When I was a little boy, living on the Copperbelt, in Zambia, during my family’s exile, in that beautiful country. Emeralds, were discovered in an area, not far from our home. It was just amazing to see people from all over the country, and as far a field as Senegal, and Mali, (from West Africa, 3000 KM, away); pouring in to dig for the stones. Some of neighbours, who were well respected professionals, even working in banks, quit their jobs, removed their suits, and headed to dig for emeralds.
I heard that many people were getting very rich, and there were flashy cars, everywhere. Instant riches, indeed! But one day, there was an incident, from which I drew a life lesson:
One of the consequences of the “Emerald rush”, was the emergence of sprawling settlements, in areas where the digging was taking place. Early one morning, we heard a burst of gunfire. Soon we saw police cars, and then we saw the bodies, being driven away: several young men, had been shot dead!
“Same old story..”
“A trader sold crushed, Sprite bottles (they are green, the colour of emeralds). The buyer, came back and shot the trader.”
“How can you buy crushed Sprite bottle chips, thinking they are emeralds?” I asked.
“Most of the people, digging out there, have never seen any emeralds, they do not know what they look like or what they are used for… They have just heard, it will make them a lot of money. In the end having sold all they have to get rich quickly, they become desperate.”
The Emeralds rush ended just as quickly as it had started; as these things often do. Someone, somewhere made money, but it was not our neighbours, or the young men from the villages.
One of our neighbours, committed suicide.
I listened. I watched. I made a note:
Don’t run after such things.
Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa