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The little that lasts

A little that lasts is better than much that brings grief.

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The Art of Giving

Living a life of meaning and unstoppability always involves giving. Many of the classic religious and secular texts throughout history contain some variation on “Give, and it will be given to you.” Think about that for a moment. Isn’t it true that the people with the most love in their lives give the most love? The people with the most friends are the most friendly?

Smokers Vs. Non-Smokers

As Ms. Ayele spoke, she spotted two aged men sitting at the back of the meeting hall smoking away their troubles. They looked battered by decades of labor. Pointing at them, she said to her audience:
“Just look at those two aged men smoking carelessly at the back of this hall.”

Some jeered at her — telling her to mind her own business, while others prodded her into admonishing those two aged men who had been smoking. She was a fairly good speaker. She’d been there and done it before. Becoming more energetic due to the encouragement she’d received she continued:

“Look at your children – for the sake of who we are all here today. Ask yourselves objectively how we can be sure we will live long enough to take care of them till they become independent?”

She continued:

“Non-smokers might view smokers who pollute the atmosphere with cigarette smoke as extremely selfish. On the other hand, smokers like to believe that when they fill their lungs with smoke, nothing happens — no sick symptoms or signs that they will soon be bed-ridden — hence non-smokers who are forced to inhale the diluted smoke should not be affected. They are dead wrong.”

Sounding a bit pessimistic, she continued:

“The solution is not asking these two aged men to quit smoking. It’s unlikely they will, after listening to my speech. My pleading will do no good. I have heard a myriad of excuses and reasons such as ‘we all die if we smoke or not’, ‘you live long if you smoke’, ‘our time is in the hands of God’, ‘by the time I get cancer, medical technology will be advanced enough to find a cure for me’.

“What if you will be unable to afford that treatment?”
She added.

To be continued…

Of Giving

What you give doesn’t have to be big. It might be a smile to a stranger, an offer of business advice, a financial donation to a cause you’ve wanted to help, or a few volunteer hours at a community shelter. By sharing your talents, time or money, you will become invigorated about your goal and your life because you will be making a difference in the lives of others.

Consider making a daily habit of giving to others. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time and energy. By opening your eyes and heart, you will notice countless ways you can simply reach out to others. There is nothing more fulfilling in life than expressing your love for others. When you create a habit of giving, you are the greatest recipient

It was Ms. Ayele who spoke last. And she spoke powerfully. She seemed to be in her late forties. Her face was round and soft, rather than sophisticated and refined. She stood about 1.7m tall and looked rather pale. She was wearing a dress with a low neckline. Her message was clear, direct and surprisingly frank. It was a message that was coming from an ex-convict and a former drug addict. She derided a society that placed too much value on power, money, work and tribal affiliation. Her bone of contention was that, it is so easy for us to come to the view that some lives are more important than others, and it is always so easy for us to be complicit in perpetuating new varieties of discrimination.

She was of the view that even though the slave trade had been abolished two centuries ago, some blacks in this modern-day still harbor a slave trade mentality. She couldn’t understand why some blacks discriminated against one other due to tribal differences and skin texture—the lighter your skin, the better chances you have in a society where everybody was black.

She admitted that she’d been a drug addict, and had already paid a heavy price for it by serving her time in jail. She also gave a poignant account of her life as a single mother who had to always work near the limits of what was always possible in order to give her only daughter a decent education. She advised parents to try to keep their children away from drugs. She lamented the fact that, in time, the whole West Africa region will become awash with drugs. She had no any evidence to support her claim—just only inferring from her long experience with buying and distributing “the hot stuff”. She mentioned her secret encounters with some influential men who were also in that trade.

To be continued…

What had been my fault? I was the darkest among the dark. I was one of the poorest among the poor. I knew it was the work of God. I did believe in Him. I’d been told by some Churchgoers and some Muslims that, it was actually a trial from God. For all their assurances and acceptance, there were days when the thought of being the darkest among my school mates seemed unbearably cruel. I had often raged at the fact that having a lighter complexion meant being more intelligent and having more opportunities.

To me, too much religious talk worked well if they were tied to some advantages on earth—rather than promises of heaven. Despite the fact that I was neither religious enough nor matured enough to understand God’s purpose, I believed that God is beautiful, and everything that He creates is beautiful. I knew and clearly understood that, I was a stranger within my own country. There was another dimension to this problem—tribalism. At a very young age, I understood what tribalism did to tear us apart as a people sharing the same destiny.

