The world is intertwined in a complex manner with systems and individuals depending on others now more than at any time before. When one system fails it affects other related and unrelated system dependents elsewhere. Take electricity. When we have power cuts, someone’s dinner doesn’t get cooked, a shirt is not ironed, a story is not written, a newspaper is not printed, bread is not made, meat rots in the fridge and security is compromised. It appears that God’s creation is made with one single purpose: dependence on others and not independence. A plant depends on soil, water and sunshine for its growth. Our livestock depends on grass and water for survival. A child depends on its parents for sustenance and security. A business depends on customers for success. Consumers depend on businesses for their supplies and services. We were created principally for dependence and not independence. This is so entrenched in creation that the greatest sin on earth is man’s estrangement from God: the belief that we can make it on our own. We don’t need anybody’s help. And yet that is what we teach. That is how we raise our children. We encourage them to stand on their own two feet and pull themselves by their bootstraps. We don’t teach them dependency, instead we encourage independence. And yet our societies themselves are fashioned around the concept of dependency and not independence. We know that kgosi ke kgosi ka morafe (A king is a king by his people). Without a principality, a king is only a king by name. Morafe also draws respectability from an honourable king. Not only that, for many years Batswana have known that if a leopard, a lion or a pack of hyenas terrorized a village’s livestock, a group of men had to hunt it down for the protection of the village. No man went to bogwera alone. There are multiple Setswana idioms which demonstrate that the idea of dependency is part of ancient societies as it is of modern ones. The idioms reveal that we can achieve much by working as a team. Moroto wa esi ga o ele, setshwarwa ke ntsa-pedi ga se thata, mabogo dinku a a thebana & tau e senang seboka e siiwa ke none e tlhotsa.
In fact the concept of independence is closer to solitude which is related to individualism, excommunication, isolation, separation, segregation, exclusion, loneliness, seclusion and mental instability.
The concept of self-sufficiency is a mirage; worse, it is a Sisyphean rebellion. All creation is made in, and for, a sophisticated web of inter-dependency. Even the moon, to be seen, it can only reflect the glory of the sun. We as humans are dependent on each other: the husband on the wife; the wife on the husband, the children on the parents. Relatives too depend on each other; they define each other. The relations extend to neighbours who form a kgotla. For a village to exist there must be makgotla which collectively form a village. And a constellation of villages form a morafe. Even our nation has been formed by the idea of dependency. Different merafe came together to form this republic. Yes, I am aware of the chronic dependency on South Africa and China for our goods. But even that demonstrates that countries depend on each other for a plethora of items. Much of the world depends on the Middle East for oil while much of the world also depends on German and Asian cars for swift mobility. Water that floods the mighty Okavango originates outside Botswana. Without the cooperation of other states, the magnificent Okavango will turn into a pitiful desert. The security of nations depends on the lives of young soldiers who give their lives in the open fields of battle. Why is it then that we do not encourage dependence seeing that the script of humanity is written all over by the story of dependency?
It appears our minds inform us that praise, glory, respect must be self-earned and not shared. To encourage dependency is to remove individualism from the centre; it is to eliminate self-praise and self-centredness. It is to undermine self-elevation. It is to situate the other in the centre. It is to affirm the contribution of others to our wellbeing. It is to introduce gratitude, kindness, respect for other into the affairs of men and women. That Kenyan bright mind, J.M. Njoroge, is right: “it is impossible to be grateful while clinging to self-sufficiency and entitlement at the same time” Dependency confirms and affirms that the self is vulnerable and that alone we can do nothing. The old African story is right; a single stick is easy to snap but a bundle of sticks refuses to be broken. The realities of now call us to reconsider the allures of this century which continuously drag us towards individualism and isolation through the elevation of the self above the communal. We must affirm that the self only flourishes in the communal and not in isolation. The choice is between being our brothers’ keepers and non existence. While states brag of their days of independence, the truth of the matter is that no state is independent. States cannot be independent even if they wished to be. The human story is the tale of dependence. Even the richest state that produces much, it still depends much on other states. When we teach dependence and not independence we will liberate our minds from the web of lies of independence which we have spun for many centuries. True happiness and fulfilment, real economic growth, safety and security of nations and persons and the entire story of humanity is all to be found in dependence and not independence because independence is a lie.