- Post 12 February 2013
- Last Updated on 13 February 2013
- By Farouk Martins Aresa
Anyone watching international news live on television in this second week of February 2013 must have called their friends and relatives in the Northeastern part of United States and Canada wondering if they survived the snow storm blizzard. Two Africans were featured helping with the clearing of the snow almost higher than them. According to one of their accents, the blizzard they had five years before was also formidable.
Those who think Africans cannot survive in hard and brutal climate must think again. Yes O, we had it too easy in Africa. Plant corn almost anywhere, it will grow. So we call it the land flowing with milk and honey. Everything mankind needs to survive is in Africa but for some of us, life needs to be more challenging to be conquered. After five years, one would think my two African brothers would have found an easier job to do.
One of them could be our brother that sat for one of the external mathematics exams in Nigeria. He noticed that math logs were not distributed. So he raised his hand to ask, why? He was told that there was no need for it anymore. He got curious and suspicious. Therefore, he queried: last year it was given, the year before it was given and the year before that, math log was supplied. How come it was only this year it was not supplied?
In short, he had been taking the same examination for five years. Taking another look at the snow removal crew that said the snow storm of five years ago was also formidable, this writer could not help but make some connection. Well, the joke may not be funny if one belongs to a crew that has to clear the snow every year for five years. Indeed, there is some good money to be made for that brief period of time shoveling snow.
Many of the snow removal crews depend on that short period during winter to make about a third or half of their money in the year. Most of the people that we have seen are white people tackling the snow, so it was remarkable to see not only blacks but Africans with solid helping hands. These are brave men. Many Africans try as much as possible to avoid snow, even outside their houses. Some whites get sick of it and move to warmer climate in Florida and Texas as they get older to avoid heart attack shoveling.
This writer is in no position to joke about African snow removers. Before leaving Africa, he had been warned that winter was as cold as the freezer. He asked if people lived there and he was assured that people did. Well, if people did, he could. He landed in Montreal in the middle of snow storm in January that almost reached his knee. He finally made it to Toronto as later advised.
As a court clerk in Nigeria, he looked for jobs where he could wear suits or jackets. After getting turned down every time, he met a beautiful lady that was a job counselor at the Manpower Office. During the counseling for jobs, this writer made it clear his goal was to get into a university to further his education. The lady told him that would cost tax payers a lot of money. But meanwhile, he sent him for a job that was ready.
Getting to the job site, in suit as usual, he was handed a shovel and assigned to a crew of snow removal. At this point he was running low on cash from home, due rent and he decided to work for the day. Snow destroyed his new Bata shoes from Nigeria but more important, his frozen feet were thawing like they were on fire when he got home. He had to buy steel boots from the same daily paid labor for the following day. Those two Africans shoveling snow brought back memories. Doing it for five years brought respect.
In Africa, anyone that had asked us to sweep the ground or floor in those days would have been cursed to hell. How fast situation has changed when Dangote opened driver positions to graduates and some of them with PhD applied. Well, before then we knew some university students and graduates supplemented and supported themselves and their families with manual jobs. Some of them eventually opened their own businesses.
If Africans can survive in the most inhospitable weather in Asia, Europe and America: why can’t we survive at home? The amount of effort we put into individual endeavors overseas is well known and has produced successful men and women. Yet half of that effort in our youths, trained and well oriented at home, could build up Africa instead of employing foreigners to build Africa in our own interest…, against theirs!
Our attitude toward work In Africa is short cut to riches, not working hard toward a goal that rewards us in the long run. Most of the students overseas, even some high school seniors have manual jobs that allow them to buy gadgets or support their struggling families. One of the most important lessons to learn is that labor is not below human dignity. Prostitution, arm robbery, kidnapping 419 or looting is below human dignity.
Before blaming our leaders and politicians for everything, we have to look inside our morals that make repulsive behaviors attractive. Some parents make money so easily, their children watched and demand it just as easily. These are the same people that tell other citizens to tighten their belts and demand less pay. It is a matter of do what I say, not what I do. People are just tired of the hypocrisy.
Many of us returned and found working at home rewarding. When you hear the story of two brothers that killed their father so that they could divide his earned gratuity almost due, we wonder what the world is coming to. Even when you struggle and bring up your own children up frugally, the influence around them may contaminate their expectation.
Children of Africa in Africa have to rise up. Escape to Europe and America is no longer an attractive alternative as it used to be. Using half of the efforts demanded from you overseas will give you twice as much dividends needed to put Africa right. You do not have to work to death in Africa but many Africans you not hear about work themselves to death crossing the desert or to survive in the so called promised lands.