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#FranklySpeaking. Muscle Work vs Brain Work; Africa And The EsauMentality .

The news that the Nigerian customs intercepted a container of “READY TO EAT FOODS’’ like Egusi Soup, Jollof Rice, Ogbono, Yam Porridge imported from India should actually worry every African . What this simply means is that it was cheaper and easier to make egusi soup and package it in India than it is to make it Nigeria. 

It's not shameful enough that we produce crude oil and import petrol, we produce cocoa and import chocolate, diamonds are mined in Africa, but Switzerland is the diamond capital of the world, now we are importing cooked egusi, ogbono, jollof rice and yam porridge into Africa .

Proverbs 12:27 says "The lazy man roasteth not that which he took in hunting".  

Isn't this part of the bible a little bit of an oxymoron? I mean how can you say a man who went hunting is lazy? Hunting is a very physical activity which entails running after animals and killing them. Why does the book of Proverbs declare such person a lazy man? 

This bring to mind the popular story of Esau and Jacob. We recall that Esau was a man of the field , a hunter and an apparently hardworking man. Jacob was described as a mild man. Yet, we recall that Esau came back home one day and had to depend on Jacob for food. And of course Jacob made him pay a high price for the food. His birth right. 

In the second incident which is very significant, their father calls Esau to bring him food so that he can eat and bless him. While Esau heads to the forest to look for game, Jacob first of all employs the use of a consultant, the person who has constantly produced food for their father for many years. 

Her name was Rebecca, the wife of their father Isaac. So while Esau is running to the forest, Jacob is consulting and strategizing. Then he finds the answer, he produced one of his animals. Not from the bush, but from the backyard where he has been cultivating them. Isaac was blind. He will never know the difference between animal gotten from the bush and animal raised at the backyard . 

So while Esau was still in bush working hard, the strategist had produced the desired satisfaction for the client effortlessly. 

This is the difference between muscle work and brain work .  

There are two types of nations on earth. There are the Esau nations and the Jacob nations. The Esau nations produce all the resources and pass them onto the Jacob nations who transform and sell them back at a higher price to the Esau nations. 

This is the reason why a country like Belgium, with 11million people and 30,000 square kilometers, no mineral resources can have a GDP of 500 billion dollars and per capita income of 45,000 dollars, 21st in the global human development index.

On the other hand, a country like Democratic Republic of Congo, with a total size of 2.4million square kilometers and a population of 85million, has 70% of the world's coltan, a third of its cobalt, more than 30% of world diamond reserves, and a tenth of its copper. Congo is arguably the worlds richest country with an estimated minerals value of 24 trillion dollars. But, Congo pitiably has a GDP of 68 billion dollars and a per capita income of 816 dollars while sitting 176th on the global human development index rating . 

History shows how the British, a tiny island colonized almost half of the population of the entire world. From the United States to India, South America and The Caribbean, almost 70 nations and 2 billion people fell under the colony of a tiny island of less than 30 million people as at 1900. 

What did the British do that gave them edge over the world? Time management. The British people actually triggered off the industrial revolution when they began to use machines to make clothes and steam engines to run the machine. Jacob mentality .

Up till today, many African women still believe that pounded yam, pounded by hand in the mortar is sweeter and better than machine grounded powdered yam. I'm told that Egusi broken by hand is still more expensive in Nigeria than the ones broken by machines. Esau mentality . 

In Nigeria, we still attach value to things due to how difficult they are produced. That's why we still move files from table to table in our ministries and processes that will take few minutes through the intranet and iCloud will drag on for days at the ministries. This still happens despite the fact that the civil servants themselves all have internet enabled phones which they use for only Facebook, Instagram and chatting . 

It is this same mentality that made and elected President squander a whopping six months before he could form a cabinet while we are clearly seeing a Donald Trump appointing almost all his ministers and a 16 man economic advisory team almost two months to his inauguration. 

