About this writer
Chinua Achebe will be really missed. Not because of Things Fall Apart, but despite. There were many words of wisdom he wrote during his illustrious career that should not be lost in grief.
He was the one who opined “If you want to plunder your neighbour’s house, first hire a good storyteller”. He was right.
What does the storyteller do? He diligently spreads false narratives about your neighbour.
“ He is a drug dealer. He is a vicious criminal who organizes all the house robberies. He even drinks the blood of victims he murders”
When the storyteller’s job is done, you can happily take your big gun, shoot him, and rob him of all his property. The neighborhood will applaud you.
We have seen it happen several times with colonialism, apartheid, imperialism and now neo-colonialism. Kwame Nkrumah was supposed to be an evil dictator. Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. We all know what happened to Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. And we all know what happened to Gaddafi who was before his demise feted in European capitals.
LESSON NUMBER 1: For Africa to succeed we need our own storytellers, lest we are plundered over and over again. The hyenas are circling with news of Africa’s rise.
Then there is the hilarious anecdote of the Snake and the Toad. A toad basking by the roadside saw a snake riding a horse, coiled up in the saddle.
“ That is no way to ride a horse, the toad berated the snake. Let me show you how. ” The Snake dutifully slithered out of the saddle while the toad climbed astride the horse, took the reigns and majestically rode the horse, prancing proudly up and down.
“ That is how to ride a horse” the toad said triumphantly.
“ Well done “ the Snake clapped “ Now you may come down”
The snake crawled back into the saddle, and rode away in its usual manner. On its way it looked back and advised the toad.
“ To have is better than to know. What is the value of fine horsemanship without a horse?”
LESSON NUMBER 2: Africa’s big brains should roll up their sleeves and get unto the factory floor. It is only by making, creating and innovating that Africa will succeed big. Meetings to plan meetings, endless conferences, summits, workshops, talk shops and retreats all have limited use. They generally do not put food on the table. It’s time to spend more time converting ideas into conglomerates that produce world class goods and services, sold to the whole world at the right price. Fine horsemanship with a horse.
Chinua Achebe will indeed be sorely missed.