If you have been following this series than you know that this is the seventh installment of the series “The Realities of Entrepreneurship” and today I would like to look at another aspect that really takes a toll on most entrepreneurs and is perhaps the foremost internal reason most quit.
You will Question Your Sanity
(In case you missed the first six parts, please click on the links for them at the end of this article.)
For the most part, when one chooses to go into business for themselves, it would mean they go against the grain. There are many stories of people that were in good jobs with great prospects for promotion and growth, yet chose to give it all up to launch out on their own.
There are also those that get “shoved” by circumstances out of their comfort zones (jobs) and into uncertainty. Once they begin working toward establishing their businesses, job opportunities show up. In spite of such a scenario, they choose to continue in their new found endeavor!
When such choices are made, they go against the norm because jobs have a guaranteed, predictable income that comes at a predictable time. Yet, they choose to forfeit that and focus on building their business. Once such decisions are made, the resolve to stay the course and that is when almost all obstacles, challenges and setbacks literally get unleashed upon this new business to the detriment of the proprietor.
Even though it is expected that when you launch out with something new, the Law of Chaos will come into play (see previous article that elaborates further what that law is) and seemingly derail most plans, the entrepreneur has to weather the storm and stay the course. This is something most find very difficult.
It is here that one hears those inner voices speaking very loudly and asking you whether you are sane! You will often wonder why you chose to take this route. And even as you go through these challenges, you will also be reminded by those closest to you of your predicament.
Statements like “I told you that these kinds of businesses don’t work”, or “why don’t you just go back to your old job, at least then you used to be able to….” (fill in the blanks), or “look at your friends with real jobs, they are not suffering like you are!” and many more such negative statements.
When challenges that come with business really grow in their intensity, such as going for months without proper steady income, mounting debt (will speak about this in detail in a future article), lockouts of premises and the like, this is when you will wonder why you even started.
You will indeed question your sanity!
Did you know that these challenges and the questioning of your sanity will also occur in pretty much every other endeavor one may take especially those that challenge us to bring in our best game? This includes marriage, ministry or even embarking on projects.
As you may imagine, once you question your sanity, chances of quitting become higher. You will wonder what possessed you to even embark on such an undertaking. It is during these “trials” that most people throw in the towel. They simply allow the circumstances to overwhelm them to such an extent that the only logical conclusion is to stop!
Well… you do not have to quit.
If you ever find yourself in such situations and feel excessively overwhelmed with a strong urge to quit, here are some antidotes that I have used myself in those countless occasions when I too feel like giving up.
#1. You must know your why (Purpose)
This is the reason why something exists. Why are you doing this business? Why must you succeed? What are the implications of giving up?
#2. You must have a detailed mental picture of what you want to achieve (Vision)
This is what you intend to become in the future.
#3. You must plan your course of action well (Strategy)
You need to work out the journey in terms of a step by step plan from where you are now to where you would like to be in the future (your vision). This process of planning and anticipating a) your course of action b) resources required and c) how to get those resources is the difference between success and failure.
#4. You must have an iron-clad resolve to stay the course (Commitment)
The universe has no time for dabblers and experimenters. It is looking for serious people with determination and discipline. The world spits out time wasters and celebrates those who are resolved to achieve their goals.
#5. You must keep your eyes on the prize (Focus)
As the writer of “Think and Grow Rich” Napoleon Hill says, “whatever you focus on expands”. If you operate with laser sharp focus, you will more likely achieve more than if you are scattered in your efforts.
Catch the first six installments of the Realities of Entrepreneurship series by clicking the links below.
The Realities of Entrepreneurship #1: What is the True Story?
The Realities of Entrepreneurship #2: It Takes Time – Part 1
The Realities of Entrepreneurship #3: It Takes Time – Part 2
The Realities of Entrepreneurship #4: Brace Yourself for High Doses of Failure & Rejection
The Realities of Entrepreneurship #5: Things Never Go According to Plan
The Realities of Entrepreneurship #6: The Challenges of Being a Pioneer
I am just from watching the eye opening documentary of the above title and was frankly shocked at first. It took me a while to compose myself and get my thoughts together after seeing such a shocking documentary about something going on quietly in South Africa today that I frankly wasn’t even aware of until one week ago when I read a relatively shocking headline which at first I thought was one of those bad internet jokes circulating on social media. The headline was suggesting that the South African government has begun the process of expropriating land from white farmers and redistributing to black South Africans.
I thought it was a joke because we all know what happened in Zimbabwe. To put it mildly, it did not work. However, when I watched a report by Tucker from Fox News, then I knew it was serious. But what I did not bargain for is what the Afrikaners are calling “Plaasmoorde” or Farm Murders which have been ongoing for almost 20 years. The saddest thing is that these murders have increased in frequency to almost one every day. They target rural isolated farmers and commit some of the most barbaric acts in the murder of these poor white South Africans.
I then took some time to watch all the various news reports from different sources about the situation. And I must admit that it hasn’t really gotten the attention one would expect. But then, if one thought about it, neither does the xenophobia which still goes on today in South Africa, though not at the wide spread rate as we saw a while back.
Back to my topic, it was in all this that I then chose to watch this seemingly well researched documentary that was posted on YouTube about the same terrible plight of Farm Murders going on I South Africa today. And with President Cyril Ramaphosa responding to a “threat tweet” from the master of Tweeting his mind, President Donald Trump, this makes for a very fresh and relevant topic.
After taking time to let her documentary “sink in” so to speak, I then now had the time to respond to some of the points she raised and also give my views on this documentary.
I have given the link here so that more can watch and see for themselves what is going on in South Africa today, which is rather sad.
But even after sharing the link, I must hasten to add that Miss Southern glosses over so many things and leaves out so much in her documentary that I would be doing terrible injustice to your readers if I did not highlight the pros and cons of this documentary.
I have also chosen not to label any attacks on her as an individual, or even speak about her "controversies" surrounding her brand of "activism" as these are honestly beyond the scope of this blog and will just muddy the points I am raising here, besides, objectivity dictates I stick to the topic and not the person, and that is what I do here.
Below is my take on the same. Read on.
1# I must commend Lauren for coming out in a precise way about what is going on with the Farm Murders. Something that is very unfortunate and terrible to say the least. Hearing some of those stories truly brought tears to my eyes. No human being whether white or black deserves this form of brutality going on in those farms against white farmers.
2# The attitude by those in authority is scary to say the least. And what is even scarier is the fact that there is so much sentiment for expropriation at whatever cost that no one is thinking beyond immediate satiation of a long standing issue. Indeed that gentleman from the ANC interviewed put it bluntly that the bureaucratic processes are too slow and they need to act fast, but at what cost?
3# If you push any people against a corner, the result is that they will push for self-defense, and with the Suidlanders advocating for civil war readiness, who can blame them?
4# Watching those squatter camps for white people who cannot access welfare on account of their race is appalling to say the least. Surely in this day and age, if government has the means, why not assist?
In spite of Miss Southern doing a splendid job with this documentary, she also pushed some downright scary notions in her documentary that cannot go without mention.
1# Her video has an agenda, pushing for apartheid all over again. She closes this documentary by suggesting Orania (a stronghold for Afrikaans and the Afrikaner identity by keeping their language and culture alive which welcomes anyone who defines themselves as an Afrikaner and identifies with Afrikaner ethnicity to live there) as a great option and even equates it with “Tribal Homelands”.
That is frankly an insult to the intelligence of all Africans who know the history behind those homelands or Bantustans as they had come to be known. Native South Africans were forcibly taken there to ensure they do not live in the city save as workers there. The conditions were economically backward, and this forced many to seek employment in the cities. This in itself posed a major challenge as many had no rights including travel, owning of property, movement and were paid very low wages. This is the history behind the rise of squatter houses or shanty compounds. Their history and background are very sad to read about.