Until we begin to put efforts towards producing with ease and speed, reduce the bottlenecks and bureaucracy in government regulatory agencies, create an environment that will improve our ease of doing business and generally take the private sector more seriously, we'd continue to see manufacturing plants shut down in Nigeria, while they spring up abroad and manufacture our egusi soup which we'd gladly buy at a higher price . 


#FranklySpeaking is a friend of the blog who occasionally contributes to the blog under the pseudonym, #FranklySpeaking. 

See photos of the imported packaged foods below



  1. *Clapping* Good good.

    I like this - Esau and Jacob mentality. But hold up, I dont get. Egusi soup was imported from India? Damn! Other people are thinking.
    But Baba that pounded yam matter ehh... there is a difference. Maybe not in taste.


    1. Lol kun, there is no way a hand pound can be better than a machine pound. Machine is machine, man is man. It's all in the mind.

    2. Guy trust me there is a difference. Hand pounded yam is better than it's machine counterparts and I'm ready to die to maintain this truth.

    3. Exactly what my friend said . But what do we mean by better ? Is hand mixed concrete and cement better mixed than using a concrete mixer ? Why should my wife spend so much energy pounding yam when she can just press a button and blend. It's just my thought that tells me the hand mould is better .

  2. Brilliant article as usual, but let us also give credit where it is due, let us applaud the customs officials for intercepting the container instead of collecting bribe and looking the other way in normal Naija fashion.

  3. All I see is that display picture up there...Nigerians we like short cut to everything...Some people would still buy these if it gets to the market....TNHW.....P.S...APC!!!! CHANGE πŸ‘ŒπŸΏπŸ‘ŒπŸΏπŸ‘ŒπŸΏπŸ‘ŒπŸΏπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ‘πŸΏπŸ‘πŸΏπŸ‘πŸΏπŸ‘πŸΏπŸ‘πŸΏ

  4. So sad, very very sad...

    Very well written #FranklySpeaking

  5. Good write up, I have participated in too many discussions around the state of affairs in Nigeria and Africa generally. I am of the opinion that something is truly wrong with the man of colour!

    I pray not to speak doom but the future doesn't look that good, after all "Ali must go" was in 1978 and things have gone way worse than then.

    1. Wale, try and visit Rwanda , you'd know that it's not a color thing . It's just a thinking thing . If we have the same ingredients and recipe like the oyibo man, we are bound to produce the same soup if we follow the same system . FS

  6. Well written, applaudise,its so sad to see how this country is turning out, I guess everyone needs to up their game so as not to be caught unaware.

  7. With the daily rise in the prices of foodstuffs (thanks to you-know-who), who wld blame the "jacob" who used his brain work to decide to package and import ready-made food? If it's indeed cheaper, then it's a shame to the present state of our economy...

    1. Exactly why toothpick is still one of the most lucrative imports in this country . The nigeria customs thinks it's about removing duty in the importation of packaging machinery . But it's not dear. The problem is the ease of doing business .

  8. I really enjoyed this post! Chrisyinks

  9. *standing ovationπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘. But the sad part about it all is that i don't see a change in the foreseeable future, we're too rigid and set in our ways.

  10. The thing is, Buhari came in with good intentions but because he has a rather simplistic understanding of economics, he introduced policies that are constantly backfiring.

    We always complained about our over-reliance in importatatikn2, he came in and restricted access to FX for importation of non-essential items. This was supposed to curb this problem, and to some extent, it did.

    Figures from NBS shows that in the last quarter, agriculture and solid minerals' contribution to the GDP, though still not as impactful, had increased significantly.

    Problem now is, we don't yet have the production capacity to meet the needs of the population, and this is even compounded by the fact that suppliers of these raw materials prefer to export (and are already doing so) and earn FX than sell to local manufacturers and processors. This has caused shortage and analysts are predicting that it may lead to increase in the cost of food and may cause famine in early 2017. God help us.

  11. Sometimes, I just wish all Nigerians read this blog, at least most people will receive sense. Brilliant write-up as usual

  12. Very thought provoking. This can be applied to personal life.


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