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Success: Why Does It Elude Africans?



Success: Why Does It Elude Africans?
Black people must stop choosing praise over progress

AFRICANGLOBE – 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 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 still prevalent?

The example of South Africa is typical. While Nelson 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 well-being”.  Well, I guess he did not have Africans and or black folks in mind because this ethnic group undermines their own well-being.

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 living?

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 appease. Why do Blacks/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.”

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 angles.

We ought to have many compelling and complementing angles to compete effectively. James Madison in one of the Federalist papers put it this way: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,” and “If angels were to govern men, neither external or internal controls on government would be necessary.” With that, I need not add more.


By: Ejike Okpa 


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