Gender Gender

Africans are not lazy

Can we help? with PASTOR & MRS BANDA
Dear Pastor and Mrs Banda,
Nice article on laziness in your last week’s column, especially the Bible quotes and the relationship tip. However, allow me to differ a little on the examples you gave on countries like Britain and USA. They are not where they are simply because of hard work but rather because of the hard-working Africans that worked on their plantations and factories as slaves, earning them a fortune. Additionally, they are rich because of the African resources that they have extracted for free to enrich themselves. They also continue to be where they are because of the continued unfair trade and exchange rates that we as Africans have no control of.
Most of us Africans are not lazy; we spend most of our time working in fields from dusk to dawn and yet earn so little.
I once was asked by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Norway that was raising funds for the poor in Africa, to speak to high school students to encourage them to give to Africa. One student asked me why they should be giving to Africa when Africans could work and earn their own money? A good and equally embarrassing question. However, I remembered quickly that before I addressed them, I entered their school hall where I found some of them cleaning the hall. They were using electronic cleaning cars that had polishing wheels underneath and I could see how the students were enjoying this work as it involved driving around the hall and skidding across the floor to get the place cleaned. Afterwards they were paid for this work.
I explained to the student who asked the question that to an African, what I witnessed that morning could not qualify as work, because work in Africa was hard. I knew of people that woke up before the sun rose and went to do work such as digging trenches and knocked off when the sun set with as little as just water to drink. And I know that they would not even be paid 10 percent of what the students cleaning the hall were paid. I also knew of people who worked their land throughout the year, yet they barely could afford three meals a day.
And another student asked why, if they worked so hard. And I said that is the question we need to address and not label Africans as lazy. They are not. They are responsible for most of the world’s biggest economies and they continue to do so even today, yet they are poor. So Pastor, do not use that example, it is not true.
As a historian, I feel sad to tell the story differently even when we can see that it is not true that we are lazy. Didn’t ‘Africa’ win the World Cup this year? Didn’t we see how the Africans worked so hard to win the cup and the youngest player of the tournament was an African? No, when we work hard, we are French, British, Belgian, etc., but when we fail, we are Africans, the lazy ones.
I am a historian and I know that much of what we know of ourselves has been told by other people and most of it is not true. So it is time not to trace or reproduce what they have written about us (because to me that is what I would call laziness), but we ourselves to find out the truth about us and write our own story and tell it ourselves (that is what I would call hard work)
Africa is rated as lazy, wicked and immoral, yet so many people work very hard under more difficult conditions than the people that point their fingers at us. I have seen so much immorality in their societies where people literally have sex in public, experiment marriage before marrying, divorce like nobody’s business, yet, it’s Africa that is ‘mmoral’!
I just cannot stand hearing ourselves repeating these falsehoods about ourselves. Let them say that, but let us not allow ourselves to repeat that and make our children believe it.
Thank you,
Thanks a lot for your response to our last week’s article on laziness. ‘Are Africans lazy or not’ is indeed a pertinent question that all of us who live on this continent need to honestly answer. If it is merely a negative perception imposed on us by outsiders, then we need to shake it off and not allow it to drag us down. But if it is true, we urgently need to do something about it to make progress!
We ask our readers to participate in this important debate.
Without communication, there is no relationship. Without respect, there is no love. Without trust, there is no reason to continue. (iheartquote)

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