Q6. Felwine Sarr; Afrotopia

The third book in my "summer series" is by Felwine Sarr, a Senegalese economist who was also invited to the "Sternstunde Philosophie" programme.

The relatively small book "Afrotopia" sharpens our view of what will soon be the most important continent on earth. Felwine Sarr writes:
"In 35 years, Africa will account for a quarter of the world's population. It will epitomise the vitality of humanity, as it will have the highest proportion of inhabitants between the ages of 15 and 45. This demographic weight and vitality will shift the social, political, economic and cultural balance of the planet. ... Above all, the continent must also contribute to the development of humanity by building a more responsible civilisation that takes better care of the environment, respects the balance between the different orders, takes care of future generations, the common good and human dignity: a poetic civilisation. Contributing to the development of humanity certainly means taking care of people's welfare, clothing, feeding and educating them. But above all, it means producing fully developed individuals who realise their full potential and allow the brightest parts of human capacity to blossom. In this way, Africa will help raise humanity to a new level."

I would like to quote a few key thoughts from Felwine Sarr's book.

"Human societies have always changed organically by facing and responding to their challenges and then surviving or perishing.

"It must be emphasised that this crisis is above all of a moral, philosophical and spiritual nature. It is the crisis of a material and technological civilisation that has lost all sense of priorities. It is about escaping the grasp of the rational and mechanistic model that has conquered the world. It has seen itself as the master and owner of nature and in doing so has imposed an inverted image of man, establishing the primacy of quantity over quality, of having over being."

"Economy, politics and culture are three pillars of the social edifice that needs to be renovated or even rebuilt. ... In order to achieve this, a revolution in the forms of knowledge that puts an end to the hegemony of Western traditions of thought is necessary, indeed urgent. Such a revolution would go hand in hand with the uncovering of the special knowledge of which African societies are the bearers."

"It is a question of designing social regulation mechanisms that meet the needs of the moment without displacing customs and traditional forms that have proven their worth and continue to do so, in areas as diverse as conflict resolution, compensatory justice, forms of representation and legitimisation, etc. The task is to design a civilising context and prevent the barbarism of negating the old and transferring it to the present. The African continent could understand its rich cultures as forces of adaptation and change in order to mobilise them for new social tasks. One of the most urgent of these challenges is the development of a genuinely democratic culture."

This is exactly what I propose for a new global community in my book "Me, You, and All of Us". Felwine Sarr writes the following about African cities.
"The city is the work of man par excellence. ... Its practical aspect is to organise the spatial concentration of the activities required for social life in the best possible way. ... Today, 471 million Africans, more than 45 per cent of the population, live in cities. Urbanisation is progressing faster in Africa than on other continents." But he also sees a global aberration here; completely different cities need to be built: "Build cities that don't scratch the clouds, not because they lack ambition, but because their inhabitants place more value on those in-between spaces where people meet, live and are whole. In this case, the construction project begins with an act of destruction."

In my book "Ich, Du, und Wir Alle", I also propose this re-foundation of urban spaces after the destruction of the completely pointless skyscrapers of the future.

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