Don’t Bury Your Visions – Yet!


Hangman’s noose – courtesy Google Images

Don’t bury your thoughts
Put your visions to reality, yeah
Wake up and live

Bob Marley & the Wailers

In doing a research for an article this week, I found out that most of the most successful men and women of this generation and the ones before us were children of disappointment. They had dreams, but found out that in the quest for the actualisation of their dreams, they found physically insurmountable obstacles. The kind of obstacles that made some people bury their thoughts and embrace suicide.

No matter what you are going through, suicide is a cowardly way of putting a halt to it. So, don’t do it. Learn from JK Rowling, the author of Harry Porter. She went through a divorce, was left to take care of a daughter alone, had a terminally ill mother who is estranged mother and was on welfare. According to her, she was just one step to becoming homeless. The manuscript of her bestseller was sent to 12 publishers, all of who rejected it. So how did she break the odds to sell 1.5 million copies and hit the Forbes list of $13 million? She may not have listened to Bob Marley, but she lived the advice.

The dreamer shall inherit the earth if they did not give up but keep trying. Thomas Edison the inventor was well known for several quotations. But look at this one – genius is one percent inspiration, ninety percent perspiration. The man who failed 1,000 times to invent the electric bulb before he finally succeeded said inter alia “just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”

Robert Nesta Marley, aka Bob Marley ought to have buried his own vision. His mother was impregnated by a sailor who left her and never came back. He grew up in a ghetto and almost had no education. His attempt at recording was rebuffed by many established record companies, some of his band members abandoned him out of jealousy. Yet, he braved the odds to become a legend who believes that “everyman got a right to decide his own destiny.”

Do you think that Sylvester Stallone’s slurred speech was a Hollywood swag? The truth is that the complications that Stallone’s mother suffered caused obstetricians to use forceps to pull him out. This led to a severe damage to a nerve and paralysis on the left side of his face including parts of his lip, tongue and chin. He dropped out of college to pursue screenwriting. He even starred in raunchy movies before hitting it on the big screen. Stallone’s net worth according to Celebtrity Networth is $275 million.

Steve Jobs did not set out to be a computer geek. He stumbled on it. Given up for adoption by his biological parents, his foster dad showed him love by showering him with toys. He dropped out of college, says MensXP “because his education was costing his foster parents a lot. He used to return Coke bottles for money and live on free meals at the Hare Krishna temple. Yet, this man’s story will affect generations well after his death.

You may not believe in miracles, and you don’t need to be as successful as any of these people. Life, as the scriptures say, does not consist in the abundance of riches. But if you must leave a mark on your generation, and perhaps generations unborn, remember Vince Lombardi – winners never quit and quitters never win. He also said that “perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

Keep on keeping on, till next week.


Cultural Imperialism III – Culinary Dependence

Have you recently tried getting the attention of young children with a locally prepared food? Or tried to set the next date in a buka (local eatery popular in West Africa)? Did you succeed? Perhaps not. Change gear, tell the children you are taking them to McDonald’s for pizza and set your next date for a more ‘dainty’ venue and you are bound to get 100% attention.

Africa no longer feeds itself, though it owns 60% of uncultivated land. A 2013 study finds that 30% of our continent is malnourished and that only 3% of our food growth is exported.   

Truth is, we are no longer attracted to our local food. To eat with your fingers is to be the lowest of human species. Yet, the Chinese have internationalized the use of chopsticks. Our preference for foreign food has turned our continent into a dumping ground for all sorts of genetically modified and disease inducing food habits.

It is an irony because we are a continent that has not been able to extend primary health care to the needy – that 60-70% of the population that lives in rural areas, far from modern amenities and usually either neglected or forgotten by local governments. This means that being susceptible to manageable diseases is itself a death sentence.

In most instances, food items that are banned in advanced countries still find their markets in Africa. Most chemically processed foodstuff are known to be slow killers. They are known to be high in sugar (because it is used as preservative). They are incredibly addictive and they contain in most cases, carcinogenic properties – they induce cancer of all kinds. Processed foodstuff are usually bleached off their nutrients.

If you want to destroy the future, target the youths. That’s exactly what our love of foreign food is doing to us. First it is deracination, it takes away the natural appetite and replaces it with something that makes the eater dependent. If you cannot grow it and your only craving is towards it, you are bound to buy it. Love of foreign food is turning our continent’s youngsters into couch potatoes. According to a WHO finding, childhood obesity in Africa is expected to around 12.7% by 2020.

Childhood obesity is responsible for diseases such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension and coronary or hearth disease.

So, before you accept that invitation for a night of pizza and fizzy drinks, think what you are doing to your vital organs. Going back to our natural food helps our continent organically feed itself, provides income for rural farmers and reduces migration.Image


Pix: Obesity – Courtesy Smithsonianmagazine – Google pixs.


Cultural Imperialism II – Marriage, Language Learning & Culture


Picture from, courtesy Google

Not too long ago, UNESCO celebrated the International Day of the Mother Tongue. It concluded that half of the 6,000 languages spoken today will be extinct by the end of this century. When this happens, a wealth of knowledge and experience is bound to be lost, says the report.

We can snigger at the figures as one of those UN findings from the void. But if you belong to an ethnic minority anywhere in the world, this is a clear and present danger. As Marcus Garvey puts it “a people without the knowledge of their past history is like a tree without roots.” Where would you be if your cultural identity disintegrates?

The developing world is perhaps the worst hit with the imploding linguistic and cultural extinction. One good reason perhaps is that the world has truly become a global village. In a global village, there are no boundaries and endogamy is becoming an archaic practice. People meet and intermarriages happen. In America for example the number of Jewish people intermarrying rose from 28% in the 1970s to 47% in the 1990s. This is breaking an ancient cultural practice that has kept the people closely knit since the exile to the fall of the northern kingdom.

Mixed marriages raise culturally diverse children, but it also comes with the challenge of which language the children should adopt? In my lay view and personal experience, two things affect this choice. The first is who of the two parents spend more time with the children. The second is the social milieu in which the children are raised. Have you observed how children of immigrants pick up the native accents of the language of instruction easier than those of their parents? This is perhaps as a result of the Chomsky’s theory on language acquisition called the Language Acquisition Device, LAD.

Where (as in Africa and other parts of the developing world), the language is not codified this is very hard. Non-written languages would die faster than written ones. Languages used for instruction would survive better than ones that are simply spoken. There are more non-native speakers of English today than the native speakers (including the writer).

This makes English a colonial language even though subconsciously.  If you check your locality, you may identify one, and in developing nations, it is likely to be the first language of instruction. Educational systems that do nothing about preserving indigenous languages help kill them off. While growing up as pupils in schools, we were forbidden to speak in our mother tongue and forced to communicate in the language of first instruction, then later in English. This creates a false impression that the mother tongue is inferior to the other two and it is not uncommon today to speak in our mother tongue to a younger person and watch them answer in the language of instruction even when they could speak the mother tongue.

This leads to the extinction of such languages. Studies continue to show that children learn better in the language they use at home. In Africa, mother tongue education is used only in the first three years of elementary education.

There are several pros and cons to this. Languages that are dynamic (grow by borrowing from others and assimilating new concepts) would tend to survive. Those that are rigid would die off as well as the non-codified ones. Yet, a report on intermarriages show a nexus between the success of a child and their racial or ethnic self-esteem.

…to be continued