Sebiticals Chapter 33: “I tried it and I made it”

Dear Wofa Kapokyikyi:

I bring you warm buharattan greetings from Amalaman where the value of cowries here, otherwise known as naiwries, is falling faster than the rate at which Nana Premang Ntow’s teeth fell out.

Another big story we are all watching from here is what role Oga Kpatakpata will let Amalaman play in sorting how Papa Jammeh, who drank humble sobolo after losing the bid to extend his time on the throne and then spat it all out, saying that he forgot that he hadn’t prepare for his time as an ex-Oga. 

You know, Wofa, that Amalaman exported democracy to Sierra Leone when it (Amalaman) had none at home. Sister Charity was definitely not at home. With democracy now in place in Amalaman, Oga Kpatakpata and Amalamanians will be more than eager to support the move to uproot Papa Jammeh like a yam.

We watch to see how it goes.

This week, my friend Abena Krobea shared a video about a young Malawian inventor called William Kamkwamba. In the video, the young man recounted how famine was ravaging his country in the early 2000s and how he had to drop out of secondary school. Determined to still educate himself, he decided to frequently visit the library of his former school and to read books, especially science books. From one of those books, he learnt about windmills, and decided to build one himself. Not having the requisite materials, he visited scrap yards around his house and salvaged bits and bits including bicycle parts, and PVC pipes, and built his first wind mills that powdered his house with electricity and also pumped water for irrigation. Awesome stuff! Inspirational!

In this TED talk by William, he made a profound statement: “I tried it. And I made it.” He made a move with his ideas, he took a risk on his dreams.

When I watched the video and as I personally tango with the many ideas I have that I haven’t tried, knowing what I to do and yet not doing it, procrastinating, thinking of how to do it perfectly, yet holding back and worrying about the passage of time, giving me a headache, I looked at William and I am provoked to take the pill of action and welcome my relief.

But it is not that easy and that is when I decided to write to you and share my reflections.

At a book reading at Rennie’s Garden, Dr Ruby Goka told us that one of the worse things about being a doctor or a medical student is that when one got ill, he or she only imagines the worse of possible illnesses. 

Same with the educated African. The educated African seems only to be conditioned for steady state conditions, to feel comfortable only when conditions are certain and all risks have been fully analysed and covered.

The educated African is the most afraid to take risks on his dreams.

Not so with many entrepreneurs who need to take a plunge into uncertain waters. Not so with William, who tried it and made it.

I am going to try, Wofa. Many of us are struggling with dreams that are in turbulent state. Unclear about how the dreams will pan out and unsure about whether the dreams are even sensible enough. Like seasoned sailors, like Peter the disciple, we look at the water and the weather and drop anchor, refusing to sail out. 

I will sail, Wofa.

The story is told of the rich man whose only daughter fell into a pond infested with crocodiles, at a game reserve. In desperation, as he looked at one giant crocodile close in on his daughter, the rich man shouted for help and promised that whoever could rescue his precious daughter would be given half of his entire wealth. Out of nowhere, one young man dived into the pond, swam quickly and brought the girl out, just in time to miss the closing jaws of the monster crocodile!

After catching his breath, everyone was eager to know from the young man what gave him such confidence.

“Young man,” they all asked at once, “what do you have to say about such daring? We all want to know what moved you to dive in. Was it the promised money?”

“Thank you all,” he started, “but what I really want to know first is who pushed me!”

Either pushed or not, I am going to learn to dive, Wofa.

“I tried. And I made it. Trust yourself. And believe.” Those are the words of Kamkwamba.

As I reflect some more, the story of a friend of mine, let’s call her Adwoa, come strongly to me. Adwoa was passionate about training and development, and talked continuously about how she would love to set up an outfit for that purpose when she went out of the company on an expected early retirement. We called it “being paid off”. That day never came. One day, Adwoa didn’t return to work. She died with her dream.

I am going to find that vim to dive, Wofa. Because, as I told Aboko my friend, sometimes one needs to know when to move before he is pushed. And I have seen a lot of pushing lately. Your company can decide to push you, to sack you. And then you would find that you can actually swim very well and beat crocodiles.

I tried and I made it. William has really provoked me.

Till I come your way another time with another sebitical letter from Amalaman, I remain:

Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase

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