Every change starts in the mind. The mind is a powerful tool and it can be trained with positive mindsets that will be transformed into the corresponding actions. One the flip side, when you have a twisted way of thinking, you’ll also have a twisted life. The Bible says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov 4:23 NIV). We ought to be careful about the kinds of beliefs we have if we truly desire positive change. The first step to change is admitting the need for change. These negative mentalities which I’ll share in this article may be harsh but it’s important for us to admit the truth. Only then can we seek for ways to improve as individuals and as a society. Here are 10 negative mentalities that are crippling Africans:
1. Being bulky/obese is a sign of good living or financial prosperity.
Nothing could be further from the truth! You hear people say things such as “You di live well oh!”, “Only enjoyment for you!”. Another one is “Only freshness!”….It sounds really good and you may feel like you’re on top of the world, but what’s the reality? If you’re overweight or obese, what that says is that you lack self-discipline to keep a healthy diet, to avoid eating a lot and to exercise regularly.
I don’t know about you, but without self-discipline you really can’t achieve anything worthwhile. Healthy and organic food is actually more expensive than junk food. So being overweight shows that you’re struggling financially. Just look at all the rich and successful people in the world, they take very good care of themselves. They make sure to eat healthy and exercise often. I’m not saying that you should be jagged up with 6 packs and all, but your weight should be mid-range at least. There is this popular saying that “Health is Wealth”: The rich are very strict about their health; after all you only live once right! If you aren’t healthy, you can’t live to fulfill your purpose in life. Do yourself a favor; eat healthy and exercise regularly. Start small and develop the habit.
2. Dressing flashy means you're financially upright.
Ever heard of the phrase: “Keeping up with the Jones”. It’s used to describe people who spend their money and time in keeping up with the rich, with popular trends, fashion, latest gadgets, and all. They do this at their own expense and of course it’s a lifestyle they really can’t afford.
You may look rich when you do this but you will never actually be rich. Worse case scenario, you’ll end up in a lot of debt. You dress with all these flashy jewelry, clothes, watches, and from the outside you look rich but all of those things are just liabilities. The rich buy assets, the poor buy liabilities and the middle class buy liabilities that they think are assets. If you think the latest iPhone you bought is an asset, then you’re just deceiving yourself. Why buy the latest iPhone when the one you had served you well? What’s the point? What are you trying to prove? Who are you try to impress? The more you try to impress people, the less they are impressed. Wake up! Don’t live a lifestyle that you can’t sustain.
3. Getting degrees means you're educated.
Oh yes! You got a Master’s or a PhD and somehow you now know everything. Education is not obtaining degrees. Our formal systems of Education have made us to overvalue the certificates we obtain. After completing school, you believe that you’re educated and that there is nothing more to learn. It is because of this mindset that you see several jobless graduates all over the place. A certificate is just a paper! What skills do you actually have? Do you learn everyday? Your value is determined by what you contribute to society. You’re not paid because of your degree. The only way that you can increase your value is by constant personal growth. Be curious to learn new things, new skills, new ways of doing things. There is no limit to what you can learn. Know this, the moment you stop growing, you start dying; there is no staying at the same spot. What do you choose? Would you rather grow or die? Think about it.
4. Rich people have sold their souls for money.
This is a common belief among poor people. It’s one of those things they say to make themselves feel better about their circumstances. That’s not all, you hear other common lies such as: “Money is the root of all evil”, “the rich steal from the poor” and all what not. That’s a typical poor person mentality which will keep you poor.
If you hate something, you can’t work to become that thing. The rich are rich because they have provided value to society. They are solving real problems and impacting lives. The rich also give back to their communities. Most rich people are philanthropists such as Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and the likes. The more you give, the more you receive, it’s that simple. What have you contributed to society? What real problems are you solving? Do that and the money will chase you.
5. Getting a spouse from another tribe is bad(People from X tribe are bad)
Some people for some twisted reason just believe that people from a certain tribe are bad. Somehow their own tribe has the best people and other tribes have just bad people. The funny thing is that people from the other tribe have the same belief. You see parents rejecting potential spouses from another tribe just because of some wrong mentality. You’ve judged someone based on a preconceived mindset that has been passed down from generation to generation. You hear things like: “That tif people them, a no want just hear!”, or “they’re all wayward massa!”. This causes unnecessary division. A people divided among itself cannot stand. It goes beyond tribes to nations. Look at the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon: Francophones against Anglophones. We’re all brothers and sisters, citizens of the same country, yet divided. How do we expect a better tomorrow? There are no good tribes or bad tribes; similarly there are no good people and bad people. We’ve all been created by God; fearfully and wonderfully made.