Many nations including my own (Zambia) paid very heavy prices in terms of lives to see South Africa become free. The South African government sponsored the massacre of many Africans north of the Limpopo including Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Namibia and even Tanzania. We lost thousands of people through letter bombs, outright raids by the South African Defense Forces and mercenaries and even abductions which always led to torture for the purpose of extracting information on the works of the ANC. The price paid was very high.
As for South Africa itself, we can never forget Sharpeville Massacre (21st March 1960), Soweto Uprising (16th June 1976), the thousands of men, women and children of all races with the majority being blacks who were killed in many terrible ways by the government. She cannot gloss over such appalling things in the name of this agenda she is now pushing here.
2# To suggest the lack of crime is apparent is a blatant albeit veiled way of suggesting the presence of blacks is the reason for crime anywhere! That is such a low blow. I was actually quite shocked by her covert way of putting this across. Perhaps the irony cannot be lost when you realize that this documentary is being presented by a blonde white young female which fits the stereotype of the white savior complex. Anybody remember Louise Linton?
3# She highlights correctly the terrible crime of white farm murders, but then blatantly leave out the horrendous xenophobia that took place twice in South Africa and continues even now without being reported. She knows very well about the horrendous killings that were perpetrated by black township gangs who went about destroying, looting, raping, killing and necklacing so many black Africans of neighboring countries. She knows that even the SAPS (South Africa Police Service) literally stood by and watched without doing a thing until it became a continental and world embarrassment to all. Who would have imagined a day when South African blacks would turn on their very brothers and sisters who stood by them during the liberation struggle?
They say a picture speaks a thousand words; the worst example of such is the picture below. To imagine a member of the South African Police Service grimacing as an innocent Mozambican burns to ashes after being necklaced by an angry mob is nothing short of shocking.
4# She also glosses over the terrible crime rates in South Africa today. Yes the white farm murders are terrible, but when you contrast them with car jackings (that lead to murders), robberies, rapes, bank heists, highway heists and township murders, these PALE IN COMPARISON. The numbers of people being killed daily in SA at the hands of criminals is mind staggeringly huge. So, what she did was focus on a very small number and not contrast it with the reality the authorities are grappling with on a daily basis. This is skewed journalism.
5# Apartheid was a horrible system whose aim was to disenfranchise the black man. And it certainly did. The system ensured that black township kids never got the right education, were always second class, had no means to really advance and were most times under curfew or the watchful eye of the SAPS who patrolled their townships regularly looking for “troublemakers”. The few that tried were under immense pressure from peers and so many never advanced in education. Contrast that with exiles that had the privilege and opportunity to complete their education and so be better placed to take advantage of the later introduced Black Empowerment Program.
What we now see in SA today is the backlash of such a terrible system. When you oppress and kill hundreds of thousands of people systematically over almost 50 years, when you teach them repeatedly that they are second class human beings, inferior to white people, when you enforce that through repressive tactics, then this is the result.
Unfortunately, many of our South African brethren have seemingly gotten a reputation of carrying a “chip on their shoulders” and seeking “what is their right”. This is better known as an entitlement mindset. It is so bad that any South African whether white or black who is middle class, and entrepreneur or business man will readily admit (though not openly), that they would rather hire blue collar foreigners any day over their own fellow citizens. This is a tragedy.
So, yes Lauren has done a great job in highlighting such a terrible plight against these white farmers, but her documentary is seriously skewed and one sided and only highlights in a very focused way that ignores the greater picture purposely, the plight of one group of people (whose number is really small) in comparison to the gargantuan problems of crime and murder plaguing the entire nation of South Africa.
Let me say this here, any human being that can tie up a three year old white child to a table, repeatedly rape that child and then kill that child by wrapping them with newspapers and pouring fuel on the papers and burning that baby is worse than an animal. Any human being that can forcibly drown a twelve year old boy in hot boiling water is worse than an animal. These are demon possessed evil human beings with whom no words can describe their levels of brutality. I was very heartbroken to hear the case of the poor woman whose husband was shot dead at point blank range and even after the perpetrators were arrested, they were finally sentenced to 15 years! Fifteen years!? That is pure injustice at its worst. :'(
South Africa is a cauldron of simmering issues. I believe Nelson Mandela and De Klerk did their best under very very difficult circumstances to balance what were seriously opposed forces pushing for more radical approaches and solutions. Against all odds, the wisdom of Mandela prevailed. Today, a number of people advocate that Mandela was a sell out, a position I find very sad because if this man had taken any other position, who knows where South Africa would be today? It is this author’s belief that the wisdom that Mandela exhibited as a president is what led to what South Africa is today, a prosperous middle income nation.
Yes we admit that there are many challenges, but one must never forget where they are coming from, the complex social and economic challenges it faces and the daunting task faced by every government that comes in on how best to solve these challenges.
May we see the hand of God prevail in that nation and see the best of it shine through so that it continues to be a proof of a thriving democracy with institutions of governance that actually work – in Africa.
This is part of a series on 5 Reasons Why Africa is Poor (#1 Weak Institutions, #2 Culture, #3 Religion, #4 Geography and #5 Poor Governance) of which this one looks at the fourth reason, that being our geographical location and its real implications on wealth creation and retention.
According to Wikipedia, Geography is a field study of the lands, the features, the inhabitants, and the phenomena of Earth. Thus, modern geography is an all-encompassing discipline that foremost seeks to understand the Earth and all of its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but how they have changed and come to be. Geography has been called “the world discipline” and “the bridge between the human and the physical science”. Geography is divided into two main branches: human geography and physical geography.
Based on the above, we can see that Geography relates to four key areas of which we shall briefly study.
Natural and Human Analysis – This is the concept that allows for detailed study of various phenomena with relation to distribution and statistics. This discipline helps explain many occurrences and studies even assist in understanding better the patterns behind animal migration, disease spread and concentration, patterns and flow.
Places and Regions – This is a discipline that studies people, areas and seeks to understand the factors affecting sociology, cultural diversity, climate and even emigration.
Human and Land Relationship – How human settlement and migration happens and how land and natural resources play that role in bringing about these occurrences. Included in broad strokes are history, politics, sociology and nationality.
Earth Sciences – An all-encompassing discipline that combines physics, planetary science, biology, chemistry, geology and other scientific branches to bring about a greater understanding of how earth came about and is evolving even now.
Having looked at the full definition of what geography is, let us now see how this plays a role in perpetuating poverty.
For those who are avid readers and find the subject very interesting, I would also highly recommend reading the Pulitzer Prize winning book “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Professor Jared Diamond that carries this argument further.
The Challenging Factors
Our greatest challenge that we face and isn’t just common to Africa but other regions in the world (Latin America) has got to be location. The fact that we are located in the tropics isn’t without its great challenges, the results of which we are still battling with fully.
Our first greatest challenge lies in the environment. This is seen most certainly in the inability to keep and rear domesticated animals. A quick study of the temperate countries shows that domestication and mechanized farming was in fact the first step toward wealth creation and sustenance.
With domestication, that meant more could be harnessed for food, which then created value that fed their local communities. The regular precipitation meant that you had long periods of wet and moist ground which translated into more food security, better crops, less disease and abundance of food.
In the tropics this did not happen at the pace it did in these lands. Frankly, life is much harder here. Below are some factors that bring about the hardness of life.
Disease for Livestock
One of the most dreaded vectors that plague livestock is the Tsetse Fly.
Tsetse flies are regarded as a major cause of rural poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa because they prevent mixed farming. The land that is infested with tsetse flies is often cultivated by people using hoes rather than more efficient draught animals because nagana, the disease transmitted by tsetse, weakens and often kills these animals. Those cattle that survive produce little milk, gravid cows often abort their calves, and manure is not available to fertilize the worn-out soils.
The disease nagana or African Animal Trypanosomosis (AAT) causes gradual health decline in infected livestock, reduces milk and meat production, increases abortion rates, and animals eventually succumb to the disease (annual cattle deaths caused by trypanosomosis are estimated at 3 million). This has an enormous impact on the livelihood of farmers who live in tsetse infested areas, as infected animals cannot be used for animal traction to plough the land, and keeping cattle is only feasible when the animals are kept under constant prophylactic treatment with trypanocidal drugs, often with associated problems of drug resistance, counterfeited drugs and suboptimal dosage. The overall annual direct lost potential in livestock and crop production was estimated at USD 4.5 billion.
The tsetse fly infests nearly 10 million square kilometers in sub-Saharan Africa and many parts of this large area is fertile land that is left uncultivated—a so-called green desert not used by humans and cattle. This explains why generally you may see tracts of empty land that has not been fully exploited for farming.
Most of the 37 countries infested with tsetse are poor, debt-ridden, and underdeveloped. Out of the 39 tsetse-infested countries, 32 are Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries, 29 are Least Developed Countriesand 30 are among the 40 most Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs). Eradicating the tsetse and trypanosomosis (T&T) problem would allow rural Africans to reclaim areas of their continent and greatly increase food production. Only 45 million cattle, out of 172 million present in sub-Saharan Africa are kept in tsetse infested areas, but are often forced into fragile ecosystems like highlands or the semi-arid Sahel zone, which leads to overgrazing by animals and overuse of land by people for food production.
In addition to this direct impact, the presence of T&T discourages the use of more-productive exotic and cross-bred cattle, depresses the growth and affects the distribution of livestock populations, reduces the potential opportunities for livestock and crop production (mixed farming) through less draught power to cultivate land and less manure to fertilize (in an environment-friendly way) soils for better crop production, and affects human settlements (people tend to avoid areas with tsetse flies).
Tsetse flies transmit a similar disease to humans, called Human African Trypanosomosis (HAT) or sleeping sickness. It is estimated that 70 million people in 20 countries are at different levels of risk and only 3-4 million people are covered by active surveillance. The DALY Index (disability-adjusted life years), an indicator to quantify the burden of disease, includes the impact of both the duration of life lost due to premature death and the duration of life lived with a disability. The annual burden of sleeping sickness is estimated at 2 million DALYs. Since the disease tends to affect economically active adults, the total cost to a family with a patient is about 25% of a year’s income.
Disease for People
Two of the greatest killers of many in the tropics are Malaria and HIV/AIDS related opportunistic infections and diseases.
We all know how much these two diseases have ravaged the Sub Saharan African continent and robbed it of some of its finest sons and daughters. Statistically speaking, the numbers are numbing.
Malaria is widespread in the tropical and subtropical regions that exist in a broad band around the equator. This includes much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Malaria is commonly associated with poverty and has a major negative effect on economic development. In Africa, it is estimated to result in losses of US$12 billion a year due to increased health care costs, lost ability to work, and negative effects on tourism. The World Health Organization reports there were 198 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2013 alone. This resulted in an estimated 584,000 to 855,000 deaths, the majority (90%) of which occurred in Africa.
The net effect on productivity and output cannot be overemphasized here.
HIV/AIDS is a global pandemic. As of 2012, approximately 35.3 million people are living with HIV globally. Of these, approximately 17.2 million are men, 16.8 million are women and 3.4 million are less than 15 years old. There were about 1.8 million deaths from AIDS in 2010, down from 2.2 million in 2005.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region most affected. In 2010, an estimated 68% (22.9 million) of all HIV cases and 66% of all deaths (1.2 million) occurred in this region. This means that about 5% of the adult population in this area is infected. Here, in contrast to other regions, women compose nearly 60% of cases. South Africa has the largest population of people with HIV of any country in the world, at 5.9 million at 2012 statistics.
When a nation loses so many people to such diseases, the overall effect is decreased production, loss of human resource and ideas. As I have mentioned in a previous article, the wealth of a nation is harnessed from two distinct sources, the first is natural resources which include minerals, soil and agriculture. The second is human resource which mainly lies in the ideas, skills and abilities of a given society.
When large numbers of the populace die through pandemics like HIV/AIDS and Malaria, there is no shadow of doubt the loss that occurs not just to members of the immediate families affected, but their workplaces and society at large.
This loss can be quantified in terms of income, entrepreneurial exploits, ideas that can better society, leadership, team members, synergy and productivity in various sectors. When this number is compounded over a decade, the losses are staggering.
When the above agricultural factors are added (the human factor) with environmental factors (drought and heat) the overall effect is that we see it get harder for peasants to farm. Subsistence farming is made harder because they have to use hoes instead of ox-drawn ploughs (oxen are often decimated by Trypanosomosis or drought) and thus greatly reduces yield and efficiency.
Furthermore, the semi-arid soils which are over grazed end up becoming poor for production and thus worsen an already bad situation. This means the planting of staples and vegetables becomes very challenging. Most farms will produce between 25% - 50% below expected yields, thus making the effort more than the result. For the peasants this means more dismal living. When this is coupled with an inefficient crop buying process, inaccessibility due to bad transport infrastructure and lack of access to financial services such as banking, the conditions that perpetuate scarcity are fueled.
This leads to dire straits which force many of the rural population to end up migrating into the urban areas seeking better life.
Since the cities are usually already lagging behind in provision of basic services and welfare, the result is shanty compounds (illegal township shacks), strained resources (clean water, sanitation, health care, education, policing etc.) leading to the poverty we speak about here.
There is talk about highly mechanized and scientific farming, yes that would be easy if the general conditions and factors were corrected first (strong institutions, effective revenue collection, professional civil service), but the cost of doing this is gargantuan, and since most governments in these African countries have very inefficient and porous ways of collecting revenue, they are left without the means to correct the situation – and therefore the poorest continue to suffer constant lack.
For these countries the situation is made worse by their location as they have to literally import everything. If they do not have high productivity in place and ensure they counter importation with a large export base, they then suffer then net effect of having more expenditure than income.
Transportation, costs for trade and exchange are always inherently harder for these countries. If the regulatory frameworks that govern various stakeholders are not strengthened through stronger institutions, the overall effect is the one we see. (More later)
You may have never realized it but this is perhaps one of the greatest factors that may either work to increase or decrease the equitable distribution of wealth in a nation.
I have shown that there are two types of resources, natural and human. We have shown how human resource has been affected by the geographical factors. There is no argument that they play a significant role in aggravating conditions that manifest poverty.
Natural resources also play a huge role. They are what are known as “intensifiers”. This then means that if the country has strong institutions, then the resources work to bring about great prosperity and wealth for its citizens. A great example of such is the Republic of South Africa.
They had very strong institutions and systems from earlier on that ensured that the environment guaranteed equitable returns for entrepreneurial exploits. This meant guaranteed growth and development for all and the results were then channeled into all the various social sectors.
You don’t need to be an economist to see the massive development that is in South Africa and their general services compared to other Sub-Saharan countries especially the poor ones.
If on the other hand the country has weak institutions, then this can turn that resource from a blessing to a curse. We can cite examples from the ten poorest countries and see this straight away. The two examples are Liberia and Congo DR.
