An open letter to Africa.
Hi there. My name is Afra. I am the official mascot of Afreum, a relatively new DeFi and payments ecosystem for Africa being built on top of the Stellar blockchain. I also like to be referred to as the crypto-savvicious zebra. It’s a thing.
Afreum’s goal is very simple. Use blockchain technology to drive financial inclusion in Africa. One of the questions I asked the founder when we first met was: “How do you do that?”. His answer was also very simple. Be genuine, build easy-to-use financial tools, educate users, incentivize adoption, and support endeavours around blockchain that achieve the same goals. He believes that blockchain technology is so revolutionary, and the benefits so obvious, that that’s all that is required. His passion was infectious, and I decided to join the project there and then.
The world is going through a difficult time with Covid-19, the economic disaster that it has unleashed on the world, and the ensuing disruptions to social norms. Even the crypto world, which offered some respite to savvy users, is currently in the doldrums, plagued by manipulation, and FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). Against this backdrop, Africans have to deal with political uncertainty, youth unemployment, volatile currencies, corrupt governments, and unstable political regimes, among other problems. It’s not a great time to an African.
Yet, there are some positives. The evolution of crypto means that young Africans with a mobile phone, and a data plan, now have access to sophisticated international financial tools to improve their lives, regardless of what is happening in their own country. Increased foreign investment and private equity activity in Africa also mean that there are more and more traditional business and employment opportunities for bright young Africans. Yet, it is uncertain whether the benefits of these investments will trickle down to Africa’s young populations in any meaningful way. So, options are needed.
Afreum’s goal is to create an alternate economy for those who have been underserved or left behind by economic development in their countries. When Afreum is complete, it will offer alternative digital jobs, financial tools, payment systens, and investment, opportunities for Africa’s disadvantaged. However, it is my belief that Afreum cannot do it alone but needs your participation.
Afreum’s motto is UNITY. CLARITY. EQUITY. For us to work together to create a new future, it is important to understand what this means, and how it applies to Africa.
First UNITY. Any African knows that Africans are not united. Tribalism is rampant, especially in politics, and is one of the contributors to political instability on the continent. There is only one way to change this, in my opinion, and that is through a a fervent belief in God. A belief that he created all men equal and it was the cultural constructs that emerged after that creation that created a lot of the conflicts that we face today, including tribal conflicts.
I am not trying to sell you religion. Most traditional African cultures believe in a supreme being who created all men equal. I am asking you to regress back to that basic belief (as a starting point), and make it one of the cornerstones of your life. When we are united we can achieve so much more than when we are divided, and believe me there are powers at work that want you to stay divided, just like your parents’ and your grandparents’, and their parents’ generations. I urge you to say no to this with every fiber in your body.
Africa is a very diverse continent with over 2000 tribes and languages. Its people come in many colors, and every shape and size that you can imagine. There is more diversity in Africa than in all the other continents combined. Ponder this for a second. Without unity we can never achieve the things each of us dream of for the continent. So I am asking that your belief in God, the supreme being, become the anchor of UNITY in your mind. That you recognize Africans of all colors, white, brown, and black as your neighbours, and to love and respect them equally.
A true African is someone who considers Africa as home and wants to see Africa and all Africans do well. The more people who fit this description, the more united Africa becomes. Take some time to think about this. If you have a better uniting force for Africa, than the belief in a divine creator who created all men equal, do let me know.
UNITY allows us to think clearly, free from the distractions of racism, tribalism, elitism, and all the other negative -isms that continue to plague our world. By thinking clearly, you achieve CLARITY. Clarity of purpose. You want to do well. You want your family to do well. You want your village, town, or city to do well. You want your governments to do well, your country to do well, and Africa to do well. I know you want this. This is probably why many of you get out of bed in the morning. But just wanting to do well is not enough. You need clarity on how to go about it.
