The Black Crab Mentality

Last week in Accra, an elderly Ghanaian gave me a clear differentiation between the black crabs and the red crabs. He also used the same analogy to distinguish between Nigerians and Ghanaians.

If kept inside a basket, he said, the red crabs would do everything within their powers to escape individually.

And they often succeed in their attempts.

The black crabs, on the other hand, instead of finding ways of escaping from their confinement, would rather pull down any one of them that makes such an attempt. In other words, the black crabs are well known for their “pull him down (PHD) syndrome,” the elderly Ghanaian reasoned.

I will leave you to determine who the black crabs between Ghanaians and Nigerians are, because I’m not going to go further than that on the elderly man’s comparison.

But one thing is certain: There are black crabs in every society.

“Crab mentality,” or “crabs in a bucket,” is a common phrase among the Filipinos. It is also used quite often in the Caribbean, most especially in Bahamas, to describe situations where people pull one another down; a case of “if I can’t have it, neither can you.”

The crabs, individually, could easily escape from a bucket, but instead, they grab at each other in a senseless war which prevents any of them from escaping. At the end, they all end up in a pot of soup.

We are moving towards the end of the year, and this is the time when a lot of things take place in offices. It is a period when performances are assessed and people get promoted, demoted, dismissed, or warned. In the process, a lot of politics and “pull him down” tactics are employed. As far as some guys are concerned, if they cannot get what they want, most especially promotions, some other fellows must not get it too!

The “black crab mentality,” or “crabs in a bucket syndrome” is quite similar to “Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS),” a term commonly used in the UK, Canada, and New Zealand to describe “a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.”

In an attempt to “fit in” or “belong,” people who have the capacity to make a difference surprisingly confine themselves to the norm. They yield to popular opinion and fail to realize their potentials. They become scared of being disowned by their peers.

What a mistake!

The clock is ticking.

Year 2013 is knocking at the door.

I don’t know how far you have gone with your New Year resolutions. But there is one thing you must not leave out: You must resolve to stand out in 2013. You must exit yourself from the club of conformists – the club of Mr. & Mrs. Konibiires.

To succeed in life, you must be ready to be treated as an outcast by your peers. You must be focused, determined, and be prepared to do things on your own; irrespective of whatever anyone may say.

Even among tens of black crabs described by that Ghanaian elder, you have the power to be the only red crab!

You must change your thoughts about success before entering the New Year. Contrary to what you probably believe at present, you don’t need a crowd to succeed. You can, on your own, chart your own course of success, and you will sail through with determination.

As for those who are always after the “tall poppy,” I made some reference to them in “The Dream Killers” and you may do well to read that post again. One sure thing about this group of people is that they are full of envy and jealousy. Once you recognize this as their own problem, and not yours, you will move ahead without any fear.

As King Sunny Ade once sang, “Let Them Say!”

I wish you success in 2013.

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1 comment on “The Black Crab Mentality”

  1. oga, i do understand now. i have notice the red and black crabs but do not understand. thank you, sir. another reason for my reading megainsiight.
    bless you, sir

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