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During the festive season, I decided to finally read Chika Onyeani’s book titled Capitalist Nigger. After many years of running away from it due to the commentary I read on it, I felt it was time I had my fair share. Mr. Onyeani’s book was published in 2000 but after reading through it, I thought it was recent looking into the current events. It is still relevant and still does provoke one’s thoughts.

What I have learned about human beings is that when someone hits hard at home, we are quick to jump to protect our infirmities. We haul “though shalt not judge” and pull out the race card. Mr Onyeani’s book “tells it like it is” without fear or favour. That’s why I respect him.

I would like to believe that most black people hold PHDs. I mean the Pull Him/Her Downs. We are so good at obtaining them. I have my reasons which I will argue. This is not to degrade the black race, but to explore one of the many reasons why we don’t make it in life. The first step to solving a problem is to create a point of engagement so that we can identify the many challenges we are facing, out of it comes solutions to move forward.

Do you know what black Africans say when you share your success story with them? They say “ya, but so and so did it better. You are not the first.” Well first and foremost it was never about so and so, it was about showing that “With God, nothing impossible”. If none of you never did it, it means I am the first to do it in your circle. I have been told that and never got a heads up for what I was doing. That’s just too demotivating.

The second week of December I attended the Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Emporium in Free State hosted by Sibusiso Leope Education Foundation (SLEF). Sbu shared with us his journey to success and the many challenges he had to face trying to rise up to the top. Having launched the first black owned energy drink – MoFaya, he inspired many of us to go into manufacturing and owning strategic industries that build our economy.

Instead of being inspired, I heard some people say “but that idea was not his”, some said “redbull and other energy drinks are still the best”. That for me disappointed me because for a change we have our very own energy drink which we should be very proud of but people are already criticising without bringing solutions. These are the very people who will rejoice at your downfall and mock you on social media. If that’s how we are going to carry on, then we are on our way to owning nothing and having nothing to be proud of.

Another practical example I recently witnessed was that of a learner who passed her matric. Instead of congratulating the lady, some people said “we never thought she will make it. We will see what happens in varsity.” I was so disappointed again not to hear a simple “congratulations” coming out of their lips.

I’ve observed one particular reason why most of my fellow black Africans don’t succeed in life and that is they can’t appreciate and embrace success of their peers. Instead of being inspired, they feel threatened. You refuse to learn from Abuti Rams because you think you know him too much! Maybe you have schooled with him or maybe you stayed in the same house with him or you are in the same hood together, but that doesn’t mean he can’t teach you something you don’t know.

I guess I sometimes exempt many of successful black folks who at one stage lived in kasi but moved to the suburbs. They argued “why be in a place full of negative people who don’t see success in you but think you are nothing?” It is tough and everyone wants you to be apologetic about succeeding in your endeavours.

I want to see many of my brothers succeed. It can’t always be a handful individuals. Let us put away all manner of hate, jealously and negative talks. Let us learn from each other and help one another become better people. Only better people can make a country better. Don’t be counted amongst those who have no intentions to succeed.

Thabang Phala

Thabang Phala is an award-winning development practitioner, business consultant, brand strategist, facilitator and thought leader with industry experience spanning over 11 years.

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