A must read for everyone


So I got this in my email this morning…

They call the Third World the lazy man’s purview; the sluggishly slothful and languorous prefecture. In this realm people are sleepy, dreamy, torpid, lethargic, and therefore indigent—totally penniless, needy, destitute, poverty-stricken, disfavored, and impoverished. In this demesne, as they call it, there are hardly any discoveries, inventions, and innovations. Africa is the trailblazer. Some still call it “the dark continent” for the light that flickers under the tunnel is not that of hope, but an approaching train. And because countless keep waiting in the way of the train, millions die and many more remain decapitated by the day.

“It’s amazing how you all sit there and watch yourselves die,” the man next to me said. “Get up and do something about it.”

Brawny, fully bald-headed, with intense, steely eyes, he was as cold as they come. When I first discovered I was going to spend my New Year’s Eve next to him on a non-stop JetBlue flight from Los Angeles to Boston I was angst-ridden. I associate marble-shaven Caucasians with iconoclastic skin-heads, most of who are racist.

“My name is Walter,” he extended his hand as soon as I settled in my seat.

I told him mine with a precautious smile.

“Where are you from?” he asked.


“Zambia!” he exclaimed, “Kaunda’s country.”

“Yes,” I said, “Now Sata’s.”

“But of course,” he responded. “You just elected King Cobra as your president.”

My face lit up at the mention of Sata’s moniker. Walter smiled, and in those cold eyes I saw an amenable fellow, one of those American highbrows who shuttle between Africa and the U.S.

“I spent three years in Zambia in the 1980s,” he continued. “I wined and dined with Luke Mwananshiku, Willa Mungomba, Dr. Siteke Mwale, and many other highly intelligent Zambians.” He lowered his voice. “I was part of the IMF group that came to rip you guys off.” He smirked. “Your government put me in a million dollar mansion overlooking a shanty called Kalingalinga. From my patio I saw it all—the rich and the poor, the ailing, the dead, and the healthy.”

“Are you still with the IMF?” I asked.

“I have since moved to yet another group with similar intentions. In the next few months my colleagues and I will be in Lusaka to hypnotize the cobra. I work for the broker that has acquired a chunk of your debt. Your government owes not the World Bank, but us millions of dollars. We’ll be in Lusaka to offer your president a couple of millions and fly back with a check twenty times greater.”

“No, you won’t,” I said. “King Cobra is incorruptible. He is …”

He was laughing. “Says who? Give me an African president, just one, who has not fallen for the carrot and stick.”

Quett Masire’s name popped up.

“Oh, him, well, we never got to him because he turned down the IMF and the World Bank. It was perhaps the smartest thing for him to do.”

At midnight we were airborne. The captain wished us a happy 2012 and urged us to watch the fireworks across Los Angeles.

“Isn’t that beautiful,” Walter said looking down.

From my middle seat, I took a glance and nodded admirably.

“That’s white man’s country,” he said. “We came here on Mayflower and turned Indian land into a paradise and now the most powerful nation on earth. We discovered the bulb, and built this aircraft to fly us to pleasure resorts like Lake Zambia.”

I grinned. “There is no Lake Zambia.”

He curled his lips into a smug smile. “That’s what we call your country. You guys are as stagnant as the water in the lake. We come in with our large boats and fish your minerals and your wildlife and leave morsels—crumbs. That’s your staple food, crumbs. That corn-meal you eat, that’s crumbs, the small Tilapia fish you call Kapenta is crumbs. We the Bwanas (whites) take the cat fish. I am the Bwana and you are the Muntu. I get what I want and you get what you deserve, crumbs. That’s what lazy people get—Zambians, Africans, the entire Third World.”

The smile vanished from my face.

“I see you are getting pissed off,” Walter said and lowered his voice. “You are thinking this Bwana is a racist. That’s how most Zambians respond when I tell them the truth. They go ballistic. Okay. Let’s for a moment put our skin pigmentations, this black and white crap, aside. Tell me, my friend, what is the difference between you and me?”

“There’s no difference.”

“Absolutely none,” he exclaimed. “Scientists in the Human Genome Project have proved that. It took them thirteen years to determine the complete sequence of the three billion DNA subunits. After they

were all done it was clear that 99.9% nucleotide bases were exactly the same in you and me. We are the same people. All white, Asian, Latino, and black people on this aircraft are the same.”

I gladly nodded.

“And yet I feel superior,” he smiled fatalistically. “Every white person on this plane feels superior to a black person. The white guy who picks up garbage, the homeless white trash on drugs, feels superior to you no matter his status or education. I can pick up a nincompoop from the New York streets, clean him up, and take him to Lusaka and you all be crowding around him chanting muzungu, muzungu and yet he’s a riffraff. Tell me why my angry friend.”

For a moment I was wordless.

“Please don’t blame it on slavery like the African Americans do, or colonialism, or some psychological impact or some kind of stigmatization. And don’t give me the brainwash poppycock. Give me a better answer.”

