Pause: Corruption undermines the value of education to our kids

__It goes by different names… beware!

A dear friend told me that his teenage son was refusing to go to school, and would prefer to go straight into business, so I offered to chat to the young lad when I had an opportunity.

“I want to make a lot of money,” the young man told me confidently and emphatically. “Even now, I’m already making money,” he added. “Look at my watch. How many people at university have this kind of watch?!”

I listened and let him talk. It was clear as he spoke that in his mind he had a clear image of people who make money in his community. These “rich guys” as he put it, had powerful contacts in government. They came from particular tribes and so were related to the right guys.

Business to him was access to the public purse!

He told me about how people were making dizzying amounts of money on public tenders, and as if to convince me to join him he said: “Mr Masiyiwa, it is easy to make money if you know the right people, and if your ‘own people’ are in the right position!”

I listened.

“Take (so and so)…he got a tender from his cousin who is in charge of (so and so). This guy does not know anything, but guess what? He made a lot of money! And you want me to rot in university!”

I listened.

“Right now our ‘own people’ are in charge of the country, after the recent elections,” he said, “so this is the time to make money. I cannot waste time.”

“Your ‘own’ people?” I quizzed.

“Yes, the new minister is from our area. He has promised to make things happen.”

“So the country is not your ‘own’ as well?” I asked quietly.

“Those other tribes don’t care for us when they are in power. We all know this.”

“So education does not matter?”

“The guys making money nowadays have no education,” he laughed.

“Look at this guy! He just got himself a brand new BMW. He dropped out of school!”

Finally, he laughed: “Mr Masiyiwa, I can even be called “doctor” (just like you) because there are people who can arrange that if you have money!”


#Africa, listen! Corruption undermines the values of our children.

If our children grow up to believe that education does not matter — that instead, it is those who know SOMEONE from SOMEWHERE rather than those who know SOMETHING that get ahead — then no amount of shouting about corruption will end it!

Never put your tribe and its interests above that of the rule of law or your nation. We prosper only when our whole nation prospers, and that is only possible if we are able to properly incentivize those who value education, and the skills it brings… proudly and unapologetically!

Everything this young man said was total hogwash, but sadly, around the continent we have allowed our value systems to be so tainted by corruption that we fail to see the nation-state beyond our villages and tribes!

# Tribalism is a form of corruption. It is corruption of the worst kind.

# We cannot elect leaders just so that “our” own tribe or village can prosper!

# Corruption of this kind (and all others) can and will destroy our children, our families, and our countries with it.

As parents, it is our job to inculcate the right value system into our kids, including about education, and its power.

Fred Swaniker’s African Leadership Academy website cites these values which guide their work:

# Integrity – We are people of our word, with the courage to do what is right.

# Curiosity – We challenge the status quo and take the initiative to pursue new ideas.

# Humility – We are thankful for opportunities and are aware of our limitations.

# Compassion – We empathize with and care for those around us.

# Diversity – We respect all people and believe that difference should be celebrated.

# Excellence – We set high standards for our own achievement and celebrate the achievements of others.

Say you decided to put together your own #LionessMom or #LionDadwebsite… What values would YOU highlight? Let’s talk.


by 20 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

20 thoughts on “Pause: Corruption undermines the value of education to our kids

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.

    When I was through with that young man, he decided to go back to his studies. I was able to show him that everything he was seeing was just a delusion. I even showed him that people with “real” wealth around the world, don’t look anything like the folks he has been admiring.

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.

    We must encourage all our children (boys and girls) to get all the quality education they can, and to use that education to develop skills. After the skills, they can get all the types of jobs they want. Some will be entrepreneurs, some will be public servants, some will have careers no one has yet imagined. It’s all good (as long as it’s legal, and not harming anyone or anything).

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Okafacho writes,

    Corruption is deeply rooted in the African political structure. Bribery has become the order of the day and nothing gets done until these two have been observed.
    Dr. Strive you’re not alone on this. I usually gather small children and teach them basic sciences and mathematics. And recently, an once good student of the group started dropping and finally stopped coming. I visited him to ascertain the reason for his unusual attitude towards learning. He told me that education has no future. He pointed out a few educated people in the village and summarized by saying ‘….they only have name, and no money at all’
    His plan of making money is through political and dubious mean.
    I’m perturbed beyond comfort

    My reply,
    This is extremely sad, and it is why I chose to write about it.
    It is a generational battle which we must win. It might look daunting, but if enough of us begin to talk about it, and take little actions here and there, we will eventually prevail__we must!

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    44 African leaders signed the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (CFTA):
    #If you are an entrepreneur in Africa, today was a truly great day!

    #If you are interested in Africa’s prosperity this is a great day!

    #If you are interested in African jobs, this is a great day!

    #If you are interested in African Unity, this is a great day!

    #If you want to see Africa respected, this is a great day!

    The first step towards creating the world’s largest Free Trade Area:
    Today it is a market of 1,2bn people with a GDP of nearly $3Tn. It is expected to have 4bn people, and more than $60Tn by the turn of the century!

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Reflection on the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA):

    It was a great honor for me to participate in the first Panel discussion of the AfCFTA Business Forum, alongside President Kagame our host.

    Owing to another engagement in the US, it had been arranged such that I would leave immediately after my intervention [which you can view on our UTUBE Channel.]

    #I was there to speak for African entrepreneurs like you, and I did!

    On the long flight back, I managed to pen some thoughts on this important event, which we will post in a few days.

