The strategic approach of SOPHOS AFRICA is to contribute to efforts to reduce the scarcity of changed women and men who can transform society. Society will not change without changed minds and lives. Changed people are wise people, who have continuously become fewer and disenfranchised from the public sphere in Africa but whose multiplication and re-engagement can bring about societal transformation. So it is paramount to stimulate, nurture and mobilise a critical mass of opinion leaders or change agents within churches, institutions, development organisations, political parties, media, businesses, and state organs
To use an analogy from the COVID-19 pandemic, governments in Europe try to keep the R (Reproduction) number under 1 in order to keep the infection levels under control, because if the R number is 1, 10 people will approximately infect 30 and the number of infected people will grow exponentially. But if it is 0.5, 10 people will approximately infect 15. If the R number remains 0.5, those 15 people will approximately pass the virus to 8 people. In order to multiply a critical mass of transformed people, the R number (metaphorically speaking) should go up rather than down.
This would mean that when a certain percentage of a given population is committed to a transforming idea that change agents consistently promote, the minority opinion will become the prevailing opinion of the entire population. The question is how many change agents would be enough?
In 2011, the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in USA put the figure at 10%. In 2018, a research carried out by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of London put the figure at 25%. If we take the average of 10% and 25%, it becomes approximately 18% of a given population. So out of 1.2 billion people, Africa needs 210 million transformed minds and lives. Ethiopia needs 18 million people to be a transformed nation state. Thinking more realistically, if an organisation has 100 people, 18 transformed women and men can change that organisation. In order to achieve this, SOPHOS AFRICA will seek to create a transformative ecosystem (a complex network of change agents) through activities focused on achieving changed ways of thinking and praxis (intellectual and cultural) and changed ways of thinking and praxis coupled with wealth creation (holistic empowerment). The organisation seeks to achieve its objectives through a three-pronged approach: (1) a research think tank to identify and analyse issues and to propose transformative actions, (2) groups of change agents in key sectors with intellectual, cultural and moral focus, to implement actions leading to transformation and (3) groups of change agents from amongst women and girls with intellectual, cultural and moral focus as well as economic empowerment (or wealth creation) focus both to implement transformational actions and to demonstrate how a positive change of mind-set, relationships and values can bring about a healthy economic transformation. While the research think tank will be established in the capital of a selected African country (e.g. Addis Ababa, Nairobi etc), the other groups will be in selected cities, towns and villages.