7 Pieces of the Puzzle that Africa Has

As you will probably notice I am currently in the process of creating my email newsletter. It is going to be the latest permanent addition to this little blog so any advice on how to make my email newsletter better is very appreciated….oh and of course join it :) . To today’s program:

Greetings, salutations and hello. Today’s article is a special treat for me and hopefully for you. It is yet another post that pretty much evolved over the course of a day as opposed to a preplanned article, which is always very very cool.

So a few months ago I was visiting this elderly couple in Country Victoria. In their home, which is absolutely gorgeous for a 100 year old house, they had this puzzle: The puzzle was a mix between a rubix cube and a jigsaw puzzle. You get a cube that is open on one end, a bunch of haphazardly shaped wooden pieces and you are basically meant to fit all those pieces perfectly into the box.

As our brains sweat through the task, someone suggested that I should write a blog post about the puzzle. I thought to myself:

” I own the Displaced African domain, so why not?!”

Today I thought I would share with you 7 elements that I believe that Africa has that are far from being used to their maximum effect. These are 7 elements that we can use to take Africa from the gutter that we currently are in, all the way to the stars and beyond. Without further ado, they are:

1) Pain and Suffering

We have had a recent history filled with nothing but tragedy after tragedy. But we do not use tragedy to move our country forward. When Kenya was bombed in 1998, the reaction of our country was far different to that of the States. The US has mourned, established memorials, investigated 9/11 to the littlest detail, had all media talking about 9/11 and it’s implications, made movies, wrote books, got think tanks working overtime, used it as justification to go protect their interests overseas etc etc etc

They basically did everything imaginable to not only ensure it never happens again, but they emerge stronger as a result. Pain and suffering a lot of the time can be the greatest motivation to get to work and make the world a better place. In Africa we have more than enough to motivate us. Sadly a lot of the time we direct it at each other instead of at solving the root cause of the problem as is the case in South Africa at the moment.

2) Cultural Richness

I have spoken about this many many many times but we really should have had a discussion as a society, post colonialism about how we’d handle some of the important parts of the human experience including the only thing that comes guaranteed with life: death.

In my humble opinion, the way some African cultures handled death was grossly superior to the Western ways we inherited of handling death. The Ashanti didn’t mourn death but viewed it as an inevitable part of life. The Luo people keep the corpse in the dead person’s home and hire professional wailers and mourners to ensure that all the grieving that needs to be done is done as soon as possible. During this time, any debts or scores of the deceased that need to be settled are settled as everyone in the community is given a chance to come and speak to the family members. And then to ensure that, if its a man, his wife and children are taken care of, a member of the family takes the wife and children into his home.

To me, there are a lot of things in those two approaches that strike me as a very healthy way of viewing death. We had a lot of customs and traditions from 1000s of tribes in Africa that were clearly working for a certain period of time…foolish is the man who doesn’t learn or even bother examining his past.

3) Work Ethic

It doesn’t matter where you go or who you speak to, nine times out of 10, Africans are praised for our ability to work and work very hard. That’s why you almost never hear of African people who immigrate overseas and end up poor, destitute and/or homeless. Caught up in the rat race? perhaps. Living beyond their means? perhaps. But Africans tend to work themselves like work horses regardless.

Sure we have our fair share of lazy folk, but we have enough hard workers that it counts.

4) Natural Resources

Say what you will, but Africa is the richest natural resource on Earth. The Scramble for Africa took place because the colonial barbarians kept drooling at just how resource rich our continent was. Needless to say, Africa is currently being exploited and stripped and robbed at an exponential pace. BUT, we still have enough natural resources that it counts.

5) Educated People

Africa is one of those odd places on Earth where you will find people with Masters degrees walking the streets daily in search of work. As I have shared in the past, we love us some degrees and advanced degrees and it’s knocked into our heads from a very young age that no one goes to success but by Bachelor.

This has resulted in about two or three generations of extremely well trained, academically intelligent people of colour. If we could put all the African brains all over the world into a brain trust, it would probably be the wealthiest brain trust around.

6) Young People

Young people can have two things that make them the most powerful forces known to man:

a) A sense of infinite possibility and a belief that we can bring them to life.

b) No sense of shame.

A lot of people look at point b) as though it’s a negative. I think it’s ridiculously powerful. Sometimes when I get in the train and look at Sudanese teenagers who are acting a fool I think to myself:

These people genuinely don’t care what people think about them. They will act however they want without any fear whatsoever of its social consequences. Can you imagine if they put this lack of inhibition and thick skins to constructive use?

It’s no secret that to cause massive changes or bring something new to society you need a thick skin. As Tony Robbins once said, when a new idea comes into society,

First it’s ridiculed and chastised. Then it’s violently opposed. And then it’s accepted as truth that was dismissed by crazy people.

Take points a) and b) above, mix them together and you see why so many of the great movements had young people in them.

7) People in the Diaspora

I think I have discussed this one and will continue to discuss if for a very long time and so I see no need to go over it because while reading some of the above points, I know you have seen some of the ways, we in the diaspora can be a powerful force for good.

So what we will do with this power, is entirely up to us, but make no mistake about it, the power is there.

There you have it, seven things that I believe that Africa has going for it.

To stay a part of the conversations in the Displaced African, please stay a part of the email list or add the Displaced African to your feed reader.

Be blessed and bless others,


No Comments

  • By rags, June 4, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

    I applaud you for your desire to move way further with the “Displaced African” and turn it from an idea to a passion and then to a product. You go man!

    It is awesome that you are turning content into revenue. It is also awesome that you are using your talents to enlighten others. I feel that we have to dream, keep dreaming and leverage blogs, websites, etc to make our voices heard.

  • By Mwangi, June 4, 2008 @ 2:46 pm

    @rags: Cheers man! I think this as an experiment definitely worth engaging in….so watch this space.

  • By Mzeiya, June 4, 2008 @ 10:54 pm

    I ll zero in on culture, especially in my home country- Kenya. Methinks Kenyans have little to show for their cultural purity. A lot of young people back home try too hard to ape what they see on the entertainment channels. I have also noticed the same among some black immigrant communities here in Oz. It is alright to express oneself in the manner that one likes but what do we have to say when such expressions completely betray our identities?

    And even where culture comes into play its usually to stoke superstitions e.g. the dogma that you have to get supernatural powers to progress. Now when people cannot build brick houses in certain localities in Kenya, and slight suspicions can result in you being lynched methinks we got an elephant in the name of culture

    As for the copy cat subculture I dont get the idea of Africans creating a mini US ghetto down here. Lets represent not just Africa but our black identity in a more positive way. What do you reckon?

  • By Mwangi, June 4, 2008 @ 11:07 pm

    @Mzeiya: I completely agree and I think the issue of how we blindly ape American culture is a post and a series unto itself. But one thing we have that say, African Americans don’t have is access to our culture. I can tell you that legends say I came from the house of Agikuyu, Mumbi and their daughters…I can tell you about the legend of Wangu wa Makeri and about the migrations of the Bantu people from the middle of Africa all the way to Kenya and so on and so on….even though we abuse this precious gift of culture….my point is thank God we have it.
    We do need to start acting in a manner which suggests that we have a history before MTV, BET and that we did things that made sense long before we were made to feel like savages…there I agree.

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