I was thinking.

He continued. “Excuse what I am about to say. Please do not take offense.”

I felt a slap of blood rush to my head and prepared for the worst.

“You my friend flying with me and all your kind are lazy,” he said. “When you rest your head on the pillow you don’t dream big. You and other so-called African intellectuals are damn lazy, each one of you. It is you, and not those poor starving people, who is the reason Africa is in such a deplorable state.”

“That’s not a nice thing to say,” I protested.

He was implacable. “Oh yes it is and I will say it again, you are lazy. Poor and uneducated Africans are the most hardworking people on earth. I saw them in the Lusaka markets and on the street selling merchandise. I saw them in villages toiling away. I saw women on Kafue Road crushing stones for sell and I wept. I said to myself where are the Zambian intellectuals? Are the Zambian engineers so imperceptive they cannot invent a simple stone crusher, or a simple water filter to purify well water for those poor villagers? Are you telling me that after thirty-seven years of independence your university school of engineering has not produced a scientist or an engineer who can make simple small machines for mass use? What is the school there for?”

I held my breath.

“Do you know where I found your intellectuals? They were in bars quaffing. They were at the Lusaka Golf Club, Lusaka Central Club, Lusaka Playhouse, and Lusaka Flying Club. I saw with my own eyes a bunch of alcoholic graduates. Zambian intellectuals work from eight to five and spend the evening drinking. We don’t. We reserve the evening for brainstorming.”

He looked me in the eye.

“And you flying to Boston and all of you Zambians in the Diaspora are just as lazy and apathetic to your country. You don’t care about your country and yet your very own parents, brothers and sisters are in Mtendere, Chawama, and in villages, all of them living in squalor. Many have died or are dying of neglect by you. They are dying of AIDS because you cannot come up with your own cure. You are here calling yourselves graduates, researchers and scientists and are fast at articulating your credentials once asked—oh, I have a PhD in this and that—PhD my foot!”

I was deflated.

“Wake up you all!” he exclaimed, attracting the attention of nearby passengers. “You should be busy lifting ideas, formulae, recipes, and diagrams from American manufacturing factories and sending them to your own factories. All those research findings and dissertation papers you compile should be your country’s treasure. Why do you think the Asians are a force to reckon with? They stole our ideas and turned them into their own. Look at Japan, China, India, just look at them.”

He paused. “The Bwana has spoken,” he said and grinned. “As long as you are dependent on my plane, I shall feel superior and you my friend shall remain inferior, how about that? The Chinese, Japanese, Indians, even Latinos are a notch better. You Africans are at the bottom of the totem pole.”

He tempered his voice. “Get over this white skin syndrome and begin to feel confident. Become innovative and make your own stuff for god’s sake.”

At 8 a.m. the plane touched down at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Walter reached for my hand.

“I know I was too strong, but I don’t give it a damn. I have been to Zambia and have seen too much poverty.” He pulled out a piece of paper and scribbled something. “Here, read this. It was written by a friend.”

He had written only the title: “Lords of Poverty.”

Thunderstruck, I had a sinking feeling. I watched Walter walk through the airport doors to a waiting car. He had left a huge dust devil twirling in my mind, stirring up sad memories of home. I could see Zambia’s literati—the cognoscente, intelligentsia, academics, highbrows, and scholars in the places he had mentioned guzzling and talking irrelevancies. I remembered some who have since passed—how they got the highest grades in mathematics and the sciences and attained the highest education on the planet. They had been to Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), only to leave us with not a single invention or discovery. I knew some by name and drunk with them at the Lusaka Playhouse and Central Sports.

Walter is right. It is true that since independence we have failed to nurture creativity and collective orientations. We as a nation lack a workhorse mentality and behave like 13 million civil servants dependent on a government pay cheque. We believe that development is generated 8-to-5 behind a desk wearing a tie with our degrees hanging on the wall. Such a working environment does not offer the opportunity for fellowship, the excitement of competition, and the spectacle of innovative rituals.

But the intelligentsia is not solely, or even mainly, to blame. The larger failure is due to political circumstances over which they have had little control. The past governments failed to create an environment of possibility that fosters camaraderie, rewards innovative ideas and encourages resilience. KK, Chiluba, Mwanawasa, and Banda embraced orthodox ideas and therefore failed to offer many opportunities for drawing outside the line.

I believe King Cobra’s reset has been cast in the same faculties as those of his predecessors. If today I told him that we can build our own car, he would throw me out.

“Naupena? Fuma apa.” (Are you mad? Get out of here)

Knowing well that King Cobra will not embody innovation at Walter’s level let’s begin to look for a technologically active-positive leader who can succeed him after a term or two. That way we can make our own stone crushers, water filters, water pumps, razor blades, and harvesters. Let’s dream big and make tractors, cars, and planes, or, like Walter said, forever remain inferior.

