The wise men of ancient Africa often insisted on going to their grave with their gold, wives, servants and anything else they could lay claim to; including medicinal recipes, charms and idiots guide to building pyramids. The richest places in Africa are not the huge deposits of gold and oil. No, it is the cemeteries. The learned still die with their wisdom, hardly ever imparting them to younger folk. There’s an ancient African proverb that says: “When an old man dies, it is like setting a whole library ablaze”.
Any race, country or continent that doesn’t invest properly in its young has no future. Recently, whilst on assignment in the Northern Region of Ghana, we met this young boy, Mohammed Osman, who builds cars out of used tins and powers them with a small motor and a mobile phone battery. He reminded me of Malawian, William Kamkwamba, who created his own windmill from scratch. With just a little support, these kids will be the next pyramid builders and hopefully, when they are old, they won’t die with their secrets.
After years of pondering on the secret of the pyramid, I have come to one conclusion:
Africa is not poor because it is actually poor. Africa is poor because it believes it is poor. The people who built the pyramids believed they were smart enough, powerful enough, endowed enough to build something that pokes God in the chin or at least tickles the armpit of the sun and they did it. The only problem is, they kept their knowledge to themselves, and anytime an old woman / man dies in Africa, we have to start from scratch but that must change.
The African today must go back to that original place of Faith in God and self. We have to stop looking to Europe, America or China. Isn’t it obvious those guys haven’t got it all figured out themselves?
We have to stop cladding ourselves with opulence at the slightest taste of money. That won’t cover our nakedness. We have to go back to investing ideas. To educating one another. To challenging one another. To empowering the young. To investing in Tomorrow. We have to move from being just happy consumers to creating stuff the world would be addicted to.
Anytime I see a pyramid, I know it is possible.