Of saints and others.

Very dear friends, parental figures and erstwhile mentors have been lost because of a change in my religious views. They say I am trying to ‘fight’ God, that I am “antichrist” e.t.c. They withdrew/withheld support on those grounds and distanced themselves from me.
Here is a heartfelt message to you. I miss you. I miss your company in this life journey and I wish you were still ‘here’. However, it is important for you to know and accept that we all can’t hold the same beliefs or can’t fit into the same moulds. What holds true to you, might not hold for me.
It is the attempt to make a single belief universal that has led to most disasters in history. ISIS and its ilk are a perfect example. Many live in denial of their own truths because it is different from the bandwagon’s. They endure painful marriages because they don’t want to be stigmatized, proclaim unfounded beliefs just to feel among and live their lives in pretense. They are unhappy, shackled and usually end up unfulfilled.
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I hope you all see the disservice that you do and change your ways. I wish you’ll realize that there are only good or bad people, that every other classification is artificial and oftentimes, destructive. I am quite happy with my life and the peace and freedom I have in my heart trumps the rejection and neglect I sometimes feel from dear ones.

I am the voice.

I am the voice. I speak to all languages
A face with an appeal to all races
I am the once free mind, now shackled by popular expectations.
I once never cared what the price tag said,
It never mattered to me from which store I shopped
I don’t know when I started caring, but I know I now care.

Now I dress to impress
I buy just to look fly.
Every night, I get soaked on alcohol
I sink deeper into debt, while getting ‘high’ with the spirits.
All hail the young money bag. So rich I always wake up in a new buggatti!!!
Yea people, I’m a bad bitch. You can tell from the way I twitch.
Ya’all aint on ma level. You don’t even know what time it is.
Me and my girls be turning up with them glasses; aint no one got time for them classes.
C’mmon people, we be gitting it before ya’all be gitting up from your low-lives…
But stop press!!!!

This is not what I dreamt of as a child
This is not the life I sought to live
Started from the bottom, now I’m here. Sounds familiar right?
It’s just so different people…’here’ seems even deeper than the bottom I started from.
Living on stamps, dawn to dusk in the slums…
Desperation, Frustration and damn… regret.

I remember your scornful eyes, washing me down just because…
Yes. You said I was a looser just ‘cos you thought you looked better.
You thought I was worthless because I was the first to say “hi”.
Just to be cool, you act like a bull…charging through with brute force and not caring who’s hurt.
I should have known you were just a bully…I mean, who ever saw a cool bull?
When I danced, you scorned and I stopped.
When I got emotional, you called me a weakling, so again, I sucked it up and hardened the f*** up!
I dressed you dissed, I sang and you shook your head at my “bad voice”. Same way you said my dance steps were poor.
You condemned everything I did. All that made me original was unpleasant to you and just because you thought so, I stopped being me. Now look at what I have become…

A misfit
Depressed and abused
Lost and Confused, yet still maligned.
Dear society, please let me be.

Is ‘Success’ a mirage?

Please be warned. This is a vent. It wasn’t intended to mean anything to you. You don’t have to comment or like. You are more than welcome to gloss over, hide or ignore totally. If you will indulge in the vanity of the expressions herein, I hope you find in it the energy with which I drafted it. Unbridled, uncensored, even unedited (of course, I did a spell check). All l am saying is that I only seek to express. If I do impress, it is nothing but a pleasant coincidence.

I had just finished running and as I panted for breath, I strolled to the bathroom for a wash and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror… All sweaty and pumped up, I felt great. In that instant, I felt like I had achieved something (I know it was just a two mile run but…). So from those ‘heights’ of fulfillment, I proceeded on a diatribe.

I spoke to me. Yes, I looked in the mirror and found myself all interested in my own speech, and with rapt attention I spoke. I told myself I have all it takes to win, to succeed, to excel and be great. I said I couldn’t afford to fail, to let my well wishers down. I reminded myself that I carry – in my genes, the hopes, dreams and aspirations  of every single ancestor of mine. I imagined them – my father’s fathers and their father’s fathers. I saw them in distant farmlands, fighting different battles, and seeking to belong, to become and to beget. I pictured them passing batons to their offspring hoping that they do better in the race of life. It is that baton that I am now receiving albeit subconsciously. How can I drop it now? How can I stop running?