    This was a huge deal if you are interested in the long-term prosperity of Africa. That is why 44 of the 54 African Presidents were there.
    I congratulate each one of them, including President Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, whom I met briefly in the hall before leaving. He and I have no doubt shared a common vision for Africa for many years. I first heard of “ED” when I was only 10 years old, living in Zambia.

    I’m confident that Nigeria will join very shortly, as they played a key leadership role in the process of getting this deal done (since 2015). Don’t read more into the delay. Nigeria knows its responsibilities when it comes to Africa, and has always answered the call of Africa.

    #Africa will be the largest economic market in the world by the turn of the century, both in terms of the number of people (4Bn), and GDP (over $60Tn).

    #Our people will not need to cross the desert and the Mediterranean to look for jobs!
    #Our entrepreneurs and citizens will eventually be able to travel all over their Continent, work, play and live, wherever they like!

    #Those who deride us today, will be forced to respect us, when we are the largest market for goods and services in the world.

    # There is strength in numbers!

    #The strongest bond is called Unity!


  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    To my friends from Nigeria:
    I have been praying and fasting for the young Nigerian girl who is still in the hands of Boko Haram.
    Freedom of worship is one of the most important freedoms. I would be praying for her, even if she was not a Christian.
    It is wrong to force anyone to convert to another religion.

    I would be grateful for any information, including her name.
    I would very much like to meet her when she is released.
    She is my hero!
    Wow, what manner of faith!

  7. chigozie

    Sir, you have taken time from the interview to highlight key points why Africa is and will remain where they are.
    Tribalism and nepotism is the foremost corruption that gives birth to other vices in government.Unfortunately, those in government in Africa do not even know the meaning of corruption.Little wonder why the point accusing finger and 4 others are pointing at them.
    Government in my country Nigeria ; is under a serious siege of this monster and I believe is same elsewhere.From local government to the federal house are people of low credibility and the read amongst them have joined the trade.
    The executive surrounds the government paraphernalia with their household and extended relations instead of technocrats. One wonders why economic policies are archaic and change nothing.

    I appreciate your mindset towards changing such trend but is going to take a lot of orientation to change this.

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #No Trip planned for Malawi:

    Several people have contacted my office to confirm whether or not I will be doing an event in Malawi later on this year.
    Unfortunately I DO NOT have plans to travel to Malawi at anytime this year.
    It is very sad that someone would simply take it upon themselves to start marketing an event that I will not be attending.

    To all our friends in Malawi, or anywhere else, unless you see it on this platform, treat it as NOT TRUE!

    To ensure that people don’t create Fake stories, I long ago decided that this platform is the one I will use to [personally] announce anything that is important. A trip to Malawi , a country I love very much, and consider very important, can only be announced by me, on this platform.

    Enjoy your weekend.

  9. Stephen Kamugasa

    The homily you give on corruption in Africa is very welcome Mr Masiyiwa. I wish more and more people, especially people in your position, took the time to explain to impressionable young minds the dangers of corruption.

    It’s a sad fact of life that in Africa today, corruption is now standardised and accepted by young and old alike as a means of getting ahead. Corruption is a dreadful disease, very much like cancer and spreads rapidly; and, once it has taken hold of the whole, it is virtually impossible to get rid of. It is the reason why countries like Uganda, even after 32 years and counting under one man rule, find it impossible to fight corruption successfully; for corruption is the raison d’tre of government in Uganda, it has always been so since independence in 1962.

    Consequently, many in Uganda today look upon entering politics, that is, having a chance to enter into government, as the quickest way out of poverty and to get rich. This reality is etched in the mindset of many Ugandans that it has attracted a name for it: it is called ‘eating’ – thus political aspirants will do whatever it takes to get into government, even lying about their academic qualifications. The trouble is: even if a political aspirant is exposed for lying in order to get into public office, chances are, so long as he is useful to the paramount chief, he will be excused and given high office anyway. Thus by so doing a terrible example is set for the young to emulate, namely, corruption pays as long as you don’t get caught; and, even if you do get caught, as long as you know someone high up, you will be rewarded regardless. Therefore, your young man had a point, albeit a most disagreeable one.

    But how do we change this reality? I think, we must first acknowledge that corruption exists in African and that it is all pervasive. We must also acknowledge its cost to Africa, in terms of the abuse and wastage of resources; and, its impact on morale generally speaking. Finally, we must further consider the lost opportunities corruption engenders on the whole of Africa. I personally know of businesses that would never consider investing in Africa because of corruption. I think this is a good place to end my little contribution, else, I will go on and on.

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Antoni writes,

    We Are The Change We Want.I Am A Passionate 18 Year Old Who Is Ready To Pay The Price For A Better Today And Tomorrow For Africa

    My reply,
    God bless you!

  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Someone complained to me that they did not see the point of education, because a friend who studied at university had gone without a job.
    Personally I think Education is too important to be seen as simply the means to get a job.
    #Think about it. Which would you prefer to be; uneducated and unemployed, or educated and unemployed?
    I consider my formal education as one of the greatest gifts I was ever given.
    I consider my daily education as one of the great joys of my life.
    To paraphrase the wisest king that ever lived, “with all your getting get education (for understanding)”

  12. Buycialis

    Afterthought 3. # We will not need aid from anybody if we tackle corruption. # No child will sleep hungry if we tackle corruption. # Every child can be in school, if we tackle corruption. # Our nations will not just prosper but soar, if we tackle corruption.

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