“The forest not only hides man’s enemies but it’s full of man’s medicine, healing power and food.” – African proverb
Every time I hear a fellow Ghanaian expressing hopelessness about our challenges, I get the impression we are a dead people walking. Maybe we are actually are, even though we do hail ourselves as living. It is said that the living actually live by always doing something about the challenges around them. To live is the noble art of wrestling life from life itself…until what is, is improved upon. It is only the dead that cannot and do not do anything about the world around them. For the reality is they cannot do anything even if they wanted to. Thus, to assume that nothing can be done about a situation reeks of talk from the dead. Hope is the vision of the living, and the opposite is that of the dead.
Maybe it has never occurred to us that we speak of hopelessness because we died long ago; we just have not been entombed yet. If, however, we argue we are not dead but waiting for the ideal conditions under which we will make a difference, then we will die without starting any revolution – which in a strange way is tantamount to being dead. Life is full of passions that drive us to find solutions to challenges. Those passions wake us from our slumber so that we never have to worry about schedules and routines. The sun shines to tell us to light up the world, and the moon to rest and bask in another person’s light. Such is the primary energy of the living; an energy that gets us moving.
To live is to be dead-honest with oneself. It is to be confronted with what is most important to you, rather than what a society has conditioned you to desire; or perhaps what you have conditioned yourself to want. That realisation forces one to become solution-oriented and to champion the uplifting of communities and individuals. To live is a privilege that only the living gets.
It is about finding the strength to create something and then creatively finding ways to make it obsolete so that we can make way for the next creative exercise. Living is an evolutionary process, and this is not something the walking dead can do. At best the walking dead can interact with the living, hoping to infect them with their deadness since they cannot do anything for themselves. That is why the world labels them as zombies and make fun of them. Is it surprising we are called all kinds of names?
As a people, we need to understand that it is not enough to be alive; the main thing is to make our presence felt in the world. We need to write our own stories. They are as important as our aspirations. We need to write them in the mornings and in the night journal – all the aspirations. But if you ask me what stories we do tell of ourselves right now, I do not know. Maybe, we do not have any. Maybe, they are so few, they have not been published.
Whichever it is, the time has come for us to start living, to start writing our own stories. To be able to do that, we have to work on solutions for our challenges in ways so revolutionary they become headlines. We need to do what has not been done, and we need to do it in ways that brings out the best in us.
We have seen what our deadness has done to us. We are at the bottom of the ladder and have become easy prey for every kind of predator. We cannot continue deceiving ourselves about our deadness. But we can discover and correct our self-deceptions. We need to be real with ourselves, starting with the parts of us we know and then to the parts we are not too sure of before we finally tackle those parts we do not even know exist. And we need to do all this in the midst of our confusion.
We need to break free of the stifling stereotypes that confine us to the bottom class in a world where our identities are defined almost entirely others. It means challenging the conventional wisdom about what we value and why; about measures of freedom and of rights; about our humanity and what it means to live. It means rethinking everything from how we are nurtured to how we become educated. We need to build a society that encourages every individual to live to the fullest of their abilities, while ensuring they do not infringe on the rights of others. We need to offer people the satisfactions of loving themselves and all others.
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