Liberia has diamonds and we all know the famous film “Blood Diamonds” that showed how these were pivotal in perpetuating a civil war that was mainly about control of this resource. Congo DR has a collection of the most valuable minerals under one nation and yet – they are the poorest nation on the planet.
Below is a further discourse on the second nation.
The CONGO DR situation
Historically, this nation was exploited by King Leopold for rubber. The king turned this entire nation into one large farming estate. He used fear and extortion which included systematic chopping off of limbs as a means of instilling fear and thus had all able bodied men and women work his farms as slaves. The economic exploits of King Leopold can be seen in Belgium. Most of the wealth of that European nation was syphoned out of Congo without any care for the welfare of its citizens. The death toll from his exploits is numbered at about 20 million Congolese. Think of this number. These lives were lost over a fifty year period.
Independence and Military Rule
When Congo became independent in 1960 June 30th, Patrice Lumumba became its first elected Prime Minister and Joseph Kasavubu its president. Unfortunately this only lasted for one month before there was a military coup and he was placed under house arrest. He was captured trying to escape to Stanleyville (now Kisangani) and was tortured badly and finally shot by the leaders of Katanga province (his sworn enemies).
A combination of white mercenaries (Belgian, Rhodesian and South African) helped dispose of his body by dissolving it in acid.
This exacerbated the Congo Crises which lasted until 1965 when Mobutu Sese Seko finally took over and became the absolute ruler. This saw Congo degenerate into the worst run state in the world with its wealth being systematically plundered to zero.
Congo is estimated to have $24 trillion (equivalent to the combined Gross Domestic Product of Europe and the United States) worth of untapped deposits of minerals including the world’s largest reserves of Coltan (over 70%) and significant quantities of the world’s Cobalt. The primary resources extracted in the DRC include cobalt, diamonds, gold, copper, and oil.
Coltan is the key mineral used in nano-technology. If you own a smartphone, tablet, laptop, video games consoles or most electronic gadgets, then your gadget is made efficient by this mineral. This makes it the new “gold” as it is critical in ICT. It is however the latest addition to conflict minerals like Diamonds in Liberia.
As one can imagine, if Congo had strong institutions and regulatory frameworks backed by a legitimate government and good governance, there is no doubt it would be the richest nation not just in Africa, but even in the world.
Humanitarian and Economic Crises
In September 2010, the government banned mining in the east of the country, attempting to crack down on illegal organizations and corruption. During periods of violence, resources have been looted from the original collectors by both Congolese and foreign soldiers, and civilians or they are extracted by soldiers, locals organized by military commanders (much of the time Rwandan and Ugandan commanders) and by foreign nationals.
The actual miners who mine this mineral are paid very paltry wages of 20 cents a day (K2) for the work they do. Not only this, they have to leave their homes to work in these open pits. There is very little regulation and so anyone can go work there. The areas are controlled by gun totting rebels who work with local warlords who have the money to buy from the miners. They then supply the middle men who then export to Europe.
The humanitarian toll is appalling to say the least. Between 1994 and 2010, this region has seen over 6 million Congolese nationals killed. Six million! Think a minute about that number.
This is the number of Jews that were exterminated by The Nazi government and the whole world stood still and even made memorials to honor the dead and ensure it never happens again.
Yet, we have 6 million Africans die this way and do you hear this in the mainstream media? No! Even now we see more people being killed each day in these areas but you never hear anything at all. Check the news – nothing!
What are the results of all this?
As can be witnessed, the humanitarian crisis is beyond comprehension. The suffering of the Congolese brings tears to this writer’s eyes because this is all human caused. If greed were eliminated, if people genuinely wanted the betterment of humanity and their nationals, this would not happen.
What is even more appalling is that this situation serves the rich nations very well. As it was in the days of slavery when great wealth was built off the blood, sweat and tears of poor African slaves displaced from their continent, so is it with this situation that allows for unbridled exploitation of the chaotic mess that exists in Congo.
For greedy corporations that are looking for unregulated operations, Congo is their heaven. For you can remove as much as you want, mess up the environment as much as you want, and then bribe anyone who tries to ask questions. Where these three can’t work, you then sponsor a civil war so that when the humanitarian crisis ensues, you remain with carte blanche, free to do as you please with no repercussions for it.
This is what is going on in the Congo. This is what is happening to many countries where their natural resources have found weak institutions and bad governance.
When next you hear about the poverty of Africa, before you take on a high and mighty stance and wonder why we can’t get our act right, take another look at Congo, see their predicament and then perhaps you may understand and have empathy.
Indeed Geography does play a pivotal role in bringing about the manifestation of poverty, for you can have a nation with potential GDP greater than the most developed nations on the planet, but yet be called the poorest country on earth :’(
In the final article, we will be looking at Poor Governance, the final major piece of the puzzle that catalyzes the conditions that manifest perpetual poverty due to lack of an enabling environment.
Our third Transformational Power Seminar took place Saturday 3rd February ’18 at our usual venue of Top Floor and saw some prolific info shared with our attendees.
Our greatest milestone moving forward is the partnership with Atlas Mara and Investment Services Ltd who have come onboard as our partners in the Banking Sector. This means that #TPS has now one key partner from this segment of the financial terrain and we are now seeking to bring onboard long term, partners from the insurance sector specifically, one from Life and another from General.
We kicked off the meeting with a presentation from Atlas Mara’s Head of Communication and Marketing, Mr. Eric Ngondo who gave a brief history of the bank and its merger between Banc ABC and Finance Bank Zambia which gives them the largest footprint in terms of branches and ATMs in Zambia.
We then had presentations from the Heads of e-channels at Atlas Mara that highlighted the major strides being made in terms of the soon coming app, the internet banking and USSD platform which gives clients access to their accounts and activities in unprecedented ways.
We then had a presentation from Rev Walter Mwambazi on the 7 Basic Truths About Investing which in summary are…
Throughout, delegates had an opportunity to ask many questions and get to understand various aspects of the above presentations with an appreciation and grasping of the same. We will be inviting next month a tax expert who will walk us through the importance of tax compliance and the benefits that come with it in comparison to evading it.
Our next Transformational Power Seminar will be on Saturday 3rd March. In case you haven’t yet, you may register for it by following the link below, if you have already registered and receive our mail, there is no need to register again.
If you are already on our mailing and registered below, then there is no need to reregister. If you haven't, you may do so by following this link and registering at the bottom of the same.
I am so excited to announce to you that our inaugural Transformational Power Seminar (TPS) took place on Saturday 4th November at Top Floor. We had 80 people in attendance (full capacity) and were oversubscribed.
The first most profound thing for us was the attendance timing. Delegates were seated as early as 07am! Yes indeed. We had over 50% in place by 08:45hrs and when we started at 9hrs we had about 60 people already.
We commenced with an opening and welcome remark from yours truly (Rev Walter) in which we shared the vision and mission of #ProsperityInsights and the TPS.
Our Vision is to be the most influential and leading life skills and strategic thinking provider whilst Our Mission is to develop leaders and empower citizens to realize and fulfil their highest potential by providing the most effective life skills and strategies to them.
As such, Prosperity Insights and TPS intends to raise change agents, people who will go out into their communities and bring about transformation, one person at a time!
We also believe and propagate Prosperity for all Zambians with an emphasis on establishing knowledge concerning the three legs of financial security namely savings, investments and insurance.
Our event was sponsored by Liberty Life Insurance with the support of Keg & Lion, Hot FM, Radio Christian Voice and Destiny Peak Pro (Prosperity Insights).
