The Rebirth of Africa ‘the prodigal son’


The Rebirth of Africa ‘the prodigal son’

I have this interesting slide show that explains the life cycle of an eagle, titled “the rebirth of the eagle.” I have taken some useful information from it to explain the article we are about to read. In most of my training presentations, I always like to use it to explain the reason why change is necessary. Change we learnt is the only constant thing in the world.

Sometimes, we have to learn from other creatures to get wiser as human beings. It is not awkward or preposterous to learn from animals in order to do certain things right if it that is the only reasonable thing to do. In the scriptures, Solomon the wisest of all the kings that ever lived admonished us about the folly of indolence. In the book of Proverbs, he said we should ‘go to ant (a small, humble creature) you sluggards consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler (President, Prime minister or Head of state), provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest.’

From this passage, there are three quick lessons that stand out.

  1. Leadership may be a factor but not necessarily a problem in getting things done.
  2. The need to engage in strategic planning or thinking to survive in life.
  3. The weight of diligence when the future is uncertain or unpredictable.

Now back to the story of the eagle, it has the largest life span of its spices; it can live up to 70 years which happens to be the average age of human being, but to reach this age the eagle must make a hard decision.  In its 40’s, eagle usually loses some of its unique qualities, due to long aged feather, the beak has become bent and no more sharp to assist in its hunting expeditions.

At this juncture, the eagle is left with only two options, either to die or go through a painful process of change which would last for 150days, about 5months.

The process requires that the eagle fly to a mountain top and sit on its nest. There the eagle knocks its beaks against a rock until it plucks it out. After plucking it out, the eagle will wait for a new beak to grow back and it will pluck out it talons (nails), when its new talons grow back the eagle starts plucking its old-aged feathers and after five months, the eagle takes its famous flight of rebirth and lives for another 30 to 40 years.

The moral lessons of the story;

  1. Many times, in order to survive we have to start a change process.
  2.  We sometimes need to get rid of old memories, habits and other past traditions.
  3. It is only when we free ourselves from past burdens, can we take advantage of the present.
  4. Change process may be very painful but the result will always be evident for everyone to see.

Why do we need to change?

Change is inevitable but growth is optional. We heard it said many times that, ‘it is not the strongest of the species that survive or the most intelligent but the one most responsive to change’ Darwin.

The Eagle, from the story above was able to respond to the need for change to enable it survive for another 30years or more. ‘Dissatisfaction is the mother of change but action is the father’- Mike.  Change is the process of moving from an unsatisfactory present state to a desired state.

If we look at the state we are in Africa, without any shadow of doubt we know that this cannot be the desirable position we would like to be at this time.

Even the emerged or matured economies of the world are looking for better ways to improve their living standards how much more we that can best be described as dry tree.

Our continent has been given so many uncomplimentary and degrading names such as. Highly Poor Indebted Nations, poverty stricken, war torn, politically unstable, HIV invested, malaria prone, haven of corruption etc.

Honestly, there is nothing to weep about in all these uncomplimentary and negative names that have become so much associated with us in Africa. However, the saddest aspect of it is the inability of our leaders either at the continental level (African Union) or at the national levels of various federating states to come up with required strategies to change the tide through quality leadership.  We urgently need something to take us out of the current shackles of negativity both in the areas of economic and socio-political dilemmas and technological backwardness. I mean something that would spark off a turn around that can move us towards real or actual economic recovery.

Leadership and Knowledge

Leadership is critical in the quest for emancipation of the people from the claws of poverty, economic misfortunes and other socio-political vices clearly evident across the regions of Africa.

Looking at countries that have emerged and the new ones that are also emerging, one thing that is constant among them is the role a visionary leader play in their process of pushing to the front.

Knowledge is power but knowledge without application becomes useless. Hence one is not talking of head knowledge, but deep knowledge of what to do to come out of the horrible pit of lack. A popular proverb in my place says that you cannot be living inside a river and still crying for water to wash your face.

When Jesus, the son of God was confronted with the challenge of feeding over 5,000 people in the wilderness and there was nowhere to get food for them. The bible recorded it that ‘He knew what He would do’.

The first step in the process of recovery is to know what to do to come out of the big fix.

This leads us to the strategies to adopt to come out of the quagmire we allowed ourselves to be pushed into. No matter how big the problem or daunting the situation seems to be in size, there is always a way out. What needs to be done is to have the necessary information couple with knowledge of the problem and apply the wisdom of God not common sense but ‘costly’ sense or ‘acquired’ sense, with great diligence and you will be amazed with the type of result you will have within a short time.

