Don’t shoot hun, it’s just me in the bath

In a week preceded by the horrific gang rape and murder of a teenage girl in Bredasdorp in the Western Cape came the shocking story of Oscar Pistorius. Oscar Pistorius aka ‘blade runner’ is the double amputee who is famous world over for competing in Olympic athletics despite his use of prosthetic legs. No doubt, moving forward he will be known more for what he did this past week than for his exploits on the track.

Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend. He claims he shot his girlfriend who was in the bath at the time (according to him) because he mistook her for a burglar.

It is both disturbing and a sign of our increasing insensitivity to violence to see that amidst all this tragedy people have been coming up with all manner of jokes. Most, are heavily reliant on puns revolving around Oscar Pistorius’ legs or lack thereof. This has been done in ignorance of the fact that at the end of the day there is a family that has lost a loved one. I am not uptight but I am not one to laugh at a man when he is on his knees.

Personal opinion aside, has South Africa really become so crime ridden? So full of crime that a guy who lives in a gated community with security that rivals even that of the Berlin Wall at its peak feels so vulnerable he shoots at the first thing that moves? So unsafe that he feels he needs, in addition to such security and a burglar alarm (assuming he has one), a collection of weapons to defend himself in case someone breaks into his house? So unsafe that he shoots multiple times at a target whose identity he has not established (assuming his version of events is the truth) because in a house where he is alone with his girlfriend if something moves in the bath it must be a burglar?

When I was younger I always knew I was in trouble when my father called me by my middle name. So, Leonard, I don’t know you or what really happened at your home on Valentine’s Day but come the start of your trial you have a lot of explaining to do.

Lost In Abroad (Part 2)

As an African living abroad, what are you doing about Africa’s problems?

Have you ever been asked this question?  I was recently, and the following is the second installment of my answer.  As with most things in life, I think money is part of the solution.

[Read the first part here if you haven’t done so already]

Overtime.

Unfortunately many of us in America work too much.  We don’t manage to save much under the age of 40 – even though most of us are well-paid professionals. By our 40’s the sense of adventure required to contribute significantly back home is gone.  Family responsibilities ($$) take center stage, and other things become more important.  Those with the incomes that make wealth-building easier often stay here because life is easier and rich people are safer.  The huge houses that can be purchased in nice upper-class neighborhoods are too hard to resist.

I also doubt that Africans live like visitors in the U.S.  We don’t behave like people that have a home elsewhere.  We acquire hard assets, and live upper-middle-class lives – some even create social clubs and the sorts of things that make it feel like “back home”.  If you come to Houston, you’ll quickly find imported African foods as well as traditional fabrics.  Our home countries inevitably become vacation spots, rather than places we go to get goals accomplished.  Sure some people do Medical Missions, but other than saving a few lives, what systemic changes can that affect?  In Lost In Abroad, one of the characters understood this, and made an effort to use his Architectural skills back home where he thought it was needed most.

For my part, I don’t have plans right now to live in Nigeria.  However I recognize that plans change.  I remember that I was sent out to acquire certain things, and once I have them I don’t want to be stuck here or anywhere else.  I am also starting to question the merits of living out the rest of my life in the Western world. Do I want my children to grow up here?  I’m not saying that there is something wrong with being here, but I have other options.  I just heard that my father built a [second] small house, with the notion that my brother and I should not have to share space in the house he already has.  Somewhere in the world I can live in a house without rent or mortgage payments!

Will I Be Lost In Abroad?

My family wasn’t stuck in Nigeria; nor were we stuck in Zimbabwe.  When the kitchen got too hot, we moved on to greener pastures.  Doesn’t it make sense that if we weren’t stuck at “home” that we wouldn’t become stuck abroad?  This has many implications for how we build wealth in foreign lands, and how much we strive to be “at home” in another man’s house.  Citizenship acquired through legal means doesn’t feel quite like the citizenship that is a birthright.

Every time President Barack Obama’s race or citizenship is a topic in the American media, I smile at the thought of having a place where my grandfather’s house still stands.  I haven’t been there for a while, but that doesn’t mean I never will.  The prodigal son always knew he could go back, because even time cannot call into question the rights a person has on the land of his ancestors.  That means, no big house for me and no fancy car — not unless and until I can go home and contribute my sweat to African progress.  I may or may not, but I never will if I cannot.

So now I ask you.  As an African living outside your home country, what are you doing about Africa’s problems?

Albert Okagbue is a world travelled and globally educated Certified Public Accountant from Houston, Texas. He is a guest blogger on norushinafrica but mostly writes about finance related issues on http://okagbuecpa.com/