Showing objects of value
Understatement of valuables or success is something very European, or to be more precise, West and North European. If you have money or power in Africa, you show your money, you show your power! Africans are not very interested in investing their money in extended search of knowledge and abstract thoughts just for the sake of it. Money is invested in symbols, like clothes, women, notebooks, cars, houses, exclusive pool parties (if they can afford), not in travels or literature. Our romantic idea of the lone, free tramp, or the long-haired (why couldn't he afford a hair cut?) misunderstood rock musician is incomprehensible. And sometimes contemptuously looked down at. If the car or notebook doesn't work properly anymore, and you can afford it, you buy a new one! If you have the money, you don't even take much care about these objects.
Fate and Predetermination
There is not much responsibility Africans give to themselves. Everything that happens is due to fate. If a girl dies from genital mutilation, it wasn't because of bad hygiene, loss of blood or even the mutilation itself, but the will of God, Allah, or the spirits of the ancestors. Same if a driver dies in a crash after he was driving too fast and ignored somebody's right of way. Same to sexual protection. Same to structural engineering of buildings. The only thing that sometimes can have influence on these happenings is the use of witchcraft, which leads me to the next point.
Probably the most hidden feature of African culture to outsiders, and if detected the least comprehensible, is the wide use of witchcraft. You will hardly find a Tanzanian who has never been to a traditional ghost healer. This applies to everyone, to the football player who wants to influence the upcoming game, to the politician who wants to put a spell on his opponent, to the man who needs the love powder to make the woman fall into love with him. Even when I was at the psychiatry the nursing staff tried to convince me the patients are bewitched or possessed by evil spirits. All of the staff except for one! My personal estimation is that about 95% to 98% of all Tanzanians believe in witchcraft. Even the educated and those who have studied in Europe. So if in Europe a patient says that his neighbors tried to bewitch him, he will get the diagnosis “psychosis”. If somebody tells this in Tanzania, he is most probable right.
Hierarchy, fate and witchcraft
Bad if these three meet together. As explained above, the one who has the power is the one who is right. If you don't have the power and are poor, you are subject to the thing which is called fate. But what if someone is business-minded enough and suddenly comes to a lot of money? And has more money than all the others? He surely used witchcraft in order to overcome his fate! So people will put a spell on him. And as everyone is always living with the fear to get bewitched, they won't even try to be better than their neighbors. Competition is non-existent then!
Perception of time and spare time
Last thing. If the plumber told me he will be there at one o'clock, I knew I can spend the whole afternoon at home with the hope he will arrive by four o'clock. If he has forgotten to come, I would call him and he will come some other day. Colleagues usually arrived at least one hour too late at work, and I did the same in order to win their trust. People didn't arrive at meetings. Buses didn't stick to the time schedules, if they even existed. The European view and value of getting attention by working so much, even in your spare time, until you burn out, is unbelievable and irresponsible in Africa. The problem is, production takes an awful lot of time with this.
Of all these things mentioned above, except for the last point, it applied to everyone. Even the intelligent and educated and those who have studied in Europe. And if they changed their views while having been in Europe, they fell into their old habits again when they got back to Tanzania. So I am pretty sure all these habits and believes stick to some point to culture and psychology, not to intelligence.
But could it be that Northern Europe has been regarded as underdeveloped, mentally retarded, lazy, superstitious and tribally obsessed by Southern Europeans during Roman times, the Barbarian Migrations and Middle Ages? The same part of Europe which now ranks among the regions in the world with the highest GDP? The same part of Europe that Richard Lynn now certifies the highest IQ in Europe? The same part of Europe that seems to have gained the highest IQ through natural selection since then, but physically hasn't changed a bit in the same range of generations?