A lady posted this on my Facebook page and it got me thinking “My government paid for me to get my degree but not everyone lives in a rich country. This issue is very complicated. You are one of the lucky few”. This is in response to a previous comment I made “I believe strongly that Education is the only means by which we can break through poverty and the poverty mindset…”. I’m I one of the lucky few? I could go on about all the difficulties I have gone through to get to where I am, but I wonder really if that is the point she tried to make. What I take from what she said is something I link to the last part of my quote “Mindset”. The mind is a powerful thing. It is independent and most frustratingly, there is a conscious part to it and a subconscious part as well. How then does one control the subconscious when you are not even aware what it may be thinking or how it may be influencing your actions.
There is an interesting book titled ‘Thinking fast and slow’ by Daniel Kahneman that talks about the first and second brain and how they influence our reactions, deductions, perceptions, etc. For me getting people out of poverty is not really a difficult thing, but getting people out of the “poverty mindset” now that can be a herculean task!
Africa may be free physically. Our people managed to throw our captors and slave masters out, but are we free from the slave mentality? what is our default mode? what is our self-esteem? Again I go back to the point made by the contributor at the beginning of this piece. So, I finished Harvard. This is not the point. The point is that there are probably more people who have better qualifications than I have who may qualify for the program, but guess what, I was the only Ghanaian in my class! I am sure this is not for want of people who dream of the same opportunity. But dreaming and acting are two different things. How do you act when at the core of you, you suspect that you may not be good enough? and even when you whip the courage to apply, the society you live in will drum it down your head that you are not good enough and not only that, they may go out of their way to prove this to you by engaging in acts that emphasizes their point? there is a little bit of self fulfilling prophesy going on here, don’t you think? For this reason, I hardly told anyone, including my family that I was applying, because they would have reminded me of all the reasons why I may not qualify, instead of a little focus on the one reason or two, why I may!
And so yes, I am part of the lucky few, because I choose to be that. We can easily give strategies for overcoming physical poverty and may very well be on our way to eradicating it in some parts of the continent. But what are we to do about our mental poverty? how do we tell our children that they are good enough and that they can do whatever they set their minds to and that failure is necessary for progress? that failure can actually be a catalyst that spurs you on to try again and possibly do better? I remember watching the documentary ‘Rivers and Tides’ and the Artist, Andy says something like this each time his Art work is destroyed by the water ‘ I understand the stones better and each time I try again, I get better!” and then he says something even more profound ‘the river can make of it far more that I ever could’. How do we motivate our young people to dream big and work hard and strive for the best because only the best is good enough for them? how do we encourage our authority people to realize that they are looting our nations because they too are poor mentality and their poverty blinds them to the realization that there is so much more in them they can give than take from the people? Physical riches does not lead to self actualization, does it?
Mental poverty is a serious condition. It is a tool by which you can forever enslave a people or enslave yourself and the best thing is that you don’t even know it is there… you are a free crusader for its sustenance as you steadfastly go about conquering your world. Hey and you are king of that world too! I say the main fight for us is not to fight to eradicate physical poverty, for that can easily eradicate itself when the mindset is right. People who achieve, don’t achieve because there are no limitations, they achieve despite their limitations!, but your mental limitations, boy, you can have all the riches in the world and you will still be poor. Africa has many of the world’s resources, don’t we? you tell me what you think…
How do you say GOODBYE? This is something I often ponder. I don’t like to say goodbye. Saying goodbye can mean several things. Letting go of something you don’t want to let go of, an end to what you know, facing an uncertain future, death, a new beginning, birth. It can mean so many things… is it temporal or permanent. The bitter taste that may pass through before the sweet. A face I may never see again, a moment never to be enjoyed. Change.
And so I ponder now. I know the passing of time. The not knowing what comes next. But if I don’t say goodbye, I can not move on. It is necessary both for my person and the people I leave behind. For they too must say goodbye. It is a letting go of pain where there is. A forgetting of past joys and an embrace of a future that dances slowly towards me…and so I wonder.
Change. They say nothing changes, but change itself. Why does it have to be so? Why can’t I have both the not changing and the change? who says I must exit gracefully? even if the past is painful, it is what I have known, what I know and it offers me some kind of solace. Sad solace.
A clean break. I have tears in eyes. How do I do this. A clean break and saying of goodbyes or do I drag it… I want to drag it. Selfishly so. But I know this will be painful for me and those I leave behind
Showing up. I understand I must show up to say my goodbyes. Why can’t I just disappear? Why make it more painful by showing up? but I understand that if I don’t, neither me or those I leave behind may truly believe I am gone and we will both keep wishing for a comeback. Showing up and saying goodbye, makes for a good dose of reality. Maybe this is what I need.
New beginnings. Until I let go of the past, there can never be a new beginning. This is a road this soul has never threaded before, though the path may be worn.
And so I EXIT… for the world is my playground
I’m sitting in the dark and I’m thinking of the two great people I spent most of my day with today… This gentleman is awesome and he makes me laugh. As we sit at Preet coffee, his laughter fills the air and several times I could see people turn when we both laughed with such abandon. We discussed some of the amazing classes we took together and what we may be doing after and I said to him, don’t ever change, you are awesome.
