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Opinions of Saturday, 5 October 2013

Columnist: Adzokpe, Jonathan

The Grass On The Other Side

– A Message For Africa

I had the rare privilege of speaking to members of the International Christian Fellowship (ICF) – a non-denominational gathering of students in the University of Stavanger, Norway. About 95%, if not more, of the members of this group are Africans, predominantly Nigerians and Ghanaians.

In a message I titled, “Breaking The Horns”, which was founded on Zechariah 1:18-21, I challenged these individuals, most of whom I believe, have written a ‘vow of no return’ to their respective countries. Such a message has always been so close to my heart that my audience could feel the power and enthusiasm with which I spoke.

My key message was centered on the fact that God made no mistake creating a certain breed of humans as Africans. He is well aware of what He was creating us into – the corruption, the bombings, the coups, the systemic failures and malfunctions. Despite all these mishaps, He created us as Africans; and you think He made a mistake?
A few hours before my writing this article, I boarded a bus with a Nigerian friend of mine. Then I began speaking with him on the issue of brain-drain and how it’s partly affected the forward movement of the continent, in my opinion. The intellectually-gifted ones are being poked into other advanced economies to help in the continuous building of these economies.
Many of us have come to the conclusion that we are a cursed continent – the “black” continent, as we’re christened in some circles. Indeed, I am far from being oblivious of the economic and social challenges the continent is plagued with. I’m fully aware of the issues of unemployment and underemployment that fresh graduates have had to face.
These and many others are reasons I believe God, in His infinite wisdom, created us for this continent and in this very time. In fact, He’s not only created us as Africans, but also inputted into us the traits required to surmount such seemingly insurmountable challenges.

He’s blessed the African with such spirits of hard work, positive aggression, and stick-to-itiveness. Rather than employing such attributes in destroying, it is time to refocus them into building a better continent.

In my address to the ICF members, I challenged them with a thought that I will want to repeat here. I said, “Norway was one of the poorest countries in the world just in the late 1970’s – a time not too far from now. At the said time were economic giants like Germany, France, United Kingdom, and the United States of America, etc.

“Norwegians could have chosen to go out there to seek greener pastures. While I don’t doubt that some left, a good number of them stayed back and perhaps others abroad joined afterwards to build a country that stands today as one of the richest in Europe and the world for that matter.”
I am definitely in no disagreement with traveling abroad to seek greener pastures. Beyond our seeking greener pastures, are we ready to come back home to invest our treasure and knowledge to make the continent what we all hope for it to be?
If Patrick Awuah, the Founder of Ashesi didn’t dare to go back home, we will have no university in the caliber of Ashesi University, that’s doing great things across the continent. Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, Chairman of Databank Group, was very gainfully employed in the U.S. But he left to build one of the most formidable investment houses in Ghana, with branches in other African countries, and employing thousands of others.

Joyce Meyer, the Charismatic Christian author and speaker once said, “If you see the grass looking greener on the other side, you will have to mow it anyway.” As te popular saying in Ghana goes, “Nowhere is cool.”

There is a price to pay while living outside Africa; very high tax regimes and bills which can spin your head like none other. The grass may look greener in developed countries, but I have seen many a people who wish going back home. Why? Because every income they make is consumed by the system.

If we ever think Africa is a failure, ask the multinational companies that have branches in Africa, and others that have moved their headquarters to African countries. If there’s nothing they’ve seen, why would they expand to Africa?
It is time for us to rethink the fortunes of Africa. Africa is the ‘ish’ now. It is where everyone is looking towards. I believe that God is raising a new generation of African thinkers, who will create and build; write and tell the African story.