It is an incontestable fact and the truth that success and prosperity is a blessing from God. Deuteronomy 8:18 says it is God who gives us the power to make wealth. However to get to the place of successful living and prosperity takes a lot more than just been religious or just taking what the holy bible says at face value. While God's word lays out the blueprint for success and prosperity it also imposes an obligation on the individual, family, company, organization, nation, society etc to labour (work) because the hand that does not work must not eat.
Because God did not want Africans to accuse him of selling us short he blessed our continent with every resource imaginable. We have huge oil reserves, gas, gold, diamonds, bauxite, aluminum, a very fertile land mass and above all the raw strength and energy to labour (work).
The Japanese and most Asian countries today would kill for what we have in Africa. These countries have not been blessed the way we have. Land is a very scarce commodity in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia (to mention but a few). Certainly without land which clearly is scarce to come by in these countries there wouldn't be natural resources to discover. To make up for nature's “inequity” these countries spend billions of dollars saving land from the sea and believe me it is a very thriving business. This imbalance notwithstanding, the Asian tigers have become leading lights in technology, world commerce and there is no stopping them.
HOW DID THEY DO IT?
The real question should be “where do they have the edge over us?” In the midst of plenty there is the temptation and the tendency to become complacent.
Complacency my friends is one of the biggest ills of the African. Add superstition to it. Oh I nearly forgot to mention our big appetite for reminiscing. I am talking about the penchant to travel down memory lane and to resurrect past achievements et al.
It is common to hear our people speak glowingly about how things used to be “in those days”. Yes that is true. Unfortunately how things used to be in the past has no bearing on what things are today. Helloo! Used to be is past and gone. We need to focus on how things are today in order to be able to address them. People still drool over the colonial days. As a Ghanaian, I am very much acquainted with the nauseous reference by our people to the days of the Gold Coast. Some even go as far as to condemn our nationalist leaders for driving the colonialists away from Africa. They claim independence has done more harm than good to Africa and that if we had taken our time the colonialists would have developed our countries like they have done in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe etc. To their mind Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and his band of brothers were in too much of a “rush to rule” they failed to adequately prepare themselves for leadership. Well the jury's verdict on that is out. That is all I can say.
Superstition or the penchant to spiritualise everything that happens or occurs in our neck of the woods is another bane of the African. We do it so well that sometimes it appears we are the only people on God's earth closest to God. Everything that occurs has a spiritual connotation and so some medium, prophet should be consulted or like they say, “let us go and ask the old woman.” Whoever that old woman is and where she is nobody knows.
We spend several ungodly hours in the house of God (oxymoron), prayer camps, attending day-time church services and other activities instead of staying at work and doing some productive work. I am not against people going to church or engaging themselves in other religious stuff. Don't get me wrong. What I am against is our inordinate reliance on prophets, revival services, mediums etc as a solution to the problems our own idiosyncrasies have brought on us.
The churches and our religious leaders need to encourage their flock to form small businesses, network their businesses, aid them in sourcing for bank loans, adapt to modern ways and trends of doing business i.e developing web sites and also to stay on top of the ICT revolution.
Africans have complained over the years for been left out of the industrial revolution and the global economy. The way things are going we stand the risk of losing out of the modern world's recent phenomenon called the ICT revolution. The digital divide between the rich and industrialized nations and the rest of the world is very huge. However many nations like India are doing all in their power to bridge that gap somewhat.
The Asian Tigers are shoulders and above us in this area too. Across the Atlantic one out of three American families has a computer at home. The statistic is even more impressive in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea where computers have virtually replaced the Barbie Doll as the gift first to be considered by parents for their kinds.
Our church and religious leaders who control the hearts and minds of millions of our people have a duty to demystify success as is been parlayed in our world today. There is too much focus on material things as they are. There are pastors who are building huge mansions, buying fancy cars and living large while the congregation continues to wallow in poverty.
We parlay our material possession as symbols of wealth and that is wrong. Wealth is about perpetuity, it is about investment, it is about having a vision, it is about innovation, it is about ideas and it is also about technology.
Ideas are universal, while technology is location specific. What this means is that every moron can have an idea. However translating and growing that idea into something tangible (technology) is a whole new ball game. That is the difference between the industrialized nations and the developing nations. We are caught in the realms of idealism and realism. We have to move on from there into the realm where we can add value to our ideas and then we can also become prosperous.
Bishop T. D Jakes is one of the most acclaimed men of the flock in the world. He is one of the rarest breed of church leaders who daily encourages his congregation to invest their money in stocks, bonds, stock exchange etc.
As a person who leads by example he also has commissioned a brokerage firm to handle his investment portfolio. Leadership by example is what I am talking about. No wonder he was on the face of Time Magazine recently in an article headlined “IS he the next Billy Graham?
Church leaders could pick a leaf from the story of T. D Jakes. They need to encourage the growth of the entrepreneurial spirit among our young people and to manage their ambitions and expectations.
Church should be more about giving the congregation the tools to lead a successful, prosperous life than just holding revival services and giving prophecies. There is a time for everything under the sun.
Read these lines for part 2. It would be a gripping, thought-provoking sequel. More anon.