Monday, January 26, 2009

Victimhood, Kenyans, Black people and Success

We had a very interesting discussion on how black people and Africans have had it rough in the past and how this continues to adversely impact us. The group was composed of several black Britons a Sierra Leonean, a Congolese, the ubiquitous Nigerian and I and started on the topic of colonialism and the damage it did to Africa. Then it shifted to slavery and the damage it has done to black people (an example was given descendants of slaves who carry the worst form bitterness in their hearts even today) and the terms of trade...However, the conclusion was that unless we black people and Africans learned to be more sincere, realistic but also ambitious, our grandchildren will be talking about these same topics.

As Africans we cry about;

  1. Slavery-but who sold the slaves and are we still slaves today (in mental rather than physical way)?
  2. Scramble for Africa and the arbitrarily drawn boundaries- we can change them or learn to live with them
  3. Colonialism-yes it happened, but almost 50 years ago. Ethiopia wasn't colonised but where is it today? And the list as long as my arm of dictators and incomptent leaders?
  4. Terms of trade of skewed against our goods- this has applied to China, India, Brazil too, but what have they done differently? Provided the West what id needs cheaply therefore growing their economies in the process. China has provided products using cheap and available labour; India recognised the need for IT support and trained many of its students and is now reaping the fruits. Last year, we were paying programmers £700 per day, we outsourced their work to Bangalore where we were paying between £1,000-£2,000 per month for the same-ish quality of programming and just employing good business analysts.
  5. We don't get enough aid- Say what? How many 45-year olds do you know who would ordinarily be queing up for aid? Why can't we change the game and talk to some of these corporations like Google, Microsoft and get them to hire 50 Kenyan graduates each and take them on 2 year contracts in their nations before sending them back to Kenya?
Blacks in the UK:

  1. Complain that their kids are not taught well in schools and not steered into the right career choices. Well, the kids have bad bad attitudes to learning and are disruptive. Parents can supplement but teaching them at home and manners. Parents can also be careful about the schools they take their kids to e.g. take them to predominantly white schools where facilities are on average of higher quality and quantity. For some parents, there is an option to send them to their country of origin. You can't teach ambition but you can nurture it.

  2. Racism in employment-its a fact, but the Obama template is worth observing. Despite his lack of so-called experience, he was clearly better than McCain, the Clintons and of course Bush. He took off the rough edges (look at the way he repudiated Rev Wright) because he realises he is black and there is no point in telling whites that oh I am black and proud; my people were enslaved by your folks. You are not telling them anything new. But if you try and be twice as they good as they are at what it is you are supposed to be doing, then that is new to them. This doesn't mean you shouldn't fight racism when you encounter it, but be smart about how we overcome it. And when you make it, don't look down on other black people, but bring some to your company because it will then become common place.

The Kenyan mwananchi complains about;

  • Politicians: We voted for them, but more importantly, when we tell them "Unga", some are listening. This is what we must work harder doing i.e. reminding them that we can ignore them; we'll vote them out and we can stage a revolution if things came to it.
  • Corruption: many of us pay bribes than spending the night in jail.
  • Power cuts: The sun shines throughtout the year 12 hours a day. Shouldn't you consider soalr power?

Above all, we Kenyans, Africans, black people must be masters of our lives, in a similar manner others are unless we want to be treated like children...


odegle said...

now we are on the same page sir!

coldtusker said...

Oh, well... these are easy excuses.

Singapore was a colony. So was Ghana. Which one is a roaring success?

India has a LARGE population, with many tribes & regions & religions... yet it has done very well when compared to most African countries.

MainaT said...

Guys you know this stuff is holding us back because we refuse to chart our own way out of our problems...

Ssembonge said...

I couldn't disagree with you. We are our own (worst) enemy.