By Oswald Hanciles
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become” – Siddhartha Gautama Buddha
About a week ago, at about 6:00 a.m., I was jogging up the steep hill to my residence off Hillcut Road in the West End of Freetown when an agitated elderly man walking down the hill speaking to a lady said: “….”Nar im make dem waiteman dem pass we….How dem bodi clean, nar so dem hart clean…But, black man, baa! How we bodi black, nar so we hart black…”. (Translation: ‘That is why whites [Caucasians] are superior to blacks (Negroid); their light-skinned bodies manifest their inner purity and integrity; but, blacks are as debased in their character as their dark skins….’). Over the past fifty years growing up I have often heard similar words from all levels of Africans – living and working in Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Sense of inferiority in the African’s subconscious
If I don’t hear such pejorative words by Africans on the African race, I would sense it being acted out by Africans on Africans. Deep down in the subconscious of the majority of Africans appear to be a chronic sense of inferiority. My experience in the African Diaspora for seventeen years gets me to conclude that this inferiority complex ‘disease’ is most virulent in Liberians and Sierra Leoneans. As President Ernest Bai Koroma floats his bold and ambitious vision of a “prosperous” Sierra Leone becoming a “Middle Income Country in 25 years”….”a donor country in 50 years”…he should become forcefully aware that, individually, and collectively, the minds that he aims to plant his vision seed within have ‘poisonous thoughts’ in their subconscious.
The ‘subconscious mind’ is the real you
We think and act with our ‘conscious mind’. Now, every thought, word, action, every experience – conscious or unconscious – gets ‘stored’ in our ‘subconscious mind’. Some ‘thinkers’ on this mind matter say that what we were, what we are, what we will become, reflect our ‘sub conscious’ – which is 95% of what we really are. Your life as an individual is the perfect mirror of your thoughts, beliefs, and dominant mental attitude – this is what creates your reality. This is at the individual level. But, it can also be collective.
Your thoughts are alive – like a tiger, a child, or, a tape worm inside your stomach, etc. The greatest mystics and teachers that have walked on planet earth have always said or written that everything is energy. This has now been undeniably confirmed by modern science. Your thoughts too are energy. William Walker Atkinson (1862 to 1932), attorney, merchant, publisher, author, and US-born pioneer of the ‘New Thought Movement’, postulates that “where mind is static energy, thought is dynamic energy – two phases of the same thing”. As I reflect on my post-university experience in the aforementioned African countries and at home here, and continue to read voraciously on African affairs today, I am often amazed as to how too many of Africa’s leadership continue to blindly sing the new hymn of ‘development and democracy’ as foisted on them by the former slave masters/colonialists – while apparently being oblivious of the ‘A-B-C’ of development and competitive democracy: sowing the right seed and making fertile the subconscious mind.
The incapacity to ‘measure and value knowledge’
I am reading a novel by one of the West’s international bestsellers, Tom Clancy, ‘The Teeth of the Tiger’ (Penguin Books, 2003); and I underline a line of this thought of the protagonist, Jack Ryan Jr., the son of a retired U.S. President: “….Colleges typically did not tell you that ninety percent of your education came after you hung the parchment (your bachelors or Masters degree ‘paper’) on the wall. People might ask for a rebate”. (Another sign of the inferiority complex of even the educated elite of Sierra Leoneans, generally, is their incapacity to ‘measure knowledge, and give it appropriate value’ – so that a man with a bachelors degree and 30 years relevant experience could be judged the same way as a fresh graduate with a bachelors degree). I now shift from abstractions, and make my point about the subconscious and inferiority complex of Africans more vivid with two of my experiences.
‘If a white man is not among your company, it won’t succeed’
It was 1981 in Monrovia, Liberia. Master-Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe had shot his way into the ‘presidency’ in April 1980 after bludgeoning to death in his pyjamas in the Executive Mansion the President of Liberia, Rev. William R. Tolbert. That ended 130 years of the oligarchic rule of the ‘Americo-Liberians’. In early 1981, as a skinny 26 year old I had just started a job as a reporter/cartoonist (Yes!! I did editorial, and, serial, cartoons in Liberia and Nigeria) in the trailblazing computerized newspaper of the Daily Observer, owned by a human rights crusader, Kenneth Best, when my inclination for big challenges allowed me to be swept off my feet by a big idea which was first presented to me inside the Daily Observer newsroom on Crown Hill, Broad Street, in Monrovia. .It was a wonderfully simple ‘Nkrumah-ist’ idea – the nurturing of a regional marketing and marketing corporation.