Liberty Life Insurance representative Mr. Innocent Mudenda made a presentation on the various products they offer and also handled an extensive Q&A at which many delegates got satisfactory answers concerning the various products and services that they could access from them. It truly was an eye opening experience.
I also made a presentation (the first of seven) on The 7 Principles for Financial Prosperity and also handled an extensive Q&A in which many great questions about business and finance were tackled.
We were also graced with an attendance at the event by Mudson Ng’andu who is also a Peak Performance Coach. He did greet and address the audience.
We also were supported by musician Tiszah Katowa with guitarist Skillz who performed three beautiful acoustic pieces that wowed the audience. We have a short clip of that performance on this blog.
Unfortunately, Dr. David Nama could not make it as he had a pressing engagement that literally dropped his way on our date. He did send profuse apologies and will be coming to our event in February instead.
This first event was free (no fee at entrance) but a number of delegates indicated that this should not be the case going forward as it is not in order. They instead suggested that an event of this calibre should have a basic charge (cover charge)to attach value to it. As such we will be running a survey in due course to determine what charge we should have for this one. Whatever the case, we will strive to keep it at a very minimal cost.
Overall the event was a resounding success as we had very positive reviews and can mention here that more partners have come on board to run with us and share this noble vision.
If you would like to partner with us in any way through sponsorship of the venue, speaker’s fee, prize giveaways and even seminar materials, we would be most glad to have you join us.
Simply let us know by sending an email to email@example.com and indicate clearly what you would like to contribute, whether be it in monetary or substance form. We also welcome any assistance in time and effort.
I am also challenging you to join us and become a change agent by committing yourself to this process by personally inviting three people within your circle of influence to attend this meeting! We can change this nation one person at a time and that happens when you take it upon yourself to invite and have others come with you.
Lock down our next event which is slated for Saturday 2nd December at 09hrs sharp. As always registration is at 08:30hrs and we are already seriously oversubscribed, so it’s strictly by registration (details to be given soon) and on a first-come-first-served basis.
Click below to register if you haven't yet.
Let’s make a date and see you then!
The digital age revolution is coming. And it is coming fast. And if you are not ready, it is going to leave you a casualty. It is critical that you prepare to adapt to it.
Enter Disruptive Thinking
The new digital age is going to upset the cart and disrupt virtually every industry you can fathom. We already have examples of industries that have been disrupted immensely.
Take for instance the camera and film processing industry. One of the most known names for that industry was Kodak. In 1998 Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Yet by 2003 Kodak had gone bankrupt. Today photo processing using photograph paper is virtually non-existent as all use digital printing instead.
Interestingly, digital photography was invented in 1975, but back then the pictures were only 10,000 pixels (10kp or 0.01MP!). The average high end phone today has back cameras that can take pictures with 20 megapixels! These pictures are way superior than photographs today and most importantly is that they can be instantly accessed.
Technology brings one factor to the table that everyone must recognize; convenience! Software is disrupting every major industry as we speak, and it shall do so exponentially.
Uber does not own any taxis, but they are the biggest taxi cab service in the world. AirBnB does not own any hotels, but they are the biggest hotel and lodging chain in the world.
As we speak, there are four key areas that are transforming all industry (and for students of eschatology, they are especially interesting) namely Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Bio Tech and Nanotechnology.
I won’t delve much into these ones today and will instead focus on the disruptive nature of technology and its implications on those reading this.
The combo of the four is disrupting traditional businesses faster than one can imagine. And don’t forget that technology increases exponentially. In short, when you see certain technology at the beginning, it is restrictively expensive because investors are recovering their investments in R&D (Research and Development). But within three to five years, most money is recovered and better still, generic versions of the technology quickly start to pop up in the market. These generic versions are usually the result of reverse engineering research (common from the Japanese and Chinese today).
In short, if you see some fancy tech today, within three years generic versions will show up in the market and take the market share as they will be cheaper than the prototype.
Mobile Phone Industry
About 12 years ago Nokia, Ericcson and Blackberry were leaders in the mobile phone industry. They did not anticipate the power of the smartphone and its disruptive nature. Apple and Samsung invested heavily on the Smartphone Touch Screen Tech with one exceptional strategy; open up the market and allow apps and developers to work further by developing a phone with a platform (iOS or Android), and allow outsiders (the techie community) to build and develop apps and most importantly, monetize those apps!
You know what happened to the companies I mention. They are no longer leaders and in some cases, have even been sold and absorbed by the bigger innovators.
There is another company that has taken on this platform strategy to a whole new level – Facebook!
It’s a website but does not generate any content (that’s user driven instead) including games, apps, events, pictures, videos etc. Yet they have monetized and made a killing with this, making its owner the youngest billionaire in the world!
YouTube is by far the largest source of video content in the world! Yet it’s not generated by them, but its users instead.
The Automobile Industry
The automobile industry is about to face major disruption in the form of computerized cars. These will work with GPS so that they can drive themselves. The implications is that in the next 30 years owning cars will no longer be necessary as one will only need to call a car and it will take them where they need to go at a fraction of the current costs.
The first driverless trucks are being introduced in the UK next year. Over the next 5 years they will become the alternative to drivers.
Remember, they never ask for breaks, pay rises, leave or even have work stoppages let alone health insurance and pensions. These are no-brainers for shareholders. That means an entire industry is disrupted!
Computers on wheels mean traditional cars are going to disappear within a generation. Think I am exaggerating? Where is the landline today? It’s virtually extinct. And it will be in the next 10 years!
Mobile Phone Service Operators
Speaking of telephones, the big network operators no longer make money from voice calls or even internet anymore. This is a fact. The price of both will keep dropping further. As we speak, Google is investing in technology that will allow internet to be transmitted from space! Think of a large Wi-Fi accessible from anywhere in the world (kind of like satellite TV).
As we speak analogue signals will all be switched off completely by the end of this year!
This is why the mobile service providers are now making their money using value added features or services such as “hello tunes”, “sports updates” and many more. They have realized that the money is in the services and like Facebook, they need to just build a large network and then lease that like real estate to users who then “rent” their platform and place their virtual products there!
Cyberspace – The Next Real Estate
Speaking of real estate, the next real big boom is in cyberspace – not physical ground! Those that invest and position themselves in the virtual world of cyberspace shall stand to become millionaires in the near future. I kid you not!
Take Mwebantu Media for instance. They now have a following that is inching toward 1 million. They have started monetizing their platform by providing advertising for those interested. They simply worked hard to build a massive platform of followers by providing value for them (news that is deemed balanced and objective). Once they did so, they have since been monetizing. Next time you visit them, check their wall and you will notice advert postings!
Positioning is everything! Building a list is paramount! Creating a massive following is the secret sauce to monetizing effectively! If you are active in business today but are not building a list – you are insane! You will go bankrupt.
The Energy Sector
Another area that is going to see massive changes is the energy sector. Fossil fuels are disappearing. Solar is taking its place instead! As we speak, much money is being spent on R&D for alternative energy. So, solar will become cheaper, bio energy will grow. Electric cars are the way of the future. Driverless cars are coming. This means less people will need to own cars within the next 30 years.
A time is coming when people won’t even bother to learn how to drive because such cars won’t exist anymore! And yes a time will come when that entire industry will be disrupted.
The Insurance Sector
Take insurance for instance, with no drivers and very few accidents, premiums will drop to really low levels, thus wiping out the very sector that general insurance thrives on currently. It is a sector that has numbered days within a generation (roughly 20 years)!
This is not the only challenge with the digital era. The bigger nightmare lies in companies that have never been traditionally termed as “experts” that will take on business from the “traditional players”.
