Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Poverty is a state of mind - View out of Ghana

"Poverty is a state of mind" is an expression I have always enjoyed and lived by. It has helped me through the days when I was dirt-broke but never poor. What is poverty? Is it having insufficient funds or is it simply an abstract phenomenon? Since moving to Ghana the abstract nature of poverty has been clearer to me and no time has shown that more than now.

As the credit crunch has hit, bashed and violated the Western world, turning national economies upside down, some nations are coming out on top. Previously wealthy nations are suffering to handle the state of their current economy. Iceland provides the perfect example, shocking the world by being on the brink of bankruptcy, when it was previously considered a rich nation. And just days ago Ghana was mentioned on international news as a nation whose economy was booming with a highly rated stock exchange, despite the global credit crunch.

So, a little (but great) nation in Africa is suddenly soaring economically while the rich world tumbles and falls. Who's poor now? The mindset we've been brainwashed with outside Africa for decades, of starving children with flies sitting on their faces, definitely does not represent the picture of Africa today, of Ghana, especially the Ghana to come in the next few years as we observe the economic boom that will come our way.

Does poverty only refer to pecuniary insufficiencies? From my first day in Ghana I had to re-think the idea of poverty. What we have materially in Sweden, England and other countries does not measure up to the value of warmth, humanity, kindness and generosity of mankind that we find in Ghana. I repeatedly tell people that in my three years here I have NEVER felt alone. Not for one second, ever. Whereas in my heyday in London, even at a dinner table full of friends I could feel completely lonely. Here, I am rich, there I was poor, not matter how many pound sterling were in my pocket. Although I am making less money than I have ever earned before (don't worry, I am working on sorting that out!), my life has never been richer before.

So whether we look at poverty as a matter of finance or as a word to describe any form of riches we may or may not hold, today we must reconsider which people, which countries and what other aspects of life that we regard as rich or poor.

What is poverty? Just a state of mind.


Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Maya! Maya! Maya!

This was so warm, I felt it from the very first second.

And the perspective is so clean and refreshingly original.

No matter my other views, for the period I read your post (and probably for the next hour when it replays repeatedly on my mind) I have to agree with you that 'Poverty is a state of mind'.

Thank you so much.

Maya said...

Nana Yaw, you are too kind!

I decided to take a different route, trying to see the positive in how we are aiming to escape poverty rather, so that for a second we can forget the poverty that (of course) does exist. Was a little worried about how it would be received but your comment has really brightened my day!

Sijui said...

Maya, I think there is a direct correlation between this and your earlier post on Obama. One of the results, I think, from a possible Obama presidency is the emboldening of the more enlightened and progressive elements on our continent. Not because Obama will do anything particularly helpful for Africa, far from it, but because his election extinguishes the last excuse for our mediocrity and incompetence.

If a Black man can rise to prominence and exceed expectations in a predominantly White society, what excuse is there for a Black man to not rise to prominence and exceed in a predominantly Black society?

Somebody put it less charitably, but I agree wholeheartedly with their assessment........"the economic collapse has demonstrated the infallibility of supposedly superior civilizations and culture." Africans need to get off the crutch of victimhood and intellectual low self esteem. If another society can reward and celebrate the best and brightest of our own, we'd better get to work on doing the same within our own societies.

The Evangelist said...

Hi there!

Thank you so much for this post!

It is so important!

{thumbs up}

Maya said...

Wow Sijui, your comment is so inspiring, really giving Africa the push it needs to get out there. Now is the time for us to move, act and we'll have the opportunity to reach any status in the world, the field is currently wide open.

The election of Obama will completely change the world's view of Africans. If the most influential country in the world can have a half-African president, Africans will no longer be seen as those ancestors of slaves, 'living in trees'. The pressure then is on us to bring our societies and economies up to the level of other continents.

Thank you!

Maya said...

Thanks for the thumbs up, Paul!


Related Posts with Thumbnails