PROF ALI MAZRUI: A MEASURE OF GREATNESS

This weeks’ post is in honour of the late Professor Ali Mazrui.  In another time I would have been ashamed to publicly admit that I did not know about this towering intellectual until his death this week. He was 81. Today I don’t mind acknowledging my ignorance because today I am wise enough to know without a shadow of doubt that I don’t know (everything) and that each day brings with it limitless  opportunity to learn.

IN MY FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS: PUTTING THE BREAKS ON EXPLOITATION

Let me first start with a personal example: Last night my father taught me that brake fluid has two uses in a car. First for the brakes which is self-explanatory and that second it is also used for the clutch. He said “come” to the garage, opened the bonnet of my mother’s car and showed us where to put the fluid for the different mechanisms. The hand brake light in my mother’s Toyota Corolla had been flashing for several days, the brakes worked fine but the light continued to flash so my mother ( being the wise woman who knows she doesn’t know about cars) asked my father who did know a whole lot about cars and how they worked. “So what do you think is the problem?  It was the first time in a long time that my father, who has been working with all kinds of engines and parts for the past 30 years or more, invited us into his world. He then explained that brake fluid is used to lubricate both the breaks and the clutch showed us the different containers.  He also explained how the signal worked, there was a sensor on the lid which monitored levels of brake-fluid and when it was below the line, caused the break-light to turn on.

I used to my marvel at my father who spoke a language I couldn’t decode. He would explain over the phone to his colleagues how to dismantle the engines caterpillar machines, and put them together again, as if he was standing right in front of them. I was always impressed by his descriptive  knowledge of each part and where it was supposed to go from memory. I admired his tone and even handedness when he explained each stage of the process without patronizing the other person.  He hardly ever raised his voice or shouted and he always asked questions in order to understand what went wrong. Moreover he always seemed to have a solution for every conceivable problem the other person at the end of the line came up with and when he didn’t know he’d say “let’s leave it for now and see what to do tomorrow”.

I admired him and still do but because of my inherently independent nature I never went to him for advice when I found myself in sticky situations. I thought the best way to impress my father would be to learn to do things and manage my life all by myself instead of asking him for help or seeking wisdom from him.  But last  night I saw how eager he was to share his knowledge with us, how happy he was to see us willing to learn  from  his vast  know how (skills)  of cars and machines. Only then did it dawn on me that the best thing I could have done in times of trouble or uncertainty or whatever hard decision I was facing was not to try to prove to him I could do it by myself. The best way to impress him would have been to do the exact opposite, to go to him and ask for his advice, opinion and counsel.  After all he is a man who deals with solving problems every day. I realized that my father would have been more impressed by a daughter who knew that she didn’t know (everything) and was willing to draw on the wisdom of those who loved her and who wanted to see her succeed. I realized that he would have been so happy to hear me say “Dad I don’t know how to do this, can you help me? What do you think?” Instead of me trying to do it all by myself and falling and hurting myself in the process as if he wasn’t there or willing to help me. Even if it was just to listen, which he does wonderfully.

I realized that admitting you don’t know and seeking the council of those wiser and more knowledgeable than you is probably the most intelligent thing I could do for myself. I realized that intelligence or wisdom is not measured by knowing or pretending to know everything, but intelligence is about being open to not knowing and then committing to learning every day and applying that knowledge to real life situations. It is only by knowing that you don’t know that you can learn new information – because essentially, even if we get to a point in life when we think we know a lot about something  – we still don’t know everything.  And it is precisely this arrogance and belief that we know better than everyone else who has been here before us which is responsible in large part for the failed states and or downfall of Independent Africa for hundreds of years – a subject which Prof Mazrui dedicated a large part of his academic scholarship to.

THE DUAL MANDATE: NEW FORMS OF SLAVERY

After I discovered the passing this towering legend through a wise friend of mine on Facebook. I spent the whole week listening to his teachings. I realized that I had been searching for a teacher like Dr Ali Mazrui’s who was essentially a romantic like me, but understood the roots and anatomy of  Africa’s present day challenges without being frivolous, superficial or reactionary about solutions to those problems. I was drawn largely by his calm, clear and balanced authority which spoke of wisdom beyond my own years and a mind seeped in the excavation of knowledge. He was a man who had learned how to listen and I could hear it from the way he spoke. In  short, when I watched a video clip posted by my friend, I realized that I had finally found my mentor.  I sat at his “feet” and listened as he decoded the illusion of African Independence, in a way that was fresh and empowering.  And rings ever so loudly true for  Africa today than ever before.  Instead of telling you about him I thought the best way to honour him would be to let him tell you the story of Africa. So I spent time transcribing part of his documentary – Tools of Exploitation in Africa – which is the best analysis, explanation and account of the current challenges facing the continent today.  You can find the complete version in the video on youtube or click the title below to watch it.  I hope you will be inspired as I have been to continue where Prof Mazrui, who published more than 30 books and articles and was written about and published in 50 others – left off. “To whom much is given much is given, much is required”.

