African governments operate under two philosophies: Ubuntu and the powerful man. Ubuntu is the traditional philosophy which has multiple translations but is best described as “a humanistic philosophy of living life that encourages dignity and respect for all people” (Olead 410, n.d.). The Powerful Man is the modern philosophy where one leader is in charge. Although this is very common in most of the world, for Africa it is a result of having to assimilate to imperialism (Olead 410, n.d.). These ideologies have conflicted a lot over the years. These cultural/ societal clashes can be complex because they are deep rooted and have occurred over decades but we are about to see a new community develop under this system because recording artist and humanitarian Akon is developing his own city in Senegal called Akon City (Meisenzahi, 2020). He is a Senegalese American who was born in the United States of America but went back and forth from here to Senegal growing up, so he’s experienced two different cultures equally which is unique. He said he wanted it to be a “real life Wakanda” (Meisenzahi, 2020), which is ironic because that society was governed by multiple tribes but still had a king. I will be exploring how Akon City will incorporate both philosophies.
Two of the translations of Ubuntu are “I am because we are” and simply “humanity” (Olead 410, n.d.), so Akon City would have to go against the capitalist philosophy of Akon’s American roots to a more socialist one. Although he hasn’t blatantly said that Ubuntu will be applied, the mindset is definitely there. He is quoted as saying “I really want to make the biggest impact in Africa for sure…if I could have my way, Africa would be the United States of Africa” (Vera, 2020). There’s a benevolent purpose behind his work. The entire economy will be digital, running on blockchain and a cryptocurrency called Akoin (Meisenzahi, 2020). He believes that “blockchain and crypto could be the saviour for Africa in many ways because it brings the power back to the people” because he sees the technology as a way to empower Africans and advance them to independence (Meisenzahi, 2020). He also plans to make Akoin available in every African country (Meisenzahi, 2020). Ubuntu is definitely present in this concept. Akon City will be a futuristic city designed to help people not gain political power. The best example of that is his plan to make Akoin available in the whole continent. This has the potential to be an example for the future for all countries.
Since Akon City is going in the direction of being an Ubuntu community but there are definitely some elements of the powerful man. Although this city is being built with intentions to empower the people of Africa it isn’t a group effort. Although, there will be various people working on it “I come with the concepts and let the geeks figure it out” (Meisenzahi, 2020) they will all be people Akon hires. This is his idea and thus the head of this project. The city and the currency are named after so the presence of its leader is all around. He also stated that this will be a tourism city (Hilburg, 2020) so this city is very much a business which he is the manager of. The powerful man elements here are positive but Ubuntu states that there more than one leader.
Akon is extremely innovative and I’m excited to see when this project is completed. The spirit of this city is Ubuntu but the leadership is the powerful man. This project is still in its early stages so I don’t want to judge too much but no matter what the government style is Akon City has a great leader and developer. Black Panther gave the world an idea of what Africa could’ve been if it wasn’t colonized. I believe Akon City will do the same.
- Hillburg, Jonathan (2020) Akon finalizes deal to build a cryptocurrency city in Senegal retrieved from www.archpaper.com
- Meisenzahi, Mary (2020) Singer Akon has finalized plans to build a 2,000-acre city in Senegal that’s powered by his cryptocurrency, Akoin retrieved from www.businessinsider.com
- Olead 410, (n.d.) The Pennsylvania State University retrieved from www.canvas.psu.edu
Vera, Amir (2020) Akon created his own city in Senegal called ‘Akon City’ retrieved from www.cnn.com