Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

#data will fall

In a ground-breaking move, South African mobile operators have announced a deal whereby people who cannot afford data would be able to barter their goods in exchange for data bundles. The new deal is set to come into effect in 2017 as some ground work needs to be done to design a structure of how this system will work practically.

Speaking to reporters, Vodacom’s Jal nied ta jus Pay said, “we are tired of the FOMO that is going on out there because people cannot afford data and as one of the biggest networks in the country we have taken it upon ourselves to bring data to the people.”

 

The system will see collection centres being set up across the country to collect goods and other items in exchange for airtime/recharge vouchers. Although it is still unclear what goods will be exchanged for which amounts of airtime, unconfirmed reports also suggest that those who have nothing to exchange will even be offered the chance to get contract deals as long they can work it off in 24 months.

 

The deals on offer range from getting a Huawei p9 with 1G of data per month in exchange for doing the Vodacom CEO’s gardening for 2 years to getting an S7 with 5G of data per month for doing lap dances at Teasers on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The latter deal would see the club covering your contract costs.

 

Experts around the world are hailing this new cost model as the way most mobile network providers will go especially in developing countries where data costs are so prohibitive that some people are even unable to respond to friend requests from as far back as 2 years ago.

 

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Communication said, “hopefully this brings down the cost of airtime and who knows people could free up more money to afford university fees making the feesmustfall hashtag obsolete and in turn all the (insertproblemhere)mustfall hashtags”

Teacher’s Pet

“Boys, today there’s a nationwide teacher strike. The government has declared this strike illegal stating that any teacher who doesn’t teach will be fired immediately. To avoid that what we will do today is pretend. I will pretend to teach and you in turn will pretend to learn, so let’s pretend.”

These were the words spoken by my A-level history teacher during one of many nationwide teacher strikes. Of all the teachers that had an impact in my life, my A-level history teacher sticks out. FYI the government fired the lot of them that very day only to reinstate them two days later after realising that they could not replace every teacher in Zimbabwe in 24 hours.

The one thing I valued about him is that he was all about real talk. He was never one to fill our heads with lots of fairy tales. The latter was due to our school being a traditional boys’ school. The former was due to him being morbidly obese.

It was clear he had accepted that he was overweight a long time ago. I remember him refusing to follow the trend (at the time) of teachers migrating to the UK to take up menial jobs as care workers when the economic downturn in Zimbabwe had reached endemic levels. Regarding that issue his response was something along the lines of: “I will not be going to the UK to take up a menial job like some of my colleagues at this school have done. I will not be wiping people’s behinds (he didn’t say behinds but anyway) I have enough trouble wiping my own (he looked like he actually could have trouble doing that).

When I was younger I didn’t plan on becoming a teacher. Now that I am, I realise that it was this teacher who taught me that teaching could be a fun job as long as you showed your students respect by not patronising them. I found his ability to be frank with us very refreshing. In a schooling system that could be very militaristic in its approach to discipline he showed me that teachers are humans too (and so they should be).

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/

Lost In Abroad (Part 1)

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

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

The most important thing is for me to position myself financially so that I can go there myself and get involved. Many Africans move abroad, but don’t ever go back for more than a few weeks’ vacation.  It seems we become too comfortable with life in the west, and stop feeling homesick.

My Life As A Foreigner.

I grew up watching my family move every few years due to physical safety and to earn more money.  My childhood was spent in Zimbabwe, where I was a foreigner.  We were not citizens, could be sent home at any time, and had limits imposed on how much of our money we could take out of the country.  As a result we felt very unstable, and even though it was the first time my family lived in one city for almost a decade, we were not settled.  We never owned a house there.  We had a very old car that didn’t fit all of us.  Once the Zimbabwean economy began to falter, we had to move on.

When we got to the U.S.A., it was even worse.  We struggled financially because our parents’ credentials were not as marketable.  My mother started a new career that stressed her out, and helped us survive life at a little above U.S. poverty level.  My father was far too experienced in his field outside the U.S. and took jobs that were beneath him, just to keep us moving forward.  My parents were waiting for me to grow up, because once I headed towards my first job out of college they moved back to Nigeria.

My father returned to Nigeria to accept a full-time teaching position with a title and pay that he deserved.  Often when we talk, he tells me that there is a strike or some other interruption of school – but we both know he still takes care of his students.  He tells me that only 27% of people my age have jobs…that I am better off here with student loans.  However, he has no doubt that Nigeria is where he should be.  He can have far more impact there than in the U.S., and considering that he has been traveling out of Nigeria since 1977, it’s good for him to finally go back home.  Recently, he sent me a copy of a book he wrote about the history of Catholicism in my hometown.  I’m told he spent a lot of his own time and money researching the topic.

Returning Home Not The Norm.

Some of my parents’ generation are moving back home, but it is still not common. I wonder why that is – and money always pops up.  I know that most Africans abroad did not ever intend to make a new home in the western world. As mentioned in the film “Lost In Abroad”, we typically left with the intention of someday going back.  Some left to get an education, while others sought wealth – but few ever intended to spend the rest of their lives in  countries where most people don’t look or sound like them.

Today however, there are Africans that cannot or will not ever go home for more than the two weeks of vacation they get each year.  This is unfortunate because I think we who have seen other parts of the world can help things get better back home.  We don’t even need to move back and live in Africa, but we have to be able to go there for many months or years at a time. This is happening with the Chinese, and Indians – and their economies are responding positively.

I think in the long term, we need to create a class of people that move more frequently between the the two worlds. Although this is not easy, it is not particularly difficult if we set our minds to it.  We can’t continue to claim citizenship in places where we spend less than 1% of our lives, can we?

[Look out for the second part of this article.  Coming soon.]

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/