The only hope for the African Continent

| Africa By Ozias Mucheriwa

When people comment about the development and lack of it on the African continent, there is a lot of surmising that goes into it. Some claim that Africa is done a disservice by its thugs in power, dictators, and crooks and use all such words with pejorative connotations. I beg to disagree and will try to argue arguably. History has always been repeating itself with clockwork regularity. From the biblical times until now, the way history is unfolding has always been the same. The children of Israel, as they are popularly known have been in bondage in Egypt for four hundred years. God wanted to deliver them and finally found a Moses to do the job. They were liberated overnight but did not enter into Canaan the same night. There was a reason for this: There was a major challenge that God faced and had to contend with before getting them into the Promised Land. He risked making them their own masters without them being conscious of it, otherwise they would be masters with a slave mentality and that is a very dangerous thing- worse that slavery itself. He had to change their belief system; to transform their slave mentality into that of independent people who understand that they are masters of their own destiny. That is no simple transition. It took them forty years languishing in the wilderness, unfortunately resulting in most of them failing to make it to the land flowing with milk and honey. The first challenge was to liberate them from physical bondage but the herculean task was to take bondage out of their minds. Yes, they were out of Egypt but Egypt was still in them. The slave mentality says that nothing belongs to you, you are just a slave and one day you shall be replaced. When you handle property you need to see an inscription which says, “Handle with care.” Without that or even looking at it, one breaks the door handles. In government buildings throughout many African states, elevators, toilets and many systems are no longer functional. There is a reason: slave mentality says, ”this is not our property.” Many people who have queued in government institutions for service can attest to this fact; they are treated as if they insisted on being born, contrary to the dictates of reason, religion and morality as Charles Dickens aptly put it. The same civil servant who mistreats people queuing for passports will leave work and queue for a lift home and will also be disrespected by the commuter crow. The cycle goes on. Wake up Africa we are kings in our territory! When people are imprisoned they automatically abdicate responsibility. The state takes care of everything. They need not worry about what to wear or eat. They are not concerned about the fashions trends or school fees. Their preoccupation is just to get back their freedom. What most of them forget is that once they are out of jail, food will not longer be served at the stipulated time, blankets will not just be available. It will be a different game altogether. It will be time to pull up the sleeves and get busy. You can only start exercising responsibility when you move from bondage and regrettably many people when they move from bondage want to continue with irresponsibility and carefree kind of living. That has been the challenge with our continent. Corruption is rife, the thinking is skewed, and everything is about an individual; me, myself and I. No matter how good a plan or development program can be, as long as it does not suit me and my personal ambitions, it is not good enough. It is a thinking pattern that has been adopted in slavery since we needed not be responsible for anything, our task masters took the responsibility of putting up infrastructure, building schools and hospitals. Now when we got the freedom we are never used to that kind of thinking, what we only want is making use of and enjoying the systems. When you say that you want freedom you should be prepared to work even harder than you did for Egypt. The Israelites were working under the brutal supervision of Pharaoh, making brick without straw. They were exposed to oppression of the highest order. When they get into a land of freedom they cannot continue to work that way as that will be tantamount to a perpetuation of oppression to their fellow men. New ways to work smarter, efficiently and effectively have to be devised. The way you worked for the slave masters will no longer be viable because it was ruthless and you cannot implement it on your fellow citizens. It therefore becomes imperative to unlearn the thinking of Egypt, of irresponsibility and get a new set of brains that can tackle the future. Thinking in terms of development and not the past. God tried to alter the mindset of the people who came from bondage but unfortunately that was not to be so until he decided to go for their offspring who had a new thinking to enter the Promised Land. You cannot instantly move from deliverance to freedom. Freedom comes with its most invariable concomitant- responsibility. The two always work hand in glove. We have many orphans and street kids in the African continent. This is mainly contributed by adults who have the freedom to procreate but lack responsibility. Because the freedom came with a price does not mean responsibility has to be subordinated. When we exercise our freedom to have children let it come with the responsibility to take care of them. In bondage there is no responsibility but in freedom there is much of it. When people are released from jail they need to go through a process of shaking off the flair of oppression before they start experiencing freedom. That is also why some do acts that will send them back to jail. Sometimes the freedom is overwhelming to the extent that they cannot handle it. Responsibility translates to hard work. With freedom you have to work hard to maintain your freedom and you maintain your freedom by self-sufficiency. The children of Israel were led into bondage because of dependency for sustenance. As long as you are not self-reliant you will gravitate towards dependency. It is said that no armies or militias of the world are as strong as an idea whose time has come. In the same vein, no armies or militias are as destructive as freedom without responsibility. There is nothing as destructive as people in power with no iota of responsibility in their system. Imagine a soldier wielding an AK-47 rifle and lose his sense of responsibility? His weapon for protection can instantly be turned into a destructive agent. That is what freedom without responsibility is capable of doing to a continent. A father who only has a sense that he is the sole authority in house but lacks a responsible mind can ruin the family set up buy abusing his wife and kids. A bondage mindset cannot be ridden overnight. It calls for a conscious decision for one to acknowledge that they are from a bondage environment and take action to break the thinking pattern. When most of the African leaders got into power they had not been taught responsibility and we blame them for all of that but I want to believe that if any one of us had had the same opportunity we could probably do worse. The onus is now on us to start teaching our children responsibility. Teaching them that when you get five dollars you do just think of spending it all on sweets but there is a thing coming that is called tomorrow and when that comes it needs to find you prepared. If it finds you prepared you will enjoy yourself in it. If you do not prepare for it you start blaming everybody for your demise when the raw deal is that you acted irresponsibly when you had the time. Why were you born in Africa? Why was I born in this rich continent? This is now my personal belief; I believe that I was born in this continent probably to contribute towards its development and therefore need to find my voice and you need to find yours and together we can make a difference in our continent.

