Stuff African People Like: Their Solutions to Africa’s Problems

Africa left over tanker

There is no gathering of African people anywhere around the world that doesn’t include the customary discussion of just what is wrong with Africa and how to fix it.

Don’t get me wrong though, it is far from a democratic discussion. The philosophy that gets the most airtime in the imaginations of the listeners is that of the loudest most dominant person. Sad to say, the expression that “empty vessels make the most noise” isn’t just a coffee mug logo: a lot of the time it’s true.

Sometimes however one is surprised by the quiet person in the group who proposes something like,

” We should take all the members of the (insert group they don’t like living in the country) and kick them out or use them for genetic testing.”

A key component of these bar room/church crusade/casual gathering strategy and philosophy sessions is no action must come out of them. For you see if the African knew they had to act on everything they said, they would feel a lot less free to share.

Therefore should you ever engage in these conversations with members of the continent be sure to:

a) Marvel at the brilliance of the most popular opinion. There is no need for you to give any form of input: By now it should be clear that the African is simply content seeming smarter than you. So make sure you acknowledge them as you would Einstein if you were there when he created the theory of relativity.

b) Whenever they discuss the African problems be sure to leer and express disgust at whatever outside force the speaker claims are responsible for Africa’s woes-other ethnic group, white man, politicians, women,men etc etc. Honestly you cannot go wrong with, “Satan is a liar,“, thrown into the mix every so often.

c) NEVER EVER EVER EVER propose or even think about putting any of these ideas into action. If you begin thinking or acting in that direction, Africans will quickly kick you out of their gathering: after all the African is talking to you to feel all smart and powerful, not to act or be held accountable: that’s just too much work and time taken away from making money, rising through the ranks and garnering degrees.

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No Comments

  • By Ken, May 28, 2008 @ 9:45 am

    very interesting, kind of reminds me of why you do not have to cover Crabs in a basket! for those who do not know what that means, the crabs keep pulling each other back into the basket, none will ‘escape’…

  • By Kelly, May 28, 2008 @ 4:55 pm

    “NEVER EVER EVER EVER propose or even think about putting any of these ideas into action. If you begin thinking or acting in that direction, Africans will quickly kick you out of their gathering: after all the African is talking to you to feel all smart and powerful, not to act or be held accountable”
    That is very true. Africans like thinking big about everything, not just our problems, but no one is willing to take the responsibility of doing what it takes to accomplish it.

    Why do we complain about our leaders day in day out, but elect them every 5 years?

  • By Mwangi, May 28, 2008 @ 6:20 pm

    @Ken: I actually thought of including that metaphor in this piece but then I realized it was so obscure it would probably go over people’s heads. However, to a large extent that is the case, in fact I expound on that a little bit in the article I release today.

  • By Mwangi, May 28, 2008 @ 6:23 pm

    @Kelly: Whoever said that giving a small sub-section of society money and power would be good for all society was lying through their teeth. What’s ended up happening is we the middle class folk know what needs to be done, have ideas to get it done but are too scared to do anything, poor folk who are ignorant and easily manipulated and rich folk who like things as they are.
    That’s one for the “Jee Huu ni Ungwana?” (Is this really civilized? ) pile why do we vote these folks when we can clearly see they are crooks. We even put each other down in their name.
    I don’t know when it was that I realized that I wasn’t the only person with delusions of grandeur. I knew folks who had bold magnificent plans for their lives and had mapped it out in some great detail but very few folk taking the steps day after day after day to get there.

  • By mamashady, May 29, 2008 @ 12:22 am

    hmmm, im not sure what to say.Yep we talk big…who doesn’t. At the end of it all, Africans have been given a reason to act this way. We fend for ourselves and our families…the rest remains rhetoric, dinner table chatter as you say. So its left to us to either challenge people as we have these discussions or kill the fear that creative thinkers have..how do we do that?

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 12:34 am

    @mamashady: This article, as with many articles I have written of late, has come out of a frustration I have with some folks I have met who describe such magnificent dreams and visions they have for the future, for their lives and for Africa in general….bright folks. Yet when you meet them one month later they haven’t even taken a baby step towards realizing it.

    Isn’t an idea or information only as valuable as its application….me thinks if we adopt this view to ideas and information in general it makes us much more effective as human beings and we have a huge output of great action instead of endless information input.

  • By mamashady, May 29, 2008 @ 12:45 am

    You should shut them down next time…in the most diplomatic of ways ;) but how do we get the other ones, the ones who aren’t just arrogant deb’es, the ones who are afraid, to do their thing?

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 12:53 am

    @mamashady: By encouraging them, via sites like this, or any time we talk to them one on one or whenever wherever we can, encouraging them to act on their great ideas. The key being eventually moving them to a place where their ideas are acted on.
    I actually don’t even mind arrogant people or arrogant debes who insist on imposing their will or their opinion, it just bugs me when people can’t back that up or act on their grandiose ideas…..nowadays it makes me think, why did you waste your time speaking or did I waste my time listening when we could have spoken about some more positive, bonding-type stuff.

  • By mamashady, May 29, 2008 @ 1:11 am

    Sometimes you feel like you’re hitting a brick wall in the encouragement department. But I guess we’ve got to try. The debes dont bug me, in fact most of the time they are very entertaining. But this doesn’t take away from what you said. Anyway, I havent one of these convo’s in ages.

