By Abiola Olaifa
A farmer has five sacks of grain. With the first, he makes bread to survive. With the second, he makes more bread, in order to be strong enough to work. With the next, he feeds his farm animals. The next is used to make whisky, and the last one he feeds to the pigeons. If one of those bags is stolen, he will not reduce each of those activities by one-fifth; instead he will stop feeding the pigeons. So we know that the value of the fifth bag of grain is equal to the satisfaction he gets from feeding the pigeons. If he sells that bag and neglects the pigeons, his least productive use of the remaining grain is to make whisky, so the value of a fourth bag of grain is the value of his whisky. Only when the farmer loses four bags of grain will he start eating less; that is the most productive use of his grain. The last bag of grain is worth his life. (As Illustrated by Eugem von Böhm-Bawerk)
There is a phenomenon called the paradox of value; this was made popular by a philosopher named Adam Smith. He presented this paradox using what was called the diamond-water paradox. This paradox is the contradiction that although Water is on the whole more useful in terms of survival than diamonds, diamonds commands a higher price in the market.
The diamond-water paradox has gone through a lot of criticism and top among the criticism stems from the theory of marginal utility, it states that ‘the trading price of an object is not determined by how much labour is used in its production nor how useful it is in whole, but it is determined by its marginal utility.’ The marginal utility of a good is derived from its most important use to a person. This leads me to ask the question; how important is an average African life and what are we doing as a continent to add value to our lives?
Value is known as the quality attached to anything, ranging from humans to objects; it is the relative worth, usefulness, respect, importance or merits we ascribe to anything. The value of an object is majorly rated by the worth we placed on the object. I am very concerned about the value we place on our lives as Africans and the respect we have for our ways of life.
Every country places very important value to the lives of its citizens and their ways of life. You hear of German value, British value, American value etc., but where is our African value? We all seem to have completely lost touch with our values. We have forsaken our tradition and cultural values; our youths have abandoned our languages and dressings, we tend to copy the American and British values, presenting it in such a deformed way that it completely betrays our ingenuity. We sing American songs; wear British clothes and Germans shoes. The sin here is neglecting our values in exchange. The most adulterated American slangs are in the streets of Lagos and the best of Chinese made shoes are in Lusaka. We are doing all these in a rather confused manner and it is already becoming the norm of our society.
Where is the respect we have for our lives? Where are the family heritage and the love for one another? Where is our history of dignity and good dress sense? Why have we chosen only to copy the bad side of other people’s culture and abandoned our rich and carefully preserved culture passed down through the ages from our ancestors. Let us remember we had our lives before the west landed on our continent, let’s not ignore that special side of us. Arab has not abandoned its old path, neither Asia why must Africa forget its heritage? Why are we so engrossed in making money through any means that we have completely lost the value for the money itself? Where is Africa headed in another 50 years if we have got to this level already? Why have we resorted to living on borrowed lives?
The Indians have kept their cultures, religions, names, traditions and dressings and most importantly they still cherish their Indian values anywhere they are found. The Chinese also respect their values and they are becoming a formidable force in every parts of the world on daily basis. The world is coming to Africa in search of it’s natural and human resources, but African’s are avoiding their treasures, by pretending they do not exist or no more viable in the current world. What more can we say of Africa? Should we continue to live on borrowed lives and survive on donation from charity despite our abundant resources? Where are our African values?
The recent value that has come out of Africa is repeated lies by our uncaring, corrupt and self-seeking leaders, in this age and time, these deceits have not stopped or shown any sign of abating. There is little in the offing to stop the lack of common interest that is very prevalent in our polity. The value placed on the life of every average African is very low compared to the rest of the world, we die or are killed daily by cheap diseases and avoidable disasters. Every country you visit respects and put a high priority to the lives of its citizenry, they invest in adequate security, power, infrastructure and good health care, these are important if we value our lives. We have no excuse for not providing these basic amenities for our continent, we have the money and the knowledge to do so, but we have been enmeshed in corruption, witch-hunting and mediocrity. Other continents have done pretty better than us.
The only value we seem to hold is our history of corruption, poverty, greed, selfishness and some individuals seeking to feed their already fat bank accounts from the wealth of all. All our values seem to be eroding by every passing day. Our Children are all in this with us and we are not making any effort to change. We must all come together to add value to our lives and pay less attention to this daily joke and lack of commitment to the brand-Africa
There is urgent need for us to retrace our values, lets start living the African dreams, lets wake up the giant in us, we cannot speak, dress, sing and dress like the Germans to become the Germans; we can only become a ridicule to the world by doing so. We need to promote our image and show respect for our values. Our leaders should be the proponents of respect, they need to show respect to us by not embezzling our money, by not killing us through poverty, poor health facilities and poor quality of life. Let’s retrace our steps and start living our African dreams, our African Values.