BIG MAN IN AFRICA
Africans refer to people with money and riches as big people specifically big men, as African Society is male dominated. A female with money is addressed as Cash Madam. Equating money and riches with bigness is inappropriate and is confusing to a stranger who is more likely to associate bigness with girth or ideas. You are a big man by size, or you have big ideas. Jesus is a Big Man with ideas, so is Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and Mother Teresa. Obasanjo and Idi Amin are big in girth only. When you ascribe a quality to someone lacking that quality, it becomes difficult to wrest that quality from that individual.
For the reader who is wondering what Africastallestman has in his sleeves, here is the answer. A recent African leader on assuming office decides to dismantle all the great accomplishments of his predecessors to the astonishment of the misruled and overruled masses. An exasperated Nigerian friend recently called me to recount that these horrible events were taking place in his state where a rampaging Governor is busy dismantling the State’s infrastructure with no defined plan, purpose, or program. When I inquired what the elders and intelligentsia were doing about the madness. He replied, “He has paid off the big men.” Obviously astonished, “I replied you mean the small men.” Any person, man or woman that does not stand up for the truth as obvious to the chicken, by accepting a small financial inducement is a small man.” Why the chicken? The roads in the State Capital have been rendered so unmotorable that the chicken refuses to cross the road. Instead of the proverbial, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”, it is now, “Why did the chicken refuse to cross the road?” In response, the chicken said, “I do not want to drown in the water-filled potholes.”
While growing up in Africa, sometime ago, we revered the Teachers, Professors, Honest Business People, and Professionals of all hues. These were the Big Men and Women. Nowadays we honor 419ers and 914ers (confidence fraudsters), Legislooters (Legislators), Sinators (Senators), Commission Agents, and Sell-outs (Betrayers of common causes for personal gain). Sell-outs will send their whole tribe for a fee. Do sell-outs realize that the entity that gave you one billion Naira to rape your people will collect one trillion dollars in return? The reformation process will begin when these big men are addressed as small men and are socially shunned by the larger society. My observation is that persons who made their fortunes by invention, hard work, or luck do not like the appellation, big man. This brings back the idea of influenceable shamelessness. In the colonial era, persons with dubious sources of wealth avoided ostentatious living and notoriety. The external authoritative force – colonists – is no longer available to sanitize the situation. When you glorify ill-gotten wealth, dubious wealth acquisition becomes a societal norm and non-practitioners of this enhanced stealing methodology become the mugus (fools) of society.