Self Preservation: Which Way for Africans?

Published on 8th March 2015

I am not an engineer but I know when I studied the History of Architecture during my first year of college and having read the book Why Buildings Stand UpThe Strength of Architecture by Mario Salvadori, I informed myself on the basic science and engineering that go into structures. An easy and evergreen take-away - cracks are ever present in concrete, which is a result of steel, sand and cement in reinforced compositions no matter the effort to eliminate them. 

The United States of America is an aging country.  As a result, there are cracks in its existing infrastructure. Even in the White House, folks, there are cracks. I saw some when I visited the place. Sometimes, the plumbing does not work as well. No engineering project is devoid of flaws in design and construction. Age due to depreciation adds to the remaining age of a structure and its effectiveness. This is not an to excuse for bad projects which abound. How we cure the deficiencies is the zillion dollar question. Anyone believing there is a flawless engineering project does not understanding engineering.

There is the Politics of Business and the Business of Politics. The former determines who gets what and that is where black folks are annoyingly absent. Even in Africa, where one would think there is comparative advantage for blacks folks and native Africans themselves, they are still at the fringes. 

For example, AU – African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa was built by China - The project cost was $200m. Question, does it mean the 54 African nations could not raise a mere $3.703 million per country, hire a group of black/African architects and engineers, and award the construction contract to black/African firms, as a show of confidence in the quality of work they can do? Why pile up on degrees when we are not even accorded honor and dignity of labor by our own leadership. 

It is very disappointing when it comes to matters where Africans and African-Americans should stand up and out, and make profound statement demonstrating self-centered stance on a project. They yield to others out of timidity and shyness. Self-preservation is the first undisputed order of business and survival. Anyone not disposed to that is naïve and will always remain a doormat. 

I believe wholeheartedly that whoever inserted the saying in the Bible that ‘A prophet has no honor in his own village’ must have studied blacks/Africans. No surprise there: Africans are recorded as the first humans on earth-- maybe that came from their longevity on earth. Sad, very sad folks. Everyone recognizes their own except the BLACK RACE. In Nigeria, a former Power Minister Barth Nnaji, PhD, to boot, was forced out of President Jonathan’s  administration two years ago, because in a bid he was supposed to decide on, he failed to disclose that his Indian partner was a likely bidder and winner. He stuck out his neck for an Indian. Here is the other side: It is very unlikely and highly improbable that the same Indian would  stick out his neck for Mr. Nnaji in India had such an opportunity  risen. Indians win millions of dollars in contracts in Africa but no African has ever won a dime of contract in India. It makes one wonder, why do blacks go to war for others, when the same ‘others’ will not go to war for them? They are basically a front for others, settling for peanuts.

While at it, consider and ponder the following  thoughts:

•All Fingers are not shaped to be equal and alike
•There shall never be a level playing field
•Racism/tribalism will never go away
•Jesus and God will never come to address why he created people differently
•Many are players but very few always are Referees calling the game fair or foul
•Black folks and their African cousins, have not learned to collaborate to build great enterprises to be competitive despite flashes of rich and wealthy folks
•Black folks and their African cousins will rally to build mega-churches often using contactors outside of their community but will not invest to have viable economic vehicles
•Africans on the continent are dangling between China – east and US/UK – west, BEGGING while African-Americans hinge their faith on race/racism/victimization.
•Who will bail the black race?
•African-Americans and their African cousins look for ANGELS in human endeavors while other  people look for ANGLES.
•It is because we looked for ANGELS, we were colonized and enslaved, and still trying to figure out how to rise and deal with other races.

Folks, stop the CRY and look for ANGLES to exact your concerns. While we black folks via our church establishments in US deposit billions annually in banks, there are hardly banks owned by us that are valued in billions. In no given year can we track 10% of what we deposited come back to the community in fulfillment of CRA requirements. 

PayDay and Title Loans predominate our neighborhoods in US and more than 60% of black folks in US are unbanked. In Africa, they are excited about Micro-financing, go figure, and more than 90% have no banking experience. It goes to say, if the African-American, the most educated and exposed black person in the world is still a product of self-doubt and pettiness when it comes to matters germane to his/her existence, I think the largely uneducated Africans can be excused for their naivety. Debate this. 

Asians in US with a population of less than 4% have commercial enterprise exposure of more than 10% while we with a 13% population have less than 4% exposure in commercial enterprise ownership. More than 75% businesses formed in most states by US black folks are geared towards NON-PROFIT, making me ask – whose profit are we looking for?

"Take it, leave it, or better be different," my mom often reminded me. Except she saw  red tears from my eyes, she would not be moved by crocodile tears. She told me that if a snake could climb, run, feed itself, swallow other animals, but it has no hands and legs, what would be my excuse? I got it. Mom, thank you so much for instilling in me a steel heart to stand up and fend for myself.
Before any school could school me, my parents did pretty awesome job reminding me that at the end, I should count and be significant as well as relevant. Informal education often is more effective and powerful than the one learned in 4-walls, which may be processed to make one behave in a predictable manner. Heck no, I look for ANGLES in all human endeavors and exercises because as humans, we are imperfect.
God the Creator made it that way; and if there is a problem, I wait to speak with Him during the Judgment Day, and I will demand He be ready to deal with me His Son. No shaking. Thank God, there will be no witnesses, just me and my Father. Who can fault such privilege and no one will know the outcome. WOW God is awesome, I knew it and still know it. He keeps matters very confidential.

By Ejike E. Okpa II
Dallas, Texas.

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