Diagnosis and Consultancy
Take law for instance. IBM’s Watson can give legal advice 20% more accurately than a human lawyer can. If you are studying law the only way you will succeed is to specialize and unfortunately, within a generation new students may need another profession!
Health diagnosis is changing as we speak. Quantum analysis is improving exponentially. Within a very short time (less than 5 years) apps will work with your smartphone and wearables such as your smart watch to measure your blood pressure, sugar and other biometrics and even transmit such info to a data centre that can immediately recommend treatment and where to get it.
The insurance industry is already seeing non-traditional players in their industry (banks tackling life assurance). This will also extend to travel, household, home and health insurance.
The Banking Sector
Banking is now seriously moving away from the model where you had large workforces to service the population. Instead internet banking, ATMs, self-service banking are the new model that is replacing them. This means more convenience for the user and threatens the personnel more as we will see the teller virtually disappear. Within the next 15 years all ATMs will be able to accept cash and checks plus do a myriad of other functions. Coupled with smarter apps there will come a time when even opening a bank account won’t require that one go into the bank to do so. The banks will make more money with fewer personnel.
We are already seeing this in traditionally slow and bureaucratic places like ZRA, PACRA, ZPPA, NAPSA and even the government where e-business, e-registration, e-pay slips is changing the landscape.
As we speak ZICTA is working very closely with all leading stakeholders to create a switch that will allow all these technologies to “see” each other. This will be coupled with what will be a “super identity number” that is given at birth and will be unique and the key life identity throughout. The implications are that within a generation, you will be able to initiate all your needs from your phone or computer anywhere in Zambia.
This kind of disruptive innovation is happening everywhere.
The Agriculture Sector
Agroponics, hydroponics and even aeroponics are completely revolutionizing the agricultural sector. Here in Zambia we have already seen it happening. Fish farming, chicken rearing and incubation is standard features. This means the price of fish is going to drop as more fish farms come around. This has already happened with the chicken (anyone remember that 30 years ago chickens were the most expensive forms of protein right?). Incubation technology is more readily available than ever and thus means now more food will be made available in cheaper and more efficient ways.
The above has serious disruptive implications.
This is the reason why Apple, Tesla, Google and other tech companies are always on the cutting edge of innovation and spend millions of dollars in R&D to stay ahead and promote disruptive thinking!
7 Jobs That Will Be Taken over by Robots (Within the Next 30 Years)
Parts of this section were inspired by an article written on the French website slate.fr and are used here with permission.
As I had hinted earlier in this article, Robotics is going to make a significant impact. When combined with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Nanotechnology, these technologies are expected to bring about the most momentous transformation of the labor market since the industrial revolution, warns Forbes Magazine.
And the extent of the economic and social shock that the arrival of intelligent robots will bring is far from being measured yet.
According to a survey conducted in the United States by the Pew Research Center, 80% of Americans believe their jobs will probably or surely still exist in its current form in the next 50 years. Big mistake! And be careful, the jobs that will be taken first by the intelligent robots are not only manual or low-skilled.
You all know very well that whatever starts in the developed world is certainly going to trickle down to us all in the third world. There may be a few differences but the major impact is still going to be felt.
This revolution is already underway. To be convinced, just look at these recent forecasts from the IDC (Institute of Democracy and Cooperation) and the 7 types of jobs are particularly threatened and are not necessarily the ones that first come to mind.
Please bear in mind that the statistics here are all based on the developed world and may not immediately impact the third world.
There are now 3.5 million truckers in the United States. If McKinsey’s forecast is correct, in less than ten years, 33 % of the trucks on American roads will be driverless trucks. That means: more than 1 million jobs killed…
#2 – Construction workers
SAM (Semi-Automated Mason) is two to three times more productive than a human bricklayer, by being able to lay, per day, 1,200 bricks (compared to a human with a number between 300 and 500 per day). And it’s only the beginning!
Bulldozers and cranes will also become driverless.
#3 – Legal Advisors
According to a report by Deloitte, 39% of jobs in legal services will be automated by 2020. Sectors directly concerned: legislative research, contract analysis and auditing.
#4 – Medical staff and doctors
Medical robots are rising. Watson, the medical robot designed by IBM, is already working with medical teams to detect and treat cancers and robots should soon be actively involved in diagnostics and surgical procedures. The Tricorder from Star Trek is not very far from becoming a reality.
#5 – Accountants
Running accounting software, preparing balance sheets, financial balances, checking records, calculating profitability, measuring stocks, are tasks that robots will do better than humans. Financial analysts are in the same boat as accountants. Artificial Intelligence Driven Machines are already able to make predictive analytics and detect trends more quickly and accurately than humans do.
#6 – Editors
Novelists still have a future, but financial writers or those who write all kinds reports have a limited future. It’s right now the beginning of AI Machines that are able to write increasingly readable factual texts.
#7 – Sellers
As consumers increasingly switch to e-commerce and will use software to accurately determine the type of products, prices and availability, many forms of vendors will disappear.
If these evolutions seem frightening, it is necessary to remember the lessons of history. Many professions have disappeared and many have been created. The destruction/creation process is still at work. None of our grandparents were an application designer, a data scientist or a drone pilot.
But then, how many jobs will be created compared to those that will be killed off? Will it be more or less? And what are the social implications on low-skilled people and middle class personnel?
The digital age revolution has one thing in its wake, it’s disruptive in a very positive and negative way simultaneously. The digital age revolution has changed everything we hold dear. Jobs are changing, tech is changing, business is changing, education is changing, and health-care is changing.
In the movie “Hidden Figures”the American space program administered by NASA in the 1960s had a number of female African Americans who were called “human calculators” because they were geniuses who could calculate huge complex equations mentally and in very short times compared to ordinary people. They were thus indispensable.
But then IBM manufactured the first computer that was the size of a small room. However, that computer was incredibly complicated to use and required programmers and code generators.
These ladies sensing the changes that were about to happen – at their own expense – quickly went on to learn and acquire the skills required operate this monster computer. Once NASA scientists had figured out how to make the computer work, the ladies could not be fired (mind you their work was rendered obsolete almost instantly) because now this computer needed an operator, and these ladies could do the job better than anyone else.
They read the times, understood the trends and where they were heading to, adapted effectively and transitioned into the new era by remaining relevant!
Even today virtually every sector is changing and this change is going to happen whether we like it or not. So when the changes happen, where will it find you? Will you be ready or will you be a casualty?
#ProsperityInsights Radio Show Podcasts
We featured the above article as two episodes on my radio show. You can listen to the podcasts below.
This is part of a series on 5 Reasons Why Africa is Poor (#1 Weak Institutions, #2 Culture, #3 Religion (this article), #4 Geography and #5 Poor Governance) of which this one looks at the third reason, that being our religious beliefs.
According to Wikipedia, a religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that aim to explain the meaning of life, the origin of life, or the Universe as we know it.
In that are also rituals and daily activities that help individuals connect to a higher power and accomplish the will of that being. Usually highly emphasized are works and activities that ensure virtuousness is maintained. One of the major defining characteristics of religion is that if this lifestyle is not observed, there are dire consequences in this as well as the next life.
In order to do this subject justice and not get misunderstood, we need to first open with a clear distinguishing between being religious and being spiritual in the truest form and way. This is gonna be evangelical in nature but I would be doing a great disservice if I did not show you the difference herein.
Religion vs. True Christianity
There is a great difference between RELIGIOSITY, CHURCHIANITY and CHRISTIANITY. Many are GOING TO CHURCH but few are GOING DOWN THE ROAD WHICH LEADS TO LIFE (Matthew 7:13-14). Many name the Name of Christ (2 Tim. 2:19) and claim to be Christians but few understand what a Christian really is. Many are RELIGIOUS but few are RIGHT WITH GOD. May God help us to understand the difference between RELIGION and true CHRISTIANITY as set forth in the Word of God, the Holy Bible.