As I stepped into the meeting hall, I realized how difficult it was for the majority of parents attending the PTA meeting to reconcile the color of my skin with the sharpness of my mind. In my own young mind, it seemed like there was an unwritten universal law stating that—the lighter your skin, the smarter you are. It was a rare occurrence for such a poor boy like me, who was being taunted due to the thickness of my skin to be honored in front of such an audience. As Mrs.

Ashiagbor tried to give a speech about the virtues of being responsible parents, her speech was interrupted twice by one Ms. Ayele—an ex-con—who had been jailed for seven years for drug-dealing. She was such a nuisance at the meeting that, she was asked by Mrs. Ashiagbor on two occasions to keep silent. She was nearly ordered out of the meeting hall at a point but for the sake of Mama’s intervention. Every parent was given a chance to make a point or two before the meeting came to a close.

T be continued…

“Who’s that Ayoma of a scholar par-excellence?” One parent shouted out jealously?
“Not that black boy?” She asked with a guttural voice.

The father of my closest friend, Fred, answered.This drew a snigger from the back of the hall.

“Yes. I did meet a student who was so dark at the entrance when coming into the school. Is that him?” Another parent inquired.

“Yes.” Mrs. Ashiagbor interrupted.

“He’s the darkest and the brightest.” She asserted proudly.

According to Mama’s account, the headmistress then instructed one of the teachers to go look for me. I had already left the school premises with Fred. He had invited me to lunch. He had more than enough to spend since his parents were well-to-do. I had less than required to spend since I was being raised by a single mother—who had been forced to borrow money from a night watchman in order to attend a PTA meeting.

He lived in a plush residential area—the airport residential area. I lived in a neighborhood where poverty, drugs and crime competed fiercely against one another to gain recognition from its besieged residents. Fred was lighter in complexion and I was unusually dark. He was sometimes embarrassed to admit I was his friend. He would ask me to stay away for a while when he had to meet some particular friends or invite them over to his home for a weekend.

All these were taking place in Africa—the landscape of my youth—the place from which I woke up to the world, and the place that stays with me.

To be continued…

Ayomah’s Story (Sequel 54)

 

                                                     At  The PTA Meeting

I do recollect quite well an incident that occurred about ten years ago—when I was still in the junior secondary school. Mama had been invited to attend a Parents Teacher Association meeting. She was broke to the extent that she could barely afford to pay for transportation to my school. Determined not to miss the meeting, she borrowed money from our neighbor who had been a former executive but who, through adverse circumstances, had become déclassé to the point of working as a night watchman.

 Mama arrived earlier than most of the other parents—as has always been her wont to be on time to any occasion. She took a front seat and waited long enough for the meeting to commence. As soon as the headmistress, Mrs. Jemimah Ashiagbor, entered the conference hall that had been filled to capacity, she noticed Mama. She’d never seen her before. But she knew me.

“Are you Miss Lateefa?”

“Yes madam.”

“So you are Ayoma’s mother?”

“Yes. Is there any problem?”

“Nice to meet you.”

“Thank you.”

“Ayoma is a young scholar par-excellence. He’s doing very well in school.”

“It’s nice to hear that. Thank you, madam.”

 To be continued…

 

Learn to be bold but not a bully. It takes boldness to win the day. To build your influence, you’ve got to walk in front of your group. You’ve got to be willing to take the first arrow, tackle the first problem, discover the first sign of trouble. Like the farmer, if you want any rewards at harvest time, you have got to be bold and face the weeds and the rain and the bugs straight on. You’ve got to seize the moment.

Here’s the next step. You’ve got to learn to be humble but not timid. You can’t get to the high life by being timid. Some people mistake timidity for humility. But humility is a virtue; timidity is a disease. It’s an affliction. It can be cured, but it is a problem

If you want to be a leader who attracts quality people, the key is to become a person of quality yourself. Leadership is the ability to attract someone to the gifts, skills, and opportunities you offer as an owner, as a manager, as a parent. What’s important in leadership is refining your skills. All great leaders keep working on themselves until they become effective. Here are some specifics:

Learn to be strong but not impolite. It is an extra step you must take to become a powerful, capable leader with a wide range of reach. Some people mistake rudeness for strength. It’s not even a good substitute.

Next, learn to be kind but not weak. We must not mistake weakness for kindness. Kindness isn’t weak. Kindness is a certain type of strength. We must be kind enough to tell someone the truth. We must be kind enough and considerate enough to lay it on the line. We must be kind enough to tell it like it is and not deal in delusion.