I am part of a lineage, a story of many thousand years. That I do not know its contents does not change the fact that this is a very ancient tale and I feel very proud that I am a part of it. I can feel myself being a part of that history and holding the promise of a future that is still to come. These reflections make the baton feel heavier and the potential consequences of failure greater. And then again, I thought; What is the yardstick for success? In the past, it might have been the ownership of palm or kolanut trees that spanned large acres of land. Each generation seems to have a broad confine within which it seeks success. Today, the goal post has been changed and those trees, though still a huge source of revenue do not seem so representative of success.

I have since concluded that there is no real definition of success. It is one of those abstract concepts that has over 6 billion meanings. More interesting is the fact that those meanings can change by the second and never really remain same. I remember growing up and seeking to be one thing, and then, the other. All the things I sought to be as a kid, I have since become. The sums that felt like big money have since being earned and yet I stand here in this washroom, speaking of success that is still to come.

Perhaps, by the standards of some of my ancestors, I have succeeded. By my standards ( as if they are tangible. Even if they are, I do not know), success is yet to come and will probably never come. Every step takes me farther, yet a long stretch of road lies ahead. Paths untraveled and heights unattained. The world is round for a reason. I might have gone full circle. Perhaps there is no end. Only new beginnings new fears, new heights, new challenges and new times.

Just saying…

The times when we’ve had to walk away from our biggest moments, turn our backs on our “best friends” and look away from our greatest desires.
Those moments when we silently ‘zoned’ those sweet hearted friends with whom we share a special bond. The calls we deliberately ignored, texts we didn’t send and compliments we didn’t own…

Was it out of love for the ones we presently have or out of loyalty to them?

Is present love better than stronger love?

I mean… I know a bird in hand is worth many others but… When does commitment start to mean settling for less?

I see this happen every time and some few people have been bold enough to admit it.

We sometimes stay put just because we don’t want to hurt our spouses, sometimes it’s because we can’t even trust the other, some other times it is because we don’t trust ourselves.

We sit in silence, blaming ourselves for committing too early. We wish these other people had arrived in our lives earlier (or sometimes were bold enough to make their intentions known)

Whatever it is, my aim is to put it on record that we sometimes feel better with “just friends”.

We connect with them in special ways yet we can’t admit it. We mask these feelings forever or till we crumble under pressure – whichever comes first.

We swear allegiance to one, but find chemistry in another.

Just putting it out there… on behalf of everyone.

June 12…

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The historian Thomas Carlyle it was, who said “The history of the world was the biography of great men”. In your biography is the foundation of the democracy that #Nigeria enjoys and today, i remember your noble sacrifice.

I have always known that victory is not only in winning a prize but sometimes means staying true to values even in the face of extreme difficulties. Many have tried to impose on me the wisdom of “running away to fight another day” but men like you remain shining examples of steadfastness and persistence. You didn’t need or have to step up but you did. You gave everything to a course you believed in and today, you remain an icon.

Today and always, i remember you and recommit myself to the now infamous course of making the world a better place, starting from the small corners i find myself in. Rest in peace MKO. Sun re Abiola.image

In other news…

Donald Sterling became a household name and hugged the front pages for weeks. His story overshadowed the bizarre tale of the missing Malaysian Airliner – Flight MH 370 and drew remarks from almost everyone, especially in the US of A. The President of the United States of America also weighed in heavily on the imbroglio and that made him one of many leaders to have reacted to the story.

One could care less as to why a multibillionaire will “own” the airwaves for weeks like Mr. Sterling did. Billionaires are always in the news for one reason or the other. They are either acquiring, donating, commissioning or just commenting. I mean their affluence guarantees that their actions and inactions will always interest newsmakers. This was a different case though, Mr. Sterling – an octogenarian has been a billionaire for many decades with interests in real estate and sports among other things. Despite his investment in Sports (Basketball – The most popular sport in the USA), it was something else that brought him the mega-fame that he now has today.

The multi-billionaire had been captured on tape making some disturbing remarks about blacks that showed his disdain and contempt for the black race and his mistress had recorded and allegedly, leaked the tape to the public.