A wonderful ‘Nkrumah-ist’ idea
The idea was to do marketing research in eight West African countries; explore the feasibility of industries in each country in its ‘natural resource of strength’ – i.e.: rubber industry in Liberia; cocoa/coffee in Ivory Coast or Ghana; ginger and diamond industry in Sierra Leone; petroleum products industry in Nigeria… Search for capital around the world; and establish strong industries, instead of the weak industries that exist in each country producing the same products. Do marketing of these products within West Africa, and the rest of the world. When the company opened shop in a three storey newly constructed attachment to the ‘UN complex building’ (next door to the Sierra Leone embassy in Congo Town, Monrovia) it was greeted with scepticism. One of my Fourah Bay College peers (University of Sierra Leone), David Doe (who was teaching Geography in the University of Liberia) asked me directly, “Is there a white man among you…?” When I responded, “No” – he hissed with contempt, “Then, the idea won’t work”.
The company, the ‘West Africa Market Research and Venture Capital Company’, went through its vicissitudes. I broke away from the original group in 1983. I founded my own company called “Marketing Africa”. I got on my Board, Winston Tubman, a nephew of President W.V.S. Tubman, who ruled Liberia for 27 years. (Winston Tubman, a lawyer, schooled in Oxford [UK] and Harvard [US]; was Permanent Representative to the UN for Liberia for ten years before he was 40; Justice Minister in Doe’s government, etc. He was second runners-up to Eileen Johnson Sirleaf in the last presidential elections in Liberia about a year ago). I linked the ‘green’ element to my idea. The rarest product, or, biggest differential advantage, that Africa has in securing serious capital for rapid development is NOT its iron ore,, gold, diamonds, petroleum, cocoa, coffee, cotton….products, but, its genetic materials found in its tropical rainforests. There was tremendous interest in the developed countries of Europe/America for the conservation and preservation of the tropical rainforest in the 1980s. My logic was for Africa to use these tropical rainforests as a ‘bargain chip’, saying to the richest countries; ‘Okay, we will save these tropical rainforests as a global resource, but, we demand significant increase in financing from the rich countries’. Though I made little headway in developing my marketing thrust, it led to the offshoot of a ‘green’ non-profit organization.
I was perceived as only serious with European sponsorship for my idea
I was a co-founder of the SAVE MY FUTURE CONSERVATION SOCIETY (SAMFU) in Liberia in 1988. SAMFU got a contract from the World Wide Fund for Nature-International, German Forestry Mission to Liberia, etc. in 1989 to produce and publish ‘GREENLOVE magazine’. We designed a letterhead with the logos of both those European organizations underneath our logo. It would be then that the same people I had lobbied for support for my trailblazing marketing idea, on the seeing the logos of the British and German organizations with mine, would say, “So, mer mehn, dis u ting ya was a serious matter O!” (Translation: ‘So, your idea was a serious one’?). Inferiority complex at play! My idea was given credence by fellow Africans only when the white man supported it. I have experienced something similar at home. For us to have accelerated development in Sierra Leone, for the vision of President Koroma to become concrete reality, we must clear the ‘mind plaque’ from our collective subconscious mind.
Removing the ‘mind filth’ from our collective subconscious mind would call for massive media assault; a propaganda virtuoso – not the haphazard and lukewarm approach presently being employed. Paradigm shift necessary!!!
“Believe it first…. and then you will see it”
There is hope from the ‘mind masters’ that I paraphrase here: All beliefs can be changed no matter how entrenched they are – like the ‘thoughts of genocide’ in a lot of Germans in the 1940s, and Rwanda in 1994, being transformed into speedy developmental thoughts, making those countries model ones in Africa and Europe. People often say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” A better and more accurate saying would be, “Believe it first…. and then you will see it.” When we believe in President Koroma’s dream of equitable “prosperity”, then, we are going to see it, and experience it. Philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, writes that “The ancestor of every action is a thought…” Prosperity action has to first be a prosperity THOUGHT SEED and a prosperity THOUGHT PLANT in the subconscious minds of millions of Sierra Leoneans – before it can become a prosperity THOUGHT HARVEST. In Proverbs, 23:7, in the Holy Bible, it is written, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” – in other words, what you put in your subconscious is what you are: for individuals, nations, and races.