Civilization: Message from the Morning Man by Kojo Yankson


Civilization: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson

8th October 2015

The first people to settle on the European continent had a really tough time. Everywhere they looked, there was snow. Temperatures were permanently sub-zero. They had to instantly find clothing, shelter and food in that order. They had to run faster than the animals they hunted, otherwise they would starve. They had to quickly figure out solutions to life-and-death problems, otherwise, they, their families and their tribes would die. If they picked the wrong spot to settle, they would have no water. If they failed to make fire, they would freeze to death. If their prey outsmarted them, they wouldn’t eat. They had to excel every single day, or they would die.

You can imagine how this would have instilled in them a sense of self-reliance. They realised from the first day, that it was up to them how their day would turn out, how their week, their month, their year would be. It was up to them. There was no time to make excuses if they wanted their children to eat. As they evolved, they would pass on this attitude from generation to generation until it became encoded in their DNA. Religion would come along, and they would believe in higher powers and all that, but this fundamental belief that every outcome was fundamentally up to them, would never be removed from their genetic coding.

The evidence of this can be seen all around us in today’s European society, and all other societies they have spawned and influenced. They have a problem, someone invents a solution. Something goes wrong, they blame themselves and learn from it. Something goes right, they turn it into policy and teach everyone how to replicate that success. That genetic coding of excellence has led to a society that thrives and a system that works.

The first people to have settled on the African continent must have had the easiest life you could possibly imagine. They were surrounded by an abundance of resources. Everything a person could possibly need was right there at their fingertips. Trees every five metres in the thick, rich jungle to provide shelter. Fresh springs, rivers and brooks to provide water. You probably couldn’t walk five feet without treading on a fat, juicy rabbit to provide you and your family with a delicious dinner. As for clothing… well, it was so hot that they would have just walked around buck naked feeling like kings of the jungle.

So in the midst of such abundance, you can imagine just how difficult it would be for a lazy person to justify their hunger and poverty. When they pop over to their neighbour’s cave to beg for some leftover antelope stew, they would have to be armed with the best excuse in the world.

“Oh, the gods didn’t favour me today o. My traps are empty”

Oh, the gods have cursed me o. I’m sick bia. M’afe saa. So no hunting today.

“Oh, I actually started rearing some nice guinea fowl behind the cave, but the Gods did not smile on me, and they flew away to Burkina Faso”

Soon, everyone would be in on the excuses game. Farmers who couldn’t be bothered to work hard in the beautiful sunshine would blame the gods for cursing the land. Mothers who couldn’t be bothered chasing the kids around and ensuring their safety would blame the gods for giving her retarded children. Leaders who had no clue how to improve the lives of their subjects would blame the gods for cursing the tribe. Soon, the African would become experts at blaming someone else for their status in life. This skill will be passed from generation to generation.

And then the Europeans came to our continent. They saw our resources and wanted them, but of course we stood in the way. So they assessed the problem observed our behaviour, and came up with a solution. They gave us a gift: organised religion. To the African, that presented a buffet of best possible excuses we could have imagined. Little by little, we evolved into a race that believes that whether or not we prosper is entirely down to supernatural forces. This way, we grew more and more comfortable in our failures – after all, it was not our fault.

My friends, this is my theory of how civilization evolved. Now I may be right, or I may be wrong, but either way, the difference between the African mindset and that of other societies is evident in our daily deeds and actions. When things go wrong, we always have something or someone to blame. The weather. Cocoa prices. Our ancestors. Our predecessors. Everything is someone else’s fault. Which means we don’t have to lift a finger to try and solve it.

We have to think differently and act differently if we are to have any hope of curing this deadly DNA defect and leaving something other than debt for future generations.

My name is Kojo Yankson, and it doesn’t matter what my ancestors handed down to me. All that matters is what I choose to hand down to my descendants.