My own black journey:

I am an African who has never even been outside of Africa my whole life. But because of the black misery (i.e., the ultra poverty) where I live, to date, I have precisely contacted the whole world, including black people from every part the planet, in a bid to find potential collaborators and bring about some change. 

For black people in particular, every black person on earth who is anyone, whether they are a creative marketer, a writer, influencer, journalist, storyteller, professor, activist, pan africanist, a street artist, a talent manager, a publicist, personal assistant etc, has heard from me at some point in the last ten years.

Today, I know all the traits that are unique to only us black people globally. And I know all the things we black people allover the world think (and talk) about our fellow black people, and our homeland Africa.

 

My experience thus far is:

While all other people believe in being easily available to each other, and in seamlessly working together to better their people, and their homelands, this simply isn’t the case for us black people. In fact, for ordinary poor Africans like me, finding a true black person on this planet who is willing to work together with people like me on anything, is uniquely hard, and is even harder than finding a white collaborator.

 

My own journey:

I am one of those people who have known true black misery. My region Busoga, is also Uganda’s most impoverished, yet Uganda itself is already among the most impoverished places in Sub Saharan Africa.

Like most people here, my entire life has been a mess. But between 2011 – 2014, everything was on a total standstill. Even getting what to eat was hard. And this time, because that is the very kind of life I had lived since childhood, my only remaining plan was to find a way of exiting this planet.

But looking back, I knew every other person in our region lives in abject poverty. Many, including those in my own family, totally never went to school, and have no idea what to do about our plight. So, I set for myself one goal: using my remaining time on earth to do something on the grip of poverty in our region.

 

Befriending humanity:

The moment I decided to do something about the grip of poverty in my region, I was like a burnt child — never at peace, very dreadful of the past, and trying everything to ensure the future isn’t even worse.

As a person, the year 2016 is the very first time I exited actual hunger, and is the very first time I became food secure as an adult, after becoming a farmer and growing various crops. But between 2013 and 2016, at a time when I was still going hungry, I had precisely contacted most people on earth, asking for some form of collaboration on extreme poverty.

 

Understanding the world the hard way:

Soon, it became very clear to me that the global antipoverty world was essentially closed off to people like me. For ordinary poor Africans like me, until some random antipoverty agency or western charity ends up in your community on its own, which rarely happens, getting anyone from the global development sector to lend you a voice on poverty, or to work together with you on anything, is nothing short of a miracle.

So is the grantmaking world. Today, only 1% of all the money that humanity spends every year for the purpose of ending global poverty, goes directly to the extreme poor (or local grassroots organizations) in the global south. Implying, global antipoverty funding simply isn’t for ordinary poor Africans like me.

In fact, for people like me, if you don’t give yourself peace by putting off most (or all) grantmaking requests, the stress that you will get from the rejections that come from this, is more than what you will get from the extreme poverty itself. And it isn’t just grantmaking requests. It is the same with any other form of collaboration you seek, e.g. direct co-implementation, or simply asking people to help share your cause with the world via social media. The answer is always no.

It doesn’t matter whether you merely contact some random YouTuber or graffiti artist, or the people at the Gates Foundation and Global Citizen whose only mission is to end global poverty and meet the Global Goals by 2030. The answer is always no.

At some point, I even came to think that white people, who make up the biggest part of the global development sector, and the grantmaking world, could be having some kind of private, global listserv where they privately discuss how to handle people like me once we get in contact with them? Because these people can really disown the poor.

 

Going unconventional:

After realizing that the world wasn’t very easy for people like me, I resorted to using unconventional tactics, to try and befriend humanity, because my goal was to bring about some change in my lifetime.

From asking people to only become a friend, mentor and connector. To persuading people to simply visit and give us a voice. To asking global antipoverty agencies to befriend us with their goodwill ambassadors and some storytellers. To asking people to make my project their second home in Uganda where they can come and stay whenever they are free. To asking tens of thousands of people globally only for tweets. To seeking co-implementers. To appealing to Gen Z. All black people. The world’s richest. It all didn’t work.

