the African reality. That history has been an important factor in shaping not only our economic situation and relations between and among Africans and also with other human beings, but even more crucially these past forces have also greatly influenced how we take ourselves – contributing especially to the reduced self-esteem as a people; looking down on our institutions, religion and culture; and also the wholesale adoption and love of anything foreign. b) Our reality as Africans is also shaped by the way we have behaved as nations in the recent past, say, since independence beginning with Ghana in late 1950s. While this reality could not escape the influence of our past history and also interference from external sources, it is the greed and incompetence by our leadership at various levels that have been responsible for the...

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