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Mfonobong Inyang: Having the Gift Of Critical Thinking & Perspective

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This is a sophomore essay to one I wrote earlier this year. As usual, I just allowed my thoughts to wander to the high heavens and in the course of interrogating my own musings, I came up with some insights that may be worth reading. It’s hard, if not impossible, to dissociate the results a person, business or country is getting from its level of predominant thoughts because as such entities think, so they are (or will be). So thought-patterns then become an important precursor to an expected future because if you always think a certain way, you will almost certainly get the same results.

Been There, Donda

When I tell people that I wasn’t born with a silver spoon, most of them usually assume that I am trying to play the humble card. I grew up in a two-room apartment with 8 people in a face-me-I-slap-you compound. This is not from some far-flung past; some of the old tenants still live there. So this isn’t burnt dodo or some aspire-to-maguire think-piece. I quickly realised that the disadvantage wasn’t that I was born in the slums, the ultimate disadvantage would be if I allowed myself to internalise a slum mindset. It dawned on me that if I could elevate my thoughts, my life would necessarily follow suit.

Two of the drivers of how people think, especially on this side of the Atlantic, are culture and religion. Sadly, they are also the most aggressive factors against critical thinking. Not to say that religion or culture is inherently flawed but their broad application hasn’t really pushed the needle in terms of creative intelligence. A lot of innovation and development has been stifled, stunted or sabotaged by pedestrian levels of thinking that have stubbornly refused to evolve and get with the programme. Great ideas have been made non-effect by archaic customs and traditions.

For example, when the subject of slavery comes up, most people imagine chains and cells, however, slavery is first a mind thing – it only has numerous expressions which may include physical bondage. Legendary singer, Bob Marley, was on the money when he included those immortal lyrics from his classic, Redemption Song, “emancipate yourself from mental slavery.” Our very own musical genius, Asa, in her 2007 eponymous album had a song called, Jailer, chides the jailer by saying, “I’m in chains, you’re in chains too,” alluding to the fact that the jailer may think he is free but he’s also in chains, only that those chains are not visible.

“The oppressor would not be so strong if he did not have accomplices among the oppressed” – Simone de Beauvoir. To better understand this, you must read up the history of slavery. You see, there used to be two types of slaves: house slaves and field slaves. One group was used for house-keeping while the other group worked on the plantations. The delusion of the house slaves however was that perhaps owing to the fact that they were treated better by their masters, that it made them superior to those in the fields or changed the fact that they were still slaves. Now, you see how easy it was for a few people to enslave millions; their oppressors would choose a handful of slaves and give them the illusion of freedom and in exchange for helping the oppressors further strengthen their grip on the rest. I wrote in my new book that will hit your favourite book stores this September that the problem with winning the rat race is that you will still end up as a rat. So long as you play by their rules, you will never be free.

The Exodus was how a generation of slaves left their oppressors’ land but leaving the slavery mentality was a different ballgame. One of the ways that Sky Daddy used in snapping them out of that mindset was to stop sending prepared food. You know why? The more you consume finished products and wait for already-made blessings, the less you will develop the capacity for critical thinking. So if they wanted to feed, they had to come up with recipes, food was no longer going to be served a la carte. If they wanted to possess the promised land, it wasn’t kumbaya – they had to come up with a military strategy to displace the inhabitants. Sky Daddy wasn’t just going to hand them a land that was flowing or filled with flora and fauna.

This is why, when a baby is born, it entirely depends on its mother to feed but as it gets older, the mother weans it off her breasts because what was originally designed to nourish it will stunt its growth if such consumption persists. At a certain age, if you’re still sucking breasts, it definitely isn’t your mother’s because no true mother will allow that. When people think for you all your life, it’s a form of slavery. That is why most people, businesses and countries run into trouble when they blindly copy and paste other people’s strategies instead of developing their own domestic playbook.

You Made A Choice, That’s Your Bad

It’s not on God, it’s on you. Never believe a narrative that doesn’t empower you. This erroneous belief that you have little or no say in how your life pans out must be systematically dismantled. For example, most people assume that we’re cursed with bad leaders. Guess what? That’s a big fat lie! How do bad leaders emerge? When you vote in people for reasons other than proven competence and character. When people that should sign up for their Permanent Voters’ Card choose to write paragraphs on socials instead. When people say “our votes no go count because dem don already know who go win.” When you agonise more than you organise. See, the list is long.