And this is only a small part of the lengths I have gone to, in befriending humanity on extreme poverty.

 

But what I can say is:

While it is very hard for people like me to find anyone on this planet who is open to any slight form of collaboration on poverty, it is even harder to find a single black person who is willing to work together with people like me on anything, except those from my own region who themselves live in abject poverty.

Similarly, while all other people take the cause of working together to better their homelands as very sacred, whether they live there or not, this is something we black people, especially those in the diaspora, simply do not want to hear. I wrote about the homeland part of it a few years ago in The Guardian, here.

We black people are a step a head, when it comes to keeping our fellow black people at a distance.

 

Surprisingly:

One thing I have learnt from my previous writings on global poverty is: white people are very stubborn.

They are the ones in charge of keeping people like me on the sidelines of the global fight against poverty. They are the ones who have ensured that virtually no single penny of global antipoverty funding reaches the world’s poor. And they are usually the first to view ordinary Africans like me as wannabe fraudsters.

But, if any person is to convert into an ally (e.g., on poverty), white people are always the first to come aboard, often very quickly, even if they came to know you after reading your criticism of their behavior.

 

Even right now:

My only few friends who are working hard to help me bring about some change on the grip of poverty here in my region of Busoga, are Karen (a white Australian who herself lives on government support); Emile (a white American); Thu (an Asian Canadian), Tom (a white Briton at Oxford University who has been supporting my work since 2015); Jonathan (a white Google employee), and Remmelt, a white Dutch.

Earlier in 2023, Remmelt even sent me a message saying, “let’s get that plant built”, referring to an agro-processing that I have been striving to develop (since 2016) to create market linkages for rural poor farmers in my region. It is hard, however, to find a single black person, except those from my own region who themselves live in poverty, who can give an ordinary African like me a message similar to Remmelt’s.

We black people instead believe in being very very distant from, and very very inaccessible to, each other.

 

And for us black people:

The more connected, and/or the more better-off someone is, the more island-like they become.

In fact, from my experience, contacting your fellow black people who are better off than you, is often seen as an overreach. It is often seen as a way of breaching the contrast that exists between you the poor black man, and the other black person who is ahead of you, and who views themselves as being different.

 

For us black people:

Whether someone is an influencer, or a close associate of an influencer, contacting them, even if the only help you need is a tweet about your cause, is often seen as a way of trying to freeload on the connections, or the influence, that they have built for long, & which make them different from you the poor black man.

And if the person who is making the contact is an African like me, and the person they are contacting is say, a Black American, it is seen as a way of mixing cultures. We black people are even convinced that we are culturally different, and that this is enough reason for us to never, ever work together on anything.

Yet even white people, who totally do not look like us, have physically been present (for decades) in every impoverished BLACK community on the planet, doing the little that they can to end black misery. But we black people are convinced we are culturally different, and that it is why we can never work together.

 

As a bottom line:

While it is very hard for all other humans to come aboard as partners for black communities, I am more concerned about the inability of we black people to work together, than I am about say the unwillingness of the predominantly white global development sector to support needy black communities like ours.

While it is very hard for the rest of the world to work together with black people, I am more concerned about the inability of we black people ourselves to work together, than I am about say the unwillingness of the predominantly white global development sector to support poor black communities like ours.

That’s, the inability of we black people to work together, in my view, is more important, and has more implications, than the unwillingness of all other humans to support disadvantaged black communities.

 

Here are 2 reasons why:

1). Today, it is only we, the global black community, who have remained the symbol of human misery.

And when you look at all those people who have made poverty history, and the way they work, you realize that true change for a given people can only come from those people themselves working together. This is why our inability to work together has more implications than, say, white man’s charity.

2). All those people who have been in our shoes (e.g. the Asians), and who have since left poverty behind, it isn’t because these people were a favorite of the world (i.e., the world’s most liked people), or because white man’s charity worked differently for them. It is simply because of their culture of working together.

These are the reasons why the inability of we blacks to work together means a lot than anything else.