A great man once told me that it’s after a person dies that their true impact will be revealed by people’s reaction to the news. The reaction at the passing of the African icon; Mandela is a great example.
What I observed told me a lot about how he lived his life and how people perceived it.
It was a great lesson!
The tragic event a few days ago; the unfortunate demise of one of global Sports superstars; the ICON Kobe Bryant (The Mamba).
The news was aired everywhere and simply broke the internet!
It was HUGE like the mega global icon Kobe was!
I came across a post on Facebook complaining about the attention given to Kobe’s death by Nigerians/Africans.
His argument was that these same Nigerians/Africans who commented about Kobe didn’t do the same for several Nigerian sports heroes when they died.
It was a very valid opinion until you observe the global affection that Kobe Bryant received.
People from all corners of the planet were crying at Kobe’s passing.
WHY is this?
Kobe in one shape or form made an IMPACT on their lives!
To these people, Kobe was bigger than an American basketball player; he was their personal inspiration, their hero.
An ICON beyond a country flag.
Kobe represented the man/woman that many people across the world want to become.
As a big fan of basketball, Kobe was never my favorite just like Michael Jordan wasn’t; he was a rival to the team I support.
But truth be told, in my books, “The Mamba” was next to the real King of basketball – Mr. Michael Jeffery Jordan.
Kobe Bryant was the ultimate competitor in everything he did!
And one whose excellence young Africans should want to emulate.
Who is An Icon?
This is my personal view; I’m not checking the definition in the dictionary.
An ICON is someone who IMPACTED other people in positive ways to become better than they would have been if they didn’t know and learned something from the life story of the Icon.
From my definition of an icon, these people may be personal to you alone, to your community, your country or global.
Depending on the reach of their impact.
Africa needs many icons to inspire positive movements in various areas of life.
Here Some African Icons You Should Know
Africa has had a few incredible icons, but not enough for a continent of 1.2 billion people.
We definitely need more, and we also need to learn a lot more about the icons from the past.
I mean, our history books should be a thousand pages or more by now.
Well, while we wait, here are a few icons to think about.
Madiba is a true icon across Africa and the world.
He showed the whole world what it means to be a great leader.
After suffering an unjustified racist motivated twenty-seven-year imprisonment, he came out and FORGAVE those who kept him clocked up.
He focused on what was most paramount to the unity of South Africa; forgiveness and reconciliation.
I believe that my current favorite African leader (Paul Kagame) learned a lot from the actions of Mandela.
He is a true LEADER and an African icon.
How can a continent going through so much economic and social turmoil have a top 20 richest person in the world?
That’s the achievement of the richest man in Africa has done.
Aliko Dangote is a Nigerian industrialist and a mega businessman who provides many essential products for millions of people across Africa.
His businesses have created thousands of jobs.
Dangote’s business life tells an interesting story for wise young Africans to listen, see and act.
The many problems in Africa mean that they have more opportunities to make their mark and be elevated to the status of an African icon as Aliko Dangote did.
George Weah started the creation of his African iconic status on the football fields of Europe in the 1990s.
He won several individual and team accolades and cemented it by winning the “FIFA World Footballer of The Year” in 1995.
This was more than amazing because, at that time, his home country (Liberia) did have many footballers of note.
Yet, the icon George Weah not only played for the biggest club of the era, but he was also the best footballer in the world.
He put Liberia and Africa on the world stage.
Today, George Weah is leading the development of Liberia as its President.
Paul Kagame the kind of leader that Africa needs at a time like this.
He and his team of soldiers stopped the biggest disaster in the late twentieth century (Genocide in Rwanda 1994) in Africa.
When the whole world didn’t come to the aid of Africa, an Africa Icon took control.
Not only did his soldiers stop the killings, but they also reconciled the fight parties in a way that has changed the direction of Rwanda.
Today, Rwanda is a country to admire in Africa.
Rwanda’s Capital city; Kigali is the most beautiful in Africa, and one of the most beautiful in the world.
