Economic development for holistic wellbeing in the (post) COVID-19 Era
The 7th Annual International Conference of the Society for the Advancement of Science in Africa (SASA) was held virtually due to COVID-19 prohibiting travel. The conference focus was on research (including community-based) as it relates to issues such as healthcare, education, and economic development in Africa. This chapter hones in on the issue of how, (post) COVID-19 (or in the light of COVID-19), we can consider the reframing of economic development so that the intention is not to “return to normal” (defined as what seemed to be “normal” before COVID-19 struck the globe). Based largely on community-based research undertaken in December 2020-January 2021 in Nwoya district, Uganda, we propose some recommendations for not returning to what is considered “normal” in the dominant narrative permeating the globe. As many authors have pointed out (including those committed to decolonization), a global economic system geared to increased wealth accumulation concentrated in the hands of the very few, the continued plundering by “developed” nations of the resources of those named “developing”, the attendant ecological damages caused in the wake of so called “development”, and the public health crises linked to pollution of the land and waters of vulnerable communities in the global South, have become cast as a “normal” state of affairs in conventional parlance. This chapter joins the choir of resistance voices which question this conventionality and offers a vision of new possibilities based on Ubuntu-type principles of relationality, as expressed inter alia by the Ugandan participants.
Key words: Holistic wellbeing; indigenous understandings of relationality; reviving relationality in the current era; community agency in the face of injustice; potential role of foreign enterprises; neighborliness.
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