Capitalism is Broken but the Igbo Apprenticeship System in Nigeria can Fix itIdes Ofune 24th May 2019 0 COMMENTS
In 2014, I got a placement to work at The President Carter Center, USA set up by President Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the USA. I got it during the Ebola crisis in Nigeria so I was initially afraid that I wasn’t going to get it but I did. My joy knew no bounds. Ah, I will be going to the USA, the “I wanna gwanna country.” At the embassy, my interview lasted barely 5 seconds. Yes, I was that special.
When I got to the USA, the first thing I noticed were the very wide roads and sky scrapers. WOW! USA! I am in this country not as an immigrant but as a recognized talent. But more was coming. When my coordinator handed over the cheque to me, she said “don’t go to the Banks downtown to cash it. Make sure you keep the cash out of sight when you eventually do.” Hmmm, why? But this is US, land of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and so on. Then I went to downtown Atlanta, what? Is this USA? To be honest, it was like the then Oshodi in Lagos. I didn’t say anything.
Months down the line, I started volunteering to feed the homeless. Oh My God! I saw poverty! Poverty I had never seen before in Nigeria. Yes, there is poverty in Nigeria, it’s no news. But USA? Come on! When It was time to give feedback, I told the organisers my mind. As an African, they were expecting me to laud the project. But I told them, look, I have never seen this kind of poverty in my life. Are you guys not at all concerned? How can a country this wealthy have this level of inequality? The world is broken! Capitalism is broken and needs to be fixed.
When I came back to Nigeria, I started putting things into perspective. This is not a church bashing article but sometimes I wonder how we Christians can be so comfortable seeing Pastors ridiculously wealthy in the same country where you have so many wretched poor. To be honest, it doesn’t sit well with me at all. It boggles my mind. That’s why I made a post about the Igbo system being the best in the world. A man willingly yields a share of his capital to his apprentice who will become his competitor but he is not afraid. He openly welcomes it.
Personally, I think the solution to the world’s greatest problems lies in Africa. Our societies are still to a large extent primitive and untouched. We can teach the world how to compete in a healthy way. So that yes, not everyone becomes wealthy BUT no one is desperately poor to the extent of begging for food to eat.
Ides Ofune is currently a PhD Student at the University of Leeds. Her research focuses on civil society and accountability in improving the quality of education. She is the founder of Desert Bloom Initiative and editor of Desert Bloom Advisory. Ides is very passionate about education and creating an inclusive society. She speaks French and English fluently. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org