/ 3 November 2023

Africa’s better future

Earth Boy Africa
The world is changing and alliances shifting which presents opportunities for the continent if the citizenry is engaged

Do we have any other option than to be optimistic about South Africa and Africa? The Mail & Guardian believes we don’t if we are to influence change for the better. Pessimism will not help any of us to find solutions to the continent’s problems, whether political or economical. 

As Africans, we can’t sit back and fold our arms, leaving our fate in the hands of policymakers, big business and other influential spheres of society to dictate where this continent so filled with potential goes. 

The world is changing. Ideas that we thought immovable and alliances established after World War II are shifting and, unlike in the 20th century, the continent’s people must be heard. This will only happen if we are an engaged citizenry and remain optimistic about Africa’s prospects. 

Africa’s populace is set to make up about 20% of the global population by 2050, from only 8% in the 1950s. There will be challenges aplenty, setbacks to democracies such as the seven coups d’état in Western Africa in three years, or the poor management of a still-nascent transition to green energy in the continent’s most industrialised economy, South Africa. 

Corruption feeds into all facets of life, but if we resign ourselves to this fate, societies across sub-Saharan Africa will remain unstable. 

The M&G’s job over the next decade will be to tell both the bad news stories and celebrate the positive ones. It’s not only the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup win; for another example read this week’s story by Lyse Comins on an innovative KwaZulu-Natal businesswoman, Sibongile Mtsabe.

The publication has long crowed on our masthead that we are the continent’s “best read”, but in a world where all institutions are being called upon to have purpose to the work they do, it’s no longer fit for purpose. As editors of newsrooms with legacies such as that of the M&G, we are reluctant to fiddle with our mastheads. They represent a commitment to a pursuit of trustworthy journalism through the many seasons of change that a country undergoes.  

The decision to make even a subtle change to it has been a long process. At the start of this year, we discussed the future of the publication and settled on a purpose statement: “Africa’s better future”. 

We understand that telling an African good news story to a primarily South African audience is akin to throwing a snowball into a furnace. Yet there are stories that will reflect how East Africa is growing, and South Africa and Nigeria’s position as the continent’s leading economies is being challenged as countries such as Kenya reopen trade routes to Asia that existed long before European ships first docked on the continent. 

These changes represent optimism about Africa’s better future, which is ignored in South Africa because of our own problems of an ailing governing party in a creaking economy. But stories such as East Africa’s can’t be ignored, because they help inspire hope for the continent’s future.