Guard against Vision Killers .

By Ozias Mucheriwa

When you dream, when you conceive and idea, many times you wish others would understand you and how you intend to fulfill your dream but more often than not it is not so. You even try to appeal to their nobler motives but they still do not get you. How can they understand your vision when they did not participate in its conception? There are three challenges to ideas that anyone who will dare to dream is sure to encounter: 1. You can talk yourself out of your idea. Sometimes when destiny calls, you can be too scared to heed the call and try to talk and convince yourself out of it. This can partly be ascribed to the fear of success. You cannot imagine yourself in an extremely successful position such that you just feel good talking yourself out of it. This lesson can be drawn from Margaret Thatcher. On 26 October 1969 she asserted that no woman would be Prime Minister in her lifetime. In fact let me quote her exact words, “It will be years – not in my time – before a woman will become Prime Minister.” I need not mention that she became one in 1979 and served three terms. One thing you have to realize is that when you talk yourself out, you inadvertently talk others out as well who look up to you for inspiration. I am sure when Margaret Thatcher issued her statement many ladies aspiring for the same political office had their hopes shuttered because of who had confessed the impossibility. 2. Great achievers can talk you out of your idea We are usually made to think that critics are mainly non-achievers. Far from it. It is not only under performers that criticize other people’s ideas and shoot them down. In fact the criticism of under achievers is not as treacherous as that of great people. You can easily dismiss them by critically looking at what they themselves have achieved and if there is nothing noteworthy, their criticism can be easy to disregard like a discarded orange peel. It is when the criticism comes from those who are considered to be thinkers and achievers that real discouragement and vision killing can take effect. Thomas Edison, one of the most prolific inventors said about an airplane, “It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago were thought to hold the solution to the problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere.” That was in 1895. In 1903 the first airplane took off the ground. On the other hand, he was also nearly talked off his idea of the light bulb by the president of The Stevens Institute of Technology, Henry Morton who confidently asserted, “Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure.” This was the president of the institute of technology, more learned than Edison but his assertion proved it to be false when the light bulb, contrary to his belief, became an extraordinary success. 3. Competitors can talk you out of your idea. Your competitors can quickly write you off when they perceive a threat. Sometimes they may underestimate your capabilities and not consider you a threat or a business worth mentioning-writing you off in the process. When the Japanese motor industry started penetrating the North American industry in the early 1960s the industry giants did not consider them a threat at all. In 1962 the Japanese market share was less than four percent. In 1967 it was below ten percent. By 1974 it was just under fifteen percent and the industry began to perceive a threat. As we approached the 1980s the Japanese share of the market had risen to twenty one percent. By 1990 it was approaching twenty five percent and by 2005 it was sitting close to forty percent. Now, contrast this achievement with the prediction of the Business Week in the 1960s, “With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself.” Of course not all critics are obnoxious to your vision. It is when they push you towards abandoning your vision do they become dangerous. The three examples cited above, were not after perfecting the ideas but were bent on completely muzzling the pursuit of visions. That becomes retrogressive. You need to be extremely balanced. How do you manage to do that? Anticipate and prepare for change We are now living in a world where change is the order of the day. If you want to transmute your idea into reality, make it a point to revisit your strategy more frequently. Depending on the type of project you want to implement, at least once every month take time to sit down and reevaluate your strategy in line with the changing landscape. Sticking old strategies can be a prescription for disaster and your competitors can eat you up for breakfast. This happens many a time. While you are still thinking that your strategy is the best, new and better methods are coming in and before you realize it you are trailing behind the pack. Remember, the best skill to learn is the skill of learning new skills. In 2004 the Nigerian government banned the importation of furniture, giving practically no notice. Nigerian custom furniture mogul Ibukun Awosika feared the ban would destroy her business, which at the time depended on overseas manufacturers. Her company approached a key supplier, office furniture maker SOKOA S.A. of France, with the idea of a joint venture to produce chairs in Nigeria. With an investment of nearly $200 million, the gamble paid off in about a year. Do your homework. I usually say that proper prior preparation precedes peak performance. Prepare all the groundwork necessary to see your dream fulfilled. Do not underestimate challenges. Do not overrate difficulties. Be as realistic as possible. We call it being realistically optimistic. When Toyota wanted to venture into manufacturing of luxury vehicles for the US market, its research team was sent to live luxuriously and learn the tastes and preferences of their prospective customers. They lived in Laguna Beach, California for several months just to get an appreciation of what their customers wanted. US$1billion was invested in the project and out of this the powerful Lexus LS400 was born. Needless to say, the venture was a considerable success. If you develop the habit of preparing for any task at hand you are guaranteed to swim upstream all your life. Align yourself with people whose thinking is compatible with yours. Bob Proctor recommends becoming part of a Master Mind grouping. You may not be in the same field of endeavor but if your thinking is compatible you sharpen and encourage each other. Whenever you encounter criticism insist on a close scrutiny to see if there is no merit in that criticism. If there is, take steps to amend but if the intention is for you to abandon your vision remind yourself that they did not contribute to the conception of the idea hence should not talk you out of your destiny. Go ahead and implement leaving them for their three-course meal; humble pie their own words, and crow. To Your Zenith Ozias Mucheriwa Chairman-Motivcenter