Author: Wale Akinyemi
 Authentic Living

Authentic Living

As I travel around this country and indeed around Africa one thing that greatly fascinates me is the brain power that we have as a people. Just go online and see also the exploits of Africans in the world of research and innovation across the globe. We are a truly blessed people. This discovery then leads to another question and that is, with such brain power how come we are not leading the world in innovation and creativity? I remember what a grossly misguided man once said in a very respected global magazine. He said that Africa’s contribution to the global GDP was so low that if Africa was tippexed off the face of the map the net effect on the rest of the world would be negligible. That view point in my opinion was a public expression of ignorance but then while being objective we need to ask what could lead the writer and others to think so low of Africa.

The glory of Africa will be carried on the shoulders of Africans who are positively proud of their heritage. No great civilization has ever become great as a clone of another. Greatness comes from authenticity and belief in the authenticity. Muhammed Ali the former boxing champion of the world was called the greatest. His style was authentic and he believed in it so much and taunted his opponents so much that many of them had literally lost ever before going into the ring. Michael Jackson was also called great. Again we see his authenticity in style and strong belief in that authenticity. Authenticity is the ability to make universally accepted impact based on individually accepted beliefs about ourselves. Authenticity is the ability to give expressions to solutions in our minds. Authenticity is a preparedness to be wrong, a preparedness to be rejected, and even a preparedness to be scorned. If you cannot handle rejection you will never be accepted. Authenticity is the ability to take something local and make it global without losing its local identity. Authenticity is when African musicians singing in their own language pack stadiums abroad with enthusiastic fans who do not understand a word of what they are saying. Authenticity is when Ngugi wa Thiong’o writes in kikuyu and the world has to translate it because they want it so badly. Authenticity is when Equity Bank decides to go hunting to build a business model around people who had previously been called unbankable. Authenticity is when Safaricom launches a mobile money transfer platform called MPesa that the whole world is now studying. Trendy people wait to see what the next fashion will be so that they can add it to their collection. However, there are some people who by the sheer power of their authenticity decide on what they want people to wear and they design them. The world indeed dances to the tunes played by the authentic.

True innovation is an outward expression of an authentic mind. Many thinking they are innovative are simply developing circles within a larger innovation cycle. True innovation is the development of new innovation cycles or platforms where others can build on and it takes authenticity to do this.

I have often heard people excusing mediocre standards because it is Africa. I have even seen some African companies have two standards in their production – the local and the export quality.  That there is the problem. When our runners go and compete at marathons across the world, they do not expect a different track or route because they are African. They compete on the same global platform and they win. Until we have globalized thinking where we are ready to push our brain power to create and innovate on a global scale, the world will not take us seriously.

We need to believe in the authenticity of our brain power. I know many very intelligent people who in an attempt not to appear as proud have downplayed their contributions and have muted their voices. Friends, I personally believe that it is better to be construed as proud and producing results than to be seen as humble and be in the pit or be of no value. It helps to also know that insecure people judge confident people as proud. Remember what I have shared on this platform often that no matter the economy of the jungle the lion will never eat grass and it’s not pride, it’s just who it is. Similarly no matter how lonely the lion gets it will never spend an evening with a zebra. Again it is not pride it is just who it is.   twitter@waleakinyemi                                               ​

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