Stuff African People Like: Money


Whereas other groups of people may take pride in proclaiming that, “they are beyond money” or “money is not the cause of my happiness”, that bug is yet to hit the African continent. Africans have an unrestrained love of money and equate it’s pursuit and attainment with happiness.

That is the reason why African mothers choose the University paths for their children the moment you come out of the womb: That path will lead to a great career as a pilot/lawyer/doctor/businessman/insert wealthy professional here. It’s just being smart: if the child ends up rich, then they will be able to brag to all their friends while they see out their retirement years in style.

Africans unashamedly look down upon manual and blue collar professions which tend to be the fort of the African poor and throw confetti and roll out red carpets anytime they are in the presence of wealth.

The key to how to handle this situation depends on at what stage of the socio-economic ladder the African is at:

a) If they’re poor or up and comers, empathize with them and the struggles they have to go through just to “hustle and make that paper, when the world keeps trying to bring them down.” At this stage it’s usually OK for you to pay for everything as the African will probably have a few holes in his pocket through which all their money escaped.

b) If they have any form of wealth, be sure to be the number one fan of all their displays of material wealth (refer to the article on Degrees for more guidance). Their plasma TV, their overpriced car, their expensive-but-Dear-sweetness-is-that-a-bird-nest-on-their-head hairdo amongst other things.

In addition to that, don’t discuss new age ideas like, “money isn’t the root of all happiness,” or “you don’t need money to live well,” to Africans. They will begin to get concerned about the state of your mental health.

There is much more to be said about the African relationship with money, but that is for another day and another edition of Stuff African People Like.

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  • By Caustic Blonde, May 26, 2008 @ 7:41 pm

    Unfortunately I think just about every culture/country/person loves money, it is just fashionable at times to pretend you don’t. I would like to pretend I don’t love money, but life would sure be rough without it.

  • By Kelly, May 26, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

    I wouldn’t say I love money (I have given it up quite a number of times), my relationship with it is more of a like relationship. I like having money, and more than that, I like spending it.

  • By Mwangi, May 26, 2008 @ 7:52 pm

    @Caustic: It is yet to become even close to fashionable for Africans to say they don’t love money. Our level of materialism is quite startling regardless of religious or other inclinations. Sadly in spite of the love too many of us are going without it though.

  • By Mwangi, May 26, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

    @Kelly: By any chance would that be on clothes, shoes, beauty accessories and hair? The only African woman I have met who doesn’t spend a huge chunk of her money on these things is obsessed with buying kitchen utensils.

  • By Caustic Blonde, May 26, 2008 @ 8:06 pm

    My Comment was directed at a Western point of view, it is quite fashionable to pretend you don’t love money all the while trying your darnedest to obtain it. :)

  • By Mwangi, May 26, 2008 @ 8:10 pm

    @Caustic: Yeah we have seen a little of that since we showed up. Shocked the living hell out of my mother.

  • By gal africana, May 26, 2008 @ 10:19 pm

    I can understand why folks in Africa dont buy the “money isn’t the root of all happiness,” or “you don’t need money to live well,”, because they dont apply in Africa…I cant imagine not having health insuance and free QUALITY education….or a social welfare system altogether…that would be hell for me, and this everyday life for the poor in Africa…
    In Europe those new age ideas apply, because basic human needs are met for ALL or most, through the welfare system…and then money just means one can go private for bigger and better service, for basic needs and luxuries as well,…for that I have to say “I LOVE MONEY!”

  • By Mwangi, May 26, 2008 @ 10:27 pm

    @gal africana: But don’t you find it sad how even folks who have enough to get by are so obsessed with getting more and not losing what they have even at the expense of other people.
    In fact now that I think about it, I really can’t understand why so many middle and upper class African youth and young adults are so obsessed with money when they grew up with it all their lives.
    You would think the fact that we are blessed would make us more inclined to move on to “higher pursuits” other than the empty pursuit of the dollar.

  • By Kelly, May 26, 2008 @ 11:37 pm

    Mwangi, after saving, I then ‘budget’ for the things you listed. Hair is not a priority, after all, how much would a shave cost? I spend mostly on face stuff, perfumes, bags and shoes!

  • By Mwangi, May 26, 2008 @ 11:42 pm

    @Kelly: The fact that hair isn’t on the top of that list must seperate you from so many of your fellow Kenyans. I heard from people who went home last year that the ladies of Kenya have a sacred relationship that only gets deeper by the day with their hair stylist and apparently fashion wise y’all get better and more expensive looking by the day with poverty being no excuse not to splurge on fashion and hair

  • By Kelly, May 26, 2008 @ 11:48 pm

    You’re right! Before I chopped my hair off, I had this ‘affair’ with my hairdresser, I’d see him like twice every week, but I realised I needed something else, like a rebirth of sorts!
    On the splurging thing, I agree with you. Not to point fingers, but our receptionist dresses more expensively than I do. I know we accountants can be mean, lakini, sometimes women get ahead of themselves. All in all, I hear if you invest in your looks / fashion sense, there is payback cos you attract rich guys and all (her words, not mine)

  • By Mwangi, May 26, 2008 @ 11:52 pm

    @Kelly: Makes sense, don’t a huge number of Kenyan bosses have mistresses from among their female staff. Lol, a rebirth from your hair stylist.
    All my life people on both sides of me economically, whether richer or poorer have always found some way to dress more expensively than I do….perils of coming from a Kikuyu family, their cheapness even got into me.

  • By Kelly, May 27, 2008 @ 12:00 am

    Yeah, you will never know how shaving one’s head changes them. Even my friends / colleagues etc have commented on the spunky more confident shaven me.

    Yeah, it seems hook up a rich married guy is the way to go these days. Too bad, I seem to be missing out on the party.
    Don’t worry about the cheapness, one day you’ll have lots of money from being frugal now. Is that Kikuyu thing for real? I should go and look at my lineage, seems I got some of it!

  • By Mwangi, May 27, 2008 @ 12:04 am

    @Kelly:…not only that but you’re hair is less in the way :) . For so many women to go that way truly saddens me when so many women are so sharp…but I guess it’s using the one gift every woman was blessed with, sexuality….but still sad.
    Nah, a lot of Kikuyu folks splurged on their kids. My parents were just cheap in terms of my clothes and by the time I was old enough to be fashion demanding, I was already too deep into all this personal development stuff and so saw more sense in buying a course or seminar tickets than in buying a fresh pair of Adidas.

  • By gal africana, May 27, 2008 @ 12:27 am

    It all comes down to what values parents instill in their kids…and I have to say, that the amount of parenting that goes on in some African homes is almost non existant. Of course when those kids become older they can choose a more “wholesome” approach to life…which some do…but then at that point peer pressure plays a huge part in keeping people focussed to amassing wealth…I say…to everyone their own…people do what works for them.

  • By Mwangi, May 27, 2008 @ 12:29 am

    @gal africana: And who can forget those folks who don’t parent at all and instead let the money do all the raising and talking for them.

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