Sanctions have trailed the condemnations that first greeted the scandal and the case is finally being laid to rest. One thing that wouldn’t go away is the fervor and energy with which people attack such situations.

The outcries against such acts as Sterling’s famed one are laudable. It is very important that the human race binds together at all times against acts that undermine the tenents of equity, justice and fairness. My concern however, is based on my belief that this outcries have become cosmetic in nature. The effectiveness of our protestations have since faded into oblivion and our activism has become superfluous.

The word ‘racism’ – that horrific symbol of a not-too-distant-past when our society allowed different standards for its constituents based on their color – has become more of a cliche over the past three decades. I concede that the word itself hasn’t lost the meaning that brought it into the limelight. In fact, it hasn’t lost any of its pangs and wherever it exists, it still represents segregation and unfairness, reminds us of many unfortunate incidents that have happened to the human race and robs humans of a full productive life.

A look around the world might bring a false sense of relief that racism and its offshoots like “ethnic cleansing” has been conquered forever. Of course, the Apartheid has ended in South Africa and the holocaust has since become history. The west now allows blacks and whites to travel on the same vessels and eat in the same restaurants. Measures have also been put in place to provide equal opportunities for all men, regardless of their race, religion or beliefs. In fact, America is experiencing the second term of its first black president. All these are testimonies of huge achievements made by the human race. Awesome movements that have marked notable departures from the “dark ages”.

The stated achievements are laudable and should be celebrated. We can’t but celebrate these achievements at every opportunity. What we shouldn’t do however, is to celebrate mediocrity. Since we started scoring ‘major’ victories like those that have been mentioned herein, the sincerity of our efforts has dwindled and all we do now is just to appear morally upright. The discussion has since shifted from the root causes of racism and how they can be eliminated to how we can ‘manage’ our racist traits, tendencies and systems. It is this sentiment that made me say our “outcries have become cosmetic.”

The outcries are either borne out of hatred for one another – as was evident in the Trayvon Martin case, or out of a desire to be seen as morally upright. The goal is hardly ever to eradicate racism and that’s a shame. My thoughts on the shameful nature of this are captured in a  blog i have hosted on WordPress.

For more depth, i digress a little. My digression is to show – to some extent – how racism keeps hurting the human race in not-too-direct but devastating ways.

It is a sad reality of ours that our approach to the tackling of racism has created equal, if not more amount of problems than racism itself. Today, many have grown in their awareness of the history and present existence of racism and the awareness has provided them reasons to be redundant, lazy and anti-social. There exists today, something i refer to as the “blame it on racism” syndrome. From their youth, some people have lived their lives avoiding the hard questions and finding shortcuts instead of working hard. They are of the opinion that the system (and everyone) is against their progress and no amount of efforts from them will lead to any positive outcomes. They start out lazy, taking every wrong decision that’s possible; grow up poor and desperate, blame their (mis)fortunes on the (racist) system and become anti-establishment. They end up committing heinous crimes and perpetuating all kinds of violent acts. The negative impact that these people have on our world is obvious enough for everyone to see.

Worse still is the fact that some are stereotyped as “privileged” and others as “deprived”. The error of generalization with this classification should be immediately evident to the discerning ones, but that doesn’t even cause me as much heartache as the extents that people go to prove that they do not match the classification. It is no news that in trying to act differently from the privileged role the society has created for them, many appear more receptive of things they would ordinarily reject. For some others, it is a continuous process of self-criticism. They examine their interactions with “deprived” members of the society and usually end up second guessing themselves. I can imagine – with some level of certainty – how these members of the privileged race ask themselves “Was i nice enough?”,  “Could i have helped more than i did?” “Did i show enough understanding?”… While questions like these are good and can lead to an increase in the value we add to the lives of others, the outcome can be very different when the questions turn us to fake people who condescend and lower standards just to look tolerant and understanding of “deprived” people.

