Africa Does Not Need Imported Brains

Published on 12th December 2006

In spite of  over 20 years of numerous activities by “save Africa industries” like food distribution, cash- for- work, food- for -work, school feeding programs and  billions of dollars in aid, nearly 17 million Kenyans (57% of the population ) are  living in poverty.


Africa’s poverty stems from its laxity to break free from the opportunistic mindset of its so-called “friends in need.” Novocain statements like “Africa is a land of potential” are true because most of our people die with their virgin potential to create wealth. Potential energy is only useful in kinetic state. Why go a pauper to the grave while you are a millionaire within?


The primary law of human life is self-determination and self-preservation. Wealth creation is a primary way of securing and preserving the right to life. Wealth creation is a product of the mind that sets humanity a distinct notch above primal instincts. For man, survival is not just a hunting game for the present meal. Instead, man labors (self determination) to secure (self preservation) adequate “daily bread”. Wealth creation is a fruit of one’s self-determination while wealth accumulation is one’s self-preservation tact.


Life has its origin in an idea and the secret of life lies in the womb of ideas. If money makes the world go round, then ideas must be the axle! Whatever is dark about the continent of Africa is the passivity to the power of ideas. It is the fundamental reason why Kenya, and Africa by extension, cannot feed its people.


How did the West make the wealth they “generously” share with Africa? It is through innovative ideas that answered  to their needs and wants. Africa leaders' gallop to the West and the East to beg for money  implies that their lack of ideas can be compensated with aid.


Is Africa a child of the West or East? When will this child grow and be independent? Life’s phases are a linear motion; from dependence to independence to interdependence. The highest form of a truly symbiotic relationship is interdependence. Africa’s culture of dependence breeds death as long as it does not evolve into interdependence.


My catechist taught me: “no work no food,” “you harvest what you planted” and narrated how “God’s people perish for lack knowledge.” Would I be wrong to decipher that God has laid everything within us and it is up to us to exit from  hunger, homelessness and nakedness?


Why for God’s sake should Africa be perpetually fed, clothed and housed by others?  Did God put people in Africa and place their livelihood across the Atlantic or Indian Ocean? I  firmly  believe  that God hates our ritualistic bows to the West or East for “our daily bread.”


Whoever argues that awakening Africans to tap their latent wealth creation potential is a western game neither knows God’s love for free people, nor the virtue of free enterprise.  He is collaborating with those who are enslaving and annihilating the African mind through the condescending benevolence called aid or relief.


We need to equip our people with ideas to create wealth, as this will ensure their right to life. We need to awaken our mind to a new world where the right to life includes the freedom to pursue decent means of livelihood. Today’s world economy is not based on gold, diamond, or oil; but on ideas. With ideas we can make wealth. Wealth is health; and health is life. This is the game of life.


When we empower our people to solve their problems, we are in effect handing them their magna carta. We will gain respect when we fervently labor to solve our problems and bring a permanent halt to the aid dependency.


The essence of democracy is the fervent desire that free ideas determine and control the direction and speed at which man progresses in all facets of life. It is the power of ideas that will reform and invigorate the development of Africa, and set Africa free!


In Africa, we say that “the one who feeds you can beat your mother as you watch helplessly.” He is your master: you are his slave. Is this saying true in Africa today? Be the judge, considering the fact that all Westerners employed in Africa (irrespective of their education) are called “expatriates” while Africans working abroad are called “economic refugees.” Consider the modern day scramble for Africa euphemized as donors, investors or tourists without reciprocated courtesies in their countries. Can America or China allow Kenya to set up a radio station in their countries to tell African stories? Consider further the westward smooth lane that repatriates aid money in the form of expatriate salaries. All these are signs of a master-slave relationship.


This is our life. No one can solve our problems just as no one can live for us. Aid and relief packages from the West or East lack genuine goodwill to help African communities create wealth. No master has ever smiled at losing a slave. Aid and relief are painkillers as opposed to curative medicine for Africa’s sickness. We cannot stake our people on aid to deal with the shocks of drought, hunger, famine, disease, war and poverty. True aid does not stifle creativity. It allows individuals to decide their destiny. No matter the circumstances, with ideas that build skills, experience and confidence, a people can transcend the limits of money, natural resource, gender, race, class and situations.


Let us be courageous and address the root causes for poverty in Africa. Let us challenge the mindset that resists development and consequently traps our people in destitution. What is our defense for the largely misguided worldview amongst our people that hinders development and consequent liberation? What is our case against corrupt work ethics? Shouldn’t we be more worried at rooting out fatalistic mindsets that think "you die poor if you were born from poor family?"


For over five years, I have worked with community based initiatives powered by ideas to explore local resources for community development. I am convinced that we have enough resources to solve our problems.


The households in the Coastal region of Kenya are a living testimony of the power of ideas in shattering the shackles of poverty. Utopia you say? Consider Mzee Nzoloi in Chanzou village, Kwale district, whose kiosk initially contained stock worth US$6 but whose idea of helping his neighbors access maize floor, paraffin, salt, and sugar from his one roomed grass thatched house saw his stock’s worth grow to US$85 within six months. Talk about Mama Mwero of Mtuluni village, who has reduced the distance teachers in two neighboring schools walk to buy kales, tomatoes and onions for their households.


What of the Bofu villagers who faced dire water problems but have formed groups that dig surface dams to trap rainwater, saving their women and children six hours usually spent in search of water? Should I also mention households in Kibaoni village, who are fighting the arid conditions of Kwale district by nurturing trees and hawking them for KSh.10 (approximately an eighth of a dollar)?  The beauty of these community development activities lies in the ease of its implementation, ‘multiplicability’ and sustainability.


Entrepreneurs are the true heroes of Africa. Any African thinking that the answers to Africa’s challenges lie elsewhere is highly misguided. All people have an inherent capacity to conquer their context environment and create wealth. If wealth creation is rooted in tapping into our own mental faculty to give meaning to our lives, I say let the game begin!

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