AFRICANGLOBE – The number five reason why the Africans are poor, miserable and pitiable is because of his love for foreign made goods in general and ostentatious goods in particular even if such goods are no more than expensive toys that will do him no great good. And on the reverse side he has a total disdain for the products of his little creative ingenuity. Because of our mental conditioning by slavery, colonisation, imperialism and expert advertising, we have not only lost faith in our ability to use our creative ingenuity, we have also lost our faith in the little things we manage to produce or manufacture.
The Black man is today becoming more and more of a victim or prey of smart advertising for usually foreign consumer goods that are becoming sleeker and sleeker by the day. The other day, I saw an advert for imported generators claiming that the brand in stock are noiseless, ‘fuel-less’ and maintenance-free. Very soon I may come across one that will claim that it is built to last forever and that it will be sold for free but at a token cost! And it is sad to note that adverts are becoming more and more outrageous in their claims because our markets are simply saturated with foreign goods of every make and description because of our obsessive love for imported goods.
There are some of our people, especially ladies, who when they are told a particular article is a local product and they are to chose between it and a foreign variant, will, as soon as they hear that, drop the local one as if it was hot potato that will scald their hand even if that local one is superior in quality to the foreign-made counterpart! We have become unconscious rabid self-haters. We believe that anything we produce by ourselves is necessarily inferior and that anything from the factories of Europe, America and Asia are necessarily superior to ours. The only commodity manufactured in Nigeria which Nigerians prefer to foreign-made variant is electricity cable! Up Nigeria! At least for once.
When some of our leaders talk about creating jobs for the millions of the unemployed among us or growing the economy without mentioning the need for severely curtailing import or evolving a policy to stop the consumption of ostentatious goods, I just laugh at them. How can anyone create REAL jobs in the countries of the Black man when we do not produce much of the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the materials we use to build the houses we live in? How can we not be poor, miserable and pitiable when the elite among us live above the means of our society? We nurse a champagne appetite on a palm wine income. How can we have something to do when we fold our hands and do nothing and wait for others to produce what we need and some of what we do not need at all?
A friend of mine who is a fashionasto or a fashion aficionado, once opened me up to understanding of the incredible amount of foreign exchange that is wasted in Nigeria, and I guess, in the rest of the countries of the Black race, by the First Ladies we have at the varies ties of government in this waste-loving race. He told me that if a First Lady is ‘fully dressed’ in Africa, she may be putting on dresses and accessories worth between 10 to 20 million naira! This means that each time a wife or even a mistress of a powerful political leader in Africa steps out for an event, she is wearing a factory or more on her body! See how many factories have not been built in Africa because our numerous First Ladies are wearing, according to my friend, customised foreign dresses, head gears, bracelets, bangles, earrings, perfume, shoes and make-ups.
Do we not realise that the money spent on the importation of the millions of jeeps and other expensive cars our elite drive about which guzzle billions of litres of petrol is enough to build millions of factories if there is a policy to stop such frivolous waste of national patrimony? A jeep costs between N4 and 45 million. Each jeep that you see on the street is enough to open factories that will employ about 10 to 20 unemployed youth. What will happen if there is a policy that insists that no one who has that kind of money can spend it on such an item; instead such money should be used on investments that will generate employment for the unemployed? The answer is unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment will disappear like a ghost.
Are we not aware of the step taken by India which was once a poor, miserable and pitiable country like ours, but is now an emerging economic giant? India does not permit the use of expensive and ostentatious foreign-made cars by its nationals. You must pay through your nose if your love for ostentatious living is overwhelming.
Are our leaders not aware of the trick China, which was once a dirt poor country with over a billion hungry mouths to feed, adopted to get out of poverty, diseases and misery? Chinese leaders and thinkers sat down and decided that if they took control of the food they eat, the clothes they wear and the machines and the implements they need for their development, most, if not everyone in that vast country, will be gainfully employed and will have something to sustain their lives, no matter how modest, it may be.
Just consider the wisdom in that Chinese leaders and thinkers’ decision and see why China has today become the largest economy in the world and in the next few years will become the most dominant world power. The decision by China that it must totally produce the clothes which Chinese wear means that millions of farmers will be engaged in cotton production; thousands of factories will open up to produce zips, buttons, dyes and ever other item related to clothes making.
This decision also ensures that shoe factories and others with composite demand will spring up, giving employment, wealth and riches to millions of Chinese. Why are our own leaders in Africa not thinking like this?