I believe in equity and fairness, but the dialogue on racism in recent times has led to more people being condescending instead of understanding. This is a big problem because, condescension resonates with inequity – same as we show when we adjust questions to accommodate less educated respondents in an interview. This condescending act is usually done subconsciously and that makes it harder to detect and correct. Wole Soyinka, a Nobel Laureate once said “Mutual respect is built by clarification, not by avoidance or unjustifiable concessions, which is an attitude of condescension, a patronizing approach that is not only disrespectful but unhealthy.”  As a matter of fact, condescension isn’t a show of understanding but an admission of the fact that some men are superior and others inferior. It is a sign of surrender to George Owell’s submission that “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than the others.” If i am being adjudged as excellent, i don’t want such remarks to be made in relative terms. Wether it is a job that i am getting or a promotion, i want it to be because I deserve it and not because i belong to a certain race and someone in authority is trying to “fill the quota”.

While most members of the “privileged” race try hard not to appear racist, many of the “deprived” see their “disadvantaged” condition as a card to be played, a joker with which they can win in the game of life. They are always crying foul at any process whose outcome doesn’t favor them. Cases abound of employees who have gone to court alleging all kinds of maltreatment based on racism. While some of these cases are valid and have merit, many are unfounded and in bad fate. People just rely on the “race-card” to get things they might not deserve and escape sanctions that they might truly deserve. For these ones, racism is beneficial and they will do all they can to keep their prized ‘joker’.

End of digression.

We can’t afford to pretend any longer that we are faring well as a society against racism and its other elements. Our insincere protestations and half-measures have only succeeded in moving racism – to a great extent out of public domain and into private recesses. The challenge remains for us to institute measures that will totally eradicate the scourge of racism in our public and private lives.

People like Donald Sterling abound  in our society who carry large strains of racism in their DNAs. These people find it easy to grow in their racist tendencies because our society has chosen not to step up the discussion on racism in a way that can lead to its extinction. it is advisable that we as a society come together to seek ways of engendering true dialogues that lead from tolerance to understanding, from condescension to exploration and from petty patronage to real and meaningful engagement.

It is a fact that we are different and we will be better off acknowledging our differences, embracing the said differences with an open mind and understanding; while fostering relationships that are true and thorough.

Tonight.

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It is one of those nights when i think of dear ones long gone
When i remember the times we shared and the conversations we held
I even recall the many unfinished businesses that we started or thought of starting. Now they are gone and the deals are undone…

Tonight i am thankful for the moments we had and the memories we created, at least those can’t be changed.
I prefer the memories to the possibility of our friendships turning sour.
Many still live today who were once very good friends
Sometimes long lives only give enough time for friends to turn foes and brothers to strangers.
Like fruits, it’s okay that they were plucked before the rot
Perhaps, it’s not so bad that they had to leave so early

So tonight i celebrate all that i am left with
Memories of laughter and dancing
Recollections of secrets and adventures
Yes, tonight i will be happy like one that has known no loss because though they are gone, the memories linger.

Education or Mediocrity?

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I would love to witness a decent debate on the way forward in #Nigeria as concerns education. Unless we know of other non-traditional means of education that can equip people with the knowledge they need to help build themselves – and in extension their nations, wouldn’t it be foolhardy to conduct ourselves in a manner that suggests that we can get this traditional form of education for free or at a “cheap” rate?

If we agree that good quality education doesn’t come cheap, how much are we willing to pay to get it?

Okay… i understand it isn’t about what most are willing to pay but what they are able to pay; so should we push for education to be provided at the level of what most can afford?

Since a ‘Yes’ to the last paragraph will translate to a vote for mediocrity and poor quality education, what can we do to bridge the gap? Who pays the difference between what most can afford and what quality education will naturally cost? The Government?

It will be interesting to have answers to these serious questions. Until we are willing to answer these questions sincerely, we might not find a way out of the mess that our educational sector is presently in.

Shame on us!

The more racism wins – like it did again, with the Trayvon case (and its making), the more we lose as a race. I have come to a conclusion that while “progressives” have succeeded in making racism publicly detestable, the real battle lies in private spaces where hate, greed and irresponsibility manifest in huge measures.

Many a kid like Trayvon gets killed, raped, abused and harassed everyday in the USA (and of course, the world over). Our hipocrisy as a society is just heart-wrenching. From what i see, we have come to see some killings and crimes as “acceptable”. We close our eyes or look the other way when they are committed.

Needless murders are committed everyday and from what i see and hear, blacks kill blacks even more. The publicity of the Zimmerman trial and the verdict is based solely on the existent divide and ever-present tension between black and white America. Let’s not pretend like we all really care about the killing of a kid…that happens everyday! Were it not for the color difference, this case would have been another corner-page item in a county newspaper!!!

