Kriss Akabusi- The Futures Interview

Kriss Akabusi

Kriss Akabusi

Kriss Akabusi MBE MA is a former sprint and hurdling athlete from the United Kingdom. During his career, he won the gold medal in the 400 metres hurdles at the 1990 European Championships, a gold in the 4 x 400 metres relay at the 1991 World Championships, and a silver medal in the 4 x 400 m relay at the 1984 Olympic Games.

Since retiring from athletics, he has worked as a television presenter and motivational speaker. Kriss also is founder of The Akibusi Charitable Trust which strives to make a difference to poorer communities in Africa, and particularly in Nigeria. TACT funds projects in areas of health and education, water and sanitation, and social enterprise, with a focus on sustainable projects that can make a real long-term difference to the lives of those in need.

?!X: What’s the Future You Choose?

KA: I choose a future where the western world works in a symbiotic relationship with the developing world, sharing the resources in a equable way so that the west continue to enjoy the blessings of the fruit of the Earth knowing that developing word have their opportunity to migrate through the social stratosphere and be the best they can possibly be.

?!X: What’s a ‘think’ to create this future?

KA:  When you talk about a think – I have a picture in my head about 30 years ago in my early twenties, playing football in my father’s village with all these children, some of whom were my half brothers and sisters. Football is a uniting game, at the end of the game,  I was speaking to some of the children and somebody pointed out that this little boy was my half brother. The boy looked about 8 or 9 to me but he was actually 16. And I realised that he had less opportunity in this world than I had.  And just by an accident of history being born in the United Kingdom as opposed to Nigeria, the infrastructure in this country has given me an opportunity to grow to my full stature, physically, emotionally, intellectually, psychologically. A gift I wouldn’t have had, had I been born from the country of my heritage. And unfortunately that situation still exists today.

?!X: What’s an ‘act’ to create the future you choose?

KA: An act we could do, would be to encourage companies that outsource or get their basic resources from a developing country to agitate for and demand and to create the infrastructures in the developing world, that they must have here in the United Kingdom. So if you’re in the petro-carbon and gas industry, if you’re in manufacturing, if you’re in agriculture, the standards you have to work with in this country or any G34 Country are the standards you should operate in the sourcing country. If you work to those exact standards, I think that by osmosis you affect the indigenous. If someone was going into a factory in Africa or Asia, they go back out, and by definition their experiences then begin to touch the people in the local populations. Rather than post colonial raping countries and not caring about; you got massive petro-chemical companies who don’t care about spoiling the environment, who are drilling for the oil. The people can’t fish there anymore, can’t farm there anymore, they can’t utilise their own basic resources. We can drive our cars and have lights on all day but they can’t put fish on the table and that’s wrong. You have got to put the pipes so far deep that they don’t percolate up to the top, you have got to make sure people don’t damage the pipes and spoil the land, you got to demand the governments to do so also, so a leader isn’t going to nick millions of dollars of oil but put it back into the community where it comes from or something like that.

People who work in developing countries need to work with the same standard of practice as they do in the developing world. If everyone did that then the world would be a better place to live.

If the leaders of governments had legislation on the way they operate overseas, I am not talking about lip service, but actual legislation in developing countries, in the same way they have in this country; the world will be a better place. We all know the world is corrupt, they’re corrupt in developing worlds, they’re corrupt in this country, and in developed worlds, we’ve got banking problems, we got MP’s expenses, we know that people are corrupt all over the world but the there is a difference in the developed to developing world, even the corrupt practices in the developed world, they still insure the infrastructure gets built. In the developing world, they do they same type of practices but they don’t do the infrastructure, so its incumbent upon us who have and seen the light to shed the light in those other areas.

?!X: What’s a ‘vote’ to create the future you choose?

KA: I’ve got a charity, The Akibusi Charitable Trust, we work in the real communities in Nigeria, we’re very much in our Infancy. We work with women, we have a programme called Women2Women where a woman in this country gives a £100 supports the businesses of women in Nigerian communities and that £100 helps a woman invest in her children, invests in other children in the area, to build an infrastructure. You can vote to give TACT lots of money to develop the infrastructure and make sure to they are making a difference. Maybe not the whole on Nigeria! But person by person.

If you voted to support my charity, in any way, you can guarantee that would help somebody in a way that nobody else can help. I don’t have the layers of political infrastructure,I just go straight into the interior, straight into the area my mother and father came from, Imo State, and I can actually help a real person I see, the money goes straight there not on a mass of  bureaucracy.

Big charities do have a role, they have political clout, they have people at the to who are meeting with heads of state, heads of industry. But small charities like us have a role as well, because we are meeting on the ground with the people who really matter, we are seeing it with our eyes, we’re observing the development of our programs, and ensuring that the woman herself gets built-in the capacity to sustain her business, well after we’re gone, whereas, a big charity often builds a big infrastructure, drops lots of money off, but goes off somewhere else and doesn’t know what happens with that.

?!X: Future Soundtrack – What song would you take with you into the future? 

KA: Its a Wonderful World – because the world has we know is incredible. When I wake up in the morning life itself is an incredible odyssey and a journey that doesn’t have to be and yet it is. I’ve met you today, I’ve spoken to another human being, I’ve got an insight into your world and experiences I have on a regular basis are uplifting, insightful, spiritual, colourful, fragrant, various, and it’s awesome to me that this piece of carbon has this sentience and an ability to view for all my senses in this small epilogue of time, all these realities, and it’s just like I don’t know what that piece of wood sees, what that leaf sees, but I know what I see and what I feel and what I smell and what I touch and what I experience and its a beautiful, beautiful world that I see, even in all this ugliness, even in all its war, strife, pestilence, diseases, through all of that, you get these beautiful episodic moments, that make life worth living.

Follow Kriss on Twitter @krissakabusi

And you can support his charity, The Akabusi Charitable Trust, here: http://www.akabusitrust.org/

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