The Prodigal son’s case study approach.

I don’t need to bore you will the case study; it is a common story that we are all familiar with. We can find it in the bible in the book of Luke 15:11-32.

As a quick reminder, we were told in the parable how the prodigal son messed up his share of his father’s inheritance big time as a result of careless  or reckless living (like most African countries have engaged in riotous living with their God given wealth). He lost every dignity that is associated with the rich heritage he had. He went from bad to worse, at a time it got so horrible that he was feeding with pigs. That looks like the condition of our continent today. A continent with huge natural resources apportioned or reserved for us by our caring heavenly father but things have gotten so bad that some of our people are either scavenging for foods in cabbages or picking stuff from the refuse dumps to sell before they can feed themselves. That is the reason why I said we Africans, are the prodigal sons of God.

The way out

What did he do (the prodigal son) to have his dignity restored? I think this is where our leaders must pay some serious attention and pick useful lessons from this scriptural advice in tackling our seemingly unsummantable economic crises in Africa where not many countries aside from South Africa, may be partially (because we still have some blacks among them that have to resort to violence to survive) can claim to be excluded from the economic and social degradation of our people.

I am using 5 Rs to narrate steps towards a quick recovery from the problem. They are Realization, Resolution, Reaction, Restoration and Rejoicing. These are steps taken by the prodigal son that brought back his honour, dignity and glory within a shortest possible time.


Luke 15:17 ‘But when he came to himself’ that is the point I called realization. When he noticed he was in a big cheat. He came to himself by sitting down to think of what brought him to this point. He recalled that he was a son of a rich man (He has rich resources). Why am I in this terrible position? We must first realize where we are now comparing to where we were programmed to be by our maker to enable us known and appreciate what to do, to come out of the present predicaments.


In Luke15: 18 He said ‘I will arise and go to my father’. This is the point of decision making. We need to get down to the basics and be humble enough to ask and seek counsel from the memoirs or speeches of our heroes of independence to see the vision they had for the continent and their various countries and work with it.  Decision is fundamental for the success of any vision. Indecision is a plague and it is also the graveyard of all good intentions.

The prodigal son made a resolution, a decision. It’s like the New Year resolution people usually make at the cross over night, resolving to do things better, improve in certain areas of their lives and generally be a better person.

Every year, various governments make such resolution through their annual budget statements which they often christened in different ways. Budget of consolidation, budget of recovery, budget of hope or budget of emancipation, but what do we see, at the end of each year, it is always a budget of disappointed hopes.

The prodigal son made a resolution and I saw three things in it which I think our Governments in Africa should learn from.

The will power to come up with resolutions that are germane to correcting the errors of the past; the passion or enthusiasm to follow it through and the possibility mentality to believe in it.

Reaction or Real Action

The same book says ‘He arose and came to his father’. He reacted to the resolution he made which I have called the real-action. I have come to realize that the major determinant of who gets ahead in life or the difference between successful people and those that are not successful is this critical life changing stage, talking about the real action.

After the resolution there is need for action to bring the results out. Unfortunately, most people, Government or businesses failed at this stage.

Often times, we made intentions, plans resolutions at meetings or seminars but the power of execution is usually missing to get the desired result out. This is where our governments needs to do something different going forward because we know that it is only a fool that would continue to do same thing over and over again and expect different result.  We need to learn how to carry our budget plans through the circle of execution to enable us come out of the current embarrassing position we are in. A trip from Accra to Lagos, Nigeria through Togo and Benin Republic by road will convince any government no matter how hardened or irresponsive to see how terrible things are. You will see the real person called poverty face to face holding hands of your fellow Africans and inviting them for excuse me dance kind of relationship.

We need to do something now and more urgently too. If above ‘real action’ is taken with all sense of purpose, determination, discipline and dedication that is required, then the next thing is;

Restoration and Rejoicing

From our case study story, verses 22-25 tells us those things that happened to the prodigal son after his heart warming decision which was rational and result oriented in every sense of it. His past was immediately forgotten by his caring father. Secondly, they started rejoicing for his decision to find his way back to his root.

This is what is going to happen to us in Africa if we decided to approach our recovery strategy like that of prodigal son. The whole world wants to celebrate our rebirth or call it recovery or resurgence.

No matter how long you travelled on a wrong route you can never get to your destination unless you find your way back to the right part. This is what the prodigal son did and got himself celebrated by his father and others.  In the case of many Africa nations, there is need for us to quickly retrace our steps from the valley of bad news which we have allowed our destiny to be thrown into and get back to a position of dignity and honour that befit our race.

The writer:
Mike Osikoya