Success: Why does it elude Africans?
By Ejike Okpa II Correspondent
African-Americans are by all indications the most exposed and endowed black persons in the world given their presence in the US of America. But what is the collateral value of such presence? Your guess is as good as mine.
Apart from building churches
in every corner of the
neighbourhood, they shun ownership
of small businesses such
as convenience stores. Although
they spend more than a trillion
dollars in annual consumption,
they lack ownership of corporate
America or commercial real estate.
Hardly any historically black
colleges and universities have
endowments in high 3-digits.
Sickle cell disease, a condition
that afflicts mostly blacks/Africans
the world over, receives less
than a billion dollars annually for
research, yet, there are black folks
on the list of the world's richest.
No past or present African
leader, especially those from sub-
Saharan Africa, has ever spoken
about sickle cell globally and committed
to raising money for its
cure or management. Black folks
in the US have more PhDs than
most other ethnic groups, just
like Nigerians have such degrees
more than other African countries
It confirms the saying that
equal opportunity as in education,
does not mean equal outcome.
With more than 50 years
of independence and civil rights,
complaining about what was
done to us and what keeps being
done to us, continues to
dominate our ability to forge formidable
strategies to prevail.
We should quit thinking that
others owe us something and
charge on as if there is no tomorrow.
It is annoying that in the US
of America, even in many cities run by African-Americans, the
leadership often behave like
what one sees in Africa; corruption,
nepotism, cronyism, etc.
Does it mean no matter the centuries
of separation, the DNA is
The example of South Africa
is typical. While Mandela was
alive, the world responded to
him with sentiment and sympathy,
and had the[ir] media extol
and shower him with praises to
higher heights as a model.
But Mandela was neither a
pragmatic politician nor a businessman
in politics, to use the
attention he was enjoying to
appeal for investment in a challenging
manner. He enjoyed the
business of politics but was mild
and ineffectual in the politics of
business, where who gets what
and when is decided.
It is one thing to be in office
but another thing to use the office
to make things happen. FDR
said, "no one should undermine
their own economic wellbeing".
Well, I guess he did not
have Africans and or black folks
in mind because this ethnic
group undermines their own
What if Mandela had instead
of settling for the "songs
of praises" asked the world to
commit investing US$1 billion
for every year he was locked
up; about US$27 billion, in
concessionary funds in
Soweto or a lasting endowment
for those who have been
denied access to reasonable
I am sure the physical condition
of Soweto would have
received dramatic improvement.
I bet, while Mandela was
in office, South Africa was not
attracting a billion dollars in investments
to areas where it
was needed most.
So what good did it do to
South Africans if the only beacon
of hope settled for songs
of praise? Accepting pats on
the back and kisses for being
good persons while one's
people are starving is a way to
Why do black/Africans like
to be appeased?
Mandela garnered respect
but lacked the tools of using it
to turn things around for South
Africa; Soweto that is. He was
careful not to be seen like a President
Robert Mugabe, demanding
that past injustices be remedied
and atoned for.
Africans in power refuse to
understand that what they do
not ask for, they do not get. Forget
the invitation to White
House or Buckingham Palace
and demand better programmes
and projects for Africa's citizenry.
If they refuse, go do it.
Power respects power. Weakness
invites insult and disrespect.
I would have loved Mandela
to demand that Soweto township
be brought to higher standards,
that is; ensuring the township
has constant running water,
paved streets, better schools,
decent housing, and security,
among other factors.
Instead, he settled for speech
making and overlooked the
Soweto township such that
Soweto slid into a worse state.
While many black South Africans
got rich, many went into
poverty while their own brothers
and sisters now sit in boardrooms.
That is the "black
people's way, I get my own, you
now go get yours, and if you are
unable, too bad."
Black Africans, no matter their
geography of birth, have a global
label of not being up to par.
We aid this wrong label when
we pick on each other and or
dance to the tunes of the masters;
real or imagined. We ought
to seek alliances and strategic
partnerships to advance our
agenda, recognising that there
are no angels in politics - just
We ought to have many compelling
angles to compete effectively.
James Madison in one of the
Federalist papers put it this way: