This is part of a series on 5 Reasons Why Africa is Poor (#1 Weak Institutions, #2 Culture (this one), #3 Religion, #4 Geography and #5 Poor Governance) of which this one looks at the second reason, that being our culture especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Generally speaking, culture is very widespread, so an appropriate description is in order, however, unlike the previous article, we will keep this one short and so get our definition straight from Wikipedia.
Culture is, in the words of E.B. Tylor, “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” The Cambridge English Dictionary states that culture is, “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time.”
Based on the above definition, we could thus say that all manner and behavior wholly embraced and lived by any particular group of people in a given location over time can be correctly termed as their culture. As such, even religion is very much part of culture.
However, for this particular series I have chosen to separate them because religion does especial harm to Africans and reinforces the factors that further intensify poverty on this continent – especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Let us then briefly look at each one and see it as a component of the whole cultural context of this particular dilemma.
Knowledge – The beneficial application of collective information and experience as shared by society and passed on from one generation to the next. With the advent of literacy, this has allowed for better preservation and passing on of ideas more consistently.
We however cannot ignore the effect of poorly funded education sectors and how this in turn negatively affects the proper exploitation of knowledge.
Belief – Herein lies the greatest enemy of progress and growth in Africa (more later)
Art – The preservation of culture in Africa has been a painful process. The early Christian Missionaries worked against many art forms declaring them pagan and demonic without fully understanding them. When this is coupled with the consistent and systematic reprogramming of locals from their mother tongues to colonial languages, this worked to erase much art which today remains lost in antiquity.
Morals – Our morals today get more degraded by Western influence especially through entertainment, specifically through the medium of music and film. Most youth now can be seen modeling themselves after their favorite pop, R&B, Hip-Hop or Reggae icons or film stars to such an extent that it results in a Hodge podge of lost identity – this coupled with a language that is not ours.
Law – This is the factor that determines the “rules of the game”. It is a fact that the more complex and fair the laws of a given society are and the ability to bring to justice those flouting these laws (through regulation and enforcement through the arms of governance), the more civilized that society is. Even more pronounced is the general improvement and wellbeing of its members.
Customs – The code of ethics and behavior that forms our very core of being African, by which we are defined. Many tribes have different customs though many are very similar, especially among black Africans and hence forge the amalgam known as customs.
In spite of this all, we still have evolved cultures that are driving nails into the heart of wealth creation and instead leaving in its wake poverty and suffering.
Now having looked at the full definition of how culture relates to in the context of African poverty, let us now see how this is a major causative agent in perpetuating poverty.
The Challenging Factors
There is a great enemy of progress in Africa, an enemy that has really siphoned untold potential out of the system and perpetuated mediocrity. It does not seem to be ending and if it is not called what it is – retrogressive, it will continue to be a plague to our wealth creation potential and blot to our progress.
Clan Based Thinking
This would be defined as a systematic placement of personnel based not on their competence or abilities but rather on their affiliation by family, tribe, clan or political attachment or support.
Whist this may look good on the outset for those who wish to promote and support such thinking, it has detrimental effects on the overall development of any nation where this is widespread. Unfortunately, most Sub-Saharan Africa perpetrate this thinking, and in some countries even going as far as outright genocide.
What is most critical though is that even if the person applying is known by the employer, the jobs are usually offered on merit, they pick the best man or woman for the job – period!
Regrettably, here in Africa the opposite happens, people are always picked not because they are capable, have the skills, qualifications and abilities, but are picked because they are related to someone, or are of the same tribe, clan or are “connected.” Whilst this may be good for those seeking employment or contracts, it is dire for the nations involved.
This is also another level of corruption. It is based on the premise that connections come above delivery or results. This is about eating before cooking, reaping before sowing, harvesting before planting. The emphasis is no longer about competence but loyalty and the problem with this is that in the end, no results are even considered, everyone looks out for their interests (what they can amass for themselves) – period. This is at the detriment of the nations involved.
In Africa this is usually based on tribe (same region, dialect), clan (same class, family or roots) or political membership. This practice is widespread all across society. From the public sector to the private sector, people are picked based on the above, not their abilities. Therefore the net output suffers as these individuals simply cannot deliver.
This is worst felt in areas where technocrats, experts and consultants services are required in critical sectors either in management positions or technical capacity. Instead of placing someone who understands and has the expertise to help solve pressing problems, they get someone who does not even know where to start from – and so they either waffle their way, or simply make wrong decisions. This leads to overall under-performance, incompetence and deteriorating standards. Add it all up at national scale and the results are catastrophic.
It is such that has been the root behind the inability to see continuity, planning and strategic execution of policy as individuals heading or working within these sectors are clueless. This perpetuates mediocrity and ultimately poverty.
This kind of thinking says “I am owed a piece of the pie” and therefore sits waiting to be given the same. It is aptly referred to as a “chip on the shoulder” which speaks of someone who has a self-righteous feeling of inferiority or a grudge that demands compensation beyond reason. This thinking expects to receive at all times. It is aptly represented by the common colloquial “batiyanganileko” that feels entitled. It is commonly pushed in socialism.
Unfortunately socialism in this author’s opinion does not work. Here’s an illustration to prove the point.
A class teacher indicates that he is going to mark everyone “fairly” and give an average for all effort performed by a class instead of giving individual marks for each person. In his first test after all marking, the class had a B+ average and everyone was praised. As you can imagine the A students were displeased whilst the D and F students were over the moon. In the next test, the class average dropped to C. The A students did not see any point in working for others whilst the D and F students didn’t even bother. By the fifth test the entire class got an F as the average.
The moral of the lesson is simple, people respond best to a reward system, and rewards should be given to those that work the hardest. This principle is true even with God as He will reward according to works and results achieved, there will be no “socialism” per se in heaven.
This is true on earth. All nations that pick this model inevitably fail. The better model is to reward according to work performed, in essence capitalism. When people realize that their best efforts go to fund lazy people who have not worked, they also chose to do less and less until the overall effect is that everyone ends up in the “F” zone!
The entitlement mentality believes the world owes them something in return, and so sit back and wait for government or organizations (like the church) to “do something” and alleviate their poverty. Unfortunately reality does not operate like that. If one does not work, they shall not eat (the words of St. Paul). Life rewards those who work.
According to Fin Scope 2015 Report, about 1 in 5 adults in Zambia are dependents in homes. This is yet another facet of the entitlement mentality.
In the “7 Principles for Financial Prosperity” we have the 7 common reasons why people get into debt. At #3 is “subsidizing a lifestyle” under which we have what I coined “the messiah complex”. This is where breadwinners try to become the “messiah” of their families and are burdened with taking care of virtually all their relatives.
We show that this perpetuates misery and poverty because family members tend to have the above “entitlement” mindset which sees them all sit around waiting for their messiah to provide. Over time this can have a serious negative impact on wealth creation. Progressive nationalities have learnt to synergize their efforts for betterment of the entire family. Unfortunately, a large percentage simply sits around and waits for their benefactor to bring in the dough!
Another extension of the entitlement mentality. In this case the problem is intensified by the education system that creates job seekers to feed the industrial system instead of identifying and allowing children to specialize early through determining what their aptitude is and where their greatest potential is.
Instead we have a one-size-fits-all style of education. It rewards left brainers (analytical, methodical and memorizers) instead of also considering right brainers (creative and abstract). It focuses on getting everyone to learn so much that is irrelevant instead of specializing in what is suitable.
The result is lost potential and wealth. The result is kids getting into school with the paradigm “go to school, get high grades and then get a good paying job”. But then, how many of those are available?
The world is now changing. Gone are the days (except in the civil service) when you showed up, clocked in, hang your jacket, shuffled some files and got paid. Now the time has come when pay is pegged to performance. KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are the language of the corporate sector. Numbers, bottom lines, profits, dividends, and shareholders are what matter, if the numbers don’t add up, then you get downsized – which is a nice term for being retrenched or let go.
This has made the rich countries prosper immensely and seen the overall effect benefit everyone. Poor countries focus on resource pilferage and nepotism, and these coupled with corruption have ensured perpetuity of poverty levels.
Herein is another bomb. We have decided to always be receiving. The Bible declares that it is more blessed to give than to receive and yet we want to be receiving at all times. This has meant that the giver gets more blessed, whilst the receiver gets the lesser blessing – the immediate satisfaction of the need, but not the ending of the problem.
In rich countries, most citizens have learnt to become a resource, meaning they give more, they help solve problems. They have an obsession within their area of calling. They are working.
Below are some differences between being in a job and work.
I have some news for us all, we need to simply wake up. STOP THE DEPENDENCY MENTALITY! Realize that the only way we can emancipate ourselves is by becoming resources. In the words of President John Kennedy, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.
Become a resource, a source of progress and strength. Start your journey toward your destiny. Seek what it is that God has placed inside you.
We are the change we seek. Nobody is coming from outside to help us. And even if they do, for as long as we still want to go around the world with a begging bowl asking for handouts, we forever will be cursed to remain dependents, looking out for messiahs to come and “save us”.
But if we realize that God has given us all the resources and abilities, and also the wealth in our ground, and then get out there and begin to work, then we will see wealth begin to accumulate and grow. Then we will see our nations become wealthier. Then we will see our people blossom. Our GDP will increase, our grounds will become rich, our works will speak for us, and our prosperity will become a reality!
In the next article, we will be looking at the greatest poison of our continent – religion!
Let me commence with a disclaimer. This article is not targeted at any government, party or ruling class. It is nonpartisan, neither is it condemning nor endorsing any particular party, group or affiliation. This looks at the overall factors and how they play a great role in bringing about the effects we see of widespread poverty in the continent of Africa.
One of the seemingly unjust realities that currently dog our continent is the fact that its citizens are very poor. And when I use the term “very”, I am not exaggerating. It is very true.
In a recent study (carried out by Global Finance Magazine - with data sourced from the IMF), we have the 20 poorest nations in the world. The two graphs tables below show this.
Gross domestic product (GDP) based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) per capita. Values are expressed in current international dollars, to the nearest whole dollar, reflecting a single year's (2016) currency exchange rates and PPP adjustments.
Out of the 20 poorest countries in the world, 19 are located in Africa (95%)
To correctly determine which countries, there are two standard methods of measuring the wealth of countries and how rich or poor its inhabitants are. The measure most often used is Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which represents the size of a country’s economy. A refinement of this is per-capita GDP, which is a measure of the average welfare and affluence, or poverty, of residents of a country. However, GDP and per-capita GDP are less useful when comparing economies across national boundaries – which one must do to determine the poorest countries in the world – because GDP is expressed in a country’s local currency.
The measure that most economists prefer is GDP at purchasing power parity. GDP (PPP) compares generalized differences in living standards on the whole between nations because PPP takes into account the relative cost of living and the inflation rates of countries, rather than using just exchange rates, which may distort the real differences in income. The figures above include data and forecasts for the wealth of countries and regions from 2009 to 2013. Source: the IMF (unless otherwise specified).
Another sobering stat is that for every $1 that is spent in aid toward a poor country, $25 is spent servicing debt repayment. Unfortunately poor countries spend 25 times more money paying back debts it cannot afford whilst basic services are limping to non-existent.
To best understand this, picture a household and use that illustration. In the developed world a typical household that is struggling financially would normally be paid a weekly cheque from their welfare system. These amounts paid help toward basic standing expenses such as food (in the form of food stamps), gas, electricity and water. However, these poor people will still own a car, have an iPhone, get the latest clothing and subscribe to cable or satellite TV! The car, phone and clothes are bought using available credit (through credit cards and store accounts) and maxed out. So when money comes in, it mostly goes to debt repayments.
If you have been following my lessons on Prosperity Insights, you will realize that these are liability based expenses. Furthermore, the debt repayment far exceeds the income earned. In short, the expenses are way beyond earning capacity.
Many African countries are similar. They have large service provision and massive expenditure (overheads – huge wage bills, defense, infrastructure development, pending social services etc.) and very small income earnings. And wherever incomes could be earned or are being earned, that income suffers from massive pilferage in the form of corruption at every level from the grassroots through to the highest institutions.
This article will be dealing with the major causative factors that are exacerbating the situation. If African countries could deal with these problems, most of our poverty would be significantly reduced.
1. Weak Institutions
Institutions are by their very existence one of the key pillars of good governance (more later). They play a pivotal role in ensuring continuity and stability in a given society.
Thus they can be described as an established method or way of performing an activity that is widely accepted throughout society. Institutions provide the rules, guidelines, and structure needed to carry out day-to-day economic activities, such as production, consumption, and exchange.
Institutions form the framework of an economic system. This framework establishes the “rules of the game” under which members of society operate. Institutions can be formal such as government laws, or informal, such as cultural practices. By their very nature, institutions create structural rigidity, which is extremely beneficial. However, this rigidity inhibits change and progress, which can be exceedingly harmful. In some cases, institutions are so intertwined with the fabric of society that only outsiders recognize their existence.
Several institutions key to the study of economics can be considered economic institutions. These include market exchanges, the circulation of money, production techniques, private ownership of property, 40-hour work weeks, labor unions, and a host of others too numerous to list. Many other institutions can be thought of as political, social, or cultural.
The primary economic benefit of institutions is the creation of a stable framework under which production, consumption, and exchange activities can occur. Buyers and sellers, for example, voluntarily engage in market exchanges based on the institutional “rules of the game” established by government/laws. They can safely engage in exchange with some degree of certainty that everyone is playing by the same rules.
Formal and Informal
Institutions can be either formal or informal.
Formal: Formal institutions are those officially established in one way or another, often by governments. Laws are an excellent example of formal institutions. For instance, here in Zambia government has officially mandated that vehicles drive on the left side of the road, that kwacha is legal tender, and that the first and second Tuesday in July is celebrated as Heroes and Unity Days. Each of these institutions affects production, consumption, and exchange.
Perhaps the most noted formal institution established by government is government itself. In Zambia, the Zambian Constitution establishes the government republic (third republic) as a formal institution. The myriad of government agencies, from the Ministry of Defense to PACRA (Patents and Company Registration Agency) or Bank of Zambia, are all formal government institutions.
Other examples of formal institutions include business corporations (LAZ, ZICA, ZIM etc.), labor unions (ZNUT, MUZ etc.) and religious organizations (ZEC, ECZ and CCZ). Each provides “official” structure to society and the economy. Although not part of government, many non-government institutions are actually enabled in one way or another by government (through an act of parliament like LAZ). Governments, for example, establish the guidelines for what legally constitutes a corporation or a religion (at least for tax purposes).
Informal: Informal institutions are not officially established, but are practices commonly accepted throughout society. Many societies, for example, have informal institutions regarding courtship and marriage. In one society, it might be common for parents to arrange a marriage when children are young. In another society, the accepted practice might be for the groom-to-be to seek the blessings of the prospective father of the bride.
Informal institutions apply to all types of activity – social, cultural, political, and economic. It is, for example, common practice to pay food servers a gratuity (or tip) at many restaurants (fancy eating places). Those who fail to tip in the accepted manner commit a social blunder. However, tipping is not an accepted practice at other restaurants (take aways), and attempting to tip is also considered a social blunder.
Many formal institutions undoubtedly began life informally. Our earliest ancestors most likely agreed, informally, that murder was a bad idea long before it was legally, and formally, outlawed by religious institutions and ultimately governments. However, even if informal institutions do not carry the weight of law, they create a solid structure to society. For example, triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13) is an informal institution that has virtually eliminated the thirteenth floor from all high-rise skyscrapers.
You can learn more about the precise meaning of institutions and the role they play by reading here and here.
The Challenging Factors
Having looked at the full definition of what institutions relate to in the context of African poverty, let us now see what cancers are eating up this vital pillar from the inside.
It goes without any doubt that corruption is by far the most evil vice that is widespread in most African countries. It is the number one cancer destroying institutions from within and from without. It is no wonder that studies have shown repeatedly that corruption and the wealth of a nation are inextricably linked in that rich countries conversely have the least amount of corruption whilst poor countries have the most.
Unfortunately corruption in African countries is at all levels, from the traffic officer and policeman in the community, the local council market chairperson, the civil servant in key ministries like lands, the revenue and customs officers at the tax office, procurement departments in both the public and private sector, school registrars – basically everywhere!
It is this widespread level of corruption that has inevitably eaten wealth like a cancer from within us. Anyone who points at politicians and leaders is inevitably pointing at themselves. Corruption isn’t just about the recipient, it’s about both the giver and receiver. Both are perpetuating the disease and exacerbating poverty in three critical ways.
Firstly, it causes the resources (especially money) that could be collected to help run these institutions correctly to be diverted into people’s pockets. This renders the institutions incapable and can no longer function effectively. This is very common especially when it comes to fees and penalties.
Secondly it erodes confidence in the said institution. If society perceives partiality and ineffective oversight by the said institutions, then support dwindles which in turn, nullifies their role and leaves anarchy in place (everyone does what they deem fit in their eyes).
Lastly the general public and service recipient suffers most, because the sector is no longer efficiently regulated or monitored. This in turn disenfranchises the populace and inevitably perpetuates poverty and its effects.
Hemorrhaging of funding (ends in wrong hands)
Instead of money reaching the government for distribution to these critical institutions, it ends up in the hands of few individuals at the detriment of development. This hemorrhaging is evidenced by gross inequalities throughout society. Basic amenities and services for the masses remain very low to non-existent.
Another sad fact is that all the money that is stolen, especially that which is in millions of dollars, is syphoned consistently and taken to off shore accounts and investments outside the country. This means that even after stealing that money, it does not even get used within that nation but is taken to the already rich countries to be stored in banks, purchase luxurious pent houses and vehicles and sustain excessive lifestyles which include education for their kids, first class education and lavish holidays.
Lost revenue – weak imbalanced tax collection (small tax base, not broad)
Another major challenge is that because institutions are weak, the tax base is very small – usually targeted at the civil service, private corporate formal sector and organizations. With unemployment standing at between 50% – 95% of the population you find that they have a rather large untapped informal sector that would enlarge the government revenue base immensely. However that sector can never be efficiently taxed because… you guessed right – weak institutions. Most revenue would end up being lost to even more widespread corruption.
Subsequent failure to fund critical sectors of which these four are absolutely vital.
This sector is the lifeblood of commerce and industry. Without a good transport sector, moving of goods and services becomes very expensive. This in turn hampers development and growth in the economy. In fact, if transport and roads are not well developed, many areas would remain cut off and inaccessible, preventing development and growth and thus subsequently perpetuating poverty.
In Zambia, key institutions that govern this sector include but are not limited to mainly RDA (Road Development Agency) and RTSA (Road Transport and Safety Agency). Also in the construction industry NCC (National Council for Construction) plays a critical role in ensuring that right standards are maintained. The assurance of the maintenance of these institutions is directly proportional to their independence from the executive. This is true of rich countries.
In most African countries these sectors have much work to do in terms of developing and reaching truly independent status.
These are the first step in enforcing and upholding the rule of law. This institution is very critical to ensuring no anarchy prevails. A well-funded police service safeguards peace and harmony and guarantees justice for all. Where people choose to break the law, there is recourse to justice in a transparent and professional manner.
Unfortunately in most poor countries in Africa, the police services are very corrupt. This therefore means that those with money get favors and never suffer consequences for breaking the law. In countries where corruption is widespread, criminals walk scot free without any fear. This then sees injustice prevail, the poor unjustly suffering and gross unfair incarceration of the innocent, simply because they do not have the means nor the resources to pay arresting officers in order to “lose” files, or pay lawyers for proper legal representation where cases go to court.
The saddest part of this all is that when institutions like the police and judiciary are weak or riddled with corruption, innocent people get sentenced to long prison terms (besides the absolute disregard of habeas corpus – I know people that have been in detention for years simply because no one on the outside could just take their files to court and expedite the case) and in extreme cases have even been executed whilst guilty criminal murderers walk free.
This will always be the case until the day that this vital institution is properly funded. That can only happen when corruption and syphoning of money ceases at all levels.
There are two critical sources of wealth in any nation, the first source lies and is harnessed from the ground – its natural resources such as minerals, water and agricultural produce, all products coming from the ground (Prov 13:23). The second source is ideas that can be harnessed from the minds of its citizens. These ideas can only be harnessed if the minds of the citizens are empowered and sharpened by correct education.
Unfortunately in most poor countries, education simply does not get to the masses. Most citizens have to walk miles to attend a school, most times having an unusually large number of pupils to one teacher (between 60 – 120 pupils per teacher). This is further worsened by lack of educational tools and text books. Lastly prohibitive costs mean that the poorest of the poor never even access education – which is very unfortunate because this is their one guaranteed key out of poverty. That key is cruelly prohibited because this vital institution is not adequately funded.
In very poor countries the money simply never gets to this sector – period. For those poorly governed, education gets minimal funding. This means for most citizens their true potential shall never be harnessed, their ideas never developed, their potential never reached, their genius never utilized, their ingenuity never exploited, their skill never tapped, their talent never seen and worst of all, they never get a chance to be wealthy.
It is a fact that all rich countries have invested greatly in all their educational institutions, from nursery, primary, secondary to tertiary and specialist colleges/universities. This is further enhanced by a very advanced Research and Development funding pool (R&D).
In short, they fund ideas and work to develop them over years. It is through this strategy that quality of life and entrepreneurship blossoms as ideas are always being exploited. Furthermore, wealth increases when innovation (social, political, environmental and technological) is encouraged, fostered and rewarded.
Unfortunately for many poor African countries, the aforementioned does not happen and so the very few who manage to get the education end up heading for greener pastures abroad (the same rich countries) to work and even develop their ideas through R&D thus robbing the poor countries of the very scarce human resource to start with – further prolonging poverty.
Perhaps here is where the greatest tragedy lies. As the saying goes “a healthy nation is a wealthy nation”. If the citizenry cannot access basic medical care for easily treatable and preventable diseases, then we see more people die early and never get to fully realize their potential. With an average life expectancy of between 35 to 50 years, it means most of the population dies without truly reaching their full potential.
According to a presentation made by Peter A Singer on TED, there is a formula or recipe for keeping a country poor and herein I mention three of them that all relate to health and have dire consequences for the populace – which unfortunately is the case in most African countries.
1. High death rates for women and children
It goes without reason that if a large number of women and children keep dying at birth, the nation is robbed of future human resource. It is a fact that women play a central and pivotal role in many African countries and are the engine of commerce at the grassroots. Not only do they have to work long hours on domestic chores, they also have to fend for the welfare of their families. Bear in mind that most of them are widows or single parents with many children.
If these have their lives cut short, this has a net effect in how much wealth can be created and retained. The situation is also worsened by the fact that they die from preventable diseases and conditions. If health care was at basic optimum levels, many of these unfortunate souls would be alive today.
Another major challenge lies in the number of health care providers versus the population. The ratio is simply mindboggling. Like the teachers, the health care givers (doctors, nurses and auxiliary staff) are very few in comparison to the population.
2. Impede the cognitive development of children that survive
Firstly, there is a challenge with food and nutrition which then means the children that are born and live are stunted and underdeveloped. Many suffer from nutrition deficiency diseases such as marasmus, kwashiorkor and the like, coupled with irregular meals, lack of basic sanitary conditions and under five health care centers (too far or nonexistent).
When you compound this at national scale, the result is staggering. Children who somehow survive this do not get the education needed to get their young minds to begin developing (through learning via the education system) and thus end up illiterate. Illiteracy poses major challenges for the citizenry and impedes personal development and growth.
3. Leave mental illness untreated and stigmatized
This is perhaps another area that leaves much to be desired. As it stands, mental illness has been stigmatized, underfunded and ignored. Unfortunately this robs the nation of even more human resource. There are many forms of mental illness that can be treated and those that suffer from many forms can be treated and reintegrated into society to become major contributors.
Many forms of autism, bi-polar disorder, cerebral palsy, motor neuron degenerative disease (like what Professor Steven Hawking – the famous theoretical physicist – suffers from). If he were in a poor African country with his condition, he would have been discarded and left to his fate, thus robbing the world of one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century and his discourse on Black Holes and Time.
Stephen William Hawking CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His scientific works include a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set forth a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He is a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.
He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009 and has achieved commercial success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; his book A Brief History of Time appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.
Hawking suffers from a rare early-onset, slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease or Lou Gehrig's disease, that has gradually paralyzed him over the decades. He now communicates using a single cheek muscle attached to a speech-generating device. Hawking married twice and has three children.
The untapped potential within this area is massive, and if more money is directed toward this area of health care, the human resource we could tap into is unimaginable. Unfortunately these are marginalized and mistreated, isolated and ignored, to the great detriment of African countries and adds to the poverty levels.
The inability to adequately fund these sectors has dire consequences on the wealth creation capabilities of a nation. In spite of the repeated calls for these sectors to be funded, these calls fall on deaf ears. Why? The answer will be found in culture, religion and poor governance.
Read the next article in the series on Culture here.
Rev Walter Mwambazi
Author of "The 7 Principles for Financial Prosperity", Life Coach, Facilitator, Peak Performance Coach, Digital Marketing Professional, Network Marketer, Health & Wellness Consultant, Pastor, Copy Writer, Motivation Speaker & Writer.