It is therefore a shame that we pay more attention to race and color than we pay to the sanctity of human lives. It is even more shameful that there is no end in sight.

Shame on us!

The world is flat – A critique of Thomas Friedman’s bestseller

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Now more than ever, it is extremely necessary for people to ask questions and check the veracity of every claim, thought or position. This is important because postulations that are allowed to thrive without questioning might easily be mistaken for facts upon which concrete decisions and policy making will be based by stakeholders around the world.

There has been so much talk about globalization, especially in the last decade. In fact, it is the globalization debate that metamorphosed into the more recent discussion about outsourcing and offshoring that has been more prevalent in the USA than in any other part of the world. The issue is so vital that it became a flashpoint during the presidential debates among President Obama and Mitt Romney. It has also being a continuous source of tension that went as far as threatening the relations between the USA and China.

Multiple award winning author, Thomas Friedman wrote a bestseller on the issue of globalization. He took the ‘globalization’ discussion one or two notches higher when he said that the world is flat. In his book The world is flat; He presented narratives to support the assertion that world economies were thriving on international collaboration transfer of service and that everything had gone global. He cited many instances of trans-border trade and collaboration and while his views might be valid to an extent, it appears as if they were over-exaggerated as Pankaj showed while presenting a TED talk.

Pankaj in his talk showed with the help of statistics, how the world is not as flat as Mr. Friedman says it is. He also observed – like I did, that Mr. Friedman’s view is based on his personal experiences from his travels and interaction with a sizeable amount of individuals: The book lacked any academic or scholarly references!

Apart from the evident over-exaggeration of the globalization issue, the book appears to be one-sided in its treatment of the globalization debacle.  In treating a topic of that level of importance, one would have expected to see some opposing views to bring some balance into the presentation. The said lack of balance robs the book of any scholastic status its author might have intended for it to have. Opinions-in my opinion, are more tenable and scholarly when they stand in the face of decent opposition.

Where is Africa in the equation?

“In May 2000, The Economist magazine declared that Africa was “the hopeless continent.” Eleven years later, in 2011, it referred to Africa as “the hopeful continent.” And on October 20, 2012, the magazine stated: “In recent years investors have been piling into Lagos and Nairobi as if they were Frankfurt and Tokyo of old.”” (Nesbit, F.N 2012.)

Because of its large reserves of natural resources, a huge human population, and the other resources that remain untapped in various areas, it is hardly understandable why anyone would have referred to Africa as hopeless in the year 2000 or at any time in history. Africa has always been a pivotal part of world trade, as consumers if not as producers. This ‘sin’ of neglecting Africa in the scheme of things is even more unpardonable especially as it was committed (by Mr. Friedman through his book) in 2005 when things were looking up for the continent. Mr. Friedman’s book made no real mention of Africa and that –in my opinion- is a huge shortfall of the book.

How can anyone talk about our world without talking about Africa? It is not surprising that Africa wasn’t well mentioned though, a cursory study of the book will reveal why. With an abundant collection of “stand-alone” success stories, the African narrative is an antithesis of the globalization story that Mr. Friedman so gracefully told. I am an African from Nigeria and I know that the Nigerian story – even in international trade, doesn’t support the heightened awareness that Mr. Friedman’s book supplies in abundance about the flattening of the world. Africa, like some other parts of the world still belongs mainly to the old order where the relationship with other parts of the world starts and ends with imports and exports of goods and services.

Africa is growing in leaps and bounds. New markets are opening, population is increasing and there is an increased influx of foreign investors. As good as these indices are, apart from importation and exportation –mainly of goods, there is little evidence of “flattening”.

Africa’s isn’t a service based economy. The continent depends mainly on its mineral resources whose prices have remained relatively stable. These resources have served –to a great extent- as a buffer for the continent against most global economic forces or phenomena. For instance, while the world (outside Africa) suffered the effects of the latest recession, Africa was experiencing visible growth and its economic indices were stronger.

