Has Africa’s time finally come?

Africa RisingAlbert Einstein, the father of modern physics came up with the theory of relativity, which at its finest, resulted in man landing on the moon.

A simple definition of this theory in our practical day to day living is that we see things relative to the others. In other words, if the chicken crosses the road, did the chicken really cross the road or the road moved under the chicken.

Or, if Chuck Norris does push ups, is he really moving up and down or, in his awesomeness, he pushes the earth down and up?!

We have also made much of the fact that some people are light and others dark but the only reason the light ones are light is because of the presence of the dark ones and vice versa. If we were all one colour, there would neither be black, white, yellow, navy blue, etc.; we would just be human.

And this is where I drive my point home. Isaac Newton said that if he had seen further, it was because he had stood on the shoulder of giants.

We are what we are and where we are as a result of the global effort of different nationalities and races. No one race or nationality can claim credit for everything it possesses. That is why any approach that is based on segregation ultimately crumbles; we were never meant to function, as human beings in a vacuum.

Throughout history, we have seen the rise of different kingdoms, from the Jewish, Persian, Egyptian, Roman, Greek, British,Japanese, German, American and to now the Chinese Empire. The question is, which empire was better and can say all it has was a result of nothing but its own isolated technology, philosophy and science?

All these empires, kingdoms and nationalities are were they are because of what their predecessors passed on to them.

The world has become a global village and the world is moving towards integration. Every people, race, nationality and continent must sit at the global table and present what its contribution is to the advancement of human kind, but while that is happening, let not one say to the other we are better than you and we don’t need you. Remember, did the chicken cross the road or the road crossed the chicken. Wait; even if it crossed the road, another chicken gave birth to that chicken and most likely that chicken is a result of generations of cross breeds. So ultimately, does it matter that this particular chicken finally crossed the road, or the fact that the chicken race, represented by this chicken, finally crossed the road?

If we all reach out and try to find each other, and our various contributions towards our future as humanity, there would be less wars, hunger and starvation in the world.

Let us celebrate our diversity and recognise each other as equals; none superior; none inferior. If inequalities persist, they must be corrected, not because of inferiority or superiority but simply because of humanity.

The fact that I was born earlier than my daughter, who is four months old, does not mean I can brag and say I know more than her and therefore I am smarter. Maybe one day she will prove to be smarter than I am; its just a matter of time.

My last thought is this; we have learnt that a seed can withstand all sorts of punishing physical elements, without dying or germinating, but dormant because the conditions are not yet right. In this case, chronological time does not actually matter nor say anything; it’s all about the conditions not being hospitable or right for it to germinate. All it takes is one day,when the rain falls, for that same seed to turn into a tree. The trees that germinated long before this one can therefore not say, this one was weaker; it all had to do with the timing (kairos) and not the kronos (time).

This perspective is critical in understanding humanity.

It explains why empires rose when they rose and fell when they did but it was not all about who is the smarter people.

Much has been said about Africa and Africans being sleeping giant but we have not had such unprecedented focus on us before, for economic reasons. Ten of the thirteen fastest growing economies are in Africa.

We have leading innovators and some of the word’s richest people hailing from Africa. Even through the ages, our contribution to society has been remarkable already. But has Africa’s kronos finally come? Is it now the season of the rise of the African Game Changer?

And this is my understanding of Einstein’s theory of relativity, from a layman’s perspective.

Game Changers I: History Makers

We all love game changers. This is because they represent what most of us aspire to but have yet to achieve. They represent change. Many people like change. All people like change that turns defeat into victory. Suppose a person announces that they can cure HIV and its related sicknesses. The first step would be to examine their claims scientifically and empirically. If their claims are verified, that person would become an instant hero and go down in history (Go down? Doesn’t sound right, does it?) as one of the most important people ever to live. You know why? Because that person was a game changer. He or she found victory out of defeat. And we humans love a good ending.

I am going to say this upfront; this is a feel good piece. I am not preaching to anyone or instructing anyone on how to live life but I just hope to provide good and refreshing reading that appeals to the hero in every human being. In ethics they call this full disclosure. And I like to think I am an ethical person; I won’t even cheat the internet!

A game changer is a person who changes the direction of the game or status quo. The hallmark of a game changer is refusal to accept the status quo. Another one is determination to change it. Nothing could be clearer.

Let’s start with the beautiful game. In 1986 a short man with legs like those of a stallion won the world cup for Argentina single handedly. His name was Maradona, Diego Maradona (I think he is the Bond, James Bond of soccer). The man acquired possession of the ball in his own half and dribbled past not one, not two, not three, not four, not five but six opponents including the goalie to score a sensational goal that has been voted “Goal of the Century”. In the same match he also scored another goal, a rather infamous one which was then dubbed “The Hand of God” because he used his hand to score it.

England lost the world cup because of this short man, the Diego. This match cemented Maradona’s status as one of the greatest soccer players who ever lived, alongside Pele. Despite his infamous goal, you have to agree that Maradona proved the rainmaker in this match. He was the game changer who positively turned the fortunes of Argentina while unfairly and mercilessly decimating those of England.

