I spent the weekend of 5 and 6 March 2011 dabbling in two of my delights: spending time with the youth in Cape Coast and ministering with Joyful Way Incorporated in Takoradi, now christened Oil City or OilKrom.
I was a priviledged to be invited by Nhyira Foundation to speak at the Gathering of Visioneers Conference in Capec Coast, bringing together pupils and students from Junior High and Senior High Schools in and around Cape Coast.
It was not all talk, though. We had some good music. On the bill was Michael Oware Sakyi, aka OJ. I had heard a couple of his soings but had neither seen nor heard him live. Two of his popular songs are Obi Nya W’aye and Koso Na Koso, which he released in 2003. I was impressed with him.
Before singing his last song for the afternoon, OJ shared with us his story, where he had come from, how far God had brought him, how his experiences and desires combined to make him who he had become, and provoked our thoughts that God had made each one of us unique. Then he sang Obi Nya W’aye, loosely translated from Akan as ‘someone wishes he/she was like you’. He asked us to sit quietly and listen to the lyrics. It was good advice.
The story is told of a man, let’s call him Kwame Nkrabia, who was so frustrated with life, his lack of success,and the non-achievement of his dreams that he decided to end it all. He was broke, in debt, with no hope of recovery. After begging for a few months, he felt he didn’t even have the strength to go on begging. One day, he left town, to hang himself.
Finding a forest area, Nkrabia selected a tree whose branches were strong enough to ensure the rope held. To delay any chances of his body being found, he decided to remove his clothes, leaving only his underpants. As he tied the noose, he detected some human activity in the undergrowth. With amazement, he saw a man kneeling by his discarded, tattered clothes, carefully folding them, whilst muttering a prayer for a good find. Nkrabea aborted his suicide mission.
Someone gave a testimony of expressing gratitude and appreciating that his lack of shoes was not that bleak, considering some had no feet. In secondary school, any time I was broke with no food in the chop box, I could thank God that I was able to eat in the dining hall, fresh food, not like the sopi boys who came from the nearby villages to help in the pantry so they could go home with the leftover food, what we discarded – actually not much so the sopi boys had to sweep the tables to take the crumbs and spills from our plates, literally.
It is good to compare yourself to your peers, to calibrate, so as to encourage yourself to do more. But we should always remember that our paths in life are different. Even twins don’t have the same characteristics, a friend reminded me at work this week. Even Siamese twins disagree on what to do from time to time.
As my friend Dr Bisi Onoviran said, “you shouldnt compare yourself to others – they are more screwed up than you think.”
There is always someone who will admire something in you, wishing to be you. Who you are today is someone’s dream.
But that is not to say you have to remain at this point. You can only become better from today, as you keep on. But the journey forward is enhanced with a positive appreciation of the path you have trodden, lessons learnt and gratitude of the present. It is only then that you can practise what Eugene V Debs called ‘intelligent discontent’ which he stated “is the mainspring of civilization”. That discontent which says “I am grateful for what I am, but I can be more”.
What is eating you up? Could it have been worse? Reflect and take action to improve, to go ahead, to be better.
“I am content with what I have, little be it, or much.” John Bunyan
“It is not being out of heels that makes a man discontented, it is being out at heart. To be contented is to be good friends with yourself.” Bliss Carman
“All our discontents spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.” Daniel Defoe
“Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.” Benjamin Franklin
“It is right to be contented with what we have, never with what we are.” James Mackintosh
“It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.” Winston Churchill
“Envy is ever joined with the comparing of a man’s self, and where there is no comparison, no envy.” Francis Bacon
“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state to another, another more.” Alexandre Dumas
“He that is born to be hanged shall never be drowned.” French proverb