Sub-Sahara Africa’s culture of giving vs the money economy

Africa was introduced into the money economy a long time ago, and while she has no other alternative to lead her into prosperity other than the money economy she is resisting the money economy. The introduction followed by the resistance results in consequences. A big cause of that resistance, in my opinion, is our culture giving. We recklessly give.

Urban-rural linkages, rural-rural linkages and somehow diaspora-home linkages

This, in Africa, is a system of exchanging what’s produced without the involvement of trade (i.e. buying and selling). It limits the producer to end at only what s/he can give. The quantities and categories s/he can not give will not be his/her specialty.

In the previous post, I gave an example that best suits my own understanding of rural-urban linkages within an extended family. The BMW X6’s tank is filled up to full capacity or not. Dollars in the hundred range are spent. The destination is the owner’s rural roots where it can return from with two baskets of avocadoes, and virtually anything produced by the farming rural fraction of the family, as part of its payload. Those avocados are given free, they are not sold. And when the family plants seeds, they don’t plant much even when there is space to do so. Since money is not a motivating factor when it comes to production what’s put in the soil is only adequate by designation to give to a son employed in the town who visits during holidays and others in the village. In the village, as well, nothing is sold.

The son must give groceries and extra care. And the family is proud of him. And since he is the one who stays attached to the family he is what the family invests in better than the daughter who is not expected to be a provider but a capable wife. His education which is a greater part of the investment and which comes before his salary is a service that is bought. So we pay. We don’t get paid. The result is zero poverty solved.

When money is kept away from circulation it’s double entry with zero money involved and zero money made or zero wealth/economy created. Our giver can still get his credit and our receiver is unfortunately in debt which s/he must eventually get to give back. The neighbour will find no other way to handle it but to toss a quarter part of his/her goat when it is slaughtered. The son who got good grades at a good school through his uncle’s money which covered his tuition simply pays back by giving his cousins a place to stay when they need it in the town. He builds his house anticipating a relative and he is motivated by just that to such an extent that he can’t build more houses and make money out of the housing industry when his season of bounty comes. Ending up educated through the dynamics of the family is not a problem not finding the next step is. The number of graduates, the unemployed then emigrants increases.

Some giving makes sense. Some others don’t. And we are not getting to see through it that we are capable of producing better and more. We must give, but to remain not paid in all services we give kills an economy. In my upcoming motivational novel, Barbus, our very own Barbus said, “You’re required to think of what you’ll live through not what you’re living for.”

This explanation can help us to explain why remittances are not translating to progress. In Africa, we pay for our education and for our food coming from processing industries. In Africa, we’re never paid for the services we produce. We give. We are not given cash. We keep the money economy shallow to lead to our development. Because we have less money, our consumption discourages the development of advanced industries at large and we are likely to use one wheelbarrow (resource[s] for creating wealth) for twenty years, share it with six other neighbours who don’t have it.

Because we don’t have the resources to create our production is discouraging.

Our problem is tangled and it takes admitting that sometimes a culture can be wrong.

African governments: Giving to kill production and creativity in (or growth of) the private sector

On the national level, the government commands (gives free) the economy and crushes the private sector which must depend on being paid after producing goods or services then be taxed by the government. By discouraging the private sector the government keeps itself paid less or with less to give.

Africa Renewal, a UN blog, picked the case of Ghana and Zambia in their 2016 post. In an article with the heading Why Africa failed to industrialise, the two countries are said to have used what was said to be their commodities bonanza to fund non-productive issues like increasing salaries.

South Africa’s social grant system is another big thing wasted on non-productive issues. In the story of four Asian tigers, such grants were not the starting point. The starting point in South Korea and Taiwan was increasing exports, hence increasing production and be motivated through being paid after selling what’s produced. Produce and create are synonyms. Wealth-making is an art. Wealth is created. It isn’t distributed to end up wealth. If you distribute when you’re without you forget to create.

More Afrocentric articles

28 June 2021

Be ‘materialistic’ in your youth, when decline creeps in cease to be and share. Africa is missing it.

Why Africa is not explosively developing? In my opinion, we are not being materialistic here as other economies did. A culture of giving, if it remains unmixed with the culture of selling everything, is a harm to our future as it had been in the past.