It’s hard to talk about blacks/Africans in relation to economics and mental emancipation without a hint of shame and negativity. We’ve seen it all, like that bed in your grandmother’s house that no one is willing to let go of or that very weathered sweater that you wear irregardless…It brings familiarity and comfort.
That’s the relationship blacks/Africans have with poverty and struggle. At times I believe blacks like poverty. No one would like poverty? When a person doesn’t like something they find all means to get out of the situation. Poverty is a mental illness and a result of political and economic ticketing intentionally designed to keep others in “their place”. It’s abnormal to do the same thing every day all the time, get the same results and resign to it being the norm and exist from that space.
Our people also seem to enjoy struggle. We want handouts and the easy way of life instead of working for things we own. Just because blacks were previously disadvantaged, does it mean that they must be automatically handed all they want? If YOU were given a piece of a land as this present time, what would you do with it? I thought as much. That’s what happened in Zimbabwe. Mugabe handed land to his people and they failed to utilize it because they lacked the capacity to manage it. They were used to being directed and only concentrating on the jobs assigned to them instead of actively learning, gaining skills and keeping them for your own use. We must view these things from a holistic perspective. It’s essential to be actively involved in your process of growth and knowing exactly what you want, instead of moving around with the wind and being dictated to by others.
Our forefathers fell into the trap of slavery, out grandparents, our parents, us? It’s time to break the cycle. All we are doing is acting as pawns in a system that awards us peanuts, loose change and sidetracks us. It’s not intelligent to work like a slave for 60 years and then retire to collect peanuts monthly, as compensation for our efforts. After that we die…nice coffin, the works, feeding people some, of whom we didn’t even know and then it’s over. The next day you will be forgotten. The remaining people struggle to pay off debts and make a living and so the cycle continues. To refuse to be part of a system that undermines the intellect of the people within it and disrespects their essence of being is a brave yet inspiring act.
There’s nothing wrong with having a job to feed yourself and family. It’s ideal and important. Yet, there’s something wrong with being in that same position even when quality of life doesn’t seem to be improving. The problem with us young people is that we have “standards”. Foolishness, I call it. We want money all at one in bulk and not working for it. There is this tjatjarag business of ‘liking things’. Even a fresh faced person barely advent with the ways of the world wants to plunge and nestle in an office and “live large” with the snap of fingers. A classic example is the recently arrested Mandla Lamba. Though he hasn’t been found guilty as yet, that is a young person who was bewitched by yearning the trappings of wealth which he couldn’t even afford nor work for. That is the young people of nowadays, people who want to live “large” falling to influences and standards beyond them but not willing to sacrifice effort to reach those goals. Young people are ashamed of doing jobs that they see as “beneath” them. We want to all be squashed in offices draped in suits with ties and clad in toe deforming heels, feigning power and strutting around believing that to be freedom. That is not freedom, for even those ideas you pursue are not yours or ideal to the essence of your being. Freedom is in doing and owning. Owning your mindset, your health, your future and land, farms and companies that have a role to pay in the system of needs, for example transport, logistics, production etc. Up to this day, most blacks do not even own a simple thing like land. The land restribution process seems to be failing. Even in countries where land is free like in Botswana, the young people do not see its value. There are young people who would sell land just so they can buy a car and fancy clothes, things that depreciate in value over time. We refuse to think about where our food and the small things that make life bearable come from because it’s uncomfortable to imagine that we are, in essence, still slaves, we are the consumers. Just because you can walk into Woolies and buy, buy, buy and then go to a restaurant and spend, spend, spend, you see that as having “arrived”, while in fact, you are just at the bottom of the chain because even that money won’t do anything astronomic for your fellow people. We may not have a pink faced boss carrying a whip behind us, but he’s in an office somewhere or a holiday destination, while you work the system and rake in the wealth. Black faces are used as tokens to deceive the masses. Window-dressing. Beside them, are their sisters, wives and girlfriends bearing weaves and other assortments of fake hair, pretending to be “proudly African”, yet trying to look like Caucasian women just to be pleasing to a minority who refuse to accept blacks for what they are. Yes, it’s hard, black people have had to sell their souls just to get a small piece of the economic pie. Freedom? Freedom se poes.
We need more young people to be self employed. Even governments have taken up the “songs”. There’s nothing as irritating as a person who just hangs around and cries unemployment or unhappiness in their job, waiting, hoping and expecting someone else to come and save them. We have been made fools and brainwashed into ideas that stall progress. We cannot afford to be obsessed with shallow politics of personality but rather we must be concentrated on the bigger things, bigger aspirations beyond the limitedness of “normality”. It’s sad how young people are a society of employees and followers. The people who always fall to the wayside of opportunities and changes are black young people, most of whom are roaming the streets with nothing to do.
Not many want to start their own enterprise and in turn develop other young people. Instead, those who take the plunge and break free are brandished silly and “ambitious” and so we all sit, lined like puppets, smiling shaky meekly, arms outstretched waiting for baas to throw change and pat us for being good little people. How many people live off excuses? ‘I have bills to pay’, ‘I am not business minded’, ‘It’s too stressful.’ Excuses, excuses, excuses until ash turns to dust. We are OK with having the “fixings”…a fridge, huge bed, flat screen, stylish car, fancy clothes etc. Those are luxuries everyone is allowed to reward themselves with yet are those things even your children will find? What about lessons of self reliance and self sustenance and building wealth and not debt you are going to pay off for 125 for 36 months, end up giving away a fortune and end up with a nice little thing that will not see your next child as it’ll be “out of fashion” or way past it’s sell by date.
We have allowed outside forces to determine for us what we can and cannot achieve that we end up believing those tales. It’s sad to exist and not live. As young people, we must understand that our worth is bigger than we assume and stop selling ourselves short. Those ideas you were raised with of, ‘you must be grateful for whatever you get’ are rubbish. You must be grateful for ‘your worth, use opportunities and continuously develop the quality of your life’. It’s easy to be simple minded and resign to comfort but useless too.
There’s an invisible gauge that determines our worth and what we should be. We have marinated ourselves in popular culture and other beliefs that instill within us fear and prejudice. It’s a sad state of affair. Others have broken out of it and we must encourage all our brothers and sisters to lay loose from limited existence. The answer is not in cigarettes, alcohol, frolicked sex, crime, violence and other activities many young people get involved in. Black people are good criminals, there’s no creative criminal like a black criminal, yet we directed that knowledge to the wrong things, wanting to floss and show to the world instead of building empires and tripling returns. No intelligent person would get a kick out of throwing around money that doesn’t work for them. There is a more intelligent kind of crime…stealing ideas, knowledge and skills. That is the only way to move further. Nothing is too hard. Yes, you spent thousands of your parents money to be disciplined in a certain regard, all good and well.
You can take it a step further by contuining to grow as an individual beyond academia and make the returns worth millions.There is no need to blindly follow the leader, the leader don’t give a damn about you. Follow truth and emancipation. Make the decision to grapple freedom from its roots. Who the bloody hell do I think I am? Everybody you wished you could be and know. Now is the time. As the Sandton soccer world cup slogan said,…’Ke nako.’
- Keletso Thobega is a freelance writer , entrepreneur and runs her own small communications management services company.