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Entrepreneurship

Ever since I completed my first degree, we have been bombarded with the apparent reality that there are not enough jobs for everyone. There has also been the bombardment of the idea that working for someone is somewhat limiting: financially, in terms of degree of influence etc. I have heard young men recount the outcome of their fathers’ lives and determine with much emotion that they will not repeat history. Nice as it may seem, obviously not everyone has the capacity or desire to start their own business. If everyone starts their own business, who would work for them? Assuming the Entrepreneurs are somewhat some chosen set you find that everyone working for you will be working with the plan to leave you soon to start their own businesses. How stable your business is!

 

Now who is an Entrepreneur really? Someone who can sell stuff? Someone who can start a business? Someone who can make money? I do not think an Entrepreneur is merely a business man or a person who has the ‘skill’ to make money. I think an Entrepreneur is someone who can add additional value to life and lives by innovating. If you know some history, you will realize that massive businesses today did not really start out trying to make money; they started out with a vision to deliver something new to the world.

 

I realize also that an Entrepreneur does not always own a business. It has something to do with the way one thinks. There is an ancient Jew who lived in Egypt between 1550 and 1400 BC., his name was Yosef. He sustained the entire known world by designing a system which saved food during seven years of abundance in preparation for the subsequent seven years of famine. In the course of it he made a lot of money for the Egyptian monarchy by selling grains to citizens as well as foreigners. He did not start a business, he was working for the Pharaoh of Egypt but he made an impact in the world. His impact was so significant that his father’s burial was called Abel Mizraim’(‘the outcry of Egypt’). Remember: He was a Jew.

 

A few years ago, I eavesdropped on a discussed between a few colleagues back home in Nigeria. The issue was that one of them wanted to request for stationary or something and it appeared it had not been long when he made the last request. The other speaker mentioned that if he owned his own company he would not be pleased if his staff came to him every now and then asking for “pens”. When I heard that I said to myself that he would be an entrepreneur because he was thinking like one. He understood ownership. The typical “worker” does not understand ownership, he merely looks forward to his monthly salary.

In conclusion, you can be an entrepreneur by your capacity to deliver innovation whether it is for yourself or for another. You deliver value through innovation and people pay for it, even your employer if you can bargain properly. Entrepreneurship is the desire, capacity and effort directed at delivering value through invention and innovation.

Kantamanto

Charles Darwin told us that species die off because they are not able to survive the harsh conditions ‘nature’ throws at them. Scavengers tend to thrive under certain harsh conditions because they feed off the remains of victims of ‘nature’s fatal blows. Scavengers all but rejoice at they disaster because without it, food may not be much.

 

A week ago, a popular market in Accra was razed by what might have been an electrical fire. As at this evening, the entire market possible the size of a football field looks like a brand new construction site. Over the past week since the incident there have been protests staged by traders who are worried that the Government or some large firm will take advantage of the situation and knock them out of business for good (at least out of Kantanmanto).

 

This fear may not be far-fetched as humans have been known to take advantage of situations like this both natively and even by some subtle kind of teaching to advance their own personal agenda at whatever cost. These days people are taught that unfavourable circumstances are opportunities…. Opportunities. That sounds nice but  often it is misunderstood as opportunities to make profit rather than opportunities to solve problems. An opportunity does not always mean a disaster and vice versa.

 

I recall the recent Dumso Dumso issue in Ghana and it reminds one of a certain giant country with a ridiculous Power Industry – power in terms of standby generators and inverters rather than transformers and power stations. Of course those in this “Power” business have taken advantage and are providing a service, making profit but really not solving the problem.

 

Back to Kantamanto. It is easy to see the situation as an unfortunate destruction of property and an opportunity to redesign the area and create a more beautiful city. But when one looks deeper, one can see the children that might not get fees paid on time in the coming term, young men that may resort to unconventional means to make ends meet, bad debts and the like. Sad … and even sadder when the situation is merely another subject of a strategy meeting at a table filled with those who have never been to and do not need to visit the market, emotionally out of touch with the human issues involved.