In all the paragraphs outlined in this section, the first refers to religion and how one lives by it, the second relates to true faith as a Christian and how we live by it. After reading this part you will immediately realize that we have many folk who are religious and call themselves Christians when they should in fact be called Churchians!
“Salvation is something I must do. I must somehow earn or gain salvation by the way I live.”
“Salvation is something only God can do. Salvation is of the LORD!” (Eph. 2:8-9; Jonah 2:9).
Religion is summed up in one word: DO – man trying to DO different things to please God and earn His favor.
Christianity is summed up in one word: DONE – Christ dying on the cross to save sinful man (John 19:30).
The religious man is busy “working” (doing good works) in order to be saved.
The saved person is “not working” (Rom. 4:5) but is RESTING upon the finished work of Another (that other being Jesus Christ)
TRUSTING (Acts 16:31)
A Work to Do which is never done (How can anyone work well enough and hard enough to earn salvation?)
A Word to Believe (1 Pet. 1:25) about a Work that is Done (1 Pet. 1:18-19).
Man hoping to save himself
God saving hopeless man (1 Tim. 1:15)
RELIGION is man trying to BRING HIMSELF TO GOD (by human effort, good works, ritualism, traditionalism, sacraments, etc.).
CHRISTIANITY is Christ BRINGING US TO GOD on the basis of what He did for us on the cross (1 Peter 3:18).
Religion is man trusting his own good works (Titus 3:5).
Salvation is man trusting the good work which the Lord Jesus did on the cross (Rom. 3:22-26).
A religious ritual
A real relationship (John 17:3)
Enjoying life (John 6:47; 10:10).
“I must reform my life and turn over a new leaf”
“I must be born again” (John 3:7).
Knowing Someone (John 17:3)
Man trying to please God in the wrong way (Rom. 8:8 “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God”).
Man truly pleasing God in the only way (Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”).
Seeking to earn God's favor by works
Receiving God's favor by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8 and see Eph. 1:6).
“I can work my way to heaven and earn my salvation” (Romans 6:23 teaches that we have earned our way to hell: “the wages of sin is death”)
“I could never live well enough to earn my way to heaven. Christ had to pay the price for my salvation” (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).
“Salvation is something that a person must earn.”
“Salvation is a free gift” (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 4:10).
The sinner sees himself as good (Luke 18:11-12).
The sinner sees himself as sinful (Luke 18:13).
The religious man compares himself with others (Luke 18:11).
The saved man sees himself as God sees him (1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 53:1-3; Rom. 3:10-12).
TRUSTING SELF (Luke 18:9)
TRUSTING CHRIST (Eph. 1:12-13)
BOASTING IN SELF (Luke 18:11-12)
BOASTING IN THE LORD (1 Cor. 1:29-31; Eph. 2:9)
“I have kept the law! I have done that which God has required” (Matthew 19:16-20).
“I have broken the law but I am trusting the One who came into this world to save guilty lawbreakers” (1 Tim. 1:15).
A religious man trying to earn his way to heaven by works may be likened to a man trying to swim from New York to London by his own efforts and energy and strength. He will never make it!
The person who is saved by faith is likened to a man getting on a ship in New York and trusting that ship to bring him safely to London. This man simply rests upon the ship and lets the ship do all the work.
The religious man is seeking to establish his own righteousness (Rom. 10:3).
The saved man is satisfied with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).
Religion is pictured in Genesis 3 by the fig leaves that Adam and Eve made for themselves – a terrible covering (Gen. 3:7 and see Isaiah 64:6).
Salvation is pictured in Genesis 3 by the coats of skin which God provided by way of the shedding of blood – a perfect covering (Gen. 3:21; Rev. 19:8).
CAIN'S RELIGION – “I bring to God the labor of my own hands” (Gen. 4:3).
ABEL'S FAITH – “I bring to God a blood sacrifice. An innocent substitute must die to save me” (Gen. 4:4).
Hoping to be saved by good works (a false hope)
Saved unto good works by God's grace (Eph. 2:10).
Religion teaches that good works are the cause of salvation.
The Bible teaches that good works are the result of salvation.
Religion says, “Good works are those things that a person does to be saved.”
The Bible says, “Good works are those things that a saved person does” (James 2:14-26).
“Christ is my Example and Teacher. I try to follow Him and live as He lived.”
Christ is my Savior and Substitute. I am trusting Him and only Him to save me” (Luke 23:40-43).
“I hope I will be saved.” “I think I will be saved.” “I feel that I will be saved, maybe.”
“I KNOW I am saved right now” (1 John 5:13 – “These things have I written unto you that believe on to name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life”).
As has been clearly demonstrated from the above contrasts, Religion is actually an institution established by man for various reasons which include but are not limited to exerting control, instilling morality and dogma. Organized, structured religions all but remove god from the equation.
Spirituality is born in a person (through salvation) and develops in the person (through the daily feeding of the word). It may be kick started by a religion, or it may be kick started by a revelation. Spirituality extends to all facets of a person’s life, not just their days of worship. Spirituality is chosen while religion is often times forced.
The Challenging Factors
Unfortunately, even I as a Christian realize the challenge we face when it comes to true faith and spirituality as we live in a fallen world, and that world has manipulative people seeking power to dominate and control, to their own selfish benefit, and even the church of Christ has such wolves posing in sheep’s clothing, seeking which sheep to devour.
What follows then is the perhaps the most harmful way in which religion (even within the Christian faith’s clergy) has become a millstone around the necks of men and as such has perpetuated poverty in Africa.
By this author’s standards, religion is the foremost factor in propagating poverty more than all the other four factors. If the list were to be arranged in order of harmfulness from the most to the least, then it would be religion at the top of the list, then culture, geography, poor governance and finally weak institutions.
Let us look at precisely how religion does this in Africa.
Religiosity = Poverty
The first big surprise is that there is a very interesting correlation between religious countries and poverty. Did you know that the top 30 richest countries in the world are the least religious whilst the bottom fifty poorest countries are almost 100% religious? What is it that causes poverty to work hand in hand with religiousness?
As you may know, there is only one exception to this above “fact”, the USA; it is generally religious but rich as a nation. I will show you later on why this is the case.
The poor nations’ religions biggest negative teaching emphasizes the “pie in the sky” paradigm. This basically tells people that you are no responsible for all that happens on earth, that you simply “resign” to your fate and best of all, that there is a better life ahead in the afterlife. The emphasis is in being fatalistic in outlook.
The rich nations stopped being fatalistic (as wrongly taught by religious establishment) and instead believed in their capacity and continue to do so to change their future through their own efforts (talents, gifts, skills, efforts, abilities, resources etc.). This has then seen them overcome great odds, identify their weakest points and then collectively work to eliminate these factors.
The USA Anomaly
Their religion emphasizes a “here and now” mindset besides the hereafter. As such the mindset emphasizes is the utilization of all talents and abilities for the betterment of their livelihood today. We are now seeing this form of “prosperity gospel” being preached in poor countries as well, the only challenge being that religious dogma has still a great stranglehold on many people’s mindsets that they either totally reject the truth taught within it, or else, embrace it believing it’s a panacea to wealth without the factors of time, effort and value (skills).
The saddest part is that the vultures that stand behind religion know that the poor are the most vulnerable and thus susceptible to being fleeced out of their hard earned resources, and so use religious dogma as a vehicle to amass wealth (more later).
