This is a special series called Bible School Business School (BSBS). BSBS explores the Bible for deep insights on business, leadership and personal growth.
The Human Capital telescope with Brett Chulu
BSBS grew out of a quest to explore an alternative source of wisdom so as to address the challenges of business, leadership and personal growth.
Brett Chulu (BC) continues his conversation with Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (SKP), a US-based Ghanaian, globally-renowned researcher and thinker trained in engineering and systematic theology who was recently in Zimbabwe to give a series of lectures called “Africa Must Think”.
Like BSBS, SKP’s “Africa Must Think” message gleans nuggets from the Bible to offer a simple but well-articulated framework for addressing Africa’s challenges and ills. This biblically-anchored approach to Africa’s ills is communicated using African metaphors to drive the message home. This is the third instalment of a four-part series.
In past two instalments we discussed the metaphors of the African elephant, African chicken, African eagle, African black bean and African PHDs (pull him/her downs) to introduce our readers to the Africa Must Think paradigm. SKP’s central idea, as captured in the African elephant in zoo metaphor is that Africa has been freed from metal chains and not mental chains.
His message is that Africa is like a six-tonne elephant (a metaphor for Africa’s immense potential). It is, however, a six-tonne elephant that cannot break free from even a string tied to it because it has been systematically mentally conditioned by its trainer to believe that it cannot break free from the zoo. Africa must free itself from mental chains through adopting a new mind-set that is anchored in the Bible.
BC: Your critics accuse you of having a simplistic view of colonialism. Does your “Africa Must Think” argument banish the arguments for reparations for past colonial injustices?
SKP: Let me preface my comments on reparations by briefly responding to critics who think my views on colonialism are simplistic. Africans are not the only race that has been exploited by white people, but it seems we are the only race that refuses to get over it and move on. (I think this is a universal black problem: racism this and colonialism that!). We seem to be so caught up in the past that we stagnate and vegetate there.
Meanwhile, life goes on. Why do we keep blaming colonialists or slavery for the black person’s problems? Again, I am not saying we should not recognise the impact of colonialism. What I’m saying is that it has been about half a century since Africa was decolonised from the “metal” chains. It is time to say that we’re responsible for our actions today. It is our “mental” chains that are largely the cause of our predicament. As long as we continue dwelling on the past without doing anything about it, the elephant of Africa’s legs is still in chains — even if it is bound by thin strings or no strings at all. The problem is in the mind.
My point is, as long as the mental chains are still in place, colonialism has not ended in Africa. It will end the day we develop mindsets that allow African resources to benefit Africans more than they benefit outsiders. Colonisation will end when the resources of the continent are no longer diverted into individual bank accounts in Switzerland.
Colonisation will end when we surrender our African PHD mentality. Colonisation has not ended, but it is not because outsiders are colonising us. Rather it is because we have allowed them to do so. We are the new faces of the colonial masters in Africa.
Yes, I’m aware that those of us who challenge the “elephant-in-the-zoo” thinking of Africans — that is, those of us who insist that Africans must take ownership of their destiny and quit complaining about the past — are often dismissed as having a simplistic view of colonialism.
It is exactly this kind of response to constructive criticism that keeps the African where he is. We don’t want to face the truth.
We have swallowed the “don’t judge me” gospel, so that speaking the truth has become a revolutionary act. We always seem to have enough reasons to defend why we languish in our mediocre state.
Now, you ask about my views about reparations for past colonial injustices? I’m all for it, but I will not waste my energy begging former colonisers to pay reparations if they don’t have consciences to do the right thing.
We have enough resources to make up for their refusal to acknowledge their wrongdoings of the past. I would rather put effort at ensuring that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past by allowing those who once colonised us to re-colonise us again by allowing ourselves to be become stooges of their exploitation.
Let me re-state my response: If I have committed some wrongs, I’m expected to acknowledge it and make a restitution (reparations, if you care). But if someone else has wronged me and is not willing to acknowledge and correct his or her wrongdoing, I’ll let God deal with that person, while I work to ensure that I don’t give that person another opportunity to hurt me again.
The new African in the world can only emerge fully when we use what we have to get what we need. This can only happen when we stop blaming colonisation and slavery for everything and start taking full responsibility for our actions today.
BC: Let’s press closer to home. Our political leaders have been bold enough to take land from former beneficiaries of colonial policies. Now our country is demanding that the indigenous people of Zimbabwe should own the majority of shares in companies. Your golden rule metaphor suggests that mere ownership and control of my country’s natural resources may not be insufficient. Is that right?
SKP: People taking ownership presume that the local people will have better love and interest for their fellow citizens than foreigners.
What difference does it make to take land away from greedy white people, only to place it in the hands of greedy black people? What difference does it make when blacks who own majority shares in companies are actually selfish individuals who have been bribed to serve as black faces for foreign exploiters? And what difference does it make to own lands when we refuse to work on the land or harness the resources in the land?
Ownership of our land and resources ought to be presumed on a love for brother to brother. I hope that presumption is not misplaced. Let the people prove the government right because the world is watching.
Free book offers
The first 10 readers to write and share their views on the issues discussed here will each receive a copy of SKP’s collection of thought nuggets summarised into a book called Africa Must Think. SKP will be returning to Zimbabwe in February to conduct leadership training.
Brett is a Strategic HR consultant and business strategist pioneering innovative HR and business practices in both listed and unlisted firms in Zimbabwe. — email@example.com