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 1:32 am

    @mamashady: I pretty much have that convo everyday to justify to folks why I spend so much time on this blog and so little time in University campuses so don;t worry I’ll overcompensate on your behalf :P
    I would just keep encouraging regardless…if you had met me in my early years of high school I looked like I’d be another case of wasted potential but I still remember all the folk who “bang their heads” against the brick walls to get me where I am.
    In addition to that, sometimes the way we encourage matters…sometimes we try to encourage folks by speaking in our language instead of theirs ( i.e. I should do this because you feel it’s right but I can’t see the sense in it). Folks whose encouragements you never forget speak to you in your language ( you have the gift of the gab and it would be a shame, no a sin, to waste that, for example). Something else to think about….

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 1:34 am

    @mamashady: To continue on, the way we teach is almost as important as the lesson itself a lot of the time. Have you by any chance heard of a woman by the name of Marva Collins? If not, Google her to see the difference that the right teacher can make.

    Also check out the Pygmalion effect here for further illustration http://www.answers.com/topic/pygmalion-effect?cat=health

  • By toiyoi, May 29, 2008 @ 2:41 am

    No. Africans, are asleep. When they wake up, they might realize they need a man like Gaddafi to set them up in order, but by then, it will (in fact it may already be ) too late. There wont be any more resources to use to catapult them to greater heights.
    -chiness,indians,russians, machines will perform knowledge work for the world
    -nano-technology will enable efficient use of solar/plant energy, no need for dirty oil
    -robots will perform manual labour
    -food will all be genetically engineered and grown in the labs
    -there will be nothing left for Africans to do
    -and they will have no money so,
    -they will all be partaking in the world’s welfare system
    -in exchange, they will be a tourist curiosity of how nto to develop (e.g kibera in mega scale)

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 2:46 am

    @toiyoi: Thanks for stopping by, it’s always nice when I have guests :D . The viewpoint you have presented is so fatalistic that my hope is it’s not the viewpoint from which you operate when dealing with Africa.
    I think all the ideas you have presented are definite possibilities, and in fact a lot of them are already in existence BUT we still have these two powerful forces that are the only forces that have ever mattered:
    1) Free will
    2) Collective free will directed in a certain direction
    If we in the diaspora can get enough hearts and minds behind a single, more positive agenda and get action in that direction day after day after day, we can avert all these doomsday scenarios.
    Simple….difficult to implement, but simple powerful idea….no?

  • By toiyoi, May 29, 2008 @ 3:25 am

    @Mwangi
    You see why i do not give Africa any hopes, except if she had a strong man such as Gaddaffi? To name a few, here:
    -its been some 50 odd years Africa had to do right, she has not; what will suddenly change to make her see the light?
    -she is more impoverished now that she was 50 years ago. Not so? Why should the trend suddenly change? Consider the others ( especially Asian) who were like her 50 years ago. where are they now?
    -it is much more difficult now to get it right than it had been before, ie the world is flat (e.g. the demand for resources is intensifying, so you expect the desire to grab at whatever cost is greater- look at china’s play in places such as Darfur. No pretense at basic Human rights on their part)

    You say i am a doomsdayR: I think, to have false optimism, just because people tell you it is bad to be negative, while you know that you are actualy dying, is, what, madness? Better, say: “I am dying. I need help” instead of saying “The devil is a liar. I am well!”

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 3:39 am

    @toiyoi: Lol, the devil is a liar.

    Seriously though….optimism isn’t adopted simply because it’s bad to have a negative outlook or even because it’s good to have a good one, optimism is usually adopted because it gives you more power to act…..I am not actually proposing optimism, I am proposing that instead of asking ,”What’s wrong with Africa?” we ask, “How can we use all the resources we have been blessed with thus far to improve Africa?”

    Lest we forget, fifty years ago we were on colonial gulags picking tea and coffee for the Lord Barings of the world so in some respects we have made some forward motion though sadly it’s only affected a minority of us.

    Every European nation has been a colony or oppressed at some point in their history…if they simply adopted a fatalistic view, I highly doubt they would be in the positions of dominance they’re currently in. Lest we forget that the States was founded by some oppressed folk from England and apparently Britain was once a colony of Rome and so on and son on…..

    If you look at the US and Europe a century or two ago, I’m sure you’ll find most of the statistics were similar to those of Africa and yet those nations got to work, the unions organized and fought until child labour was abolished, they had an 8 hour workday, women’s rights were acquired, civil rights etc etc…lest we forget there were movements around each of these issues just as there is an environmental one now.

    I really don’t know whether we need a strong leader like Gaddafi or Garvey or we simply need a strong civil society, but I think both hypothesis are worth testing as the means (i.e. the leadership and economic structure) don’t matter as much as the result of a more egalitarian and equal society.

    As for Asia, in truth that land is truly one where they have manufactured economic miracles. But if you have lived in the diaspora like I have you look at Asian people, White people and all people and realize they are human beings with just as much potential as you do. Therefore rather than sitting and sulking on what the Asians have that we don’t, let’s ask them what they did to turn their country around, study what Europe and the States did to turn their nations around (not what they tell us they did, what they really did) and attempt to implement them.

    Wasn’t one of the foundations of the US and European economy clothing manufacturing which stole a lot of its methods from Asia? Let’s learn from our brothers and sisters…..Asia isn’t a reminder of our failure as a continent, it’s a target and an ideal to learn from and work towards.

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