Nation Building generally refers to the construction or structuring of a national identity, which aims at unifying a people so that it remains politically stable and economically viable. The question now arises, how can we create a unified nation that accommodates diversity? How can we foster social homogeneity and still encourage individuality?

One common denominator that underpins all human interaction is RESPECT. This word has often been overlooked or overly simplified to only refer to the common social graces of saying please and thank you, whereas respect in nation building means much more.

How do respect and consideration affect the four pillars of nation building: Government and Administration, Economic Development, Land resources & Capital Infrastructure and Social Development?

When we look at the characteristics of good governance with special emphasis on Participation, Rule of Law, Consensus Orientation and Equity, the prime ingredients are RESPECT and CONSIDERATION. Consideration is the thought process of taking everything into account. Consideration is what propels a person to question how his actions will affect another. For example, if I choose to divert the funds earmarked for the construction of roads to something that benefits me and decide to patch the roads instead, I’ll be putting people’s lives at risk because those roads will become death traps. In the same vein, government policies are instituted based on how they will affect the governed. Any policy that will affect a people adversely becomes a catalyst for anarchy and civil unrest.

When we talk about transparency and accountability in economic development, we are looking at the key element of trust. When trust is broken between the government and the governed, the resultant effect is social instability, which creates an atmosphere that is not conducive for economic growth. Trust is easily broken when promises made to the people are not met. For example, when people have served the nation and have retired from active service, their pension must be paid in the manner it was promised to them during active service. When government promises an upward review of salaries, this must be met for trust to be built. Trust rides on the vehicle of respect and consideration, which invariably means that our word must be our bond.

If a person is able to give good value for money with the services he renders, he gains our trust and respect. This person is able to offer quality service because he is sensitive to the needs and feelings of his clients. He recognizes the importance of a long term relationship and understands that integrity supersedes any tendency to cut corners for quick economic gains that are short lived.

It is often said, you cannot live with a person you do not respect. The same also holds true for people you work with. Being respectful has to do with showing difference for another’s position or status. It also includes showing regard for his opinion even when this differs from yours. Respect in relationships, builds feelings of trust, safety and wellbeing. Key elements of respect include attention, difference, acknowledgment, valuing and good behavior.

With regards to Social Development, this has to do with improving the well being of every individual in the society so that they are better able to reach their full potential. The success of the society is linked to the well being of each citizen. When a society is free from intimidation, members are better able to reach their full potential. When social amenities are provided, families and businesses will thrive. When families do well, the whole society will benefit. In addition, providing young people with opportunities, skills and recognition, strengthens their relationship with family, school and community, leading to smarter choices that promote social competence and growth.

Self regulation is an important component of social competence. Self regulation has to do with self respect, self discipline and self control. The ability to move the society in an upward direction depends largely on our willingness to recognize that each human being matters. Therefore, in our bid to better ourselves, we must regulate our actions in a manner that respects others and in ways that will not hinder the progress of others or pull them down.

‘Who we are when no one is watching, is the fabric that builds the nation we live in.’…Mmanti Umohi

The South African Political Initiative, Batho Pele, which was first introduced by the Mandela Administration on October 1, 1997, has eight principles for improving government services. Batho Pele is a Sesotho word that means ‘PEOPLE FIRST.’ This initiative ensures that all public servants put people first and adhere to a framework that is summarized in the slogan: ‘WE BELONG, WE CARE, WE SERVE.’One of the eight principles of Batho Pele is COURTESY, which reminds public servants that they are employed to help the people and to give them access to the services that are their rights. This means public servants are expected to be courteous and helpful.

In concluding, I want to share an article on kindness I came across recently. Darnell Hunt, Dean of the UCLA Social Sciences Division and his team have been working to find ways of curbing violence and strife in the society. The Dean believes that there is a need to explore the things that make us human, which have the potential to lead to more humane societies. Kindness is the institute’s major study. Darnel Hunt said that when people see kind acts, they are inspired to replicate these acts. The institute has been researching the mechanism of kindness with the bid to inspire leaders and create policies that will have a transforming effect on society. The Institute’s inaugural director, Daniel Fessler defined kindness as,’The thoughts, feelings and beliefs associated with actions intending to benefit others, where benefiting others is an end in itself, not a means to an end.’

Respect and Consideration will always remain key elements of nation building because they are fueled by love, honesty, humility and kindness; tenets of relationship building.

Lady Jane Ndukwe

Founder, Genuine Womanhood Initiative