 

How do you see disaster? A business opportunity? A chance to make a political statement? Not everything is about money or power.

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Subconscious Residue

It’s about 3:58 AM and I have been listening to music all night while at work. Most of the songs I have been listening to are African praise songs on YouTube. I come across a comment by an America referring to the rocky spring and huts in a certain video. In her words:

 

love this song it touches my soul, i am an American but it seen as though i’ve been in the place of the rocks before can you tell me where is it please. especially the thash huts with the branches on it’s roof”

 

My first thought is that Jennie is not saying she has been there and has forgotten where she went. Obviously a tour to such a rare place would be something worth remembering and even recording. My thinking is that she is saying she feels as though she has been there and the feeling is so strong that it is not just her imagination. It is to her as though something happened to her there that she is trying to remember even though she has really never been there I her own lifetime. Spooky!

 

At this point, the thoughts began to roll in. Is it possible that this Jennie is an African American who is picking up fragments of memories passed on to her from her ancestors; experiences they had before they were enslaved? Is it possible that some aspects of our inner selves can actually be inherited? This Subconscious residue may be responsible for some kinds of Déjà vu or some dreams of things past, character traits which cannot really be explained as being genetic. Deep Spooky!

 

While towing that line, I might as well mention a certain event from my teen years. I was making a statement and at the conclusion, I clapped my hands in a certain way and I noticed the pause in the air. My mom asked my second cousin “Who claps his hands like that when he finishes talking?”, she replied without thinking “De” referring to my father. I mean, I can understand the appearance of one’s nose or one’s complexion being transferred via genetic code but mannerisms and character traits being transferred in this way is a bit extreme for me. Maybe someone can explain. Subconscious Residue.

 

Back in the nineties, my distant cousins came in from abroad for the first time. While in the village, I understand one of them asked about a certain tree that had been cut down as well as an old dining table that had belonged to my grandfather. Spookier! Well it was either a case of familiar spirits or still my theory of Subconscious Residue. I never got to ask her about it myself.

 

At this point you might think this is a case of blabbing gone too far. Well, you will agree that there are many things which are yet to be explained about our human experiences. I look forward to asking the Creator when we get to Heaven. I do hope you are coming.

Church Bus

Now and again on road journeys before the journey begins someone stands up in the bus to pray and preach. In the past, it was purely voluntary: some passenger volunteers himself/herself and everyone joins in the singing and praying and possibly listens to the preaching.

In the last decade or so it seems a profession has grown out of the practice so much so that if a passenger volunteers to pray, the bus conductor or other person tells him/her to hold on since they have someone whose job it is to pray before the journey starts. I have personally seen this. I guess we can refer to this person as the Official Bus Pastor.

Of course, the Official Bus Pastor must be paid! Who pays the pastor? Moreover, I kinda suspect that the pastor himself pays to be permitted to preach else the bus conductor wouldn’t preserve their office so jealously. It is very common if not ubiquitous for such Official Bus Pastors (mostly our Igbo brothers) to ask for offerings at the end of the prayer and message. (I would have thought the One who sent them could pay them, if they were really sent by Him).

It upsets me (I am sorry) so I often either do not participate at all or I don’t drop the ‘payment’. In my last bus journey, the preacher was skilled at capturing the audience: “wave your hands if you belong to the Lord”, “I need a louder amen”, “clap your hands to Jesus” and all such public speaking clichés. Of course the message needs not be too deep lest the customers get offended and refuse to pay.

In this case, at the end of the message, while he was praying the preacher dropped a CD in selected laps and exhorted a bit on “sacrifice”. I was one of the selected (maybe my suede jacket and the ‘I Believe in Visions’ book I was reading helped my selection). After the prayer, he made the request for money in a web of words mentioned possible denominations such as five cedis, ten cedis …. Well, I did not donate. In fact, I turned my face to the window. I would have preferred to give the money to the boy begging for food outside.

Believe it or not, after the prayer, as the preacher walked backed from the other end of the bus he picked the CD up right from my lap with some stealth. Err… OK… So it wasn’t free after all. Amazing. As he walked out of the bus I wondered what he would be most glad about that morning: the number of souls he won or the amount of money he made. What do you think?

Professionals

While on a bus to Nigeria recently, we happened watch a video of Night of a Thousand Laughs where a certain comedian told a joke about the fact that people should be proud of their profession. Yahoo boys, prostitutes etc. should indicate theirs on their complementary cards: “Kenechukwu Egoigwemmadu, Marco Polo”, “Bianca Omonigho, Runs Gal” etc.

Incidentally, at the Nigerian border (the only one with almost 10 checkpoints), a certain set of officials discovered a “Yahoo Boy” on the bus apparently from an SMS on his phone. We were delayed for about an hour. When he was finally release after having his phone seized (to be picked up for 50 thousand naira the next day), made such statements as the following when someone raised the issue on the bus:

“It’s just that I didn’t have much cash on me, nobody would have known”

“I have nine boys in Ghana”

“If I hit money now you go … ” Referring to a woman who had challenged him for doing that kind of ‘work’.

“I dey settle them for Ghana”

Among the varied comments from passengers, I managed to glean the following:

“It is better than being an armed robber” – err… OK, debateable. Different brands of thieves.

“My brother collect all the money wey white man collect from us” – OK, so it’s about revenge.

“Oya provide job for am now make e stop” – excuses, excuses.

“Na yahoo boys full churches for Ghana” – as long as they pay tithes, I guess. (To pastors like my brother who preached earlier).

I guess it has become a publicly accepted profession in Nigeria as long as the professionals pay tax to policemen and their cohorts. Simultaneously, Nigeria’s reputation rots, people are excluded from genuine businesses and upcoming young men see it as the next means of breakthrough. Well, different strokes I guess. What would have been your opinion?

Till Death – Excerpts – 20th October 2012

I was standing by the staircase at Silverbird Galleria after a movie. Helen and I were gisting about what most 21st century girls gist about in their mid-twenties. I had not noticed Elvis until he got quite close to us.

“Mademoiselle …”, he began.

I stopped talking and looked at him. Helen cleared her throat and excused herself to take a look at some jewelry nearby. We had been friends a while and she had gotten used to being completely ignored when men walked up to me. She wasn’t ugly though. In fact, in some environments, she was actually beautiful but standing beside me was, I dare say, like the moon, as beautiful as it is, standing beside the sun. Please forgive me Helen. I love you. Mmuah!

 

“Monsieur” I responded in the little French I knew wondering whether he would keep speaking French. His French must have been flawless from the way he pronounced ‘Madmoiselle’. He was definitely attractive and could have made a fortune just toasting girls for a fee (from the girsls themselves).

“How was your flight?”

“Sorry…” I was actually stammering. Unbelievable.

“How was your flight, ma belle dame?”

“My flight? …” I was trying to articulate the question.

He wore a black fedora which cast a shadow over his upper face but I could see his eyes looking straight into mine very squarely. His confidence was intimidating. Normally it’s men who stammer during an encounter with me.

 

“I am sure I could not be mistaken. The perfection in your appearance convinces me that you came in recently from the Third Heaven. How was your flight?”

He smiled. I had started laughing before he finished.  I caught Helen staring from a few metres away. I had heard many lines but this Third heaven line was almost blasphemous. Thus began our roller coaster relationship in which Elvis Lartey was the wind and I was elephant grass in the middle of the Sahara.

 

He was Ghanaian. When Mama noticed I had been going out with him for more than two months, miraculously, she asked whether he could speak Igbo. I just laughed and joked that I was learning Twi since we were planning to live in Ghana. “Hoa!” she exclaimed and went on with her chores.