Here are some suggestions. First we need clarity on what Africa is today, and what its place in the world is. By all means, go back into the history of tribal wars, colonialism, slavery, and discrimination, but do not dwell on these things because they impede your clarity. Acknowledge them and come to terms with them, then move on. It is more important to focus on where we are as a continent today. A land blessed by God with amazing geography, nature, resources, and a diverse people, currently trying to find its way in a world that until very recently cared very little about it. In fact, I would go so far as to say sub-Saharan Africans are still hated all over the world for their skin colour. Maybe not as much as before but this is still very much the case. Melanin is the most detested chemical in the world. You need to admit this to yourself and come to terms with it. It is a vital part of your CLARITY.
So what next? First act of clarity is to acknowledge that Africans are not well liked by most of the world and to stop trying to please them. Yes, they will watch your entertainers, and your sportsmen, but beyond popular culture nobody is going to root for you unless it is fashionable. And fashions come and go.
Africans say black is beautiful. This is all you need to believe. Stop seeking acceptance from people who don’t like you because of your skin color, and first accept yourself. Second, those people who don’t like you, like your resources. Your diamonds and your copper, your coffee and your cocoa, your rare earths and your unique animals, your environment, and your geographic location. In fact they think you don’t deserve them, and will do everything in their power to take them away from you for as low a price as possible. Don’t let that happen.
Second act of clarity. Protect your unique commodities intensely, ensuring that when you have to sell them to develop your economies, you get nothing but top dollar. Protect your unique animals religiously, the way China protects its pandas. Protect your environment with everything you have and focus all your efforts on clean energy in manufacturing, consumption, and mining. Insist on this and do not allow anyone to pollute the continent, and destroy its natural resources, regardless of the short-term economic benefits.
The third act of clarity is education. Educate yourself on best practices from around the world, and only implement best practices, rigorously. Don’t forget, the world doesn’t like you so you only have yourself, and your people, to rely on. Never forget this. Study the world’s success stories and implement them religiously. At the individual level, focus on the economics of everything. The economics of science, the economics of engineering, the economics of services, the economics of agriculture, the economics of financial markets. Look to the pragmatism and wisdoms of your African cultures, and apply them to this world of modern knowledge. You know the ancient wisdoms work, you just don’t know enough about how the world works to give them new context. Clarity is about having fully informed options, and chosing the most pragmatic ones with traditional wisdom.
Clarity means you know exactly what to do to get ahead on your own terms. Once you start executing, ensure that all your people benefit from any economic gains. Leave no man behind. What good is it to be successfully while those around you are not? Sooner or later they will turn on you and use violence to take away what you have gained. Equity or sharing is actually an important part of African culture. Modern economics with traditional wisdom is the key. That’s why its so important to know that you are hated and to acknowledge this and come to terms with it. Once you have done that, you will stop trying to emulate your haters, or seeking acceptance from them, and focus on creating your own standards. You will get more respect in the long term this way. You will interact with them on your own terms, and ensure any economic benefits derived from those interactions are shared among your people. EQUITY not EQUALITY. STOP FIGHTING FOR PIPE DREAM EQUALITY.
So what has any of this to do with Afreum? We hope for an African future characterised by UNITY. CLARITY. EQUITY. In our small way, we want to kickstart things by uniting all Africans around a single brand. UNITY. Afreum is color-blind, tribe-blind, and geography-blind. In fact our concept of unity extends to the world. The use case of Afreum is Africa but the whole world is invited. We don’t need international users to care too much about what is going on in Africa, Africans can do this themselves, but we invite them to participate the way they participate any other DeFi project, and to potentially benefit from providing liquidity to Africans who need it.
We seek CLARITY on all things Africa, and would like to help Africans achieve clarity on both individual and collective dimensions. We will invest resources in educational tools that increase financial clarity for our users. We will fund research into useful best practices and successful case studies.
We will fight for EQUITY through financial inclusion, giving all Africans access to the same tools used by their international counterparts. Only crypto allows a small startup to make such bold statements, a testament to the revolutionary aspects of blockchain technology. Our slogan is Crypto for Africa. Our mission is for every African adult to have equal access to income sources, and financial tools, via the Afreum ecosystem. It is an ambitious mission but we believe with your help we can do it.
God bless you Africa!