The Abukedee Mentality

By Siahyonkron Nyanseor

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

January 29, 2004

“Acres of Diamonds” is an old ancient tale made famous by Russell H. Conwell, the founder of Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “Acres of Diamonds” is similar to an African proverb that says, “You have a sea in your backyard, you don’t have to wash your hands with saliva”. Rev. Conwell used the “Acres of Diamonds” story as part of his lecture series to raise funds for the school.

This version is about an African whose name is Abukedee. Abukedee was so preoccupied with finding diamonds; he sold all of his properties, including the land he and his family lived on - to go in search of the precious stones called diamonds.

Abu means anxious in Liberian vernacular. If you add Keedee to Abu, it becomes Abu-kedee. Abukedee is a person who is anxious to get involved in everything. But when he gets involved, he does not only mess up some of the things, he messes up the whole thing.

As legend would have it, Abukedee wanted to possess so much diamonds to the point that he dreamed of diamonds even while he was awake. One morning when he woke up he summoned his family to the Palaver house for a family meeting. At the meeting, he revealed to them his plan to sell their land and all other properties to go in search of diamonds - the precious stones that can make an individual “rich quick”. He went on to say that he had made up his mind and that his decision was in their best interest, he only called them to inform them of the good news.

After the family meeting, Abukedee placed ads in several newspapers regarding the sale of his land and the properties involved. Two days after he posted the ads, a gentleman stopped by to inquire about the land he had for sale. After a long discussion regarding the land, the gentleman purchased the land along with the related properties. On the same day the land was sold, Abukedee and his family left town to search for “plenty” diamonds that would make he and his family wealthy. But in the afternoon of the same day Abukedee and his family departed, the new owner of the land went for a walk on his newly acquired property. First, he went to the front of the property, then to the backyard. As he approached the back of the property, he discovered diamonds lying all in the yard. He did not have to dig for them, whereas, poor Abukedee had to travel all over the world in search for diamonds, except, in his own backyard.

What is the moral of the story? The moral is - while most African Americans are trying hard to reclaim their African heritage, many individuals from Liberia are “trying very hard” to become Americans more than the Americans themselves. While I may sympathize with the first generation of the Settlers, who were victims of their plantation environment, I have serious problem with our generation that finds it difficult to understand and appreciate their African culture and rich heritage, instead, are attempting to do the impossible - run away from their own shadow. Once, I was told by one of them that my names were too difficult to pronounce, and she suggested that I take on an English name like George, which is easy to pronounce. Did I get annoy? NO! I pitied her!

For example, when I first heard Erykah Badu’s name, I thought she was from somewhere in West Africa. Ms. Badu was not born Badu; she reclaimed her rightful African identity, by renaming herself, Badu. But as for some Liberians, they preferred to name their children after Soap Opera stars like Erica, or Jill and Jack. This practice is like saying that God made a mistake by creating us as Africans. If it were not so, many Liberians will not be ashamed of their African ancestry. Those who behave in this manner are like poor Abukedee who preferred to look everywhere for diamonds except in his own backyard.

Moreover, the present Liberian tragedy is the result of the Abukedee mentality. For instance, the reference to some of our countrymen and women as “Country People” is not only divisive, it is done out pure ignorance. Those who engage in this type of behavior, act as if they are from somewhere other than a country. This practice and many other issues have continued to divide us as a people. And for too long as a people, we have chosen to "swallow our cough for fear that it will disturb others." We accept the advice of friends as well as foes - to "leave the people's thing alone."

Liberia is like the rooster that crows in the morning. The rooster belongs to a single household, but the voice of the rooster is the property of the entire village. By this I mean, it is the right and responsibility of every Liberian to do what is needed to speak out against wrongs and to correct mistakes made in the past so that we may become Liberians, in the true meaning of the WORD. And this can only be done through honest dialogues and frank exchanges, no blaming each other and name-calling!

It is also important for us to remember that no matter how hard one may try to fight against the natural order of things, nature has a way of coming up on top. In other words, nature will have the final say. The same holds true for what we commonly referred to as CHANGE. The only thing that has remained consistent, is CHANGE. CHANGE can be delayed but cannot be stopped. Most African leaders, like Abukedee, are so blind and naive that - they prefer to die resisting natural arrangement (law) of which CHANGE is prominent. However, the more they try to prevent CHANGE, the more it occurs. CHANGE is like day that is followed by night, and birth, which is also followed by death. These sequences cannot be altered; no matter how hard one may try. I just thought to let you know!