When a people are united and work together, it is astonishing to imagine what they can achieve. From time in memorial, unity amongst Africans has proven to us with no doubt whatsoever, the benefit of working as a unit with a common goal and one vision. Before we gained our independence from colonial rule our forefathers united as one with a common goal and one vision, which was to break free from the chains of colonial rule and become independent. We supported each other and worked as a team and today I am free and able to write such an article. Had we not supported each other, had we not taken the risk of trusting one another and had we not worked together we still would be under the white man’s rule and influence or are we not? Our ex-colonial masters knew and still know the power of unity and at the same time they do understand the power of a divided people. And this is why they divided Africa. They drew imaginary lines called borders or boundaries to divide us into countries and weaken us. Just like burning charcoal, once you put it together it can cook a meal or boil water but once you separate a piece of the charcoal, it quickly loses heat and cannot cook or heat anything on its own. Divided African countries are like separated burning charcoal pieces. Separated, we cannot heat anything but when we are united, working together and supporting each other we can heat and cook a meal called the development of the African individual.
Unity amongst Africans and to a larger extent amongst African countries is what Africa is lacking in order to move forward faster. By supporting one another we empower each other, But before we can unite once again as one African people without borders, we first need to unite and begin to work together and support each other within these partitions we call countries. It is only after learning how to work together and support each other within our countries that we can later on work together and support each other as African countries in order to build our economies. It is only after supporting one another at a societal level as brothers and sisters that we shall witness a shift in Africa’s current state. It is high time we started supporting one another and building up each other in all aspects of life. As Africans if we cannot build each other up how do we expect to build our economies? It is highly impossible. In other words what I am trying to say is, as Africans what we are missing is a cultural commitment to ourselves and our own.
It is extremely vital to our development as a people and a nation that we take an example from other people and cultures that are doing far much better than we are. We need to take a page out of their own rule book and apply it to ourselves, see and try if it will work for us, modify it if needs be and apply it, if it worked for them why can’t it work for us? let us take America for example. I believe America is one of the countries or rather continents that understands the meaning and importance of unity. You can even see it from the name of the country itself.
America understands that for a people to move forward they need to be united and so they united all the states or rather countries as I like to call them. It is evident to see the power of unity through Americas’ deliberate decision to unite its states, it is the worlds most developed continent though other countries and continents are catching up. In most cases it is obvious that the bigger the size of a person or animal the stronger the person or animal. the smaller the person or animal the weaker the person or animal. When you look at the size of Africa as a continent in comparison to the size of America, Europe or China as a continent you will find that Africa is 3 times the size of America, 3 times the size China and 3 times the size of Europe respectively. America, in terms of land area is approximately 9.834 million km² and Africa is approximately 30.37 million km². China is approximately 9.597 million km² and Europe is approximately 10.18 million km².
America is smaller than Africa by far, China is smaller than Africa and so is Europe but these countries and continents have so much power and influence over Africa. Even if you combined the United States of America, China and Europe they would not be bigger than Africa. Despite being smaller than Africa, America has so much power over Africa because America is united and Africa despite its humongous size is divided into partitions called countries. This is why America and these other continents will continue dominating the sleeping GIANT called Africa.
I have observed that when the Chinese leave china and come to Africa to work and/or stay they still eat in Chinese owned restaurants, when they have to stock up they prefer buying from Chinese owned shops and when they want to import products into Africa they only import from china.
When it comes to the Lebanese they too eat from Lebanese owned restaurants, they buy Lebanese and send their children to Lebanese schools. The Indo-Pakistani’s are like the Chinese and Lebanese. They do not eat African food, they do not wear African clothes and paradoxically, they import African fabrics into Africa, but they themselves never wear them. When it comes to marriage they always go home to marry their own. Do not get me wrong but, when we buy from a Chinese, an Indo-Pakistani, a Lebanese or a Jew rather than an African, we enrich a stranger who one day will get his money and leave, never building anything sustainable in our countries before leaving for his home. This in itself proves to you that there is no link. On the other hand, the African is at a given level somehow or indirectly linked to your family near or far. When we buy from an African we help somehow and somewhere a member of our family because we are one people. We can also begin to change things without counting so much but little on politicians. It is important that we look for African, create African, buy African, support African, enrich ourselves and another African family or our own country, village or town. We can see the evidence of this in the Jewish community which is one if not the most prosperous in the world. A Jewish leader once said the fundamental rule is to keep your money within your racial group. Statistics show that the Jews money exchanges hands at least 18 times before leaving his community whilst for us Africans it’s only a maximum of once or even zero. As Africans we need to take up the responsibility and unite, industrialize Africa and build banks and get rid of colonial institutions by putting them out of business.
