No matter how you look at it, the apprenticeship scheme among Igbos lifted many families out of abject poverty.
It is a system whereby the rich takes the poor along with him to the city, teach him how to run a particular line of business for five or seven years, and then give him seed capital to start his own business.
I am one of those who attended the University of Practical Business Study (apprenticeship–as Frank Chima calls it) and I can tell you that it transformed the South Eastern states.
So, the rich needs to empower the poor.
There are different ways to do this. If everyone of us can go to the slums and poor neighborhoods and empower them with skills, we will make undeniable impact.
The best thing you can give to the poor is not necessarily money; help them to find their bearings in life. Teach them different skills so that they can fend for themselves.
That is exactly what we are doing through Inspire Africa Project Conference. We may not have lots of money, but we can help people to discover themselves, learn a skill, learn how to think and generate solutions, and then establish whatever they want to do with any amount of money they have.
The federal and state governments have lots of grants, loans and scholarships, but they don’t communicate them in the language the poor will understand. They simply speak grammer thinking they have done their part.
They need to communicate in the language the poor will understand.
If the rich neighborhoods can consistently organize empowerment programs for the poor people that lives around them, they will make undeniable impact in one or two years.
We should give people fish, but we must also teach them how to own fish ponds. That way, they can take care of themselves and their families.
I like the action that young people are taking after the protest. They are on a mission to change the mindsets of area boys and street urchins that politicians use to rig elections and disrupt peaceful pretests.
It is a laudable project. Everyone of us need to join them. Talk to the area boys on your street. Organize empowerment programs for them. Raise fund and give them seed capital. Some will spend it, but at least, some will be useful to themselves and the society.
The greatest need of the poor is mental transformation. Many people are poor because they were conditioned by their environment to think poverty and lack. We must help them to change their mindsets so that they can become agents of change.
“Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”
— James A. Baldwin.
“Let us work in partnerships between rich and poor to improve the opportunities of all human beings to build better lives.”
— Kofi Annan.
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
— Frederick Douglass.
Wisdom is profitable to direct.
I remain Ifeanyi A. C. Eze.
Convener, Inspire Africa Project Conference.