In an IMF article titled Africa and the Great recession, written by Antoinette Sayeh and posted on WordPress on May 14th 2012, it was stated that as huge as the effect of the global recession was, it didn’t affect the growth of the African (especially the sub-Saharan) region. Even when the recession hit its peak in 2009, it only reduced the average growth of African economies from five percent to three. The article states categorically that “Commodity prices for African natural resources have remained relatively high to date, sustained by the continued strong growth of major emerging market economies, most notably China.  African banking systems have not experienced the severe financial stresses recorded in the advance economies, in good part because they are not heavily dependent on external funding, relying instead on strong domestic deposit bases.”

If the world was truly “flat”, one would expect an osmosis of effects to happen in the case of a global recession. How then, was Africa so immune to the crisis? I am not under the illusion that Africa is on an economic island. All I am saying is that the elements of Globalization are not as strong as Mr. Friedman will want to make us believe.

If Africa is not flat, the world can’t be said to be flat. In 2011, Wikipedia reported that “Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers six percent of the Earth’s total surface area and 20.4 percent of the total land area.” If this is anywhere near accurate, it is not just mischievous but also dangerous to ignore Africa in any meaningful discussion about the globe. I am not stating these facts from a boastful standpoint. I am just hoping to show how important Africa is on the global scale.

With an endemic lack of social amenities, infrastructure, and good education for its people – all occasioned by poor leadership, the African continent is in a sustained state of disconnection from other parts of the world. The talk of “flatness” is even more awkward with this background.

Up till this date, many African countries can’t lay claim to steady electric power supply. Even when it is available, it is extremely expensive and sometimes destructive (power surges). According to Internet World Stats (http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats1.htm), as at 2012 Q2, internet penetration in Africa was 15.6% i.e. 18.7% below the world average of 34.3%. If these statistics are to be considered, it is clear that Africa is still catching up with the “dotcom bubble” and of course, was not “flattened” by “flattener #2” in Mr. Friedman’s book.

For this section of the paper, I have dwelt mainly on issues from the African perspective. This is not to suggest that the theory of flatness holds true for every other part of the world. I am only using the African continent as a case study to show that the world is not flat: At least all of it is not flat.

As of today, there are many indigenous businesses in Africa that are doing well without the trans-border collaborations that Dr. Friedman talks about. Mr. Aliko Dangote is the Chairman, CEO of Dangote group of companies. He was listed by Forbes as the richest man in Africa and the 43rd richest man in the world. His company deals in Cement, Sugar and Flour that are produced sold and distributed in Nigeria. He is a typical example of an African business man, who runs a pan-African business, with little or no collaboration from outside. Another one like him is Deji Tinubu, the Chairman of Oando oil (Largest Oil Company in Africa) who has been quoted as saying he would rather recruit and train a Nigerian, than have the job done elsewhere by other people.

Most of the factors that make China and other Asian countries mentioned in Mr. Friedman’s book as hubs for outsourcing and offshoring are present in Africa. Infact, the socio-economic status of most Asians and Africans are very similar and that is one of the reasons why no one would think of outsourcing businesses from Africa to some other places.

It appears that the world in Mr. Friedman’s view revolves-only around Europe, Asia and America. This is evidenced in his list of “flatteners”: there is not one that relates directly to, or affects the African continent in any real way.

Take for instance, the Berlin wall. Its destruction was said to be one of the flatteners of the world, but the only effect it had on Africa was mainly political and hardly economical. It only made African leaders and countries get the feel that democracy seems to be the order of the “new world”. Apart from this effect, not much changed economically.

Changes that have happened since the book was written

Since Friedman wrote his book, the world economic balance has tilted significantly. The last recession had hit hard and left an indelible mark on the global economy. Governments have resorted to artificial interference in the running of their economies, so as to protect whatever jobs they could, from going abroad. In fact, a new term has since emerged: “Deglobalization”. (Deglobalization is simply a term that describes the reversal of major trans-border business alliances and trans-global business formats). By and large, more stringent and protectionist government policies have reversed globalization by a great deal. This has made our world even less flat than Friedman would have expected it to be. The trajectory has changed, at least for now, with most nations looking to try other approaches to help their business people succeed without having to go ‘outside’ for help.

Another major change that has happened is in the ownership structure of many global corporations (which used to be owned mainly by Europeans and Americans): Due to the recession, these company stocks were available at a low price and were picked up by Asian and Middle Eastern business people. This “power shift” will definitely have effects, the extent of which will be known in coming years and even decades.

