We all know about the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts.
Tycoons who build their empires on sheer force, a drive to escape poverty and capitalism. We refer to this as The American DreamTM and what makes it magical is that it could happen to anybody (although being white and male help….).
In Africa this generation has seen the likes of Gaddaffi and Mugabe to the likes of Kagame. Capitalism is different here and as a mostly third world country filled continent, we have been trying to catch up with the rest of the world and greed (amongst other factors), often destroys us more than it builds. In our defence, it’s been a game we were destined to lose. Our generational wealth was stolen from us from early on, African money that Africans can access is relatively new money compared to the economies running the world in the present day. Due to this, Africans we can strive in 2 main areas, manufacturing and innovation. Our challenge to build wealth and power requires more skill than any economy before. A self-sufficient Africa is unheard of and ruins the ideals of the west. Because unlike any other struggle for power, the black one is political and within itself a revolution requiring innovation and skill without offending the wrong parties and being crushed. Also this would be defined as more communist than capitalist and THAT is a real problem.
This is where the hungry millennials fit right in.
We are the children of those who have either seen colonisation end, or the grand children of those people. As Africans we have seen ourselves go from having no wealth to being able to afford luxuries of the world.
Yes, there is the American dream, but what of the African dreams with households that went from having a domestic cleaner as the bread winner to her daughter an engineer in the same position in 20 years time?
Now being a millionaire before 30 is a standard in some of the greatest economies on the planet (Rockefeller did it before 27!) and South African is not far behind with young successful Forex traders and ambitious 19 year old rappers like Nasty C. However, the difference between us and them is that we are tasked with the burden and privilege of uplifting our communities.
Young 20 something facing economic crises back to back while trying to go to universities that most of us cannot afford, building businesses and doing their best to not feel inadequate for not having all the answers so early on in life.
As one of them I am forced to ask myself: How am I going to make my first million?
Can I even?
Should I want to?
Does capitalism suit Africans at all, with all this black tax we owe our families and our communities? Is this how it’s meant to be?
We aren’t America who can exploit an entire continent to lay the foundation for our wealth, we are the exploited. Our foundation can only be built together. Is capitalism really the way forward for Africans and millennials or are we just creating our own 1% for the next generation to attempt to dismantle?