It is high time we started supporting each other’s businesses, professions, trade, skill, talent, craft etc. because by doing so, like the Jewish leader said, we will be keeping our money within our racial group, community, countries and Africa at large. How do we keep money within our countries and communities? How exactly are we supposed to let the African money exchange African hands 18 or even more than 18 times before leaving our communities? The answer is simple, by supporting each other and working together. Allow me to give an example; let us imagine in a certain African community we have a young African lady named Natasha who owns a hair salon and a barber shop, a young Africa man named Chewe who owns a restaurant, a young lady named Mwape who owns a boutique, a medical Doctor named Mwansa who is running his own hospital, a musician named Suwilanji, a comedian named Kondwani, a carpenter named Niza, a bricklayer named Phiri, Mr. Banda a grocery store owner, a Mrs. Mukuka who owns a Pre-school and baby day care center and a Mrs. Tembo who sells tomatoes, onions and vegetables by the road side. Let us imagine we have all these people in one community. Instead of going elsewhere to have your hair done and your hair cut, Chewe, Mwape, Mwansa and the others should make a deliberate decision of having their hair done and hair cut at Natasha’s hair salon and barbershop.
At lunch time Natasha, Suwilanji, Kondwani, Niza and the others should eat from Chewe’s restaurant,
when it’s time to pick out an outfit for an event or for work Kondwani, Mrs. Tembo, Phiri and the others should buy their clothes, shoes and perfumes from Mwape’s Boutique.
When any one of these people are sick or have a relative that is ill they should go to Mwansa’s Hospital instead of other hospitals owned by foreigners. When Suwilanji organizes a musical concert at a fee, Mr. Banda, Chewe, Mrs. Mukuka and the others should support him by buying the tickets, attending and appreciating his music.
When Kondwani organizes a comedy show Natasha, Mwape, Niza and the others should all by his tickets, support him and attend his show. When a bed, a table, chairs and anything that deals with wood or should I say carpentry is needed the first person that Kondwani, Mrs. Tembo, Chewe, Mr. Banda and the others should see is Niza the carpenter.
Houses are being built every day because the population keeps increasing day by day; therefore, whenever Mwansa, Mwape, Natasha and the others want to build a house or a shop they should use Phiri the local brick layer. Instead of enriching foreign supermarkets or grocery stores by buying from them, whenever, Phiri, Mrs. Mukuka, Mwansa or any of the others need to buy groceries for their homes the first grocery store they should buy from is is Mr. Banda’s grocery shop.
Children in any community are in abundance and need to be taken to school and others need to be looked after when their parents are away for work, meaning Natasha, Suwilanji, Mwansa, Mr. Banda and the others should take their children to Mrs. Mukuka’s Pre-school and baby day care center. Tomatoes, onions and vegetables are an essential part of every meal therefore, whenever Kondwani, Phiri, and the rest are about to cook a meal and need any of these essentials they need to run to Mrs. Tembo’s stand and purchase tomatoes, vegetables or onions from her
By all of us doing this we will be supporting each other, building each other and keeping our money within our communities. All it takes is a deliberate decision to support one another’s businesses, crafts, talents, professions and occupations. I know that others will say, most African businesses, music, schools, hospitals are of low standard and to some extent that may be true but it is your duty and my responsibility to raise concerns and observations towards such so that your fellow Africans can improve, grow and become better and at the end of the day offer you a better service or a good quality product, in a way this act is also called supporting and building each other. Everyone has to support the others business, profession, trade or craft thereby keeping the money circulating within our communities. When all are doing well in their respective areas they begin to expand, build within their communities, they being to employ more people within their communities, they begin to not only circulate money within their communities but they also begin to bring development to their communities and help government reduce the high unemployment levels and poverty levels.
Another important aspect to be looked at critically is togetherness and working as a team. As Africans we need to not only learn how to support one another but we need to also learn how to work together and build businesses and companies together. Working in isolation is what is crippling a lot of upcoming businesses and companies in Africa. We need to understand that most if not all big companies and corporations across the globe are not owned and run by one single person but by a group of people who each have a share and a say in the affairs of the company or corporation. These people are who we call shareholders. A corporation is a public limited company created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of its shareholders, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its shareholders. A shareholder is a person who owns shares of stock in a corporation. Stock is the capital raised by a company through the issue of shares. The total sum of shares held by an individual shareholder.