 

Thinking back, I realize there was never any depth in our discussions. I guess it was just a case of Ronaldo meets Messi. Both of us were players. No questions about children, or long term plans, or genotype, or even where each of us preferred to settle. The discussions at our dates bordered on movies, fashion and current events. We just were not thinking about family, just fun. I knew I was losing it. I still prayed on my own. Once in a while he went to church with me and then we went out to lunch afterwards. Till date I still wonder how he made all the money he spent on me just by working in a Bank as a teller. Our dates usually ended in his house, on his couch, cuddling and proceeding on the borders of forbidden activities. I always asked for forgiveness when I got home. I could almost hear him yelling “leave that man alone”.

A Long Trip

When going on a long trip, we find that the process of boarding  the plane could be somewhat gruesome and seemingly superfluous. From the airport gates to the long queue at the airline’s counter; customs,  the long walk from one section to another while heading towards the boarding gates. Sometimes you get a place to sit, often not but always there is a sign somewhere telling you which way to go or else a voice from the PA system. Eventually you can see the planes, and when it’s time, you strap yourself to your seat and take the journey.

 

Short trips are usually not that gruesome. Not too many processes. Neither is there so much sophistication in the signs and instructions and slips one has to fill. This is the same with less risky modes of transport like a bus or a car. The boarding process is often easier when the mode of transport (quality) and length of the journey (quantity) are minor.

 

In life, there are certain journeys in life that require long and gruesome boarding processes, several verifications and check points, clearance here and there and often a good number of waiting periods. In such life situations, your willingness to go through the various checks, wait when there is need to wait and read the signs at each corner often reflect the quality of the journey you are about to take. In life’s long journeys, YOU define the quality and quantity of that journey.

 

Assuming you are the captain of the vessel in this journey and you choose to skip several checks because time is of the essence, or completely ignore those waiting periods, it becomes clear that you do not value the safety of your passengers much. What are the risks? A hijacker aboard… a passenger with no ticket… unforeseen circumstances … a faulty vessel … it could go on and on.

 

When your vessel reaches the middle of the ocean and there is no help in sight, no land nearby, a storm rises and your lack of preparation becomes apparent in the midst of the ocean. How grievous it would be to have a ship sink in the midst of the sea for failing to perform a simple check at the beginning of the journey.

 

How is your journey going?

If I Wanted to Rule the World

If I wanted to rule the world, I would want to know everyone in it. I would want to know their names, their locations and what part of my world they own. I would not ask them their names; I would let them tell me on their own volition. I would not ask them the names of their parents, their spouses, their brothers and sisters; I would let them tell me themselves. I would give them reason to tell me everything about themselves without asking.

 

If I wanted to rule the world, I would sell them my ideas, I would sell them my culture; sell them my ideologies and that at very high prices which they would be more than willing to pay. I would watch them stumble over one another trying to by my ideologies. I would not teach them in schools, I would come to their homes. I would be with them first thing in the morning and last thing at night; I would go far deeper than their conscious mind and embed my own thoughts. If I wanted to rule the world, I would imprint my image on their souls.

 

If I wanted to rule the world, I would identify each person uniquely, collect their finger prints for years, capture their pictures from multiple angles, record their educational history, track their spending patterns, monitor their travel patterns, and track their daily movements. If I wanted to rule the world I would not force them to give me these, I would simply make it a pleasure to share everything.

 

If I wanted to rule the world, I would let them loose, free to roam the earth and enjoy themselves, free to express themselves in whichever way they choose as long as they do not interfere with my rule. If I wanted to rule the world, I would silence the narrow minded conservatives and make them completely resented in the public sphere. I would let everyone loose to express themselves. After all, everyone has a right to live the way they want. To be FREE!

