AN AFRICAN ORACLE: THE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT MODEL FOR THE FUTURE

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From an ancient African philosophy and psychology, working as a group was the norm. However, this was not always practiced in its strictest manner. African societies equally achieved high performance by delegating some of the key activities to those with the right skills and abilities. This meant that these individuals were tasked with the responsibility of performing their duties on behalf of the community.

To measure the performance of these individuals, African societies used responsibility and accountability not only to judge, but also guide activities. Africans ensured that accountability and responsibility became important yardsticks, not only in choosing who does what, but also how, where and when the work was to be done.

One of the most important people that African societies delegated responsibilities to are oracles. An oracle, is a person or agency considered to provide wise and insightful counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. Nigeria is an African country that still harbors numerous oracles. One of its  most important oracle is the Ifá, from Yoruba religion. Not every person can be an African oracle.

To qualify as an oracle, one must fulfill several conditions including whether this person should be male or female, which deity would the job relate to, the location of operation, and many more. In effect, there was and is some form of vetting to be an oracle, an advisor whose counsel was not only vital for the survival of an institution, but to perform such a duty with professionalism. In addition, to become an oracle, one had in some instances to be trained before being chosen by the ‘gods.’

The key duty of an oracle would be likened to effectively managing the spiritual resources of a people or a community according to prescribed manners. An African oracle may be synonymous with European financial management guru. Although others may consider this comparison to be far fetched, being an oracle man or woman was like handling the strictest form of financial management resources on behalf of shareholders.

According to Europeans, to carry out key financial management functions(as seen below) which include controllership and treasurership; one needed to exhibit a number qualities:  professional skills, experience and knowledge; trust, leadership, commitment and a sense of selflessness for the sake of a group of people who share aspirations and dreams in a capitalist mentality.

However, to interpret the duties and behavior of an African oracle in its strictest manner collapses the European financial comparison flatly.  The African oracle man or woman must demonstrate a sense of total trust, discipline, respect, and leadership; and upholding divine, spiritual, cultural, and traditional standards to the highest level. To be an oracle was not only an honor, but also a high form of esteem bestowed on the person by society. In its strictest sense therefore, being an oracle was a state unparallel to modern Euro-centric financial management practice that has been damaged by frauds and deception for selfish gains. A case in point is Eron, one of the greatest financial scandals of this decade where power and position were abused; selfishness and corruption heightened; individuality as opposed to community bred; exploitation, theft and undue fraud practiced and group dominance exposed to its highest level. The crooks exposed themselves in the truest sense of club of Rome.

The above unfortunate trail of abuses exhibited by the European financial system cannot be tolerated in an ancient African way of working for community. For Africans to avoid these European cults in their financial management system of the future, the spirit of an oracle will be required. African finance system of the future should be based on oracle-ship, a school of thought that promotes individual expertise for communal benefits; not blatant fraud and deception based on capitalistic paradigm and mentality.

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Okumu p'Okech Luryan

Okumu p'Okech Luryan, Managing Partner, Noh-Vald Consultancy.
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