On Guns, Business, and Africa
So Apple has designed an emoji of a green water pistol to replace the more lifelike revolver emoji that people used in their messaging up till now. It’s planned for the next version of its iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 10.
This shows the latent power of talent, otherwise called human resource, in business and its capabilities to modulate culture as humanity marches along the highway of civilization.
It preserves society by giving direction for the production of solutions that deal with the prevailing issues of that society.
This has become imperative because of the anomie and nihilism that is threatening to consume the peace and prosperity of the world today. It also bears exemplification for our thinking at Niara as we consider our higher purpose: business with heart.
This is the meaning of Niara and the basis for Niara, for Niara is the Swahili word for high purpose.
Business in Africa must play a role in enlightened self-preservation of society by deliberately facilitating the emergence of thoughtful leadership for societies and by providing solutions, which enhance quality of life. It should frame man’s operating system, the mind, to assume responsibility for security and ensure that unwanted disastrous outcomes do not arise as a result of harmful products and services created by business.
The purpose of business is to modulate culture so that virtue becomes normative and people can live with dignity; as beings made in the image and likeness of the Creator. This is in sync with the words that the prophet Isaiah saw1, that people shall be rebuked for the anomie and nihilism that prevails today, so they can save themselves by turning weapons of war into ploughshares for cultivating citizens into engines of purposeful productivity that meet the needs of society.
We must always stop to think before we create products and services meant for use by people. Our solutions must elevate Africans from subhuman status. And this is the challenge for leadership to understand for example, that gold is not for guns. No, gold is for ornamentation and for storing value. Our resources must be deployed to save us from squalor not kill us and business must lead this charge.
As a metaphor for leadership in Africa, it is worthy to note that Gadhafi the Libyan leader spent his country’s resources to acquire such toys as pistols and revolvers made of gold, only to find out at the end that they cannot save their owners from the wrath of aggrieved citizens. Business must enhance life, rather than kill dreams, which demonstrate that an otherwise secure future holds for people.
This call is everywhere and was so eloquently communicated in the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics where the world was challenged to embark on planting trees. The greed of business, symbolized by conspicuous consumption, has uprooted the trees of values, which protect the world and therefore set the world on a journey of self-destruction.
It is the call to take up the challenge of leadership and to make a U-turn from the journey to Erewhon, which so markedly characterizes Africa, as well as all nations in other continents. The greed of business is the root of guns everywhere, war everywhere, and killing everywhere. This point was poignantly made by Pope Francis: the world is at war and social injustice and idolatry of money are the causes of terrorism.
Just imagine the flip side of this picture in a metaphorical sense. Streams flowing with all Africans squirting water at one another with water pistols, in playful display of camaraderie. The fallout, even if unintended, will be a continent whose land though parched from poverty, is watered causing new seeds to sprout and bloom prosperity for its people.
Apple and the Rio Olympics are teaching us a lesson—that it is the business of business to promote the sustainability of society by influencing the creation of what people need most in their context. What Africa needs most is leadership that raises her people from the indignity of poverty. And business must take this as a charge.
Marketing Communications is a part of what I do and its high purpose is to lead clients to create products and services that continuously improve the quality of life of people. My purpose is to integrate Africa’s people into the mainstream of true global relevance and reckoning by making them think and innovate, rather than destroy. By innovation, I mean employing systemic reasoning and intuition to create positive desired conditions to achieve this global relevance. Intuition tells us that it is only natural that we be creators, since the Almighty Creator made us.
What is the business of your own business?
I believe that faithfulness to the practices that serve the high purpose of our businesses is our fight to win.
- Isaiah 2:1-4
Solomon Ikhioda is chief future officer of Troyka Holdings, a conglomerate of leading businesses in marketing communications, security, and real estate.