African Friends and Money MattersStill reading through the book African Friends and Money Matters by David Maranz.

This book goes through 90 general observations about African Life, especially in relation to money. Below are observations: 6, 7, 7W, 8, 9. (Here is 1-5)

6. The fact that most people are overextended financially produces profound effects on society.

“Maranz writes,

“The level of individual worry is very high. There are widespread anxieties over the basic food supply, employment, health in general and AIDS in particular, government instabilities, education for children or self, increase in thievery in many urban areas and others…”

Some implications are: Friendships strained as they borrow from friends and can’t pay back.  They aren’t in credit card debt but instead to their friends, they have the constant temptation to dip their hands into funds that aren’t theirs but are under their control because of this pressure, and others…

Basically, when times get hard Africans only have personal, relational means available to get out from under the financial pressure.  In America, we have impersonal means to do so (working an extra job, credit, etc).

7. Being involved financially and materially with friends and relatives is a very important element of social action.

He explains how this causes difficulty when Westerners come into the culture and they have discussions about money since they are not part of this inner circle.  I think this is a big deal and I am still working out the implications of it in my head.

7w. Westerners distrust friendships that regularly include financial or material exchanges. (The “W” is the western perspective to #7).

This is an obvious difference from the first #7. Westerners tend to view friendship and money as things not to be combined.

8. Africans assist their friends who are in financial need as a form of investment for those future times when they themselves might have needs.  This arrangement constitutes a virtual banking or savings system.

The most interesting thing as a result of this is that generally speaking Africans don’t budget.  Budgeting requires putting away money for later, money that could be lent to friends in need.  If they budget they are breaking the system.  Interesting.

9. The financial implications of friendship and solidarity go beyond immediate friends to include secondary relationships.

“There is no way to evaluate the validity of such requests or size up the petitioner.  The African way is to trust the friend who is making the request.  To question the validity of the need is to question the integrity of the African friend.  Westerners are accustomed to making value judgements for themselves…”

I continued to be enlightened and intrigued by this book. I am sure it will all make much more sense once I am in Africa and getting myself into the culture.  Even though I ahve been to Africa before, I am still such an outsider (And likely will always be!).