Stop playing the blame game – it’s for losers

by Sunny Bindra on June 8, 2008 · 10 comments

in Sunday Nation

I am writing this in the dark, afflicted by a power blackout. It seems a good time to pass the blame around. So let me start, obviously, by blaming our notorious power company, which has been a blight on this country for decades. Let me also pass some blame to my landlord, who seems incapable of maintaining decent power back-up in our building, regardless of the inconvenience caused to hundreds every day.

I’m beginning to enjoy this blame game. The more I think about it, the more I feel the victim of things out of my control. I am not as rich or accomplished as I could have been, and I feel others are to blame. Take my father, for instance. Why did he not realise that if he had bought a few thousand shillings worth of shares in my name in the 1970s and 1980s, that I would be a multi-millionaire now? And why did my recently departed mother give away money, food and clothing virtually every day, to all and sundry? With more sensible parents, I would be better off today.

Thinking back, my education also limited my chances. What was all that nonsense I was being forced to memorise and then regurgitate? Whose idea of education was that? I particularly blame my history teacher, who would walk into the classroom, write thousands of words on the blackboard that I was expected to copy, and then walk out again. He detached me from a proper knowledge of my past, and I am a lesser person as a result.

Of course, I want to blame my country as well. It is a tinpot place, decrepit and amoral. It has been led by looters and blunderers for decades, and they have constrained me. Had I lived in a better country with more competent leadership, I would undoubtedly have prospered.

But let’s not just blame the leaders we elected; let’s go further back in time. Those colonialists have a lot to answer for, don’t they? They plundered this fair land and forced people into enclaves. They ran the place like one of their damned country clubs, where only the members are allowed to prosper. My forebears were not members, and so I am handicapped today.

If you think about it, colonialism never really went away, did it? It merely changed its shape. These days, I feel colonised by western powers and their crafty financial institutions, who have ensured that I remain a dependant. My country is firmly in their control, and so therefore am I.

Finally, doesn’t my creator have a lot to answer for? I mean, what was He thinking? He could have made me better-looking, or given me a better brain, or made sure I was born in the lap of luxury in an advanced country. What am I being punished for?

Had enough, folks? I thought so. I certainly have. Playing the blame game is one of the worst things you can do in life. It is the most dispiriting and debilitating way to spend your time. You will find plenty of people to blame – but none of them will really be at fault.

Had my father not showed steely determination in not bestowing any material wealth on me, I would have been a wastrel. It is the necessity of living off my own wits that has made me. And my mother, by being a natural giver who gave freely to all, made me a far more generous person than I would otherwise have been, and changed the meaning of my life.

Many of us are habitual blame-gamers, and we are crippling our own development. Here’s what you really need to know. Every day when you wake up, a completely fresh twenty-four hours lie ahead of you. All things are possible. If you choose to wake up gloomy, that is a choice you make. No one makes you gloomy except yourself. If you want to brood over your lost love or your history teacher, go ahead. But remember you are expending valuable time and mental resources thinking about things you can’t change. And that is a fool’s errand.

Our history, our parents, our heritage, our education – they do indeed shape what we are. But they have nothing to do with what we could become. If we looked forward rather than back, we would find that all possibilities still await us. We would understand that many of the world’s most accomplished people did what they did without stable parenting or top-notch education or capital resources. So what stops you?

Africa will truly develop when it stops playing the blame game. We must look away from history, geography and biology. We in Africa must stop blaming our past, or our location, or the evil white man. We must wake up tomorrow and use it as the first twenty-four hours of the future. The blame game is a loser’s game, and Africa must look to the future.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brian Wambaya June 10, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Hi sunny your articles are quite inspiring and I would like to place them on my website to give it a more audience in Kenya.

Brian from Lang’ata

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2 Mumbi June 11, 2008 at 8:47 am

Interesting read. I want to know, though, when you drive in Nairobi, keeping in the right lane and some drivers deliberately cut in front of you or over lap, don’t you want to blame the driving school they went to, or the insanity of the driver? Sunny, not blaming these people will breed a nation of losers! The power company will think that it’s okay for us to go hours on end without electricity. the geography teacher will think it’s okay not to actually pass on some knowledge. And drivers in Nairobi will think that overlapping is actually legal. Not putting things right will make a few of us go insane with unresolved rage.

[Reply]

3 Sunny Bindra June 11, 2008 at 8:55 am

Mumbi:

Driving in Kenya is indeed maddening! But we must make a distinction between ‘blaming’ and ‘addressing’. The former turns you into a victim of the maniacs; the latter means you try to do something, anything about it.

For example, I try to never allow any such imbecile to cut in in front of me. I don’t always succeed, but at least I make my point to them and to other drivers. Also, I do make a note of number plates, particularly if the driver is of a company vehicle, and write immediately to the organisation concerned.

If I merely ‘blamed’, I would feel powerless and hopeless.

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4 maina June 11, 2008 at 5:23 pm

I think your article is spot on. By blaming everyone and sundry, we lose the power to act on our problems and fail to see the opportunities before us. No matter who acts to our detriment, we still have the opportunity to look ahead and do well.

Keep up.

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5 Sunny Bindra June 11, 2008 at 8:12 pm

Blaming is often just an excuse for inaction. Having blamed, we take the problem out of our hands.

I have studied leadership for a while now, and can confirm that ‘blame-gaming’ is not a trait you find in those people who start in garages with no capital and produce global businesses!

And one Barack Obama can be seen studiously avoiding playing it…

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6 Shray June 12, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Great article Sunny – reminds me of one of my favourite quotes and quite apt considering your opening sentence: It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness”.

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7 observer June 12, 2008 at 8:21 pm

Love the article its spot on in regards to how I see the issues that face our country and Africa in general. While all the things you mention merit blame, they fall into two categories, there are those things that we have direct control over and those that we don’t. So while the city council might not clean my street, I have control on whether I litter or not. It’s this type of personal responsibility over those things within our spheres of control that move us forward as individuals and as a collective.

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8 Sunny Bindra June 13, 2008 at 9:12 am

Observer:

An important point. Often, playing the blame game becomes an excuse for our own bad behaviour.

Shray:

Touche!

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9 Ahmed June 13, 2008 at 10:33 am

Hi,

Its good to know that theres someone who actually knows why Africa doesn’t hit any development.

Worse still is the fact that most Africans avoid doing the right things by taking shortcuts. If we have a society of people who work hard to achieve their dreams, and never look for shortcuts to do so, then we will get things done right. Perhaps the keyword here is ATTITUDE.

Best Regards

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10 Nesh August 5, 2008 at 8:11 am

Lets Rise Africa we couldnt be in a better postion,nice one sunny u are an amazing son of kenya and indeed Africa

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