The Cowardice of Cynicism and the Courage to Create Rather Than Tear Down

Olabode James
4 min readJul 31, 2022


Ride Lightning — Source Metal Memes — Twitter

“The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twisted pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt.” — Theodore Roosevelt

I have watched with interest the so-called attacks on Flutterwave by Journalist David Hundeyin, and it made me sad at the relentless attack on Flutterwave — a prime example of African startup success, with the capacity to hold the door for more African startup successes. I know Flutterwave is no saint, same way I cannot claim sainthood — there will be missteps here and there, however, Flutterwave should continue to be celebrated while filling gaps in policies and ethics. Because Flutterwave like Paystack is a beacon of hope for that African developer in Kinshasa who despite the lure from Google, Facebook(Meta), YouTube etc to journey the Atlantic to spend a lifetime on improving click-rate on the Like or Subscribe button, would rather stay and solve problems with the capacity to build wealth, improve countless lives while changing the narratives of the African continent. Paypal could easily solve payment problems on the African continent, rather policies were implemented to stifle payment to countless brilliant creatives and businesses — thereby implementing an iron-curtain 2.0.

This is the reason I have tremendous respect for the folks at Flutterwave who while riding the lightning face bashing from folks expecting them to be angels without guile.

For the African developer out there, who have dreamt of having the power of summoning bolts of lightning— I wish you success don’t be afraid to misstep and the journey to redeem the image of this continent will not come without a tremendous amount of attacks, especially from folks who look like you and are supposed to see the bigger picture. For you, I will dedicate this 112-year-old speech by Theodore Roosevelt —

“The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twisted pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to the second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities — all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.”

In Roosevelt's now famous The Man in the Arena Speech (Full Speech) — With an eye to those lazy critics, the dead weight of society — Roosevelt offers:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat… The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder.

Thus, take courage — keep dreaming and never stop to build.



Olabode James

Chief Solutions Architect, My joy is in solving problems ... everything else is eventual!