It is not a black man’s world

OF the estimated seven billion people in the world, more than 1,1 billion are black people in Africa. There are also several hundreds of millions of black people scattered across the world especially in Brazil, United States of America, Europe and other locations.

This together makes the black population globally larger than the total population of China or India.

However, in most of these locations, black people constitute the poorest race in the world. About three quarters of the world’s poorest countries are in Africa. This makes Africa the poorest continent in the world. About one in three people in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished and is the highest in the world. Despite the growing black population, one million people especially children die every year due to preventable causes.

In the US and Europe, black people rank among the poorest races, while in Brazil they are the highest poverty stricken group compared to other races. Some 51% of the estimated 200 million people in Brazil identify themselves as black. For the US, Europe and Brazil views have been variant with some shying away from the historical causes such as slavery arguing that poverty is an effect of social stratification than race. The notion of equal opportunities has been used numerous times to cover-up for the real debate on the relationship between poverty, race and some important historical factors.

World Hands

The common working definition of poverty by most development scholars borders around lack of access to opportunities, power and basic services. It is also described as lack of means to participate effectively in society, not having enough to feed and clothe, access to education, health care services and many others. The ‘lack of’ is often presented as if it is natural, as if one is created in a world of shortages and it is on its own a constructed reality. These various definitions have shaped how poverty is being approached and is also a reason why solutions arising from these approaches may not succeed as the real solution to poverty threatens the global status quo.

How a problem is defined shapes how it is addressed and is often the common approach to today’s poverty reduction programmes, when in fact it should be how a problem is caused which must inform how it is approached.

Perhaps the first question is why one race in the world is poorer than the rest no matter the geographical location. Could it be that black people were created intellectually poor and to depend on other races? These is not an easy question to answer especially that most of available literature and existing historical records are not written by black people. It would be ideal to start from the pre-colonial period as a baseline to benchmark progress of each race in different geographical regions.

Few authors have alluded that some kingdoms such as the Munhumutapa, Timbuktu, the Pharaohs and others were developing at the same pace as other big cities in Europe such as Geneva, London and others in the 13th and 14th centuries. Inter-regional trading terms and conditions were not imposed over other regions but discussed and agreed. All races then held their power deriving from their cultures and their governance system. This is notwithstanding the existence of internal fights within each region.

The colonial and slavery period did a lot of damage, but most specifically, it robbed black people of their power to self-define, choose and access and utilise available resources and opportunities. It wiped away the cultural base from which a people derive its power to make independent decisions and choices. Blacks were culturally re-organised and re-domesticated into a new way of life which is foreign to them. It is in fact that loss which is transformed as lack of access in many poverty definitions. Because they started into a life which is not theirs, they started from zero, from stage of nothingness – a stage of lacking.

For them to do anything, they have to pay to learn how to do it from the dominant culture. They dumped their own food and learnt new food and how to eat it. They abandoned their clothing, education, health care systems and others for colonialism was presented as the only way. They dumped their own identities and culture and assumed new ones which are unfortunately controlled elsewhere not anymore in their region.

They cannot make choices and decisions outside the parameters of what has been prescribed. They have been made docile followers of the dominant culture which they do not have control over after they lost the power to decide and make choices. They are in a state where they cannot exist outside the cultural world that colonised them. Even if they are given or assume leadership positions, they cannot perform without parochially referring to the rules and knowledge of the dominant culture.

This is why today, Africa as a continent is a consumer when it should be a producer. They cannot take leadership. Our leaders are followers of policies they never developed. The majority of us are happy to provide labour than to create projects because our confidence levels have been dented by the dominant culture. We have become so happily absorbed and comfortable with our second class citizenship status.

lTapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa

13 Responses to It is not a black man’s world

  1. susan2550 January 11, 2016 at 11:11 am #

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    • Mentalist January 11, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

      @Susan go to hell, whoever you are your style never worked, it is not working and it will never work in the future

  2. Mentalist January 11, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

    What is your point exactly Mr writer? You seem not to have arrived at the point. Is this a scholary article?

  3. Predator January 11, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

    Tapiwa this is a poor article.you never mentioned greediness and selfishness.

  4. Shadreck Gwari January 11, 2016 at 6:45 pm #

    I totally agree with the article.Even the mind of a black person is poor because most students in Universities just think of going to Europe , America and Canada after graduation. You ask them why the answer is because that’s were civilisation is found. so the way we learn and things we appreciate already teach us to conclude that all things by the whites are better than ours. A good example is that our forefathers stayed in caves. Why is it that our black engineers do not come up with ways f upgrading the caves to be modern houses f black people.

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  5. Harishari January 11, 2016 at 7:18 pm #

    Thought provoking, but nonetheless a one sided narrative. Black people in Africa and even the Caribbean have huge opportunity to change the status quo by redefining the national agenda. Ghana gained its independence in 1957 only 10 years after the Chinese Revolution in 1947, apparently from the same colonial power. Compare the development trajectories of the two and try to find the answers for the glaring differences. African countries have been unfortunate in that every African leader is determined to empty state coffers. Again Africans have a set of behaviors which prevent any chances of development:- pulling down syndrome, witchcraft, tribalism, regionalism, extreme xenophobia etc. I am fully aware of doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, and school principals who were bewitched, and eventually succumbed to black magic, robbing these communities of lights of progress. Don’t argue with me on this one because I will provide names of victims, dates when the incidents occurred, the identity of perpetrators, and coordinates of the villages.

    • cardiothoracic specialist January 11, 2016 at 7:58 pm #

      I agree with you, if we blend your message and that of the writer , all makes sense. colonialism on the part of them, and selfishness, jealousy and greediness on our part have pulled down Africa.

  6. Kuta Kinte January 11, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

    I would have lost significantly if I had NOT read this article. This shows someone’s sound reasoning whichever way you view his or her line of thinking. To those who want to exercise their brains, this article leaves you very much occupied. The author dwells strongly on the causes or probable causes to the current African position. To some of us black people, the colonial dosage has been so thick and heavy that no amount of joules can move that person out of that quagmire except to feel sorry for him and understand him but reading this article and understanding it, can assist. I salute and am proud of authors like Tapiwa Gomo and I have no doubt that whatever consultancy services he is doing, he will succeed and remain great.

  7. Kuta Kinte January 11, 2016 at 10:07 pm #

    My contribution which acknowledged the good brains behind this article was deleted and definitely this is not a black man’s world.

  8. Predator January 11, 2016 at 10:30 pm #

    The problem with us,we tend to know much of the past and dwell on it instead of moving on.why blame colonialism.it’s high time we accept responsibity of the out came of our character and behaviour in order to change ourselves for the better tomorrow.

  9. Predator January 11, 2016 at 10:32 pm #

    The problem with us,we tend to know much of the past and dwell on it instead of moving on.why blame colonialism.it’s high time we accept responsibity of the out came of our character and behaviour in order to change ourselves for the better tomorrow.how many black people have been successful?their life,how many black people supported them up to where they are? mostly it was,they had to go through jealousy.cruelity,greediness and selfiness from fellow man.I agree with Harishari.

  10. Predator January 11, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

    The problem with us,we tend to know much of the past and dwell on it instead of moving on.why blame colonialism.it’s high time we accept responsibity of the out come of our character and behaviour in order to change ourselves for the better tomorrow.how many black people have been successful?their life,how many black people supported them up to where they are? mostly it was,they had to go through jealousy.cruelity,greediness and selfiness from fellow man.I agree with Harishari.

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