Poverty is a problem. I remember a conversation I had with a friend a couple of years ago where she had asked me: “Nkem, if you had to choose between a guy who was born into a rich family but is now poor and a man who grew up in abject poverty but is now rich, which would you go for?” and I had boldly told her I would go for the poor guy who grew up rich.
I remember the shock on her face and more, her difficulty in understanding my choice…This was even after I explained to her the concept of poverty mentality. How I believed the man who grew up poor would probably be afflicted with it. Also, how I would never, consciously, choose that for myself.
Why did I remember this conversation? I came across a thread on Twitter dissecting the most recent incident of Nigerians storming and looting malls as well as business centers…All in the name of retaliating South Africa’s xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in their country.
The post condemned Nigerians, stating that their poverty mindset was behind their misguided attacks. Otherwise, they wouldn’t also be looting and vandalizing Nigerian-owned businesses, carting away items such as laptops, Ps4s, food items, e.t.c.
To be honest, I told myself at the beginning of this year that I would no longer concern myself with or stress over the disheartening incidents that continue to occur in Nigeria. However, it has been difficult not to feel such deep sense of displeasure at all that is going on.
This is in relation to the recent South Africa-Nigeria xenophobic attacks as well as the reaction of some Nigerian citizens. It has just been ridiculous on both sides!
Clearly, the actions of both parties is a result of the poverty mentality stifling us (Africa) as a continent. And I am not just talking about Africans that live on less than $2 a day. Or those that sleep on the street.
Despite the lack of transparency, accountability, safety and the rule of law; the often bloated public sectors and squeezed small businesses; patriarchy masquerading as religion and culture; high unemployment rates and all the factors often listed as keeping Africans poor; I firmly believe that one of the main reasons why a lot of Africans struggle financially is not the state of their income. Rather, the state of their mind is to blame. The idea of POVERTY is deeply embedded in people’s minds. Further, their thoughts and feelings align with poverty!
How do I know this? The average African (rich or poor) shows almost at least three of the following signs of a poverty mentality.
-Belief that you are a victim of others’ decisions and choices.
-Fear of spending money on non-essentials.
-Constant search for cheapest alternative, even if a discomfort.
-Obsession with getting “deals” and free entry.
-Belief that you’re lucky when you succeed, incompetent when you fail.
-Feelings of guilt when you have more than someone else.
-Fear of being seen as boasting when you describe a simple accomplishment.
-Never picking up a check someone else may pick up.
-Never feeling you have enough reserves or resources.
-Intense jealousy – constantly comparing yourself to others, wanting what they have and believing that they don’t really deserve it, and;
– The belief you can “lose it all” despite everything you do.
One of the worst ills of this ingrained poverty mentality is that we are letting it sink us!
South Africans are currently maiming and killing Nigerians. They are asking them to leave their country because they have completely been blinded by the jealousy they have for progressive Nigerians in their country. So much, they have failed to think things through before acting with voilence.
On the other hand, Nigerians are making their own decisions and staging their counter attack based on fear! How will our continent survive and grow if we continue like this? How?