You Lazy (Intellectual) African Scum! – Response!
This is my off the cuff response to You Lazy (Intellectual) African Scum! – Response by one Field Ruwe
We Africans will never get world respect when we go begging all over the world, depend on other people to establish “priorities” for us, and which priorities they fund.
A few months ago I spoke at a fundraiser for famine in Kenya (I haven’t had time to polish and share that speech yet) and I spoke about our experience growing up. We had people that sat around as others worked away in their shambas. At the end of the year, those that worked reaped the harvest and comfortably fed their families. And the lazy ones would come along asking for food!
This lazy lot was despised; neither the men nor the women would be “heard” in community gatherings; they were a disgrace to society!
We Africans play exactly that role in global society. Even as well-documented as it is in such works as Lords of Poverty, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, The Mystery of Capitalism, etc we don’t seem to learn that dependency on the global system (as the lazy bums depending on their neighbours’ harvest) will only retrogress us farther! I have people brag about their suits made in London, Paris, NY, etc. when their fellow countrymen, who make equally good suits that those that used to come from Rivatex, are eating crow!
On one list on issues of technology I wrote recently about the coming knowledge age; futurists understand that countries that are able to take advantage of knowledge will have an edge economically. This is for reasons that manufacturing, as has been seen with outsourcing, can always find the cheapest labour some place on earth and has low return value as the Walmarts of this world squeeze suppliers to the lowest prices. High returns would come from application of knowledge to stay ahead.
In that posting I argued that we in Kenya need to be prepared for the coming knowledge society and strategically position ourselves to gain advantage. How: my ensuring that we retain control of data and information that would be the basis of that knowledge. Today, however Kenyan data (personal, scientific, etc.) is resident all over the world, even when this may be indigenous knowledge. We don’t have an information governance framework that would assert ownership and accountability for national strategic purposes. (Did you know that some countries have been accumulating information about medicinal plants and will soon turn this to medicines that we buy while we get nothing from sharing this knowledge with them?)
We will pay dearly as someone else would claim sovereignty over what rightfully is ours.
And we have seen this story before with biodiversity where some countries are/have been busy accumulating genetic material (seed varieties especially) in anticipation of the coming food crop crunch. We have had a taste of this with the Monsanto terminator gene which forces farmers to continually buy seed from the company. In future, those people that have hoarded genes will control the world food prices as we must go to them to seek seeds for interbreeding new varieties that can withstand changed conditions.
On the same list issues of the Diaspora Kenyans have come up with many bashing those of us that live abroad out of necessity, a point they see as betrayal. Yet we haven’t, in Kenya, tried to harness (beyond subsistence-based remittances) the potential of our scientists, thinkers and knowledge creators. Personally I have been rebuffed by even very senior people in government who ask why I should care returning home when I can “enjoy” the “good life” in the Diaspora!
We must reach a stage and say enough! And with that we must fight for the best that we can offer for the country.
One netter asked whether we are really bent on change and what we are doing about it. Look at the leadership we are putting in place, men and women who have worked the system, benefiting from its warped/corrupt nature that keeps most of our people poor and we are ready to re-elect them. We never ask what vision they have for the nation, what the future of Kenya they see and how their election could shape that future that makes our people less dependent, more productive and respected global citizens.
Instead, even on this forum, it is about this tribe and that tribe.
In my (yet to be published) memoirs I detail some of the challenges I have met in trying to build support for my leadership in Kenya. But I am not about to give up because I firmly believe that what I offer is several hundred times more beneficial than all the candidates in the field.
I liked one Kenyatta quote: tulinyakwa uhuru; and I say, unless we nyakwa the real power to make a difference, we shall remain outsiders, knocking doors to which key-holders have no reason to open for us. We must break those doors and enter and claim our place at the table.
Postscript: Business people in Kenya always joke, albeit seriously, how it always helps to have a white person in your team! Our people in Africa almost drool at the sight of a white person in such a team and usually assume the person is the leader!
Back in the 1990s I met this white South African who worked in environmental engineering and was the team lead for a project in Kenya.
And he bashed me, using almost as strong a language as in the article, about how we in Kenya were stupid and didn’t value what we had. He confessed that his deputy on the project was way more qualified than he was and could run the project better than he did. Indeed, he confessed to deferring a lot to the Kenyan engineer in decisions.
Yet Kenyans paid him more than 3 times what they paid the Kenyan engineer!