Apple Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California, that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software and online services. It was founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. In 2019 Apple made total revenue of approximately US$260.174 BILLION. The top 5 shareholders in Apple include; Arthur Levinson (CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD), Tim Cook (CEO), Craig Federighi (SENIOR VP SOFTWARE ENGINEERING), Jeffrey Williams (CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER) and Bruce Sewell (SENIOR VP LEGAL AND GLOBAL SECURITY).
Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company with headquarters in Redmond, Washington. It develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers and related services. It was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. In 2019 Microsoft’s total revenue was approximately US$125.8 BILLION. The top 5 shareholders in Microsoft include; Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates, Mason Morfit, Satya Nadella and Bradford Smith.
Alibaba Group Holding Limited is a Chinese multinational conglomerate holding company specializing in e-commerce, retail, internet and technology. It owns and operates a diverse array of businesses around the world in numerous sectors, and is named as one of the worlds most admired companies by Fortune. It was founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, Joseph C. Tsai and Peng Lei. In 2019 Alibaba’s total revenue was approximately US$56.152 BILLION. The top 3 shareholders in Alibaba include; Jack Ma, Joseph C. Tsai and Peng Lei.
As earlier defined, stock is the capital (money) raised by a company through the issue of shares. This money is raised for the sole purpose of running the companies activities and paying of salaries in order to make a profit. So people come together and put their money together in order to start a business and run a company. Like we have seen from the companies mentioned like Apple, Microsoft and Alibaba, we see that for a company to be that successful people had to come together and put their money together for such a company to this successful. It is not only money that people bring to the table but different expertise, knowledge, connections and experience. It is high time Africans started working together and building big businesses and companies. Especially in business, one of the major advantages of working together is that it makes you accountable for what is spent, how it is spent, what is made because you know that it is not only your money making the company run. We need to start taking a leap of faith and risk trusting our fellow Africans and together begin to build big companies and businesses in order to make Africa self-sustaining. We need to get to a point like I stated earlier, that we build our own African run financial institutions and put the colonial financial institutions out of business. All this starts from the mind, a brilliant idea backed by resources. White farmers come to Africa with good ideas on farming and go to the bank write up a proposal and request for a loan of lets say K500, 000 from the bank, they are given because they usually request from the colonial institutions. Within a space of 6 to 12months he is able to pay back what he got with interest. You really can’t blame them because they are supporting their own. The Chinese come to Africa and in their countries of residence establish their own banks like the bank of China.
This allows them to have easy access to money and in a way they are supporting their own. If a small scale African farmer tried to get a similar loan it would be very difficult if not impossible for him to be granted one. But how are we as Africans supposed support our own when we do not have African run financial institutions that we can get business loans from and startup businesses? This needs to start from Africans at community level. Let us get rid of this donation and aid mentality and begin to do things on our own without even waiting and crying for our governments to give us money. How then do we start doing this at community level? Allow me to give an example. Today across Africa we have a system called village banking. This is a system designed to help small scale farmers and people far away from financial institutions to save and borrow money and return it with interest within their groups. These groups help the small scale farmer save money and at the end of the year get their savings and have a share of the interest accrued over the year from the loans they gave to each other. But instead of sharing out, what the members of such a group could do is invest that money and startup a business that each member would be a shareholder of according to the amount of savings and interest or stock that the member was supposed to walk away with. Let us assume this group has a cycle that runs for a period of 1 year (12months) and has 20 members. Let’s assume the minimum savings amount is K500 and every member for 12months saves K500. 20members multiplied by K500 is equal to K10, 000 saved in a month. K10, 000 multiplied by 12 months is equal to K120, 000. Let’s assume the interest accrued is K60, 000. This gives us a total of K180, 000. This is the barest minimum which means if people save more and borrow more this figure can even go up to K500, 000. It is then up to the group to decide and agree on what type of business they are going to venture into. As a group they can purchase a piece of land and build shops or build houses from which they will be sharing the rentals according to the stock initially invested in the business. They can also decide to venture into fish farming on a large scale or poultry production or any other business they agree on. The goal is to begin to work together and inculcate a culture in Africans to come together and grow businesses and companies to big levels. This also allows Africans to have an inheritance to leave for their children and allow them to have a head start in life.
I believe we can do it. I believe we can if only we make a deliberate decision to support, build, encourage each other, work together and build businesses and companies together thereby creating generational wealth and not only periodical wealth. Such bold decisions will awaken the sleeping African giant that has been dominated for so long by these smaller continents and countries.
Inasmuch as criticizing has got its advantages, Let us not only be good at criticizing and shooting down what others bring to the table but let us also be good at offering alternative solutions. Before you shoot me down with my suggested solution what is your suggested solution to this African problem?