I’m sitting in the dark and I’m thinking of the two great people I spent most of my day with today… This gentleman is awesome and he makes me laugh. As we sit at Preet coffee, his laughter fills the air and several times I could see people turn when we both laughed with such abandon. We discussed some of the amazing classes we took together and what we may be doing after and I said to him, don’t ever change, you are awesome. Sometimes you need people in your life that can just laugh with you…
As we bid each other bye for now, my other friend walks in… oh boy, we were set to meet for about an hour as we both had dinner dates. Suffice it to say we kept other people waiting for a long time regrettably. We talked about uncertainty and the importance of being different, the need to enjoy the confusion and why it is a privilege to allow oneself to feel that, the audacity to fail and the wonder of our foolishness. The importance of having someone or people in your life who allow you to exhale in the state of not knowing and why we must continue to stare into the nothing clouds… it was good to spend the evening with a kindred soul and accept our inefficiencies and the not knowing… knowing that we couldn’t live any other way… and so I end my day sitting in the dark, staring into nothingness, because there is nothing else I’d rather be doing…
Gosh, I will miss these guys… today we attend our last Mason meeting. I remember exactly one year ago when I sat in that room for the first time with all these people from over 40 countries. Many of them from countries a world apart from my own in every sense and I remember thinking to myself “gosh, will I remember how to pronounce these strange names!” One year later, not only can I mention their names, I will probably be visiting quite a number of them in their countries in coming years…. One of the extraordinary things about my year here, has been listening to and understanding so many different perspectives and realizing what a diverse and rich world we live in. It is a shame when we don’t as a world, explore this richness whenever we can and understand and accept that it is this that makes us so great as a specie… I have certainly become a better person because I realize that me, and the little country I come from Ghana, is a minute part of such large tapestry and looking at the bigger picture is so much more beautiful than just our piece…
I have traveled quite a bit within this past two years, and after stopping and passing through so many airports, you can’t help, but begin to notice these places that seem transient to your travels, but yet, carries such significance!
You carry with you the impression of the airport, as your first impression of the country, whether you are passing through or stopping and nothing wipes away that very first impression.
Airports actually say a lot about the people that live in the country. Is it a small or big country? Do they have a rich culture or not? Are they friendly? Corrupt? Progressive or retrogressive? Innovative? Rich or poor? Clean or Dirty?
I began to take notice, and realized, I could actually say I have visited a country even after just transiting through the airport! I there say, all travelers can say this.
I couldn’t help, but exclaim on my face book after stopping through Wisconsin that lo, it seems I had been wrong in this assumption though! – Beautiful airport, massive, high tech: only for me to enter the city and drive for miles without coming across any houses! The few were far between. Snowy and messy as it was though, it was clean. My friend and I stopped at their CV pharmacy; I bet it was more stocked than the whole of our mall in Ghana put together. Further down 3miles and coming across only a couple of houses, we enter the guest house my friend is staying at and boy oh boy – comfort, elegance and beauty at its best. The airport after all, did say a lot about its people. Hmmm…
South Africa gives me hope. There was a beautiful advert on one of their stations talking about the expectations of the visitors to the last world cup (a couple of years back). The advert featured ‘Hugh Masekela ’ saying ‘they came expecting lions in the streets!’ at the World Forum in Cape Town, ‘Archbishop Desmond Tutu’ jokingly said to the crowd ‘make sure you come here again soon and we will arrange a couple of lions in the streets!’
Whether the visitor visited Cape Town, Durban, just stopped in Joburg or whatever, one cannot fail to notice that this is truly a first class country, with a people that are determined to succeed. I carried that impression with me even unto the plane. The only planes I’ve sat on that parallels theirs is a couple of Emirate Planes!
Contrary to this Icon of Africa, most African countries have dirty, smelly, shabbily decorated, stuffy, small, ill equipped (should I go on?) airports. The first thing that hits you is the heat, which we cannot do anything about, but then, the smell follows fast on its heels!(one French country in particular comes to mind!), That we can do something about! And then, the stuffiness as you enter – the other things follow in that order, and true to it, when you enter the various countries, the corruption that hits you from the airport and the disorganization follows you at even greater force.
My thoughts go deep. ‘Can one hide what is on the inside? Somehow, it always shows its ugly head on the outside, no matter how hard one tries. With our quest to change, should we start from the outside? From our first impressions, or should we go much deeper and change the inside of the people, and then maybe, our airports will change?
Our politicians, ‘alias taking joy in travels’ must notice the difference in airports! (Did I see our president at the Ghana/Brazil match? A penny for his thoughts has he entered the airport). For crying out loud, even the smallest airport in South Africa is bigger and nicer than our National or should I say ‘International’ airport. Surely guys!
To say for Ghana though, our officials are clean and they smell nice. I wonder to the heavens, their thoughts as they stood on football fields that were coming apart! Whose idea was it to put that makeshift football field at the airport? Interesting concept maybe, but if you must do it, do it well! With the tapes sticking up, the poor quality looking football carpet, is saying more to our visitors than we can