What such electorates don’t know is that inaction is a decision all by itself, if they knew better, they wouldn’t be playing the ostrich and embracing a defeatist mindset. I have been screaming and shouting all year to anyone that cares to listen that hope is not a strategy, you can’t just go to bed one night and wake up to Uhuru. “E go better” without a corresponding action plan is just vibes. The safest way to predict your future is to create it. Stop waiting for a saviour to come and save you, you may end up with a svengali. You are the hero you have been waiting for!

Something’s Off – I’ll Tell You Why

Let me take y’all to church real quick, hopefully this is not me preaching to the choir. There’s a verse in Proverbs that has greatly shaped how I understand the concept of work. The verse appears innocuous at first sight until you begin to unearth the ancient wisdom therein: “The lazy man doesn’t roast what he took in hunting.” The mediocre mind will experience a culture shock when interrogating this text because it cannot comprehend why a person that hunts should be called lazy.

That’s until you realise that ‘roast’ is a metaphor for value-add. What this text is really saying is that if you don’t add value to a natural resource, you’re lazy. If you have a talent but you don’t add the necessary value that converts it into a skill, you’re lazy. If you go grocery shopping but you can’t convert what you bought into a meal, you’re lazy. If you get crude oil but don’t refine it, you’re lazy. It would be a cold day in hell before a person that sells cocoa becomes richer than the person selling chocolate. Be careful because the culture of mediocrity will suggest to you that you’re working hard when in reality you’re hardly working.

The culture of mediocrity avoids the real work, it would rather outsource (preferably abroad for obvious reasons) instead of developing home-grown solutions – whether in education, healthcare, tech, and so on. It will rather ship out a contract to design something as simple as a logo than empower a local creative company. It will hound an ecosystem with predatory policies, outsource the key solutions it should have engaged that community with, then turn around and present such as ‘innovation.’ It will harass and arrest a young person for driving a good car because it cannot grasp how you can make a typical year’s salary in two weeks by just pressing phone.

O Ye Of Little Faith

Now you see why Africa prays the most, has the most religious buildings and perhaps the largest communities of faith but is also the most underdeveloped. Of course, it would be naïve on my part not to acknowledge the role of ‘exogenous factors,’ nonetheless, it still doesn’t absolve us of responsibility. Faith is not a noun, it’s a verb and until it’s accompanied with works, whatever you’re doing is just pure cruise. The Queen of Sheba didn’t just come to hear the wisdom of Solomon, she came to see it. In order words, it wasn’t just palpable or auditory, it was tangible and visible – it had physical expression. Ultimately, it’s the faith you manifest that will make you whole.

Reset!

What we call the new normal is really a new thinking or approach to doing things. The pandemic became a metaphor for the big reset and futuristic people won’t let it go to waste without re-calibrating their systems. Wahala for those who are stuck with medieval thinkers. Yikes! When you study the moves that Sam and the rest of the Big Seven are making in terms of renewable energy, climate change, foreign policy, economic agendas and so on, you will know that the world about to move so fast that if you don’t have forward-thinking leaders, you will be left behind.

The prodigal son, after reaching an all-time low in a strange place, saw first-hand that there’s never much love when you go OT. He found the courage to change course. He hit the reset button. He had been touching road for some time but he hadn’t been to “himself” – his story changed when he came to himself, that is, his right thinking. He probably said to himself, “Not me struggling for swine food when all my father’s slaves are out there eating good. It’s time I stopped capping with all these groupies, we going home!” His road to redemption started with the right thinking. Selah (pause and think).

Coming this September - get your hands on my brand new book, Hope Is Not A Strategy; Faith Is Not A Business Model - Mfonobong Inyang is a creative genius who works with top individuals and institutions to achieve their media, tech and communication goals. As a consummate writer, he offers ghostwriting, copy-writing and book consultancy services. A master storyteller that brilliantly churns out premium content for brands on corporate communications, book projects, scripts and social media. A graduate of Economics – he speaks the English, Ibibio, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa languages. He appears to be a gentleman on the surface but the rumours are true - he get coconut head! Reach out to me let us work together on your content project(s) - [email protected]

1 Comment

  1. Mobolaji Otuyelu

    September 10, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    Thank you for this article.

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