The concept of endogenous or self-centred development refers to the process of economic, social, cultural, scientific and political transformation, based on the mobilisation of internal social forces and resources and using the accumulated knowledge and experiences of the people of a country. It also allows citizens to be active agents in the transformation of their society instead of remaining spectators outside of a political system inspired by foreign models.

Endogenous development aims to mainly rely on its own strength, but it does not necessarily constitute autarky. One of the pre-eminent theoreticians of endogenous development, Professor Joseph Ki-Zerbo, states, ‘If we develop ourselves, it is by drawing from the elements of our own development.’ To put it in another manner, ‘We do not develop. We develop ourselves.’
The conception that the Professor illustrates is without a doubt inspired by his young and charismatic compatriot. In fact, the Sankarist Revolution was one of the greatest attempts at popular and democratic emancipation in post-Independence Africa. That is why it is considered a novel experience of deep economic, social, cultural and political transformation as evidenced by mass mobilisations to get people to take responsibility for their own needs, with the construction of infrastructure, (dams, reservoirs, wells, roads and schools) through the use of the principle ‘relying on one’s own strength.’
For Sankara, true endogenous development was based upon a number of principles, among them:

– The necessity of relying on one’s own strength

– Mass participation in politics with the goal of changing one’s condition in life

– The emancipation of women and their inclusion in the processes of development

– The use of the State as an instrument for economic and social transformation

These principles formed the foundation of the policies implemented by Sankara and his comrades between 1983 and 1987.


Read the full article from Demba Moussa Dembélé here.

An African approach to development

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