A fundamental transformation of our country from what is essentially non-innovative to a strategic superior African country requires a bold risk-taking educated leader with a triumphalist attitude and we have one in YOU. Don’t be highly strung and feel insulted by Walter. Take a moment and think about our country. Our journey from 1964 has been marked by tears. It has been an emotionally overwhelming experience. Each one of us has lost a loved one to poverty, hunger, and disease. The number of graves is catching up with the population. It’s time to change our political culture. It’s time for Zambian intellectuals to cultivate an active-positive progressive movement that will change our lives forever. Don’t be afraid or dispirited, rise to the challenge and salvage the remaining few of your beloved ones.

Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner and author. He is a PhD candidate with a B.A. in Mass Communication and Journalism, and an M.A. in History


About the author


In the beginning...Let there be Light

  • Temitope

    This is pretty depressing but there is no time to be sad, it is time to rise to the challenge, there is no quick fix for any African country, we must take the bull by the horn, change our mentality. I tried my hand on a similar piece titled “Nigerians: Lazy Minds” but I didn’t have the wherewithal to finish it. Well I’m glad I read this one cos it touched all the sensitive areas that mine wouldn’t have been able to touch. Very insightful.

  • agbaje ibrahim

    This is just…inshort,we need reforms,transformation etc

  • Nelly Agwu

    All the man said is not new to an average African. We put a hexagonal peg in a Square hole. We know our problems, from greed to the same imperialists not allowing us to develop. Want to keep us in the dark forever. Corruption is a major clog in Africa development. The leaders like to use a white Skin for contracts to cover their illicit tracks. All said is educative and eye opener.

  • Kolawole Otepola Segun Asagun

    This is the TRUTH 100%, though it HURTS.

  • This is nothing,but fact.
    Our leaders are the bad ones who know&understand our problems but wickedly for the corruption, refuse to tackle the problems even,while solutions is at the tips of their fingers.

    Fuck walter!for the fact!
    We’ve already know problem in africa(corrupt&visionless leaders) the truth be said.

    Africa is full of innovation,invention&dedication,but as much we try,as so they-IMF,WORLD,AMERICA&UK etc.impede us from having a break through in any of our endeavours.

    Much thanks to d author for the sensitisation!

  • Hmmm this is just the state of my dear country. Nigeria, a land full of opportunities, ready market for any creative business, a country that has all it takes to lead the world but hmmm! oh! my dear country is been led by selfish and dumb leaders. They just can’t see beyond their nose. But I still believe in Nigeria and I believe that now is the time to rise up to the challenge.

  • It is a re-echo of “Booker T. Washington’s” advice to the Black Race, on our need for vocational engagements. If we do not hearken to these voices of reasoning, we would be forever doomed…

  • Bunmi

    This is sadly true. The curse of the black man is GREED and FEAR. It is our responsibility to bring change and not give ourselves excuses. We can’t blame anyone but our selves for our (mis)fortune.

  • yomi majekodunmi

    caustic but true, leadership & statesmanship is the bane of Nigeria most of African & other LDC’s. followers are also inept & tolerant of low quality leadership, albeit hoping on the turn by turn syndrome, which is to eat from the unripe apple, nobody bakes cake but every one of us want to eat, we must address fundamentally & immediately how our leaders emerge, hitherto criteria based on primordial sentiments of religion, tribe, gender, zone & every other attribute but quality must be jettisoned. quality leadership will combat corruption, provide the enabling environment for innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship & lead rather than rule. I’m an incurable optimist of the Nigeria project, but time is now to define the terms of existence under a united Nigeria. we need to consider restructuring Nigeria.

  • Tolu Wesley

    Thanks for this. when the tears stop running, ill think.

  • funsho

    It is time to rise up to the challenges……….we need to act now

  • omooba

    Hmmn, this hurts, but is needed to put d needed speed to my feet to flee from this “laziness”

  • Purehaire

    I felt guilty myself after reading this. Its time for an inward search. We are selling our talents short.

  • Bashir

    The very truth. I feel like a pin has pierced through my inflated ego. Its high time we started.

  • lanre

    The exact picture of the black man it is time for us to celebrate innovation rather than wealth to encourage integrity,discovery and intellectualism rather than corruption. This is definitely a clarion call to both the leaders and the led. May almighty God help us to think right.

  • Omiata Bel0ved Oluwadare

    He has said it all,we’re bunch of illitrates who seek f0r pleasure in perils,Africa: we ???r children are responsible f0r your backwardness

  • Philip O E

    Another bacon signal to us Africans and indeed Nigerians to attempt a disconnect from the revelry and partying habit. How can a man whose appetite cannot be matched by his ability to spend extra hours learning his trade? All we know is graduate, marry, travel to the UK and Americas; aspire to give our kids foreign citizenship, bloat our certificate with the insignia of a foreign institution, and maybe take foreign residence, the egalitarian way becomes the average Nigerain. At whose expense and at whose gain?

  • Deprof70

    Lazy me, lazy you, lazy us…jst short of words

  • In as much as what the white guy has said are all true, I want to disagree with him that we africans are lazy and slothful, even though the colonial masters had played on the intelligence of our forefathers and ripped them of their resources and turned them into slaves economically and psychologically. Africa is going to rise again and become great, our fathers lacked foresight but God has helped the coming generations, bad leadership and greediness are the problems responsible for where we are for example I travelled ina tricycle and saw ”made in india” I felt angry and ashamed that such a poorly built machine mostly used in third coumtries could be imported by our local councils to nigeria in the name of ”poverty alleviation proramme”, a machine that could be built or assembled by mechanical engineering graduates from my university. Now tell me is it the fault of the poor engineering graduate that such ridiculous machines were imported into his country thereby ridding him of the opportunity to construct such or the fault of a sick individual in authority who felt such machines could only be gotten from india. Recently again a Finance minister from the IMF/World Bank was appointed by a dumb president who has no idea about how the IMF/World destroys developing economies only to take advantage of them as ”Walter” said in the article. It is high time we believe in ourselves and shut our borders to foreign techology and foreign products. It has all been said in the article we have trained professionals with masters and ph.d degrees what else do we need but to sit down and design a blue print of technological development for ourselves. Our leadership ideals and values must change and it begins with you, no longer do we vote in presidents and governors simply because they are best option available but rather they should be able to give a logical process and blueprint of how they ll transform the society

  • Femi Fadeyi

    Damn True!!!!! Black pple feel inferior cos dey don’t av d balls to act!!!!!!!!

  • Trust me, none of us will do anything after reading this. When Covenant University decided that they must build a cost effective car in a few years, even lecturers and students jeered at the idea. That’s the kind of cynicism we have towards our own ideas. Anyways, I know a few people working to change this discourse in a few years.

  • zainab

    He forgot to mention that we are also stupid. The selfish whiteman has made it an economic policy to also try to pull down those who compete with them intellectually and anytime they do, their greatest support usually comes from the black man even when the fight is against a black intellectual. Tell me one country fighting to equal the white man that isn’t being propagated against by them? China, Korea, Iran, India, Malaysia etc. The blackman will automatically take the side of the whiteman because of his slave mentality which dictates to his subconscious that they are always right.
    It is that mentality that makes our leaders sell us to them for peanuts.

  • femi

    Crying after reading this.. This hurt so much, Walter has just givin us the best idea ever. we need to act now

  • Muyiwa

    Yes we have all what are we doing starting tomorrow?

  • Perry

    We all know what our problems are but the question is,are we ready to work honestly for a greater tommorow?are we willing to sacrefies for the next generation?do we ourselves need to see and push for a more brigter future?

  • ayodotun

    It is not the leaders that got us here,its the people. African people had failed to make their leaders know that power does not belong to them not until recently. Let Africans rise up to save this great continent from western world prediction.

  • Valentina Emeruwa

    Walter is right, and at the same wrong. He is right in the sense that we Africans are lazy, very lazy intellectually. But he is wrong in absolving his race from being the cause. Let us be frank here. How can you enslave an entire continent for over 400 years, then colonise them for another 60-100 years and expect them to suddenly have a change in mind set? It doesn’t happen overnight. Africans are trying in their own little way. We see innovations everywhere we go in Africa, albeit not mindblowing. In Nigeria, we have our locally manufactured grain grinders, melon seed peeling machines, yam pounders, saw dust stove,to name a few. If we look inside deeply you will find some innovations here and there. At this junction, I implore every African reading this to complile a list of machinery, dishes, native cures and whatever that is useful in your community, and put it on the world wide web. Let’s see how we can help one another. We are gradually waking up. We will soon be fully awake, take the world by storm.

  • skoolshoes

    True, very true….. But I strongly believe that this transformation starts with me and you. Tomorrow is another day, dare to dream big and do something about it. That way u’ll encourage someone else to do so as well. We could all pick challenges big enough to matter and small enough to finish….. Ignore the horrible leaders at best, where there is a will there is a way. Foster that will. One man cannot make this change. Every single one of us has a part to play.

  • Simileoluwa

    100% truth.. And boy! Does truth hurt?

  • Nwagwu Cornell

    It pierces the heart and more unfortunately we are gradually destroying the potentials of our development by instituting compensatory leadership, it is now a trophy to be captured by all means violent.

  • Jordan Ola

    If only this could be read and studied by students from secondary to the university in Africa especially Nigeria maybe it would change the mentality of Africans about their society.

  • Dr. Mwanje Bright A

    Wow, thats as revealing n true as it gets. I am from Uganda n recently graduated from medical school. For long iv tried to tell my peers that the only problem we hv as africans is attitude and the inferiority cmplx…..they say i refuse to accept reality, imagine! Thats wat most people think, that we cnt do things for ourselves incuding the so called leaders. Recently a few students from the faculty of technology of makerere university came up with their own model of electric car yet much of the public thought it was a waste of time n resources, thats the kind of attitude people have n we are a long way from change if we think the Americas n other developed nations will come down here n change things, the reality is they just fleece us of the little we have! Africa will remain destitute if u remain with such thoughts n attitude n u will stay third hand human beings in the eyes of the rest…..unless u start to think openly n evenly.

  • Onafuye Ademola

    We may complain the govt is not supportive but we also need to blame the rich who only think of sponsoring violence.

  • Bingo! The very truth, though bitter than kolanut. Liberty will come only when such truth is applied! Its not time to nurse wounds, but the time to heal up to grow up! Africa arise!

  • Spiritofshango

    This article simply expresses my philosophy and ideals. There is nothing new here for me. I am a socialist and awoist and believe that the black race was a great civilisation. A lot of ideas and inventions are actually a Blackman invention with the only difference being that they have electricity running through them. From from medical innoculation( gbere) taken to America by Yoruba slaves and which forms the basis of modern vaccination to the earthened pot for cooling water. Their knowlegde of native plant was unsurpassed.that is the reason why Africa was largely untouched by those biblical plague that afflicted the rest of the world in the look at the wide and rich variety of dances , food , culture and deity. This simply points at a rich and advanced people.oyimbo man no get two head. It is how you make ur bed na him you go sit on am.this kolo mentality must go.

  • Inimfon Ottong

    We have read several articles of dis nature over & over again & only end up commenting like every one is doing now. When will we get into action? I think we only need 2 step up our game by putting on our thinking caps & coming up with quality & lasting innovations & ideas. They problem is traceable to me & you. How many times do we patronize our own or you want to tell me dat we don’t have Africans who have come up with inventions. Of course we hav a lot of them but what encouragements do they receive from their own people talk less of the government. The very people that should pass bills that favour own product & encourage local production & consumption are busy passing bills on gay marriage & traveling all the way to Italy each time they are in need of a pair of shoe. Don’t we have leather, hide & skin in Africa? Don’t we have cotton too. But check your wardrobe how many T.M lewin shirts do u have & how many locally made fabrics can you count? An African will boldly tell you “me I don’t wear all theses our locally made fabrics ooooooo” yes the quality may not be perfect initially when compared to that of the western world but with continues patronage, encouraement, support etc we’ll do more research which will gradually improve de quality until we there but without encouragement & patronage we kill the dreams & innovative ideas of our own brothers & sisters. We are not LAZY in any way I disagree. Take the entertainment sector for example songs are coming out of Africa today that can compete favorably on international platforms, today artist in Africa are singing along side world class artist at international levels,today African artist are being signed on by big world class music firms. Why is this possible? It was not so some years ago but it is so now because over the years we have learnt to patronize our own. We buy our locally made cd’s, celebrate our own artist, use them for adverts etc. And because they are encouraged & motivated they kept working at it & today the story is different. We have they music,film & comedy awards which holds every year in several African countries just to celebrate creativity & innovations. We are not Lazy.
    It can be so for other sectors too. Today the western world is taking a leaf from what the CBN governor in Nigeria is doing in order to get out of their economic & financial mess. We are not LAZY I disagree.

  • This piece is more of an over simplification, hasty generalization and an unsolicited attempt to breed inferiority complex and self-doubt in every African that read through.

    I have no doubt it is coming from a source, I like to term ’Pent house view Analyst(s)’..i.e those researcher(s) who travel the world in everything first class-the flight ,the hotels, the places they visit among others.

    And when they go back home, they concoct a subjective analysis about the people and culture they have visited…over taken and over burdened by a déjà vu feeling of “I have seen it all”.

    I still maintain, the problem of Africans is not laziness but misplaced priority…and if you add being complacent, it is o.k…

    A point of correction,if you want to study the ethnographic of Africa and know if Africans are hard working or creative, don’t go to the ‘Tinsel Towers’ of Africa(the palaces, the state houses,5 star hotels etc), go to the ‘Silicon valleys’(where you meet the everyday people of Africa).

  • fabulous

    the worst part is when the men drink away their lives and money,when they should be home resting and doing constructive thinking.

  • Borogun, M.A

    Walter is kind to have told Ruwe the truth and nothing but the truth.Are we ready to change our attitude?The simple answer is CAPITAL NO!

  • Anon

    The writer has over-generalised! Only a handful of Nigerian’s (and I dare say, Africans) can/ should feel bad about this one. Those privileged should be principled, those with the knowledge should develop their character, ask God for wisdom and direction. Remember too that faith without works is dead so quit complaining and start working. Don’t lose hope but be excited about the prospects we have, addressing our challenges as we become more aware.

    Of course people want to be creative but the cost of a generator and maintenance of that generator leaves one in more dire circumstances. Roads *sigh* there are insufficient transportation networks yet our leaders are so removed they fly around in jetplanes, heads staying in the clouds, they forget to land, some forget where they’ve come from, …

    There are very hardworking people who barely survive or even if they survive they get grief with the system. This is one reason why people migrate. The system needs to be changed. It has been set up in a way that makes the poor poorer. Poor not in terms of absence of income but the lack of access to resources, and decisions. Think about how many great minds have been lost to the brain drain. We have very successful African entertainers, engineers, entrepreneurs, writers, professors, scientists, doctors, lawyers, even creative capitalists etc. in Africa and outside Africa. However, we have had years of rulers who were not ready to address systemic challenges and external forces that have tried to help but perhaps hindered the situation because their vested interests remain their priorities.

    I can’t pretend I know or understand it all, but we can’t quite address the counterfactual. I know though, that we are on course to development and our progressive path is different, we may be able to leapfrog some stages.

    Majority of the African leaders have led us astray both knowingly and unknowingly however, now they can only add to it or slow us down with whether or not they are effective leaders. The masses are still the ones who do most of the work. We are the group with more spirit to be innovative and creative. It is true that some African political elites have discouraged creativity in some ways as mainly their business counterparts have successfully benefitted from the system. This happens outside Africa too, I won’t call names but I’ll refer to theories- the military industrial complex, inter-locking directorates…

    Then our disease of corruption that has inflicted us all. Some sypmtoms being greed and selfishness causing us all to suffer, some die, leader and follower alike. This disease perpetuates our stagnancy and lack of the necessary institutions available to the average person, further, hindering the access to even the most basic of needs. When these instituitions are available, we forget how to manage and maintain (goods held in common).

    Corruption is in developed countries too. They have found their own ways to allow those without the disease to grow. Their optimal level of corruption is in fact, not zero.

    I’ll stop here lest I generalise. I shared this with a friend, I’ll like to share his response…

    I’ve seen this. Caused me no pain at any point (apart from the fact that Walter is still latently racist no matter how he couches it). But I fault the manner in which the argument is fleshed out though I agree with the concept.

    I agree with the need for sophistication in African thinking as regards technological progress. And a general requirement for increased technical expertise. Our problems are not in raw materials- we have abundant mineral resources, vast human capital and great ideas. The problem is that we seem to be content to keep doing things the same way because we are so adaptible. We do not explore or experiment enough. We are too content.

    But that’s not laziness. I think the phDs have to put in hard work to get there no matter how little innovation is produced to get there. Conversely I don’t think the traders and the low class need phDs to come up with new ideas either. It is because we are content and grateful rather than lazy.

  • victor

    Need we any one to tell us the way we are? Our birth right taken away by those who should have salvaged the situation. Our clamour for independence was a gimmick . We never really had plans for our continent , selfish leaders , hijackers of millions of destinies. You know there is a Judge and judgement that all will face for complacency,hypocrisy, sycophancy , pretence, lack of commitment to true causes,base less principles,pride and prejudice .

  • yemi omojuwa

    Walter is right though.its a waking call to all our intellectuals and those in the corridor of power. How long will we keep decieving ourselves and do what is right for once….like the words of femi kuti “so so talk and no action”.

  • ladotra

    I really enjoyed this piece! It ministered to me.

  • Stephen

    I do not agree entirely with this writers view, don’t get me wrong as I am not trying to excuse the failure of leadership in the continent but as a matter of fact Africa ‘s problem is much more complex than implied here. In my opinion superiority complex is not always only directed at people of African descent alone.
    For decades the popular media have continuously portrayed Africa and some other parts of the world in a negative light. Tune to any popular news channel in the developed countries of the world for stories and pictures of disease starvation, strife corruption and general upheaval always coming from Africa . Hardly any mention of business commerce or a semblance of civilization comes through regarding Africa in this media. Yet Africa is the source of many natural resources, with vibrant economies and ongoing projects. This campaign is partly the cause of the feeling of superiority of people of the developed world towards Africans as it has firmly ingrained a negative impression of Africa and Africans in their psyche. Even descendants of Africans living in the developed world assume this air of superiority when they encounter Africans, thanks to the decades of negative media portrayal of their motherland. Considering that some people in the past had sort unsuccessfully to prove scientifically that intellectualism was directly related to race and skin colour, the media campaign might well be deliberate as it gives the developed world economic advantage. They can get services and goods more cheaply from Africa because already the negative image implanted has already reduced the price of goods and services coming out of Africa more so their companies can charge much more for projects in Africa . For the same reason stricter regimes of test criteria imposed on raw materials, goods especially agricultural products kills any development in that area also to their advantage, non recognition of academic qualifications and skewed remuneration for African skilled labor .

    Historically Africa was partitioned by Europe ; thankfully we did not suffer the fate of North Americas Red Indians nor the South pacific Aborigines probably because the European expansionist and colonialists found our climate to extreme for them. The problems resulting from this partitioning plus neo colonialism of Africa has seldom resulted in civil wars in every African country leading to the continuous exchange of African natural and mineral resources for guns and bombs to fight these wars and struggles for powers between different groups in the continent. A vicious circle of destruction of lives and infrastructure results, preventing meaningful development and investment
    Can we count how many wars have been fought in Africa till date, how many lives have been lost? Peoples continuously displaced the damage to infrastructure. I reckon the continent requires some semblance of the post war Marshal plan to rebuild it.

