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Published On: Mon, Jun 25th, 2018

Poverty in Africa not rooted in ethics integrity or laziness

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By Farouk Martins Aresa

If anyone ever comes to you claiming what distinguished “civilized” countries greatness is their hard work, integrity, honesty, responsibility, investment, savings, respect for the rule of law and their citizens; please tell him to get off your face. Before we say we are tired of Africans going back to culture and history; if they take these away from you, replace them with theirs, you will patronize them for the rest of your life. You are their consumers for life!
Africa and the West Indies are their farms or plantations for gold, cocoa, sugarcane and banana republics. Ask anyone that has ever worked on their farms. By the time you pay for provisions, room and board, you end up owing these owners of the farms more than what they pay you. They will ask for your wife and children to work pay off what you owe, and still not pay them off. Their economic logic, operation and rules are no different. Most of the folks that work from dawn to dusk are poor people on two or three low paying jobs.
One of the maxims, if it has not come to you, is to check what you wake up on, drink, eat, wear, ride etc. every day and ask how many of them are produced by Africans. Even if we had been left alone before our great Empires of Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Oyo and Kanem Bornu were destroyed; if Africa was on crawling speed, it would still be better off than we are today. We became “enticed patrons” of their finished goods made from our resources and slave labor in the Americas. Let’s face it, we got hooked on their finished goods.
Instead of these addicts to accept that we are hooked, we looked at fine wines, exotic food, sex and praised the tastes and qualities of these drugs with all types of accolades. Some then come back and destroy our self-worth rather than what we are hooked on. African cultures and history have some blemishes that must be corrected to adapt to the modern age and improvisation. But please point to one culture that does not have some blemishes!
We dare not speak “vernacular” in schools like “bush” boys and girls. People confuse civilization with invention. Civilization is simply the ability to live in peaceful coexistence with one another. While invention can better our lives, it can also destroy our progress and the very existence we are proud of. You ever heard about genetic engineering, robots and cyber wars on electric grid and water purification?
How could anyone, especially the victims, glorify those that rigidly monopolize and enforce weapons of mass destruction while capturing others as serfs and slaves to achieve their selfish goals; be called ethical, civilized, hardworking, honest, people of integrity that respect the rule of law and citizenship? Okay youths, that was then, we are talking about now. They no longer burn our villages and capture us as we run for cover?
Our “best” trained professional see all aspects of our existence from the perspective of their colonial masters. They explain African problems the ways their masters taught them. If Africans can only display more ethics, integrity, honesty, productivity, rule of law and democracy like their mentors, they opined. Most of them attended Oxford, London School of Economics, Harvard, Toronto and Wharton Business School.
We are still proud of our Freetown, Kumasi, Lagos Brazilian quarters and (GRA) Government Reservation Areas. We saw GRA in Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbadoes; they were built exactly like those in African major cities. Africans are still proud of being the great grandchildren of slaves. Better still, if we have one drop of slave master blood in us, we are pretty with “good” hair and light skin. This is why we want to deny our past cultures and history while they fight to keep and celebrate theirs with us.
Our African cultures have been corrupted and the child has been thrown out with the bath water. We must start thinking in our languages about more homemade goods and services. Enough foreign projects, tax free zones areas and foreign investment portfolio in our stock markets that look for short term gain without creating any value in the country. Money making lacks conscience and ethics. We must encourage values with it. Look for those willing to commit their money to long term investments, local materials, labor with equal pay as the so called expatriates and be willing to train Africans, especially for maintenance.

Aresa, a public commentator and analyst, can be reached at

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