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Opinions of Friday, 6 November 2015

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

No! The blackman is not 'cursed!'

Opinion Opinion

One of the worst – if not the worst – by-products of economic hardship is the way it makes a populace lose self-confidence.

In this very paper on 30 October 2015, I read an article headed: “Is the Blackman cursed?”, in which, I am afraid, the writer recycled sentiments that have been circulating on the Internet for years, allegedly uttered by a racist South African.

I have never bothered trying to answer the illiterate question posed in the headline, for people will believe what they want to believe. If a Blackman wants to believe that he is cursed, who can say him nay? It is unto himself; a problem arises only when such a notion is peddled in a respectable newspaper, for then, the reader might assume that the editor agrees with the thrust of the argument, which explains why he published it. The reality, however, is that it is NOT everything an editor publishes that he necessarily agrees with.

No, the Blackman is not “cursed”. Of course, there are some Blackmen who behave very stupidly indeed. For instance, Generals Sani Abacha of Nigeria and Mobutu Seseseko of (then) Zaire salted away, mainly in Europe, between them, at least $4 billion (4,000,000,000 US dollars!) What did they want so much money for? It’s just stupid greed that made them do it. They couldn’t have cared less whether babies died of malnutrition in their countries or not.

But the fact that these two Blackmen (among others, including the late Bongo of Gabon) were great thieves does not mean that the Blackman is cursed. White people and people of races other than Black, have also stolen huge sums of money from their countries – only they use “business , instead of politics, to steal the money. The name of one of them has even become a word in the dictionary: ponzi! Let me run through a few of them with you:

QUOTE: “From Bernie Madoff to Dennis Kozlowski, financial fraudsters have rocked the lives of many…World Finance looks at some of the biggest criminal masterminds behind the worst cases of financial fraud the world has ever seen…

CHARLES PONZI: “Although the Italian-born businessman/ con artist was far from the first to put the scheme to use, the financial rewards and media attention he brought with it ensured his name would forever be tied to it…. Charles Ponzi embarked upon a new scheme whereby he promised investors …. a highly attractive return on investment. Ponzi found that international reply coupons, which could be exchanged for airmail postage stamps abroad, varied in price from country-to-country and in certain instances could be exchanged at a profit of up to 400 percent. Putting this information to profitable use, Ponzi, in just a few short months, made the equivalent of over $4.5min today’s money and lived an incredibly lavish lifestyle for a short while afterwards….[before] the authorities caught wind of the scheme.”

KAZUTSUGI NAMI: “The chairman of the Tokyo-based bedding and linen company, L&G, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on March 18, 2010 for what many believe to be the biggest investment scam in Japan’s history. Nami … defrauded some 37,000 people of $1.4bn. The fraudster wooed investors with promises of a financial safe haven in the form of a make-believe digital currency he dubbed Enten – meaning “divine yen”. The businessman assured interested parties that the currency would gain in value once the world’s economies “collapsed”….!”

JAVIER MARTIN-ARTAJO “JP Morgan traders Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout “manipulated and inflated the value of position markings in the Synthetic Credit Portfolio in order to achieve specific daily and month-end profit and loss objectives,” according to a government ruling…They artificially increased the marked value of securities in order to hide the true extent of significant losses in that trading portfolio.” Put another way, the traders together engaged in numerous instances of securities fraud that served to keep trading losses of over $6.2bn off the books”.

BERNIE-MADOFF “[This] former Wall Street trader was sentenced to a 150-year prison sentence, having defrauded his clients of $65bn – amounting to the single biggest accounting fraud case in American history. Madoff’s elaborate ponzi scheme … attracted investors not with overly impressive returns, but much rather with consistent, moderate repayments…[Despite] the scheme’s size, the SEC (US financial authorities) remained entirely unaware of any financial misgivings throughout, and Madoff himself was later quoted as being “astonished” by the degree [to which] he was allowed to continue unchallenged.

KIM WOO CHOONG “The Daewoo Group accounting scandal was the single biggest instance of financial fraud Asia had ever seen. As a result of Daewoo’s over investment efforts, the company – which Kim had grown from a modest textile business to South Korea’s second largest industrial conglomerate – was landed with debts worth in excess of $70bn. In the period through 1997 and 1998, insiders inflated Daewoo’s equity by some $30bn in an attempt to keep the extent of the company’s losses off the books and safe from the prying eyes of investors. …The once hailed businessman and philanthropist was sentenced to 10 years in prison on May 30, 2006.UNQUOTE

So, then, let us understand this: human beings share all human foibles equally – whites commit murder and blacks commit murder; some whites think creatively and are able to invent and erect projects of great importance to mankind. Others invent things that can kill mankind off in its entirety. It is how society controls its own members that matters. And, gradually, we in Africa are beginning to see off dictators and thieves, and will continue to do in future. But man is stubborn: if you think of what happened in this country in 1979, would it make sense to you that SOME politicians are still stealing the people’s money? That is the nature of man, I am afraid. He can be stupid enough to cut his own throat!
By: Cameron Duodu

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