    Believe it or not despite all this I believe that Africans home and abroad have and continue to contribute their own bit to progress in all fields of knowledge.

    Different peoples from different regions have dominated this planet at different times in mankind’s history; the Babylonians/Sumerians were once the custodians of world civilization, since then it as been the Egyptians, Greek, Chinese, Romans, and Anglo Saxon etc.

  • First of all Walter conspires with the corrupt leadership to rip us all off then he has the cojones to begin to yab us mercilessly. It is not his fault but those VIPs (Vagabonds In Power) who sell out their own people for their own material well being. Africa will wake from her slumber some day. The most powerful nations want us to remain stagnant so they can continue to exploit us through corrupt leadership but I have faith that the younger generation of Africans will somehow, someday say enough is enough!

  • udonma

    its not about knowing the truth but what you do with it afterwards that matters. we know all these but the truth is we do nothing. even those who attempted inventing get a slap instead of a pat on their backs. its a sordid situation we need to emancipate ourselves from. God help us.

  • PUH-LEEEZE!!! This is simply a case of the armed robber accusing the victim of being a simpleton. We Africans need to have some self-respect and stop apologizing for who we are. That was how Asians won the world’s respect: they embraced who they are. We need to embrace who we are: warts and all – and stand tall among the other peoples of the earth. We cant all be scheming, back-stabbing leeches who build their nations’ wealth by plundering other simpler, more open HIGHER societies. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Long after the conniving, grabbing, earth-polluting, conspicuously consumptuous nations have wiped themselves out, Africa will remain!!!

  • Lyn Greenwood

    Sadly, I believe what he says is true! I have grown up in Africa. I love Africa – it’s part of me. But my children grew up on the other side of the world. Why – because Africa has been sucked in by various charismatic, greedy characters who rule with an iron fist. Like me, many Africans have left – black, white and coloured – whatever colour they are. ALL of those people that I have met are very successful at what they are doing – some say largely because they are allowed and encouraged to be successful! The rigid set of expectations of others is no longer the issue. There is no man with a gun (literal or figurative) telling you who to vote for. We have all facilities and opportunities denied to those remaining behind – many of whom have expectations beyond their capabilities because of reverse discrimination. How sad for Africa – I mourn.

  • Paul etifit

    Lovely,highly educatnal

  • Paul etifit

    Dis is clarion call 4 Africans T arise

  • abubakar

    He is right, we must stop blaming others for our stupidity. The Asians have proved that you can Leap Frog or Fast tract development of a Nation. We can fix all infrastructures of Africa within 30 YEARS. It took America 100 or more years to attain such level of development

  • Anfani

    Walter the Bwana is a wicked preacher! Perhaps he was referring to all Africans and not just Zambians. But one day, and i know the day is near, we shall sing a new song! Take note, Walter!

  • Mustapher S Hanga

    My friend, you aren’t talking just about Zambian intelectuals, but all Black African intelectuals. So arrogant, pampous, lazy with unbelievable lack of commonsense as a result of real hardcore enlightment lacking. Enlightment that comes with real education. Not the kind of education where we go through but doesn’t go through us. All the mess that we are in today is ninety five percent caused by these African intelectuals who are too lazy to think out of the box, and too quick to ape and regurgitate theories and other experiments from different environment verbatim which could not work in theirs for obvious reasons.

  • amen

    Society starts from homes and schools … A Fourth class graduate in Africa will make a First class in Europe, UK where ever in the world. The Change we talk about starts from the way superiors treats subordinates. Our politicians misuse, abuse maltreat and do/say whatsoever they feel like, not caring for the masses ….

  • sanmmy

    Walter has left a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth; bitter because it is the truth (and like it’s been said “truth is better”), sweet, because all hope is not lost, but only if we decisively change our direction and face the direction of purposeful, positive and even radical change.
    The change begins with everyone of us: literate/illetrate,rich/poor, high/low, intellectuals/artisans, oppotuned/not-so-opportuned alike; it’s time to concertedly channel our energy to make it happen by ourselves, for ourselves and the time is NOW…

  • Justine Eleshi

    this is perhaps the most indicting and yet concientizing piece yet. And yes, we are the reason we r where we are

  • felix

    This is an excerpt from the book ‘CRUSHED’ written by Tope Fashua. That book is a revolutionary. It awakens the mind of the African esp the Nigerian.

  • I feel humbled,angry and sober at the same time.
    Truth as bitter is such a poisonous venom.
    Gone to grab that “Lord of poverty”.

