“By the time the fool learns the game, the players have dispersed.” – Akan proverb
If the history of human relationships teaches us anything at all, it is that the way we project ourselves to the world determines how the world treats us. It is this insight that propelled Anthony Trollope, the Victorian Age English novelist to counsel that we should “never think that you’re not good enough. People will take you very much at your own reckoning.” Sadly, this courageous proposition has not been propagated enough in many African minds. It is probably the reason the most sang the chorus in the world is “Africa is endowed with all kinds of resources and yet she is so poor.”
All over the world, Africa projects herself as poor. Her sons and daughter think and behave poorly. Thus the treatment we get from the rest of the world. It is true, our continent is endowed, but do we as people appreciate this fact? Do we have knowledge of who we are and what we have; and what do we do with this knowledge? As the popular adage goes, “image is everything, at least at first.” The world looks down on us because, despite our abilities and resources, we have not projected ourselves well. “Charity,” they say, “begins from home.” In many of our homes, the most cherished items are foreign. We prefer foreign foods, clothes, music, education, and in almost everything we do, our foremost preference are those which originate from foreign lands.
It is worse when it comes to business. We are more honest and forthcoming when we are dealing with foreigners. When we have to deal with our own kith and kin, we are scrupulous and dubious. We would rather choke our fellow African to death and collaborate for synergy. To many bystanders, we behave as if we have been cursed. The world often ponders on our plight, but do we do the same for ourselves? Do we think through the fact that we are behind the rest of the world? Why do we reject African solutions and crave for solutions designed by foreigners? Are we aware that when we project a beggar’s image, the world treats us like a loser right from the start?
Social science has taught us that the way we project ourselves, go a long way in shaping how people feel about us until we impress them to think otherwise. For too long, we have projected ourselves as unorganised, as unsure of what we want to do, how can the world take us seriously? And the worst offenders are the “schooled elite.” We are constantly aspiring for foreign recognition. What do we expect those who look up to us to do? Many African profess a belief in God. The same God who fearfully and wonderfully created all people; yet our actions show we do not appreciate our wonderfulness and that of those who look like us. We distrust each other so much, we pre-empt they would act evil, and so we take an evil stance before we interact with each other. We have to make efforts to reverse such negativity within us. If you cannot love yourself as you are, who can love you for you? Is it any strange, we get the worst being offered to us all the time?
We are walking a thin line of complex, an inferior one to be precise and we need to take steps to remedy it. Our biggest headache resembles what the third line of the Persian apophthegm of “knows and knows not” states; that “he who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep; wake him.” We need to wake ourselves up from our slumbering. At least if not for ourselves, because we do not love ourselves, let us do it for our children and the generations that would follow us. We have an attitudinal challenge, and it takes and would take disciplined efforts to overcome it.
Psychotherapists argue that unhealthy thought processes and false beliefs about ourselves contributes to the feelings of inferiority we have of us. It, therefore, behoves on us to watch our thoughts, for they become our words, and subsequently our actions. How many of us pat our fellow Africans on the back when they do a great job. We almost never do. It is time to reframe the negative and or damaging thoughts and beliefs we have cultivated about ourselves. We can do it, and we actually need to do it. Let us start with what our belief in God dictates; that we “are created in His image and likeness.” This means we have no deficit from the start. Every negativity we have of ourselves is our own doing. Let us re-orient ourselves about ourselves.
Let adopt the posturing of Simone de Beauvoir, the French philosopher and understand that “intelligence is but a way of casting ourselves into the world and of disclosing our being.” Let us cast ourselves as the “awakened African.” Let us start by falling in love with ourselves and the culture that our environment allows us to have, and let us employ science and technology to improve upon our present lot. Let us synthesize and engineer intelligence to define ourselves in our fullest essence, and the world would accord us the utmost respect.
Kodwo Brumpon is an author, a life coach and a philanthropist who inspires individuals, groups and organisations to think and feel that which is true, by helping them to positively respond to that which is beautiful is, whilst nudging them to let goodness govern their actions.
Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]