Tool for Mind Control by the Ruling Class
Above all else, religion has been and continues to be the most powerful tool that is being used by the establishment as a tool for mind control. With religion the ruling class can justify war, oppression and downright slavery.
In case you did not know, Jesus Christ was the most anti-religious person to ever get credited for starting a movement that has spread to the entire world and have the most lasting influence ever. In spite of the fact that religiosity has been born out of his teaching, that is not what He taught – for He loathed any form of religiousness – period. He taught and emphasized spirituality through faith in Him, not men’s institutions.
He was so anti-religious that he tells them off and shows why they are so empty and burdensome. You can read his entire speech in Matthew 23 where he calls them out for what they are – control freaks!
With religion the ruling class can justify inequitable wealth distribution using the five key seeds shown below.
Religion has been used time immemorial as a means to control the poor. This is done by instilling the “suffer now and benefit in the afterlife” mindset. It is this teaching that caused a great awakening of the protestant movement in medieval times when Martin Luther learnt the shocking truth about the mother church after his visit to Rome.
Religion controls the poor by teaching what is termed the “suffering” model. It is thus touted as a mark of piety and emphasized by “works”. If you suffer more, you get a greater reward in the afterlife epitomized by bliss.
Three key factors are erroneously emphasized.
2. Kingdoms and Empires
Religion also promoted their leaders as being gods/god’s reps on earth and thus imposed a ruling and slave class system upon the populace. This has been practiced since ancient times and the idea of nobility finds its greatest strength through religious institutions. Nobility suggests that the ruling class have special blood (sacred) and thus rule over the “commoners” who serve the elite.
One of the darkest chapters in the history of the world was mass enslaving. The ruling class usurped authority from the poor, forced them to convert and then had them enslaved for forced labor. The slave trade was justified by religion. The whites had a right to rule and blacks had no rights but be slaves.
It took centuries before the abolitionists and rights activists begun to work fervently to eliminate it – but not before seeing the great toll it had on the development of a continent and its citizens – the Africans.
This was the “back end” of Christianity as a religion. When missionaries came to preach the gospel, the came with the three C’s namely Christianity, Civilization and Commerce. The idea was convert, modernize and then exploit.
They converted us to Christianity but with a subtle plant, by using imagery of a white Jesus Christ with blonde hair and blue eyes. He looked just like the missionary! He then “civilized” us with his technology and “etiquette” so that we now looked, dressed and talked like him. He further divided us into ethnic groupings and then used color code to separate us. Whites, Indians, Colored and Blacks with blacks being classed the least and whites the most.
This brought about the fifth seed, shown below.
5. White supremacy
White supremacy gets its greatest advocacy in religion. Unfortunately Christianity has been that vehicle that has carried this terrible seed. Here in the propagators of this teaching have taught that “white” is good (white list, white magic etc.) and “black” is evil (black list, black magic etc.)
Slavery, Apartheid and the Jim Crow laws all got their strength and validation from religion through the misapplication of the Bible. The idea was not to teach the truth that sets free, but the lies that bind and enslave masses – in this case the indigenous black Africans.
This teaching was so powerfully engrained by using force, through lynching, through killing, by false teaching and by perpetuating an environment that disenfranchised black people and favored white people through inferior education and lack of equal opportunities in order to keep them blind, deaf, dumb and dead.
By continually placing this teaching everywhere, it did not take long before black Africans believed and even accepted to be trampled on and even stolen from, through colonialism and neocolonialism.
One of the most obvious proofs of this dangerous seed is seen in the “bleaching” of skin so openly practiced by people of darker skin pigmentation. The inferiority complex is so engrained that now lighter skinned is seen as angelic and beautiful whilst darker skinned is seen as poor and classless – This has caused the “skin bleaching” industry to boom.
Therein lies the proof, blacks actually now believe that they are so cursed that they have to change their own identity into that of their oppressor to be seen as progressive. This is evidenced by the term “bazungu” for anyone of influence or power. Very tragic.
The above items have imposed and emphasized the fact that with this “religious” angle, the elite can continue amassing wealth whilst the poor are kept distracted by the emphasized teachings as shown above. They then justify the continued suffering which works both ways
Now, when we know our purpose, therein lies our destiny and then, the journey becomes one of learning, giving and becoming salt and light. Salt is representative of its ability to bring change to the flavor of society to bring about positive and equitable lasting wealth. Light is representative of illumination from the darkness of poverty and illiteracy, bringing about the greater good of society through the establishment of positive legacies for posterity.
In the next article, we will be looking at the matter of how geography has had an adverse effect on the ability for Africa to create and retain wealth.
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.
Matthew 24:24 (NKJV)
For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
This spirit is known as the spirit of Kundalini, the term being borrowed from an Eastern belief that equates it to the "primal energy that flows like electricity within the body and brings about greater enlightenment and spiritual bliss". Unfortunately, a FALSE spirit has come manifesting outwardly what the undiscerning would assume is the outward charismatic manifestation of the HS. IT IS NOT!
Here are three common signs of this false spirit that is this very minute deceiving and seducing so many believers and snaring them under her spell.
In recent history God has been moving in a mighty way and pouring out His Spirit in order to empower His people for this latter day dispensation. However, there is also a spirit that PRETENDS to be the HS. This spirit works using the spirit of Anti-Christ (1 John 2:18) to deceive and destroy the children of God (John 10:10)
1. Theatrics and Manifestations
The strategy here is simply, whenever the Word is being preached and a point is being made, with life changing power, this spirit causes distraction. This then draws attention away from the word being preached and instead gets people to focus on its activities. Simply put, it entertains. Remember that it’s the Word that transforms - not activities.
Examples include screaming, jumping, rolling, twisting, shaking, laughing and the like. What makes this even more dangerous is that the Holy Spirit will also manifest in a similar way. The only difference being that He does so in a way that 100% under the control of the subject and orderly – always. The Holy Spirit does not “possess”, He “inspires”. Demons possess and take over, making people do what they cannot even recall afterwards.
Worst of all there will be outright demonic manifestations which should rightly be dealt with privately and under care and supervision – away from the main congregation – as demons are attention seeking narcissistic entities that thrive on being focused on. This is another way to pass on LIES. Unfortunately many ministers and preachers have been ensnared by the great deception that comes with listening to the lies and stories that they will give.
This is a selfish “personal” style of prayer and worship lifestyle that's all about self-aggrandizement rather than a focus on God’s will and sovereignty. I call it the “me-me-me” devotion.
Examples include "bless me, give me, do for me" without caring for others and their welfare FIRST. Most serious though is the fact that prayer is not according to what Christ taught “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” but instead prayer is “my will be done here on earth in the name of Jesus – by fire and by force”!
This then focuses on the temporal and what is not eternal. It focuses on this life instead of the life to come.
Perhaps this is where the greatest danger lies, for its done subtly and in disguise. The activities and behavior exhibits fruit of the flesh (Gal 5:16-20) instead of the Spirit (Gal 5:22).
Examples include “dangerous prayers” (which are more akin to witchcraft and sorcery than Christian in any way), “back to sender” (which exhibits hatred and not love as Christ has taught us) and worst of all, the undue crediting of the devil for virtually every wrong and misfortune when in many cases will be the consequence of bad individual character traits, wrong choices and decisions, wrath, sloth, greed, lust, envy, gluttony and worst of all, pride.
True Christianity is hinged on these three scriptures (Mark 12:29-31 – The love of God and fellow man, Matthew 5:43-48 – The principles of walking in love throughout, James 2:14-26 – The care of those that are less privileged)
Be vigilant and alert to this subtle but powerfully deceptive spirit of Kundalini and avoid her at all costs.
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.