Good, beautiful and long lasting things start from within and not from outside. Likewise, development be it at individual and cooperate level has to start from within. Anything that starts from without lasts only for a while or at worst is not pleasing at all. Things born from within are accomplished and pleasing to the heart and soul for both the originators and spectators. How do we get to know our innermost selves such that we can discover ourselves? It’s through soul searching and intentionally choosing to know our intricate selves. One of the best means to do so is through seeking God’s grace and guidance all the time.
At an individual level God has the mercy and power to lead us from within such that he can comfortably guide us to become the best of ourselves. At corporate or national level, the leadership must seek to get the best from themselves before they can transfer the same to the wider audience. When leaders themselves are empty, what they pass on to those they lead will be nothing but emptiness. Cities and countries develop because of the efforts from within and not from out. It’s the duty of leaders of cities to get to know their strength which they should be able to harness and grow.
However well- meaning the outsiders could be, they just would never be able to sustainably transform the city or the country. Uganda has for the last sixty years been relying on the expertize of foreigners to develop her capacity but nothing much has been achieved. Its capital city has been receiving technical assistance from different development partners and agencies since independence but is still worse off in terms of sustenance and actual development. What has been lacking has been leadership that know what the city and the country needs such that they can refocus it from within and not necessarily relying on outsiders for assistance on how to develop it.
I have been studying the epistemology of cities and urban areas now for twenty years. I am yet to find any that has developed based on the knowledge and expertise of foreigners. Why do Ugandans think that the Japanese, Americans, the British and Germans are well intentioned when they come with up with proposals on how to change Kampala? Look at all the projects currently being undertaken in Kampala, all are generated and conceptualized from Brussels and Washington. They have been advising us for the last sixty years and we have turned to be worse off thing long. Kampala city and other urban areas must seriously question the advice of these advisors. Someone needs to give confidence to our local engineers that they are able to turn around things without relying on foreigners. Good enough local solutions will be more sustainable both in the long and short run.
There is no city or country in history that had ever been developed by foreigners and none will ever. Local leaders need to know exactly what they want and they should work together to achieve the same. Get me right on this, it doesn’t mean that locals have to do everything by themselves. Rather they could hire foreigners to do what the locals are incapable of doing. They should be able to pay for this service though. The difference here is that local leadership should not rely on foreigners to determine what ought to be done. It’s the duty of locals to determine what they need as a city or country which they should set out to do either by themselves or through hiring the services for the same.
Where the locals feel that they do not have enough resources especially finances, it’s better for them to prioritize and implement only those activities whose budget they can cover presently as they mobilize more resources. The business of foreigners coming with proposals of what the locals should do is not only wrong, it leads to serious distortion and poor resource allocation. We have had many scenarios where foreigners come up with projects that they say will help the city only for such to be completely out of sync and they end up becoming unhelpful.
Just like an individual, every city or country has potential from within to develop itself. This capacity is natural and does not have monopoly. Anybody who comes to tell you that they have come to develop you is only lying and have come to either confuse you or to steal from you. God is the giver of knowledge and he gives it liberally to those who seek him. His knowledge moves through individuals and groups to cities and nations. When our leaders get to know this foundational understanding and knowledge and go ahead to live by it, we shall begin to witness the change that we have been yearning for in our cities where real development shall begin to occur.