 

If I wanted to rule the world, I would penetrate every possible institution on the earth. From government to churches, entertainment to education. I would have representative in every sphere of life promoting my ideas. I would have sworn followers, strong personalities with carriage and influence, sound thinkers with persuasive personalities able to sell me to the world long before I show up.

 

If I wanted to rule the world, I would do my utmost best to ensure everyone is far too busy to notice I was coming. Busy trying to be rich, busy trying to meet targets, busy trying to keep up with the latest fashion, busy keeping up with customers’ ever changing demands, busy planning the next event, busy busy busy. Too busy to notice when I ascend the throne. Too busy to notice the massive changes unfolding before their eyes. Far too busy.

 

If I wanted to rule the world, I would not let an unseen deity get in my way. Why worship what is unseen when I can be worshipped! I would demonstrate that what is unseen cannot be real. I would prove over and over that we are all one and we can all worship one. I would show that we can help ourselves rather than looking to some distant unseen deity. If I wanted to rule the world I would persuade men to come together in worship.

 

Someone wants to rule the world, and he knows his time is short.

Njansi: The Missing Page

Hello Everyone! A certain Printer’s Angel took away page 100 on the Nigerian print of Njansi. Please accept my apologies. Here is the rest of the fight between Dr. Fleming and Njansi:

“A flame rises but I remain, A fire burns, I am not consumed”

Soon both men were in deep space, then in Sesiri’s court.

“Lord Sesiri, it seems to me that you are not aiding your son” commented Sri Verruca.

“They are both my sons” whispered Sesiri.

“I thought you wanted Njànsí eliminated”

“What does it matter who is eliminated? I am interested in the more wicked heart”.

Both men were back again in the underground temple which was now thick with smoke. Njànsí’s experience helped him put up a good fight but soon the higher powers working in Dr. Fleming prevailed and Njànsí was wounded.

“Dr. Fleming, listen to me! Sesiri has deceived us both! He deceives his servants and asks them to deceive others”. Njànsí breathed hard as he spoke. He was sure he would die. If Dr. Fleming spared him, Lord Sesiri would not!

“Listen!” Njànsí conti nued, “He is using you to kill me now but soon, he will use someone else to kill you. He cares nothing for humanity…”

“Shut up!” Fleming yelled, “You dare blaspheme Lord Sesiri. You ascend to Chitanam tonight!”

Dr. Fleming unleashed spirits to kill Njànsí but Njànsí disappeared.

 

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WARNING: This would noot mean much to you if you do not have the book, would it. You can find contact points on the website. Have a great rest of the week.

10,000 Hours

Repetition can be considered the tool for deep and lasting impression. When you were in nursery school for instance, you learnt the rhyme Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and you have not forgotten it since then. Why? Because you sang it so many times it rang in your head. You recited the ‘Times Table’ several times a week now you do not need to think too hard to answer the mathematical equation (2×3)x(4+5).

 

There is a theory that an expert is someone that has spent a minimum of 10000 hours on a specific subject area or skill. This theory of experts surprisingly does not refer to the age of the expert but to the time spent on the subject. A child as young as two is already theoretically capable of reaching the 10000 hour mark. The key is talent and repetition.

 

Have you ever tried practicing the concept of repetition in more advanced academic tasks than your regular Multiplication Table? Do you realize that if you are studying mathematics in the university and your decide to solve the same quadratic equation 20 times you will discover things that will impress the technique on your brain; the very same equation.

 

As a literary student, if you read the same book 20 times over, at some point you will be able to tell the story without looking at the book. That is what has happened with certain religions that make it a practice for their children to memorize their scriptures at a very early age. The indoctrination effects of this practice can only be broken by the Almighty.

 

In the workplace, it is the same effect. The Human Resource question concerning your years of experience simply refers to how much time you have spent on a particular role. This means how many hours you have spent doing a set of similar tasks. Generally, people gain experience involuntarily but the effects of experience gained over years on a particular skill can be deliberately reproduced by focusing on that task not for years, but for hours. 10000 hours.