There is good in everyone; some people may just need to be guided to bring out the good in them. As they say: “One man’s meat is another man’ poison”, someone may not be good for you but they will appeal to another person.
6. Those who succeed do because of their relationships with influential people or due to corruption.
“It’s not what you know, but who you know”… That’s not really the case here. Let’s take the example of the entrance examination into FMBS or ENAM in Cameroon. When someone hears that you made it, their immediate thought is that you bribed. Or when you get a job in SNH, Orange, MTN, CAMTEL, it’s because someone high up put you there. It’s true in certain cases.
However, there are people who got into those places through normal procedures. If there’s a relationship such people counted on, it’s their relationship with God. I’m not saying that it’s not good to know influential people. Networking is definitely essential: Your Network is Your Net Worth, the more people you know, the higher your chances of them connecting you to opportunities. Take note that this is very different from bribing your way through.
7. Working for the government is the best option
In Cameroon, it’s synonymous to getting a "matricule" number. Most people just so desire to get a job with the government. They are seeking for the job security and once they have it, they’ve made it in life. With that kind of a mindset, you won’t reach your full potential. This is a recipe for stagnation. It’s nice to have a stable job, but the problem comes when that job becomes your lifeblood. Do you know that it could be gone one day? What will you do then?
What really annoys me is the complex procedures and the unnecessary expenses it takes to write some of these Government integration examinations. You’re being asked to provide several certified documents, and photos which cost a lot of money to produce. It’s sad to see many young job seekers spending the little money they have to register for these examinations. An exam which isn’t fair from the start. You shouldn’t have to pay that much money just to apply for a job! It should be enough to submit your resume and cover letter like normal jobs. All of that spending is not worth it to be honest and the government is simply preying on citizens.
8. Too much talk with no actions
Actions speak louder than words. It’s very easy to sit back and talk about issues and limitations of the system or government. Most people talk about how things ought to be done; they give really brilliant ideas and procedures that could be done to bring change. We all desire change. Real change however comes at a cost. Are you willing to pay the cost?
Most people aren’t; hence they use their time and energy complaining or wishing that things will get better. That’s practically what happens daily on social media. Someone posts something disturbing in a WhatsApp group and you see several negative comments about it; it often leads to debates too! In all of that with the several points raised, no actions are taken. What was the point of all that talk!? What’s the point having meetings where a couple of hours are spent reiterating the same problem only for nothing to be done in the end. A good example of this is what happened during the National Dialogue in Cameroon in 2020 to address the Anglophone crisis. I wonder what good thing came out of that. Yet that’s what we do at a small scale in our communities. It’s time for us to cease talking and start acting.
9. Lack of support for our own
This directly follows the previous point. While the vast majority sits back doing nothing, there are a few courageous ones who step out of their comfort zones and start initiatives. What do we do when we see these efforts? We ignore most of them. Some of these Entrepreneurs just need a little support from their community to keep advancing. If we don’t support our own inventors and innovators, how will we not keep depending on our colonial masters? How will we ever stand on our own. If you see your brother working on this small project, idea, business, or trying to solve a problem, support him. You have no idea how valuable and encouraging it is. Despise not the little beginnings as the Bible says.
10. Blaming the Government for our problems
This one happens like almost everyday. If only you could sum up the total time you may have spent in a year criticizing the government. You’ll be amazed at how much time you’ve wasted. The government is definitely not innocent. Yet complaining about it is not worth the time. Your time is better used in reading a book, learning a new skill, taking an online course, starting a business and there are countless of productive things you can do with your time. Blaming the government for your poverty shifts the responsibility from you to the government. It means that you’ve given your destiny into the hands of the government. You’re expecting them to bail you out. My friend, sorry to tell you that you’ll probably be waiting till you die for that to happen. Take responsibility over your destiny. Only then by the Grace of God can things get better.
Thank you very much for reading and I hope you were inspired by these points to think differently from the way you used to. I will end with this:
Your thoughts define your words,
your words define your actions,
your actions define your character,
your character defines your destiny,
and it all starts with your thoughts.
Change your thoughts and change your destiny.
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