African Idols
6 min readMay 12, 2022


Written by award-winning Gambian author, Modou Lamin Age-Almusaf Sowe

Imagine living in a world where money is God, winning is vital, and people must keep the title, and perhaps, with a global president called Michael. If money, they say, is the god of women, what is the god of men? The most expensive bank in the world is not Barclays or the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Limited, but it is the bank of poverty of imagination locked in actual self-doubt and prejudice. The reason why we could not still overcome the global financial crisis — is not because there is not much money in the world — or there are not enough papers to print enough money to feed every country — but is it the belief of power and position as merchants of superiority.

The belief is that war, nuclear weapons, and ammunition are means of governance in a world where everyone can borrow money from God. Too powerful — too economic — too brave, and just too wealthy to be too much belittled. In tandem with this unacceptable fact, our suffering is preceded by a corrosive lack of global unity in terms of financial differences to remedy the crisis. In the words of American rapper, Tupac Shakur, ‘’Instead of war on poverty, we gotta war on drugs and the police can’t bother me.’’

One of the problems confronting the world is the gradual but steady religious erosion that can be noted from one continent to another. People becoming rather too nonreligious to belong to the religion of money. Climate change is not the changing of the climate, but it is the changing of people to learn not to unlearn what they must not resist. People cause climate change and the change is constant. Religion has become less religious as economic hardship hits the globe persistently. Poverty has been understood as a man-made illness that has a cure — money. Poverty is not poor — but poor people are poor. The language of humanity is human. Do you know the sounds and letters of humanity to be able to borrow money from God?

How to borrow money from God? Let’s assume that the year is 2065 and the world no longer uses i-phones but people are using mind-phones. Technology has advanced so much that people use TV cell phones and no longer have time for flat TV sets and watching TVs. Robots are actively roaming the world with aliens accompanying them. Money is gathering all evil people up there in the skies by giving them positions to govern alibi. Let’s say that the best way to borrow money from God is not to borrow money from Satan. But in 2065, nobody will be poor unless you want to.

As a librarian, let me quickly tell you that the advancement of technology is also the decline of African culture and civilization. In the year aforementioned, Africans will need an app on their phone that reminds them how to perform ablution in Islam or how to fast regularly in Christianity. In Africa, a child which is not wild is not from his father’s lineage, but how about not knowing his heritage? That too has a price.

African traditions and values are gradually becoming a thing of the past as there are several influences from other cultures to adopt what is referred to as a more ‘open-minded’ culture of freedom without restrictions. Just one word — money. One of the ingredients that perhaps act as a catalyst is the prevailing cultural stereotype where some cultures are viewed through the lenses of negativity and inferiority. This leads to the abandonment of those cultures by the newer generation who are supposed to ensure its longevity. Since the start of the 21st century, humanity has faced at least three global crises. The first crisis pertains to the 9/11 terror attacks in the US that facilitated the US-led war on terrorism, which in turn, facilitated the expansion of state surveillance systems, widespread extrajudicial killings, and the prevalent use of torture and other abusive state actions.

The second crisis, meanwhile, refers to the 2007–2008 global financial crisis that was considered at the time the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

At present, we fight for survival against the threat posed by the COVID-19 global pandemic. This third crisis forced governments to impose forms of lockdown and quarantine, shutting down schools, universities, restaurants, cultural centers, and other organizations to slow down the viral infection rate. But of course, according to the English language, the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iran, Palestine, Israel, the Ethiopian crisis, the Rwanda Genocide, and even the current Ukraine crisis are not crises. Truth be told — even slavery is not considered a humanitarian crisis. What happens when the rich fight with the rich? The prices of commodities rise, not so? The poor get poorer — and the rich becomes worried.

Confronted by these challenges, I am still asking how to borrow money from God? As alluded to by my colleague, the famous Nigerian author, Anthony Onugba, cultural erosion is dependent on cultural stereotypes. Therefore, one way to borrow money from God is to borrow a chapter from the scriptures because even the devil reads the Bible. Should the world expect assistant Jesus just in case?

I would like to conclude with the Swahili saying that goes, “ukiona mwenzio ananyolewa zako tia maji”. Difficult to understand but it means, “if you see your neighbor’s house on fire standby with water to put yours out in case it spreads.’’

As a child and an adult, most of my life has been spent in Africa, and for nearly a decade, much of my literary production has focused on my interaction with the environment. Drawing on long-term ethnographic research and intellectual honesty, I would like to provide you with a critical analysis of peoples’ ability to be able to borrow money from God. Yes, it does exist. Nelson Mandela said, and I quote ‘’ if a nation wants development, the youths must be educated.’’ The wealth of every nation is the youth. A country is only poor without a youthful population.

Permit me to borrow a quote from Albert Einstein who said “those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act. To you, my readers, it is now your sacred duty to do the rest, either to succeed or fail, to benefit society or benefit oneself. Alan Saporta said, and I quote “the best way to escape from a problem is to solve it.” Let me say any national problem which is not solved, is still a problem for its people. Freedom is so very nice and can even turn mice into a goat, but let us remember a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr, which reads “let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup.” The only key to freedom is money. If money was the vehicle during the slave trade, humanity will legalize slavery.

Let me put it in the French adjectival and adverbial funnel of interpretation to defile the youth of your happiness for yet imagining the goal of my meditation. ‘Qui- who, Quand-when, and Comment — how and when do you borrow money from God? I would like to end with some words from Bessie Head, a South African writer who lived most of her life in Botswana. When she was asked the question WHY DO YOU WRITE? Her response was this: ‘’I am building a stairway to the stars. I have the authority to take the whole of mankind up there with me. That is why I write.’’

Something tells me that a generation of new ideas and talent is about to change the world.



African Idols

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