Why Should I Stay in Africa?

16 Sep

Courtesy of London Evening News

The desperation of several Africans to travel to Europe, America and increasingly any other part of the world aside from their own countries is understandable.  Young intelligent citizens feel betrayed by the very system that should shelter them from the heat of daily human existence. Absence of steady power supply, poor infrastructure, insecurity of life and property, corruption and ineptitude, to mention few, have all contributed to making most of urban sub-Saharan Africa almost unlivable.

However, it has been established that it is not necessarily the outward environment that determines the growth and successes of a man, but the inward make-up of the man. A good example of this truth is exemplified in the life of George Washington Carver, one of the greatest inventors of all times.

George Washington Carver was born a slave in 1864 to one of the millions of Africans brought to the United States from the areas known today as Lagos, Calabar, Cape Coast and other parts of Africa. The conditions in which the slaves lived in America pales in comparison with the condition under which most continental Africans live today. The slaves toiled under the worst expressions of man’s inhumanity to man ever recorded in modern history. They were branded with red hot iron upon arrival from Africa, and immediately sent to the plantation to work from the first crack of dawn until late at night. The slave taskmasters beat them with animal skin and rod, and devised all sorts of heartless methods as disciplinary measures.  Daily the slaves toiled in the scorching heat or the extreme cold, with little clothing on their backs. They would retire hungry  at night to their slave ramshackle, to sleep on the hard wooden floor. The slaves died in millions, from preventable diseases, suicide, punishment, hunger or snake bites.

In the midst of this extremity of human existence was born the sickly little George Washington Carver.  His frailty saved him from the grueling plantation work as a child. Left alone at home from sun up to sun down, Washington Carver solitude led him to turn to the next living thing he could identify with; plants. Washington-Carver started to study plants, collecting in a very studious manner, as many varieties of plants and the soil samples on which they grew.

As there were no schools available for black people within his vicinity, Washington Carver was unable to go to school until he reached the age of twelve.  At twelve, he was old enough to move several miles away from home, where he worked at a farm and studied in a one room school house with no facilities.

George Washington Carver

After his secondary education, Washington Carver, because he was black, and despite his much attested brilliance, found it impossible to gain admission into the university. In the times he lived, only white people were allowed the benefit of higher education; extremely few black people had that privilege.   But Washington Carver believed in himself.  Notwithstanding the racial obstacles posed to his accomplishing his dreams, Washington Carver kept sending out applications to universities. He kept  improving himself with every available book he could find, and made friends with people who had passed through the university or had similar ambitions. After much struggle he was able to gain admission into the University of Iowa, at well past the age of thirty.

As he tried to gain admission into the university Washington Carver kept studying plants as his passion. Against the advice of many who felt his brilliance should lead him to study Law, Medicine, Engineering or other popular liberal arts courses, he  insisted on following the deep callings of his soul by studying Agriculture  up to the Master’s degree level. After his graduation, he started his work life, and that was when the hundreds of innovations and discoveries started, without which the United States, and indeed the world today would never have been the same.

Washington Carver invented several industrial applications from agricultural products.  his discovery of five hundred shades of dye from different plants, George Washington Carver single handedly brought an end to the United States dependency on the importation of textile dye from Europe. In 1927, he invented the production of house and car paints from soybeans,  and later, the use of groundnuts as the raw materials for  the production of car tires, gums, lotions, creams, to mention few. George Washington Carver’s invention are too numerous to list in this article, but they were products desperately needed at the time he invented them.

Drawing from the life of this humble slave boy, what excuse does the African really have for wanting to leave the continent .  George Washington Carver had the option of leaving the United States for either Europe, which had abolished slavery and treated blacks with much more kindness, or of moving to Freetown in Sierra Leone, where many of his contemporaries fled to. But he chose to stay in the United States and kept to his passion and vision. He held on to his life calling of turning the things around him into products which would be useful to humanity, for which he is still celebrated a hundred years later.

The negative aspect of focusing one’s attention on traveling out is that it robs the individual  of the energy and motivation that should have been focused on looking within  and around, in order to find out his passion and what he can easily access to use and change his immediate environment.  Wealth creation is not a matter of one’s environment, but a matter of his mind

What is on your mind that you are not meditating on because all your thoughts are filled with how bad you country is and how you have to travel out?  What is free and within reach of you that you are right now looking down on? There is really no impossible environment to conquer, there are only unwilling and uninterested people. We have all it takes in Africa to succeed and become much better than Europe and America, the problem is that we have lost faith in ourselves to transform our environment. If George Washington Carver had lost faith in himself, a poor, sick slave boy in a highly racially defined society without light, running water, security for the black people, uncaring government, just name it, he would have been lost in history. But by keeping focused on his passion and talent, and by stretching out his hand to grab what he could, George Washington Carver has told every African that indeed, we can achieve whatever it is we set our minds to achieve, regardless of what the environment says.


Posted by on September 16, 2011 in Essays


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6 responses to “Why Should I Stay in Africa?

  1. SILAS

    September 26, 2011 at 12:39 am

    How come we never hear about G.W.Carver like we do other white inventors?

    • chikaforafrica

      September 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm

      Good question, Silas. Mainstream media and academia celebrate their own – often, white skinned – heroes. As Africans we have to learn to search out our own heroes and celebrate them. With the internet we have no excuse for not doing so and publishing it in our own way. Power truly lies with the people now. Thanks.

  2. tony

    October 24, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    The negative aspect of focusing one’s attention on travelling out is that it robs the individual the energy and motivation needed to applied to other potentials of the individual to live a meaning ful and better life. God bless the fountain of your creative ability, more wisdom and knowledge. The truth you know shall set u free.

  3. Abdoulaye

    January 30, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    The more I know the more I get suffocated by the harsh realities we are forced to live with in foreign countries as Africans. Yearning for a motherland that more and more distant itself from what can only make it greater. Seemingly cursed for ever as pupet leaders continue to assert servitude to the west and western cultures that thrive on our demise and division, one blow at a time.
    As the prices or key ressources rose in a globalized world, I was hopefull that the continent would see a bit of a brake with the fact that Chinese bidding up the prices of African ressources would help them realize that clientelism with the west never served our common interest. However I am once more reminded that leadership is a component that we are still lacking as I read “The AU and the tradegy of a new headquarters”. This is a bad start, a bad sign and literally a monumental blow to what this union is supposed to represent. Giving up will never be an option, hastening and intensifying the self awareness in the community is again and maybe more than ever a must for every able mind.

  4. Emeka Nwabunwanne

    August 19, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    I just came across Dr. Chika Ezeanya opinion about the yoruba rascal called FFK which in turn brought to this website. I love the uniqueness. The measurement of desire is sacrifice. I belong to the group who believe so much in Nigeria. And I’m going no where…

  5. Benson Ezeigbo

    January 13, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    I really think this is subjective. I know certain businesses and occupations you can’t enhance beyond private, sole ownership and subsistence level without Govt or third party financial or infrastructural support. Even some research require initial take-off momentum to see the next level. This is highly lacking in Africa, most of the times, and could be frustrating. For instance, many black Doctors who have established their mark, relevance and reputation today in Western worlds would have been unknown and irrelevant today if they had not been wise enough to leave Africa when they did. Corruption in Africa, like in Nigeria, has killed Govt assistance and support for growth initiatives from their originators and that is not good for development and business. I can go on and on to list to you why leaving Africa for greener pastures is inevitable and continous. I even read somewhere in the Bible where it is stated that Egypt and Cush(both referring to Africa) shall be desolate. But God forbid!


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