Thanks to a great African hero and an African icon.
Akon is a multi-talented true son of Africa who never forgot his roots.
Born in the United States of America to Senegalese parent. Akon was raised between the two countries, to concern the global entertainment industry.
With every step, Akon showed where his heart is; Africa.
Today, Akon is working to electrify Africa using primarily Solar power.
Akon is showing the younger generation to way to go to contribute to Africa’s development.
A true ICON of Africa in the making!
The Youths Need More Icons for Inspiration
This should be a no brainer but let me touch on it a little bit.
We become what we see because the images are imprinted in our minds and we work hard to become the image.
Unfortunately, it does not matter if the images are positive or negative.
So, if our youths are bombarded with images of people who do not add value to their communities but yet are rewarded financially, then they will try to duplicate that.
It’s very difficult to change this because our media is full of negative stories and very few positive ones.
Too many tribal (ethic, political, religious, etc.) allegiances and not enough collaborations across these lines.
If we continue this way, it will be the end of us.
So, we need more icons who transcend these divisions. If we cannot find enough of these icons in Africa at the moment, then we should be wise to look around the world.
Because we are all humans first, going through a similar journey on the same planet.
Find the human icon to inspire you wherever he/she may be.
How Can You Become a True African icon?
Africa is going through a lot of change to develop the continent and provide a life worth living to its citizens.
To deliver this Africa needs your contribution, and in return, you can become an African icon and the world.
Here is how you can get started.
Create and Deliver Value to People in Your Community
What is the common thread amongst the five icons in Africa above?
Yes, three of them have political leadership in common, but that’s not it.
Every one of them delivered/is delivering tremendous value to society; that’s the common thread.
You can also do the same and in turn, become an African icon.
There are very simple rules to deliver value to your community to a level that will make you an African icon.
First, you need to find a need in your community.
This should be the easiest thing for all young Africans because Africa needs a lot of things to be done;
Agriculture, Education, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Science & Technology, etc.
Then you need to find solutions and the means of delivery of that solution.
These are not going to be the easiest things especially the latter. But they need to be done and sooner than later.
Your ability to navigate these difficulties and deliver the goods will cement your impending icon status.
Go to work today!
Be Patient and Work on Your Craft
To become a true African icon is not one year’s work.
Every one of the icons I mentioned earlier is world-renowned for what they do. So, you must work on your craft to become an expert in it.
It’s at the expert level that you will deliver your best work.
Do not be in a rush, be patient!
Achieving an iconic status should be a lifelong dream.
Play It Forward to The Next Generation
A true icon is confident but not egocentric.
Listening to an African-American; Quincy Jones icon sharing his wisdom with one of his daughters was very interesting and illuminating;
His daughter asked: dad how do you deal with your ego and your art?
“…you need confidence, sure, I’m not denying that. But the ego is usually just over-dressed insecurity. Actually, you have to dream so big that you can’t get an ego. Because you can’t fulfill all those dreams. There is always move to come, learn…”
– Quincy Jones
I agree with Mr. Jones and I believe that a true icon you should learn from and emulate should display a lot of confidence in his/her work, but not egocentric.
Just like the African icons, I talked about earlier; they are humble and yet very confident in their abilities.
Rather they want the progress of their communities and show the way forward for the next generations.
These are the African icons that you should emulate and possibly duplicate.
A Life Purpose
“It is the business of every human being, according to your intelligence, understanding, and situation, to do the best you can for yourself and everyone around you.”
– Sadhguru (India Yogi & Mystic)
A life purpose is not something you brought into the world.
But something you create or adopt by looking at your immediate environment and finding ways to create and deliver value to the people in your community.
This is one very important ingredient that all true icons have; they all found a purpose for their lives that are way bigger than themselves.
Have you found a purpose for your life, something for you to sink your teeth into to the benefit of people around you?
Africa needs you to become an icon!
To yours and Africa’s progress…