This particular paragraph is for man, macho man, because it talks about wrestling. Wresting was always a competitive sport but not a very lucrative one, until a man called Vince McMahon purchased the rights to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) from his father and began to pursue his dream.
His dream was not to compete at the Olympics but to create a brand of wrestling called Sports Entertainment. This included developing a dedicated WWF Sports Academy where rookies and seasoned wrestlers alike are trained in the rules of Sports Entertainment. This also involved developing script writers so that what resulted was a combination of a soapie (and they are always full of scandal, which many people like) and astonishing athleticism. He called this new organisation the World Wrestling Entertainment(WWE).

Vince McMahon also found another game changer called Terry Boila and around him Hulkamania was created. Ever since this era, wrestling has never been the same. As to whether the concept was successful or not, I will point you to the fact that the founder of Sports Entertainment is now a billionaire, at least before the global recession ( I am not sure about now) and that WWE performers virtually fill every venue they visit. They even created a WWE Hall of Fame to honour the achievements of wrestlers who would otherwise just be forgotten. Wrestling has never been the same because of the arrival of a changer; a game changer.

Hulk HoganI told you this is a feel good piece, and I hope you are feeling good already!

Once upon a time there was a weird looking man who existed but changed forever the course of physics. He is regarded as the father of modern physics. He is most famous for his Theory of Relativity. In simple terms “If a chicken crosses the road, did the chicken cross the road or the road crossed the chicken?”. His name was Albert Einstein, a classic example of a game changer. He never accepted assumptions.

Another likeminded genius I would love to call my grandfather is Sir Isaac Newton. Now think with me for a moment. One day, God’s apple fell from a tree, as apples have been doing since time eternity but this one fell on the wrong guy altogether. It fell on Isaac Newton’s head. He took it personally and immediately wanted to know why it fell downwards and not upwards. Now, how crazy can a man get? Dude, apples have been falling down forever and you now want to know why they don’t fall up?

The result was what we call the Theory of Gravity. Never accept assumptions, and once you know what you are onto be as determined as a nail to change the status quo. Only people who think like that become heroes. They are not game changers because they are heroes; they are heroes because they are game changers!

In little known Macedonia a small girl was born and her name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. She came to be known as Mother Theresa because of her role as a mother to humanity. I personally do not know a more perfect example of humility, selflessness and devotion in a world where materialism so abounds.

The prevailing world view did not change Mother Theresa’s belief in the good in humanity. To the very day she died, she lived for others. She is my hero, and for those who would accuse me of being gender insensitive, my heroine!

MadibaWhat would a piece be without politics, to end it all? I read a book by Nelson Mandela called “Long Walk to Freedom” and I have to admit some men are made of sterner stuff. This man was born into an Apartheid System that discriminated against people of colour but he refused to accept the prevailing policy of racial superiority. What he fought for was not the superiority of black over white but equality for all. I think that was a very fair proposal for all involved.

His dream, however, took 27 years of prison, and another 4 of negotiations before the term “Proudly South African” became fashionable in both black and white circles. In this respect, he was a game changer! And he sought no retribution even after the change of order, he proffered and actively pursued reconciliation, and for that he was rewarded with the title of most beloved man in the world. Another magazine went as far as declaring him sexiest man alive! Good old Madiba, sexiest man alive? I have to tell you then this man is indeed a game changer in the eyes of both young and old!

These days it’s quite fashionable to be associated with Obama, so who am I to be a game changer in this respect? Obama made history by becoming the first black President of the Harvard Law Review and then the first black President of the United States of America.

The USA was founded in 1783 following the Treaty of Paris and only 225 years later was a black American elected to the highest office in that land. If you asked me, I would definitely tell you that the rules were quite firmly established but Obama had a dream and raw ambition. I am not saying he wanted the White House to prove that a black man can occupy the Oval Office; I just think he had a dream and would not allow anything, including his Kenyan ancestry to stand in his way. And he changed the game.

There have now been songs written about him, he is changing the policies of the previous government faster than you can say change. He is a game changer. What kind of President he will be, time will tell. But for now we know he has definitely altered for good, the course of American history.

Game changers are everywhere but they may just be playing in smaller leagues. Regardless of the league I am playing in, I am determined to be a game changer. Why should we accept our characterization by other people to shape our destiny? I think that if we have dreams, big dreams we need to go into the game and start playing rather than hide as benchwarmers forever.  We then tend to become armchair critics.

Yes there is a time to practice, to prepare, to learn, to be mentored but ultimately, if we are going to change the game that’s going in a direction we don’t like we have to get into it and take the opponent head on. We need a dream, belief and faith. We need to take the facts into account and give them the meaning that will spur us forward rather than discourage us. This is called creative frustration. Then we need to enter the game determined to change and accepting nothing less. It’s better to die trying than never to try at all. There is a hero in every one of us but that hero needs to be awakened. That hero needs to be activated. And that hero needs to play the game. And change the rules.

Why am I not being specific? Because it’s up to every one of us to determine which game needs to be changed in our lives and to map a strategy to change it. But we need to change the game.