Why do we as Africans meekly accept our lot, no matter how dire, and shrug, saying, 'just manage it? Why have we becoming experts on blaming the stars for our misfortunes instead of doing something about it?
While it is true that colonialism enslaved and oppressed us, killed our innovative and competitive spirit and forced us to make do with what is there for survival, today colonialism is gone--yet we continue to reel under a 'colonial hangover'.
This phenomenon, for which New African's columnist Onyekachi Wambu has coined the phrase 'Just manage' as a way of life, is one of the traits that despite our diversity, you will find across the continent.
In his column in the April issue of New African--"Just Manage, does not cut it", Onyekachi concludes: "Yes we have great poverty, great challenges but there is also [a] poverty of ambition which often makes us settle too readily for the mediocre." I couldn't have expressed it any better.
The ongoing reaction to this article on social media as well as discussions centred on it in the mainstream media--particularly radio, at least in my neck of the woods--has persuaded me to tease out at greater length the salient points he raised in his concise piece.
When politicians abuse us, when there are no medicines in hospitals, when infrastructure is broken down, when there are no teachers in schools, when sewers flow in streets, when there is no fuel at petrol stations, when there are no jobs, and you ask people why we tolerate such mediocrities, the answer is simply, 'just manage it'. In other words, just make do with what is there.
African people have come to accept the unacceptable, that they don't deserve the best, life must be joyless, they should make do with what is there, suffer and yet continue to smile.
The 'Just manage it' syndrome is a coping mechanism across Africa in the face of adversity and uncertainty. It masks our failures and shortcomings. It's a practice born out of oppression, bad governance, inequality and it subconsciously drives people to settle for second-best.
When people 'just manage', it shows that they have been continuously degraded and downtrodden by those in authority to the extent that they lose confidence in themselves. They settle for mediocrity.
Speaking on the striving for excellence, in his book My Vision, Challenges in the Race for Excellence, His Highness, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Ruler of Dubai and Vice President and Prime Minister of the...