What Africans and Black Americans Keep Getting Wrong

Yesterday, I stumbled on a news article about what Donald Trump said about Africans and African-Americans. I couldn't find an authoritative enough news agency to confirm the news on; it seemed only Kenyan and Nigerian news websites carried it. But who ever has been lightly following the Donald Trump's presidential campaign news will know that it is something he can say and most probably said.

A lot of people have said if you rank the entire human population by any important metric, from high to low, the bottom low will be mostly Africans (whether Africans at home or Africans abroad). That racism is not the problem. Afterall it was hatred for Jews that fueled the World War 2 and caused numerous wars in the Middle East. Yet the Jews are arguably the most prosperous in the world. Even the Chinese used to have it tougher for them: their height, their fake products, their repressive leaders and extreme poverty. A few decades ago they were the ones ranking bottom across most metrics. So we all know that it's not racism that is keeping us down, we are the one keeping ourselves down.

And I think where we are getting it wrong is our choice of tools. We keep silent when we ought to talk. If you watch that documentary on how we got our independence, it looked more like we got the independence on the colonial master's terms and not on our own terms. Our independence speech by Tafawa Balewa was basically a thank you speech to the Queen. 

Then we talk when we ought to act. Look around us, it's always one symposium after another, one conference after another, endless Africa rising speeches. The world is not a speech contest. No country rises to significance by talking and doing seminars. The time when talking was effective was when people used to get killed for talking -- the time of Church Supremacy (1500s and 1600s), the time of Martin Luther King Jr., the time of Ken Saro-Wiwa and Fela. Now people get awards for talking and that's why everyone is talking. They want twitter followers, UN awards, US sponsored fellowships and public attention. 

We should at least learn from the Jews and the Chinese and the Singaporeans and the Japanese. No nation rises by activism and talk. Think about the unfortunate Chibok kidnapping, our talk has achieved nothing beyond making a few people popular on social media. Only the actions of our Soldiers are our hope. You can't talk your way to any significant progress. If we don't start watering our land here, stop talking and start acting we won't get ahead in life. We will always rank bottom of every important global index. 

We need more people to start making the real sacrifices nations are built on. People who will think of what they can do for their nation and not what the nation can do for them.  People who won't equate talking to action. People who won't run away to greener pasture and come give talk back home. That's not how the Jews rose nor how the Chinese are rising. We have to get our values right, our ambitions set beyond "I better pass my neighbour" and focus more on building our land. Afterall, the land is green where it is watered. The people moving US forward are not their government or the people on TV, it's the people in Silicon Valley, the people working their lives off building the future the rest of the world will pay for. Think of the big internet companies, the multinational companies and foreign companies we all dream of working for; if the rest of the world were like us will those companies exist? 

As long as we keep avoiding to make the real nation building sacrifices and work on our own rather than on someone else's own; we will keep working hard and building another man's land. It is not corruption that is keeping us down -- US in the 1800s was more corrupt, UK & France in the 1600s were way more corrupt, the rich countries in the Middle East are more corrupt (they legalized the sending of the national wealth to one man's account) and the rising China is also corrupt. We need to use the right tool -- action that matters and not useless talks.


  1. Very true and matter-of-factly. I am sure many Africans, especially those in the Diaspora will not like this article.

    I tell people who cry that there is racism in developed countries against African and blacks that "The white man has tried for himself and his kin. Blacks too should build companies, and their countries so that the white man will want to come and work there."

    1. Yes, you're very right! No one can discriminate you in your own land na.

  2. Spot-on Olafusi!! Am not sure why we keep getting our priorities wrong as a 'people'

    1. Thanks Nchewi! I hope we start doing things right.

  3. We are good at consuming: news. first to react, goods.


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