My Lessons Through African Words of Wisdom
‘To get lost is to learn the way’. This is a wise Swahili proverb that I have always firmly believed in.
In a society where equal opportunities are mirages, where nothing comes the easy way, I was no stranger to challenges.
Along the way, I made many mistakes, stumbled more than once, but never gave up. Why? Because that Swahili proverb never left my mind; always reminding me that failure is a blessing in disguise.
The simplest example is the following: not a long time ago, I participated in a martial arts competition after six long months of training. Stress was at its highest level and consequently, at the middle of my ‘kata’ demonstration, I couldn’t remember anything and just stopped. All eyes were turned towards me and I couldn’t be more embarrassed.
I was depressed for the next few days, yet ended up learning that mental preparation is as important to focus on as physical preparation. The following year, I was ranked first with an almost flawless presentation that I had prepared for both physically and mentally this time.
Another African word of wisdom I firmly believe in is the following: ‘A chattering bird builds no nest.’
No, success does not knock on doors. Talks don’t lead to great achievement. Only actions count.
And in my everyday life, I try my best to not wait for miracle and rather talk less and act more.
Last weekend, I was invited to attend the Thabo Mbeki Youth Retreat to discuss Africa’s challenges and opportunities. I cannot deny that the discussion was absolutely great. Yet nothing tangible would have resulted from it.
This is why I suggested the creation of a resolution list, where every attendee writes what he/she is ready to do to drive a change.
Yes, ‘A chattering bird builds no nest.’
I like to carry the lessons of African proverbs with me because I believe that African proverbs are a true incarnation of wisdom.