Passing Over Opportunities Repeatedly (POOR)


The  pyramids in Egypt whisper to my youthful soul, a ray of hope.— Femi Oni


The mark of Cain.
The first murder in the entire history of man happened outside the lofty Garden of Eden. It was the killing of a brother by another brother. Once the deed was done, the killer was quick to hide his deed. He dug a grave and buried the body of his brother hoping that would conceal his wickedness. The blood of his brother cried unto the maker and his judgment was swift. From then on, he shall be a vagabond. A mark was put upon him. What mark was it? My friend Asuni Farouk said he once heard a tale that this is the origin of the Black skin.  That, the mark that was put on Cain was a Black skin. Now, as a man of color myself, I’m hoping that this tale is nothing but a sham. My hope is built on the same pedestal as the unlikely application of the Esau narrative. Remember the guy that sold his birth right for a morsel of potage? Its been argued that he was a Black man too. But, what is it about the Black man that makes his success an exception? Why does a cloud of doubt hover around him, making it an eclipse of an event when he does great things? What is wrong about the man of colour? Why wasn’t he the imperialist? Why is he a victim of circumstances? And, why is Africa, the continent that is home to the world’s most populous Black nation (Nigeria), an archetype for everything underdeveloped? We are even referred to as third world.


In one of my earlier post titled My Grievance, I bore my mind on a bone of contention concerning the lowballing tendencies of African leaders especially the ruling class. It was in that piece I compared the horsemen of the American revolution to their counterparts in Africa and established a sad truth about the latter’s lack of imagination and failure to move his own cause forward. The opening statement in that piece was “the pyramids in Egypt remind me of a lost opportunity” and my conclusion was that “the pyramids in Egypt whisper to my youthful soul, a ray of hope”. Things haven’t changed very much other than the fact that I feel very deeply worried that time is fleeting. The conversation with Farouk, the man who inspired this post moved me to the very edge of this narrative. One thing is clear from where I stand and that is the fact that people of African extraction must re-imagine their joint and several future for the sake of posterity especially now that the eyes and keen gaze of the developed world is upon us. It was from him (Farouk) that I first heard the phrase “Passing Over Opportunities Repeatedly (POOR).


Our poverty versus opportunities.
African countries are ranked bottom on the global development index. As of January 2012, the Heavily Indebted Poor Counties (HIPC) Initiative had identified 39 countries (33 of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa). According to USAID, 600 million people, representing 70% of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa are without electricity. Africa sits on immense natural resources. Infact, Africa has 20% of the global total land area which is by far a more than fair percentage. None of these statistics and there are more of such disappointing grades come close to the most worrisome issue of all. Our treatment of opportunity and how we seem to pass over opportunities repeatedly and we don’t even seem to be perturbed. Its like we never learn from the past. If we really have learnt from history then, our problem is even bigger. We are guilty of slothfulness


Leaders are dealers in hope so, I will be quick to assert that I am not a merchant of gloom nor am I casting aspersions on the progress Africa seem to be making (no matter how slow it may seem) at this time. When we cry, we shouldn’t stop seeing.Truth be told, there are people who deserve accolades and appreciation for the great work they are doing to better the lot of this continent. To these people, I join others to register a profound gratitude for keeping faith. What I wouldn’t do or expect anyone to make a mistake of is to declare a premature victory. The time hasn’t come for that. Our sobriety should persist still. The vision is to make this place a desirable place to live and do business. The mission ahead is bigger than us but it is doable.


Image Credit: Google

Femi Oni

Femi’s overarching purpose is to inspire brands (individuals, organisations and nations) to unlock potentials to achieve sustainable growth and impact. His mission is to mentor 1000 brands in Africa and beyond by 2025.

Specialties and Interests: Business Model Design & Innovation, Visioning, Strategy Design & Execution, Project Management, Change Management, Strategic Branding, Operations Excellence, Process Modelling, Product Management, Productivity Management, Entrepreneurial Leadership (Startups), , Social Evangelism, Education, Sustainability, Cybernetics, Risk & Compliance.