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We Must Dare To Invent The Future…Lessons From Africa Day

“We must dare to invent the future.”

If you were to ask me which words have most inspired me over the past few years, these from Thomas Sankara would be somewhere near the top of the list. (For evidence that I've been rocking with Sankara for a minute, take a look at the talk I gave at the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute in 2015).

These words were printed on the back of my first business cards as a coach to remind me, and anyone I was working with, of what my practice was about: creating new futures and new possibilities for us individually and collectively. 🤝🏿

Sankara’s words have been at the forefront of my mind this week as tomorrow is Africa Day. On May 25th, we celebrate the formation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963, the predecessor of the African Union (AU). While the O/AU has had its challenges like any multilateral organization (Brexit anybody?!?!), the formation of the body itself was a revolutionary and groundbreaking act.

Created when colonial rule was still the norm for nearly half of the continent, the OAU was a bold declaration of Africa’s commitment to freedom, unity, and self-determination.

It was a bet on the promise and potential of Africa and its people. 🧑🏾‍🤝‍🧑🏾

This is not to say that everything in Africa has been sunshine and roses since 1963. But by daring to create something new, the founders of the OAU built an avenue for Pan-African collaboration that brought the possibility of political freedom closer to millions of people.

While the promises of 1963 have yet to be fully realized, since then, there have been successive generations of African leaders, thinkers, artists, writers, and activists who have moved us toward making our potential a reality. Despite the past, and the present odds, they have an unwavering belief in themselves and their abilities to create new possibilities for us all. 🌍

Thomas Sankara

Source: Nsi Mababu

Many of their examples and words, like those of Sankara, guide me daily and prompt me to ask myself, and many of you, some hard questions.

One of the most important questions comes from the formation of the OAU itself: How willing are you to bet on yourself and your potential?

Regularly, I hear people say they want something new, personally, professionally, or politically. But they are unwilling to take any steps—let alone bold ones—toward that future. Instead, folks are often more comfortable wishing, hoping, and waiting than acting out of self-belief.

Which begs the second question: What do you believe about yourself and your potential? 🤔

Because sometimes, the first, most revolutionary step is acknowledging that our self-belief isn’t where we need it to be. It’s doing the work to own the fact that we are the ones we have been waiting for and to embody the knowledge that we can create change in our own lives, families, and communities.

The actual work of transformation begins when we understand that we have both the right, and the responsibility, to invent the future. 🌅

As was the case with the O/AU, immediate success is not guaranteed. Some lessons—due to external circumstances or internal stubbornness—will be learned the hard way. Evolution will be necessary, and it may take longer to realize your potential than you initially thought. But while success is never guaranteed, we know that by remaining where we are and doing what we’ve always done, failure is.

The question then, is what future will you dare to invent?

Please reply and let me know.

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