WHILE Africa struggles to find development finance around the globe, it is paying little attention to the culture of greed within its homes.
I think in dealing with the culture of greed, the role of religion, the role of government, civil society, communities, households and individuals in matters of greed must be clear.
God created enough resources for the survival of humankind but it is the fault of greed that part of humanity today is subjected to inhuman conditions.
Greed is a key source of human misery and a driver of poverty in the world.
A Nigeran development expert, Jose Ugaz once narrated “in too many countries, people are deprived of the basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the very corrupt and very powerful elites enjoy lavish lifestyles".
But what are the drivers of corruption? I find one of the primary drivers of corruption being greed. I want to describe greed as the insatiable appetite for primitive accumulation.
It is what John Ritenbaugh, a Biblical commentator describes as a “ruthless self-seeking and arrogant assumption that others and things exist for one's own benefit".
I can further describe greed as the reckless pursuit of self-interest. The pursuit of self-interest with absolutely no regard to the sacred rights of others and with no due regard to humanity, and this should be viewed as evil.
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It should be viewed as evil because of the magnitude of deprivation it comes with and the subsequent damage it causes to the peaceful existence of humankind.
The Western super powers realised that many of their colonies wanted independence and that meant some loss of political control of colonies, loss of financial control of their investments and also the abundant natural resources in their former colonies.
Realising that the granting of independence to colonies was no longer unavoidable because of the wind of change, which was now seeking a new world order, they found a solution in a continued grip on resources particularly in the area of finance.
Yes it is true that Africa has some of its leadership, which is excessively and shamefully greedy, but I do not think they are aware that they are falling prey to a financial scum. To them it is about joining an elite network provided by secret banking havens.
Having an offshore account at HSBC Jersey, Cayman Island, Swiss Bank or any other secret banking jurisdiction is somehow prestigious from the sound of it.
It puts our corrupt political and business leaders into some special club and the concern for society is completely ignored. Our erstwhile former colonisers carefully studied the behaviour of our leadership especially those in totalitarian societies and observed this weakness.
It is a weakness they have extensively exploited in the past and are continuing to exploit for their continued benefit.
One wonders why oil rich Nigeria still battles with infrastructure development up to this century despite several years of oil extraction. Is it not the reason for today's coups in the Sahel Region, the gold and lithium mineral rich countries?
For former French colonies, even after attaining independence, their central banks remained in France, which means their monetary affairs remained in the hands of the French government.
Between you and me, I think we can ask ourselves whether the business and political leadership in those countries never saw anything wrong with this state of affairs or it could be that they were benefiting from it.
The answer here is self-explanatory. It is easy for a greedy human being to be turned into a puppet and even start to work against the interests of his or her own people.
Many of Africa's greedy politicians have been caught up in this web. Billions of dollars are looted from Africa to secret banking havens
By 2008 , Africa’s combined debt stood at US$177 billion, while illicit financial flows that occurred between 1970 and 2008 amounted to US$944 billion.
The amount of illicit financial flows was almost five times Africa's debt. To date, Africa's illicit financial flows account for 3,7% of its combined GDP, which is roughly US$88,6 billion per year.
And how much of these looted resources ever find their way back to Africa to develop infrastructure.
Most of it is forfeited to the benefit of our erstwhile former colonisers.
They use it to modernise their cities, transport systems, bridges and communication systems, while Africa continues to see its cities collapsing, its infrastructure decaying and most of its national public transport systems deteriorating into a chaotic state.
Today, Africa is failing to conduct meaningful trade amongst its nations because of poor infrastructures but it is losing such huge amounts of money every year.
There seem to be neither moral self-questioning nor some kind of moral self-introspection as to the extent of damage this is causing to poor citizens. Greed has taken its toll.
To Western world, their dominance has moved from colonial occupation to financial control.
The Panama Papers, a giant leak of more than 11,5 million financial and legal records exposed a system, which is well designed to facilitate crime, terrorism, laundering and all forms of wrong doings hidden in offshore companies.
The Panama Papers revealed how the world around us can be turned into a hazardous place by those who control money. And they control it through offshore banking and trust companies.
Offshore banking is where a depositor enjoys banking services in a country or jurisdiction that he or she does not reside.
The key considerations in seeking offshore banking services range from low taxes, low costs to better security. Trust companies are formed to manage assets on behalf of an individual or individuals.
Such companies are normally very controversial in their nature because of the perceived concealment of beneficial ownership.
But to the launderers, corrupt gangs, and terrorists; secrecy is what they value most, and offshore banking provides them with the much needed secrecy.
Is not important for us to know the ultimate destination of this money? Money is the root of all evil, indeed it is. Wars are fought anywhere and everywhere, and you wonder what finances such huge wars.
Coups are happening in most parts of the world and you also wonder what finances these coups. I think the world can be more peaceful without secrecy jurisdictions and greed.
I commend the great work being done by the Civil Society in fighting corruption, but I think little of their effort is being channeled towards dealing with greed.
While corruption is a societal challenge, I find the culture of greed as a key driver of corruption. It calls for concerted effort on the part of governments, religious leaders and civil society to come up with national programmes that effectively enables Africa to deal with greed.
I think dealing with greed must start from a household level, where parents teach their children on the ills of greed and how it can be destructive to their persons and the natural order of society.
Schools must provide adequate training and mentorship for responsible citizens by inculcating greed-free minds in our children. Traditional leaders and the church leaders must also take their role in driving out the spirit of greed from their followers.
Selfishness and greed is “un-African". Our Ubuntu as Africans encourages sharing and living as a community. Let us harness our Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) as it relates to the way the African culture has handled the vice of greed in the past.
- Dr Nyashanu @integraltransformation writes in his personal capacity. — +263772989148.