Displacement in the African Narrative

Displacement in the African Narrative

In physics, displacement is the difference between the final and initial position of a point. The actual path covered to reach the final position is irrelevant. Simply put, displacement is the shortest distance between two points.


Displacement is what we all seek for: 

  • It's the most efficient cycle. 
  • The smartest path.   
  • The direct road to the promised land.   
  • The easiest way to shift policy. 
  • The quickest solution to turn around a nation’s economy. 

Don't get it mixed up with misplacement—to put in a wrong place. 

Zimbabwe needs no introduction to misplacement. 

  • Talent has been misplaced.   
  • People have been put in the wrong position. 
  • When potential is misdirected the talented have a long road home.   
  • When doctors leave the county. 

For example, we had insight into a huge donation that would have helped alleviate medical needs in Harare. A big shipment was about to be made. The recent news jeopardized the deal and the container was shipped to a place that had less issues and red tape.

The delays with Aliko Dangote's investment and projects is another example. But there are thousands more misplacements. Will the opportunities come again? They'll come back round on the long journey. The short journey was missed. But they will no longer be displacements. The full path will have to be traversed. 

Unfortunately, misplacement is a big part of the African narrative. 

Displacement is what we should be shooting for. What's the shortest distant to the goal? Make that work first. In the startup world, we call it the MVP or minimum viable product. An MVP is a product with just enough features to gather valid feedback from potential customers about the product and it what would make it even better (read more here). 

The long journey to the solution might be more scenic with all its twists and turns, but for us to realize progress and change in the African narrative, we must collectively strive for displacement. Not shortcuts, but disciplined and strategic efficiencies in our systems and how we do things. 

(photo via unamid)