I never tire of relating my friends and colleagues about the unity of purpose and resultant success that I’ve observed among the Jewish community. Indeed, we have all seen and heard of it, along with the fact that they’re widely regarded as the most successful in the world across many spheres of life, including finance, education and scholarship, and the cultural industries.
I”ll put this into perspective less than 0.2 per cent of the world’s population is Jewish and yet 22 per cent of Nobel Prize winners are Jews. of all the Nobel laureates in economics, 41 per cent are Jewish, as are 11 per cent of the world’s billionaires, and 20 per cent of the world’s richest 50 people. Six of eight biggest Hollywood studios were founded by Jewish people.
My curiosity about their success has meant that I’ve not missed any opportunity I’ve had when interacting with my Jewish colleagues to ask them about the secret behind their success. And many of them have told me that their success derives from foundational values that are rooted in their religion, Judaism. Principally, their religion teaches the key value of brotherhood, that each member of the Jewish People is responsible for the rest.
This got me thinking about my own African community on the mother continent and in the Diaspora. Have we truly embraced our identity and core values and leveraged these for our development as a people? The abiding philosophy of Africa is Ubuntu, or Bantuism, loosely translated in English as Humanism. It is the belief that our essence as a people is captured and expressed in the collective; ‘I am, because you are’;
And that is how we live- for one another, as is reflected by the multi-billion dollar flow of remittances from Africa’s global Diaspora to the Mother Continent to support families and communities. Indeed, businesses such as World Remit that we are honouring today,are testament to this very philosophy. So, if this is the foundational wisdom that is ingrained in our DNA as Africans, then surely, we have the same ingredients for the kind of success that our Jewish counterparts have achieved.
Through the individuals profiled in this edition, one can glimpse the immense possibilities of what we represent as a people. It is time to knock down silos, time to pull down narrow identities, time to express ourselves in the totally of who we are, it is time to stand and act together as one.