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Sustainability and Jitegemea

Combating the effects of dependency depends on the intentional development of sustainable practices. Sachs29 asserts that:

The crucial ingredient to breaking Africa’s poverty trap is for the rest of the world to help African economies to reach their threshold levels ofcapital, infrastructure, human, and natural resources to enable these economies to establish a process of self-sustaining growth.30

Elkington31 describes this process as the triple bottom line: people, profits, and planet. Sustainability, then, begins with “theprinciple of ensuring that our actions today do not limit the options spectrum of economic, social and environmental needs of future generation?' .32 The literature reflects these approaches and others by suggesting both a weak and a strong framework when considering sustainability. On the one hand, a weak approach occurs when environmental elements, society, and economy are integrated assuming that if one aspect of the model fails, another component can compensate for the lack. Unfortunately, this type of approach fails to take into consideration the ecological limitations of companies, organizations, and people.33 On the other hand, the New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment34 describes a strong sustainability model that “recognizes that the economy depends on society, and that many important aspects of society do not involve economic activity. Similarly, human society and business are all constrained by our planet’s natural environment” .35 Thus, sustainable development, as suggested by Barsan, Nastasescu, and Barsan,36 incorporates: (a) economic cycles that generate income while maximizing natural, human, and economic capital; (b) ecological considerations with regard to the natural and human biological systems; and (c) sociocultural perspectives that take into account social systems and cultural stability that promote equity within intergenerational cultural diversity.

Sustainability, as defined for this chapter, reflects Barsan, Nastasescu, and Barsan’s emphasis on sociocultural perspectives in that it is “the continued leadership capacity over time of being able to help people develop attitudes, skills, and knowledge to make informed decisions for the benefit of themselves and others today and in the future and to act upon these decisions”.3 It not only broadens leaders’ perspectives, but it also increases their capacity to conduct resource mobilization; start innovative projects; and expand education, healthcare, social and economic opportunities for local communities.38 Sustainability suggests that one answer to stunted economics and limited social services is to address the mindset of leaders. Local African leaders identify with sustainability through the idea of jitegemea, a movement toward or the act of self-reliance.39 Thus, jitegemea becomes an expression of sustainability or the way by which sustainability is accomplished. This perspective creates a more meaningful approach that encompasses psychological, spiritual, and social leadership and learning strategies in order to cultivate change that impacts the root problem.

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