AFRICANGLOBE – Do you want to know the number four reason why the Black man is poor and wretched? The answer is that he is a great waster. I do not know of any race that wastes things or seems to have no value for things like we the Black. We waste time, we waste talents, we waste treasure, we waste food and above all, we waste lives, the most precious of all resources God has made available for the management of his kind and of all things on earth.
Why is it that a people who are supposed to be exporters of food because of their rich soils and favourable climatic condition are today some of the biggest recipients of food aid and in some cases net importers of food? Why do Africans, especially those in the homeland, suffer from hunger and malnutrition? Why are we not self-sufficient in food production? The answer lies partly in our inability to preserve the food we produce or make the maximum use of what we harvest from our farms. God has given us some of the sweetest and richest oranges but we utilise only a fraction of that fruit and discard the rest as waste. What we in our ignorance regard as the chaff(peel) of orange can be put to six or more uses which can fetch us more money than the juice which we suck! But the Black man knows not the full uses of an orange or of other food substances that the Almighty has given to us. This partly accounts for his poverty.
The palm tree or its products has about 33 commercial uses. We Blacks extract less than 10 uses from it. What a waste! Why should we not be poor? Everywhere in Black Africa, you see mountains of rice husks, constituting environmental hazards. Yet there are many uses to which this resource can be put for the growth and development of society. The bark of groundnuts is a rich source of manure for some of our tired soils yet because of ignorance, we waste them.
Why are we a beggarly people when we can depend on even agriculture alone to become rich and prosperous? This brings us to the fact of the vast and fertile lands that we have. How well do we tend the soil which God has given to us in such great abundance? It is sad and unacceptable that less than 30 per cent of arable lands in some countries of the Black man is put under cultivation. When I travel through some states of Nigeria and behold several hectares of good soil lying fallow for years on end, I feel like writing sign boards bearing the following message CULTIVATE ME and erecting it on those portions of land.
We are indeed a race of wasters and squanderers of golden, silver and bronze opportunities put together. In Nigeria God gave us opportunity to extract free wealth from hydrocarbon deposits and use it to develop our country. We have frittered that platinum opportunity away. Crude oil, if refined, can give a limitless range of products each of which can give us the money we need to develop our country and become an economic giant. But what has happened in Nigeria? We export the crude and get only one per cent of the 100 per cent value we would get if we were wise enough to insist on refining the crude. Today, oil find is more or less a curse rather than the full blessing God intended that it should be to our country and the Black race.
In most enlightened countries of the world today, the word waste is becoming a misnomer because there is nothing any more that can be truly called waste because what one person may consider as waste is actually an essential raw material for the production of vitally needed product by another person.
A few years back, environmentalists were worrying themselves sick that electronic wastes that are not bio-degradable may spell the end to our civilisation. But today scientists have come up with a technology that can change the form of electronic wastes to raw materials for the production of some goods.
We are the most blinded race on earth in our inability to see gold literarily on our streets. Others come with nothing more than an empty brief case, stay in our countries for a few years and leave our shores with millions and billions of dollars to show for their smartness and our foolishness. I attribute this to our casual attitude to life and our aversion to acquire wisdom to manage ourselves profitably.
Apart from food, we also waste time. We have no respect for time which is why we have what is known in Nigeria, the soul of the Black race, as ‘’African Time’’. This so-called African Time means that if an event is scheduled for say 2.pm, take your time and go there anything from 4.pm. and when people saunter in one and twos and gather by about 4.pm, spend some more time engaging in frivolities until the main event gets underway at about 6.Pm. The way we toy with time in Africa is sickening and tells anybody who cares to study our ways a good reason why we are poor and undeveloped.
There is a country in Africa called the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the size of Western Europe combined. This country ought to be one of the strongest in the world, stronger than even the USA, because of the sheer quantum of resources God has bestowed on it. Yet a majority of the people of this country spend all their time singing and dancing and fooling around. They are embroiled in an internecine civil war. Bordered by about 8 nations, each of these neighbours occupies a portion of that vast and rich country and mine whatever wealth they find in the ground of that country.
One river that traverses that country and from which it derives its name, can give the whole of Africa and beyond all the electricity the continent needs to power her development. D.R. Congo epitomises Africa, a land of debt, despair, death, disaster and diseases, misfortunes that bring poverty, misery and underdevelopment. The story of the failure of Congo DR, and Nigeria is enough for a reasonable people to wear sackcloth and ashes and mourn for 40 days and 40 nights for the continent called Africa and her people scattered across the world.
Because of space constraints and the importance which the issue of waste accounts for in the sorry story of the Black race, I will treat two aspects of waste in the next instalment before we move on to another major topic in the series.
By: Idang Alibi