Attitude to work is the number three reason and certainly one of the most important factors accountable for the lack of progress of the Black man. With apologies to some members of our race who are hard and smart workers, I wish to state with all sense of responsibility that whether he is found in the African homeland or in the Diaspora, the Black man does not have a very healthy attitude to work. He is either ignorant of the reason for work or he does not care sufficiently about the need to be committed to work.
Before I am accused of propounding a theory that would open the Black man up for ridicule and put him down rather than open him up to understanding in order to uplift him, let me say that all races hate to work. It has been established through research that if we humans will have it our own way we will prefer we lazy about or relax and have all the good things of life fall on our laps than work to earn our upkeep. It is this universal nature of man that led early management theorists like the French man Henry Fayol to say that workers do not like to work unless they are cajoled or compelled to work.
The difference however between our race and others is that while others have grown to understand that although there is pain in work we human have no option but to engage in it because without it, we can have no gain to become prosperous, self-fulfilling and to live a comfortable life.
The attitude of the Black man, especially the one in the continental homeland, seems to suggest that if he can live without work, he will gladly do so. Unfortunately, God who created us has wired us up to work, partly to train us to be partners in progress with Him in the business of improving creation and partly as a formula for generating wealth to sustain us here on earth.
So important does God regard work and so important does He want each and every one of us to work that He decreed that he who does not work should not be allowed to eat, to have a free lunch on others. Yes, this decree is in the Bible, the word of the merciful and generous God. Check it out in 1 Thessalonians 5:10. And I am certain that in all religions of the world, none approves of indolence or a disdain for work.
As in other factors we have so far identified and in the others we shall yet see, I have come to the conclusion that our problem essentially lies in ignorance or lack of understanding. Where we have understanding, the problem lies in our mental attitude. It is not that it is in our genes or we are under a terrible curse that is why the Black man in homeland Africa and the one in the Diaspora act in like manner on most issues of life.
The matter is in our socialisation. It is just that for some inexplicable reason we tend to be mentally conditioned to act unhealthily. That is why in this particular factor of attitude to work, the Black man in the Diaspora is a little better than his brother in the homeland because the one out there lives in an environment that is organised to demand that you work or else you die or live a most miserable and pitiable life.
But generally, the Black man, quite sadly, does have a terribly casual attitude to work. We either do not like work or where we are compelled to work, we do not show commitment to it. We do not realise that works makes us active and keeps us alive. It gives us meaning for living. While other races see life or living here on earth as some kind of war, we live as if there is nothing whatsoever at stake for our survival and progress.
We seem to act as if someone else owes us a living. Take a look at all classes of workers in Africa and if you are honest, you will agree that we deserve to be poor, miserable and pitiable. Where he is not out rightly lazy, he has not quite figured out how to work smartly and earn much profitable.
Millions of Black men who have been engaged in subsistence farming since creation have not learnt over the centuries to improve their method of farming in order to earn better yield at less labour. We are so unimaginative that we live a life of the daily grind, doing the same thing day in day out without much passion and, not surprisingly, getting the same poor and miserable results.
I do not know whether slavery, colonialism and imperialism have something to do with it, that is, the attitude of the Black man to work. Why do I mention these historic realities that have impacted the psyche of the Black man in one form or another? Well, at one point or another, the Black man has been compelled to engage in forced labour or indentured work or required to work the land for a feudal lord or work a work that he sees as benefiting someone else more than himself.
As such, because of our long years in slavery, feudal serfdom and under colonialism and imperialism, we have managed to have encoded in our subconscious a disdain for work, seeing work as something primarily meant to benefit some oppressors out there and not something spiritually redemptive and socially empowering. We have not come to discover for ourselves, as other races have done, that without work we are not guaranteed riches and enjoyment of life.
It is only individuals and nations that have been able to discover the value in work that are guaranteed wealth, riches, comfort and happiness. It is not for nothing that it is stated thus in the Bible: ‘’And of the children of Issachar; which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do’’ (1 Chronicles 12: 32). What is the interpretation of this statement by Biblical experts?
The experts say that the children of Issachar knew that it is only through hard work and smart labour that you can have financial freedom to enjoy your life. The only persons who can take a holiday are those who worked hard enough and saved money well enough. No poor man can take a holiday no matter how much he dreams about it. Rest or enjoyment comes through hard and productive work. We Blacks cannot afford to take a holiday because we do not work hard enough to be able to accumulate wealth and have the freedom to go anywhere we want and leave work aside for a while.
Why does a poor man not take a holiday? Because he cannot afford it. Simple. It is the man who has worked hard and smart and saved money who can afford to take a holiday.