  • akeem rahman

    Grant and Loans have been employed to instil laziness,greed and corruption in our half baked and diretionless leader! Africa the time is now ARISE

  • wow this ia a charge thus gr8tnes it also geared the rekindling of inner man’s ability to contualise the impact of what he can be remembered about thereafter.kudos

  • Adekunle

    The man has said ????† all,the problem of Africa is leadership we have leaders who are only interested in their pocket….. We give undue advantage over fellow brothers,we have educated illiterate who are only G??d in speaking of grammar but not problem solver. We abadoned our culture for A???? white man culture. its high time we rise up in Africa and D?????? the right things

  • Although true, bt nt posbl in Nigeria. not until we put sectionalism and tribalism aside. Can we do that?????????

  • Just yesterday, I wanted to know who founded the CAT caterpillar company. You know, CAT the makers of those earth-moving, heavy duty tractors used for construction and agriculture. it turned out to be an adventorous American., who roamed with the cowboys for a bit, and was enrepreneuraial. His name was Daniel Best. Not a word was said in reading his bio about any academic achievements, One day while he was healing from a loss of three fingers, to a sawmill machine, he had time to think and viola! Invesntions sprung forth! Over a period of 43 years, he is said to have received 41patents! including that of his invention the combine harvester . Even the US military and other allied forces military needed his equipment during World War 1.When he retired, his son took over and that company today, sells its equipment all over the world.
    We African’s need to bring up our childern as problem solvers. Not scream their creative thoughts down and tell them ancient history about how they must comply with ‘tradition’ or become outcasts. This style of upbringing kills their creativity and stops us from being inventors.. I rest my case.

  • Samuel afanda hurtz but yet d gospel truth,Fud 4 tort,lyk 13million civilservantz waitin 4 Govt pay cheque…

  • Nura Ibrahim Dogondaji

    there is indeed, no comfort in the truth. Pain is all dt we get.Arise o! Compatriots

  • Olamide Olawepo

    Well said, this really is food for thought!

  • Africans whether educated or not even our forefathers. Gari has been taken as gari since not even to change the colour. Gari is a derivate of cassava, Nigeria is the highest producer of cassava and yet one of the poorest in the world. Cassava can replace wheat but the lazy Africans will say i doesnt thirst like wheat which he has enslave himself and generation to. It is a shame that we cant produce handkerchief. From cassava we can produce Ethanol (paraga) starch, livestock feed, bread, glucose etc. Present generation wake up.

  • muyideen

    We are experts in blaming our condition on someone else. Even the writer blamed the government for lack of political will. What we forget is…every individual’s effort count. Let each person start something today, no matter how small. Some of the 19th century scientists were carpenters, or cobblers etc and some 20th century inventors were dropouts. Start something, anything by yourself today. I’m doing something, no one has heard of it but that’s not the point.

  • Nii

    Perhaps Walter is right. Perhaps we are lazy. Perhaps we are inferior.. But we are not murderers.. We don’t go to people with the idea of cheating them. We don’t build think tanks with the sole aim of destroying and keeping other people under. We don’t take advantage of religious zealots and destroy the middle east.. We don’t kill off a who race of Native Americans to steal their lands.. No we are not inferior. We are not thieves and murderers. And all the so called innovations Walter is claiming where created by others, including Africans. America is made up of people from many other countries. Its a nation built by gangsters and pimps and still run by gangsters. The banksters own America and most Americans are broke and poor. And Please Walter don’t even start to talk about the black americans, because after taking them from their lands ans suppressing them for decades, they’ve come up from marching for their rights to become scientists, engineers, sports starts, senators, businessmen, and to the white house. Even tho they are still been undermined… Have you ever worked with the good peoples of our continent before? You help kill the good peoples of every place u go and work with the corrupt of those societies, so you can loot and plunder. Need I say more about the recent efforts you are making? Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria. That Cuban guy has fought against ur corruption his whole life… In Ghana you destroyed Nkrumah’s efforts.. Pls you are not that smart. Anyone can become a gangster and a pirate. That’s what you have done thru history.. The Aborigins in Australia, the Native Indians on continental America, the Aztecs, etc.. Don’t be talking abt technology.. Of the Ancient wonders of the world, which one is still standing? Yup! The Pyramids of Giza, and it was built by Black Africans, not the ones with stolen identities.. So get ur fact right.. We are rising. Again. Yes, because we where not always like this.. And this time, we won’t trust you punks! But we won’t sink into the base of humanity like you are.. Thank you very much for the wonderful lectures about who you truly are!

  • ‘dupe

    This is just S???????????? true….the African continent needs to work herself out of the blackhole she has sunk into daily, and †????† is us talking to ourselves- we are Africa

  • Ken

    Thank you Nii. We are not inferior. We are rising. And we are not lazy.

  • What does he have to say now the economic downturn has come.
    He’s no racist, he is just a plain greedy criminal and murderer and proud of it.
    Tell him that in 1929 people like him shot themselves when they lost their money
    I predict the same for him, his time will come.