|Verone Mankou, the designer and creator of the Way-C tablet|
Unsavoury as it might sound, we as the African populace tend to suffer from a “past issues” syndrome where we harp on about how we have been under developed, disadvantaged, disunited, misgoverned and impoverished by that terrible monster called The West. We spit with lightning speed and with great contempt at the many culprits which range from Cecil Rhodes, George Bush, Uncle Sam, The United Kingdom, France, Holland and others guilty of imperialism. We point fingers of accusation at the Atlantic Slave Trade and the exploitation of our resources by Anglo American and other multinationals. Insults are hurled at the World Bank, IMF and the United Nations, those wolves that come to us disguised as caring lambs.
All these accusations bear some validity and cannot be dismissed as lies, but we tend to forget one crucial guilty party that ought to feature high on the list: We the citizens of Africa! Although our memory of past injustices suffered centuries ago is vivid, a sudden bout of amnesia hits us when it comes to the more recent role that we have played in suppressing our own upliftment. While we have the vision to design and build the plush Hollywood style mansions that sprawl the leafy suburbs of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Harare or Lagos; when it comes to designing our own technology, manufacturing and processing plants, we moan at how we do not have the means to do so. We cry about the way the Bretton Woods institutes through their lending policies; have a vice-like grip on our economies. This is despite the fact that a sizeable chunk of our resources finds its way to funding civil wars, overseas holidays for our political leaders and of course, fat Swiss Bank accounts.
It is against this sad background that Mthoko salutes an African warrior, who has taken a huge step to fight the true battle of African economic liberation. A man who has decided that he will not waste time whining about how bad the Western World is, but will take steps at beating them at their own game. In the true style of a great mind, this man has realised that the issues of Africa will not be solved in comfy conference rooms and board rooms of political summits and meetings. Instead he has taken his battle to the drawing rooms and workshops of his own backyard.
Thumbs up to Verone Mankou a 26-year old from the Congo (Brazzaville) whose company VMK, has produced the Way-C Android touchpad tablet, Africa’s rival to the iPad. Currently on sale in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire in the Congo, this affordable device (US$300) is set to make an immense contribution to the world of technology, especially that of Africa.
There are very little or no global product brands that originate from Africa and the Way-C is the pioneer that we need to give us that much needed wake-up call. Mankou could have chosen to find fancy work overseas at Apple, Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson or other electronic and telecommunications giant. Instead he chose to invest his time, energy and effort to the uplifting of his nation and continent. He is not interested in playing for the giants, but would rather play with, if not against other giants.
The Asian giants such as China, Japan, Singapore and India have long woken up to the realisation that it does not pay to lament about the bad past. Africans need to realise that they have more control over their destiny today than they ever had before. We need to realise that we are a talented people who have the creative and intellectual capacity to be producers and supply other continents with our home grown products and ideas. While our technological capacity is not where it should be, this is no excuse for us to sit on our laurels. Partnerships can still be made with those that have the means, but on equal and non-exploitative terms. Verone Mankou has demonstrated that it is possible to beat the odds and stamp our African footprint. Viva Verone!
Watch this video clip about Verone Mankou