Who is the first Black person that comes to your mind when you think of wealth? Probably 99 out of 100 of us think of Oprah Winfrey, followed by Bob Johnson and his ex-wife, Sheila Johnson, and then on down the line with the likes of Michael Jordan, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and Tiger Woods.
Let’s not forget about P Diddy (or whatever his name is these days), Jay Z and Beyoncé, Tyler Perry, and Bill Cosby. Sadly, we’d probably leave Dr. Michael Lee-Chin and the Roberts brothers, Michael and Steven, off the list because they choose not to be as visible and flamboyant as the others.
The estimated net worth of the top twelve Black tycoons in this country is approximately $10 billion, with Oprah leading the pack at a robust $2.7 billion.
Following are athletes, entertainers, corporate execs, and entrepreneurs – not necessarily in that order, which comes to an additional estimated $10 billion. That’s a lot of “jack” as they say; makes those folks who are “only” millionaires look poor.
There is another group of Black folks we should be cognizant of when it comes to wealth: Africans. Those of you who still have images of Tarzan movies in your mind, and those of you who picture Africa as “the Dark Continent” are in for a pleasant surprise.
There are three men and two women in Africa whose collective wealth is more than $37 billion. According to the latest Forbes calculations, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria tops the list with a net worth of more than $16 billion.
Mohammed Al-Amoudi, with a net worth of $13 billion, is said to own more than 70 percent of all the oil in Ethiopia and produces four tons of oil per year. Mike Adenuga, a Nigerian who made his fortune in oil, telecommunications, and banking, is worth about $4 billion. African females, Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria, and Isabel dos Santos of Angola, billionaires themselves, also stand out as some of the wealthiest people in the world with more than $5 billion in net worth.
Black Africans are leading the world in wealth creation and growth, and we should be proud of the brothers and sisters who have turned the tremendous natural resources of Africa into billions of dollars for themselves and their families.
Let’s work to change the perception of Africa, especially among our young people, as they will be exposed to the many opportunities therein. As they approach adulthood and begin to choose careers and business strategies, they should have information about Africa so they will not continue to see Africa in a negative light, the way many of my generation were taught.
Congratulations to all of those Africans who are taking care of their business and doing quite well at it. They have capitalized on Africa’s natural resources, in many cases starting from meager beginnings, and used what they had to become some of the wealthiest people on earth.
Jim Clingman is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.