Africa must think paradigm (part iv)

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This is a special series called Bible School Business School (BSBS).

The Human Capital Telescope by Brett Chulu

BSBS explores the Bible for deep insights on business, leadership and personal growth.

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 last instalment of a four-part series.

In the past three instalments we discussed the metaphors of the African Elephant, African Chicken, African Eagle, African Black Bean, African PHDs (Pull him/her down), and the African Gold to introduce our readers to the ‘Africa Must Think’ paradigm.

Pipim’s central idea as captured in the African elephant- in-a- zoo metaphor is that Africa has been freed from metal chains and not mental chains. His message is that Africa is like a 6-tonne elephant (a metaphor for Africa’s immense potential).

It is, however, a 6-tonne elephant that cannot break free from even a string tied to which it is tied (in fact, it could break that string with a simple sneeze) because it has been systematically and mentally conditioned by its trainer to believe that it cannot break free from the zoo.

Africa must free itself from its mental chains through adopting a new mind-set that is modelled from the Bible. That new mind-set is represented by the metaphors of ‘Gold with the Golden Rule’ and the African Lion. With this new mind-set African Chickens (a symbol for mediocrity) become African Eagles (a symbol for excellence).

In this instalment, we discuss the concepts of excellence, mediocrity and the African Lion metaphor.

BC: You made interesting observations on the Failed States Index. You observed Africa’s top-ranked states in 2011, which included your homecountry Ghana, occupied middle of the road category, what you would term a mediocre category.

You are a well-known fierce enemy of mediocrity. What is excellence?

SKP: According to the 2011 Failed States Index report, the four best African nations listed are South Africa, Ghana, Botswana, and Libya—in that order. Now you know what has happened to Libya since the report was published.

It can even happen to nations currently among the most stable. I hope you’re getting my point. If Ghana, which is listed among the best African states, is only in a “Borderline” category, and thus can easily degenerate into an “In Danger” condition, what does the future hold for the entire continent?

If our nation which claims to be a “champion of excellence” can only have a borderline excellence, what about most of the other countries? It simply means that their condition can easily regress into the category of the “Critical.”

This leads me to your question about the meaning of excellence. Excellence is distinction. Mediocrity is extinction. Mediocrity is content with its condition and accomplishments. It settles for good when better is available. But excellence betters its best. It rises “higher than the highest.”

Excellence is a journey, never a destination. This journey begins when we “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus [our] Lord” (Philippians 3:8). Jesus is the Model of excellence. Pleasing Him is to pursue excellence in all our works, personal lives, and relationships, and in our exercise of power. This is distinction. Anything less is a denial of faith—hence, extinction. We have to choose to be distinct, not extinct. That’s the choice Africa has to make.

BC: Six More Chances. Why six more chances? Is this not mediocrity?
SKP: No, it is not. My book Six More Chances takes its title from Proverbs 24:16, where King Solomon says, “a godly person rises again after falling seven times.” The mathematical implication is that after we first fall, we have “six more chances” left! Building upon this concept, the book shows why and how to succeed through failure. Whenever we experience a major failure, we must not despair, give up, or stay down. Our one fall is not the end of us. For God is not just a God of “second chances,” but also the God of “six more chances.” Rightly handled, the “mist of failure” will clear and the sunshine of Success will appear.

Now, is Six More Chances promoting mediocrity? Not at all! As I recently argued in one of my “Africa Must Think” lectures titled The African Chicken, failure is not an option. But failure ought not also be final. It is mediocrity when we fail once or twice, and even more, and remain stuck in our failure. It’s mediocrity when we fail and, on that account, quit trying. Some of the greatest accomplishments were achieved by individuals who failed, some many times over and some very seriously. For example, during his lifetime, the great inventor Thomas Edison experienced many failures in his experiments, but never thought of giving up until he succeeded. He said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10 000 ways that won’t work.”

My contention is that when failure (in all its forms) occurs, it need not be dreaded to the point of despair, nor treated as an outcast in a pit of discouragement. Through the enabling grace of God, we can all succeed through failure.

BC: What is the African Lion?
SKP: It’s a metaphor I use for good leadership or governance. It is based on a Ghanaian proverb that says, “An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.” A seemingly weak or ordinary people (sheep) who are led by a good leader (lion), can defeat the most formidable foes. Leadership counts. No organisation can rise higher than its (quality of ) leadership. And the kind of leadership Africa needs is transformative leaders.

Bold, courageous, selfless and self-sacrificing. In the context of the “Africa Must Think” letures, I pointed to Nelson Mandela as an example of an “African Lion.” But the model for that kind of leadership is our Lord Jesus Christ, “the Lion from the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5). He was a Servant-Leader.

Free book offers
The first 10 readers to write and share their views on the issues discussed here will each receive a copy of Dr. Pipim’s collection of thought nuggets summarised into a book called Africa Must Think. Dr.
Pipim will be returning to Zimbabwe in February to conduct leadership development seminars in Zimbabwe.

Brett is a Strategic HR consultant and business strategist pioneering innovative HR and business practices in both listed and unlisted firms in Zimbabwe. — brettchulu@consultant.com

InFre

e 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. — brettchulu@consultant.com

4 thoughts on “Africa must think paradigm (part iv)”

  1. carlton says:

    still waiting for the books!

    1. Author says:

      Hi. Email me on brettchulu@consultant.com for me to have your details to enable me to get the book to you. Those who have emailed me have been receiving their books. I hope this will help you to get your book.

  2. Edwin says:

    African Elephant, interesting. Lets break off the chains and conquer the world. I agree with you SKP. I believe one day as Zimbabweans we will be restless and break off the chains and move on.

  3. amos says:

    i like the part on six more chances.its an encouragement that no matter how many times we fail there is no reason to despair.

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