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By Farouk Martins Aresa
Africans finally realize that fake and broken European or American that we used to call Akada can never successfully compete with the original. Akada will always remain second class. The simplest case in point to African originality is Nollywood example from original African culture, swiveled into economic success by entrepreneurs increasing middleclass. It is an educational model that had little government input or grants which could have killed it at inception.
If this initiative is repeated into industrial spectrum across Africa in the field of agriculture, the legitimate weapon against Economic Salvation, dividends could be enormous. Looking back at Hubert Ogunde that initially turn our cultural ceremonies into fees for shows, you must wonder why we would pay him to watch casts do what we all do at festivals, wedding or ceremonies. Young people ran with it and turned it into industries as Ghanaians, South and East Africans etc.
But wait, what is the big deal? We watched Indian, English and American plays as films on small black and white televisions, in theatres and we played roles there as clowns or uncle Tom. We were not in control, just consumers. Before getting carried away with Nollywood as a creative source of economic take-off, we must not discard the example of communication industry that OBJ deregulated. The difference is: Nollywood is African originality while cell phone is not.
Africa’s most convenient base for sustainable lift-off as a rocket is still agriculture and the magic product remains corn, cassava or sugar cane. Out of each we get grains for consumption, sugar or starch for other industrial uses. Demand within Africa like Nollywood is guaranteed. It is up to each individual entrepreneur, group or technical colleges to develop varieties to African taste. Otherwise foreign land grabbers cannot wait. See Land Grabbers
Despite government subsidies, we still have hiccups in cassava demand and supply. Some of us must accept our individual fault, including the writer. Most of us study in order to get good jobs. It is interesting when Africans introduce one another in a gathering. We are always heavy on qualifications but short on what we achieved in the community apart from government jobs.
Government jobs are noble by their inherent service to the people. Though they pay less, they are highly rewarding. Wealthy people encourage their children into those services to create opportunities for others. But in most African countries, you cannot dream of a better paying job where you can amass as much loot as you want, even in retirement. National Conference noted this aberration and proposed political jobs as part-time to dissuade greediness and kleptomania.
While many of the Nollywood actors are exposed or educated, the cultural thrust in their plays overshadow their foreign taste. As much as we want our educational institutions to contribute to their final products, it is not the domineering force that turned Baba Suwe into international demand from Diaspora Africans. If anything, it resurrects the point Ogunde made that if he had got more exposed to western education, as his dad wanted, it could have diluted him culturally.
This is by far not to diminish the role of higher learning but it has to be in African universities with cultural ingenuity and originality that can’t be perfectly imitated anywhere else but Africa. Most of the foreign students that come to African universities for adventure, do not want what we value as competing to be top ten world colleges in medicine, engineering or gadgets.
Some of us may remember that European and American professors would come to University Teaching Hospital Ibadan, University of Ghana, Fourah Bay College Sierra Leone or dilapidated 1st world University of Timbuktu to study tropical diseases from local patients, African literature or archeological findings damaged by damp weather that Africans pay little attention to. Most of what they were interested in were unknown to our medical or graduate students curriculum.
One of the greatest achievements of African fighters for Independence is massive creation of teachers and free or affordable schools with the hope that out of original task, some indigenous discoveries were all that was needed to lift the masses into sustainable economic salvation. But if the professors are frustrated by politicians who are the beneficiaries, they join the rat race. Those in the rat race do not possess any special skill other than that of greed and selfishness.
While foreign land grabbers design economic exploitation for Africa arable lands, we are busy thinking on how to swindle one another. Whenever we are preoccupied with how to steal, swindle and defraud; our attention is diverted away from economic salvations take-off. No matter how great an idea, it still takes humans to carry it out. If one cannot find honest workers willing to carry out a task without any short-coming, the project will not achieve its desired goal.
In Nigeria everything is inflated contracts, not economic salvation. Those who cannot get their hands on government money, look for other source of “contracts”. Money has to come from parents, close or extended families or friends; otherwise they are mean or stingy deserving hell.
The flow of many Diaspora entrepreneurs home with their savings, to build or buy houses and start business at affordable cost has slowed. Ten percent Vagabonds in power have driven cost of everything up with easy loots chasing materials and services for 90 % of people. Indeed, it is easier to make American dollar or British pounds in Nigeria in one scoop than to labor for in US.
Bottom-line, it is not about the money but about originality of how easy accessible products are marketed for supply and demand according to African taste for economic salvation. Colleges or entrepreneurs have not been able to develop products that are commercially attractive enough for either local or foreign market. Most of us including our universities compete, copy and paste foreign ideas. Without cultural originalities as Nollywood, we are as good as others’ dependable.
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