A manufacturing crisis also ensued that led to the shrinking of export based economies. This was due to a huge drop in demand across the globe. Many export-based economies shrunk and had to diversify into other areas for sustenance. Apart from oil exporting countries and regions, every other region had to dig deeper and look desperately into other areas for survival. One of the many areas that were delved into is tourism.

One major factor that influenced the outsourcing and offshoring decisions that companies took is the availability of cheaper factors of production in other parts of the world. Chief among these readily available cheaper factors is labor. Due to endemic unemployment in developing nations, people take up jobs or tasks for an unbelievably low compensation rate. That too is changing as these workers are placing more demands on their employers in terms of benefits and compensation. Activists have also increased their clamor for better standards in places where businesses ran to, to cut costs. A typical example of this occurrence is found in Bangladesh where building collapses and fire incidents that led to the loss of over a thousand lives in the last two years is being blamed on Walmart and other international brands. The argument is that if Walmart insisted on decent working conditions for its suppliers’ employees, those lives wouldn’t have been lost. Today, companies like Walmart and Apple are facing increased pressure from activists to improve the working conditions in those factories and sweat shops that supply them goods. Of course, if the conditions are improved as requested, the costs would go up automatically. Labor costs are beginning to go up in those places too and there is a greater likelihood that they would keep going up, especially now that there is more awareness on the plight of the “deprived” workers of the developing world. Companies are being named and shamed in the onslaught against cheap labor and indecent work environment. If this trend continues, the difference in cost between doing business in the advanced nations and doing business in the developing nations will shrink so much that, there would be no justification for outsourcing or offshoring. This is “deglobalisation” at its best.

With the way things are going, if any book would be written about globalization in 2023, it would contain a chronicle of a worldwide economic movement that thrived mainly in parts of Asia, Europe and America and was cut short just before it could get to other parts of the world. This is so because while many of those factors that heralded globalization are still here, distrust and suspicion amongst nations has spurred governments to put in artificial measures to keep businesses within borders and prevent – as much as possible – trans-border synergy and collaboration. A typical evidence of distrust and its effect would be found with a study of American and Chinese relations over the last two decades.

Personal impact of the changing paradigms

As an African from a developing country, who never travelled out of his country until last year (2012), I am still coming to terms with the realities of the developed world. My major in Business administration is opening my eyes to a lot of issues in the modern world and I must confess that the mental picture of the world that I had as I grew up is consistently being replaced with strange pictures of new realities.

When I was growing up, it was very certain that all you needed to do well in life was to do well in class. No matter what, a perfect understanding of your class texts was enough to give you an edge and make you a “manager” (that was the local parlance for any executive position).

Today however, I am learning that the bar has been raised and I do not just need to know and do more to be relevant, I have to compete against more people many of who have the luxury of superior educational quality and greater support from their governments. These realities aren’t just unsettling, they are also disturbing. A new order is in town and I don’t seem to know where I stand or which way to turn.

It is not all gloom and doom for me as I believe that the struggles of growing up and the experiences that came with them left me with sufficient ingenuity to cope with the challenges of today.

I think it would be of help for me to leverage on my people skills (which is a must have in the contemporary African society) because that seems to be the icing on the cake that one needs to stand out. I am of the belief that one needs to know how best to understand people, appeal to their desires and connect with them in a special way. Experience has shown me over the years that once such a connection is achieved, one wouldn’t just have won a client, but one would have started a word-of-mouth campaign that would go a long way.

Having said these, I think it is important to stay open and flexible as the world keeps changing at a very fast rate. Part of the plans I have is to learn at least, two new languages within the next five years.

On an even more personal level, I am of the belief that the African continent – now more than ever, is emerging and would need an unprecedented amount of sound minds to drive its emergence on the world economic stage. I want to position myself such that when the opportunities start opening up, I would be very ready for them. It is out of the understanding of a people that one can know their needs and it is only when the needs are well known that they can be met appropriately. Homegrown solutions – in my opinion would always work better than imported solutions of the same quality.

Professionally, I would keep improving the knowledge I have on whatever I find myself doing per time, and also expand my general knowledge base.