__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!”
“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!”
“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.