TOOLS OF EXPLOITATION IN AFRICA – BY PROF ALI MAZRUI

“Many centuries ago man in this part of Africa went into partnership with termites to process copper. The  Balunda, the Baluba,  the Basanga of ancient Zaire ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) used the clay produced by termites to  help smelt copper and produce implements of agriculture, weapons of war sometimes decorations and money for exchange. A long, long time ago, a strange partnership… and then the Europeans came. Did they want to learn from the technology they found here? Oh no! At least the Baluba and the Balunda had consulted the technology of the termites and benefited from it. But European technology was more arrogant more self-confident and less compromising. It abolished the old technological order and in its wake it left new forms of desolation in Africa.”

“Yes the West arrived in Africa with a bang. The soil recoiled in a whimper. Britain’s colonial policy Policy maker lord Lugard argued that Europe had a double mission in Africa. One was to develop Africa’s resources for Africa’s own benefit. The other was to use those resources to meet the growing industrial requirements of the western world. Lugard called these two goals the Dual Mandate. Our story is about this dual mandate. This intended partnership between Africa and the west and how far it’s been fulfilled.”

THE DUAL MANDATE

“Europe’s’ new technology has descended upon Africa in search of the continents virgin wealth. The African landscape will never be the same again. And so they dig up Africa faster than they have ever done before. And yet it’s one of the cruel ironies of the world economy that a continent so rich in natural resources should at the same time be so poor in living standards. The factories the furnaces of the world are clamouring for African manganese, African copper, chromium, platinum you name it Africa produces it. The romantics amongst us would prefer to think of Africa as God’s treasure chest of diamonds, after all we produce more diamonds than anybody else, we like to think of Africa as a golden continent, we produce more gold than anybody else.  And yet the same rich continent, this vast Treasure Island is inhabited by poverty-stricken inhabitants. Why? Something has gone wrong, tragically wrong in the partnership between western technology and African resources. And yet the digging continues: Dig, Dig, Dig, is it for wealth? Or is it the collective burial of a people”

A FACADE

“Some would argue that the west had brought development to Africa. Perhaps by the Dual Mandate, Lord Lurgard meant an exchange of African resources for Western technology. A new civilization on wheels is now vibrating along African streets, from Dar es Salaam to Dakar. In all my travels in five different continents. I still continue to be astonished by the great variety of African skylines, every African city is a miracle of transition. The mixture is between the foreign and the indigenous, the old and the new, the natural and the artificial. But much of it is a mirage and half of it is a façade.   In Africa the glittering goods are more a symbol of imported consumption than of genuine local prosperity. We in Africa are buying goods from other nations rather than making them ourselves.  The West has given African only the shimmering illusion of technological know-how in exchange for the solid substance of Africa’s resources. In what continent am I? Africa or Europe if I am confused it’s because it’s all a façade, a façade of a western style skyline behind which lies a very different story. Westernization without real modernization Appearances reminiscent of the West behind which lie the realities of Africa. What have we got to show here in Africa, for 300 years of contact with Western technology?  We have acquired western tastes, but have we the skills to make them work?”

HUMANS FOR GUNS

“More  sad than the death of Kings is the death of ancient skills surrounding them.  Once upon a time African Kings and Chiefs were patrons to great artists and craftsmen. Civilizations in gold and bronze were maturing. Techniques had been evolving since the 12th century.  The most famous African sculpture is from Ife and Benin in West Africa. Some outsiders scoffed claiming that the bronzes came from the lost continent of Atlantis. By the time the Portuguese arrived the art had become so realistic that it portrayed the visitors in remarkable detail.   But the Portuguese and other Europeans hadn’t come to admire African skill, their eyes were on a new and fearsome trade, not in African products but in the very African producers themselves.

Slavery was not simply a denial of freedom for those Africans actually captured, it was also a denial of development for the continent they left behind. Europe not only refused to develop Africa, it savagely disrupted skills already in the making. The most symbolic western institution in Africa at the time, was the fortress. An impregnable trading factory, the factory’s merchandise human beings.  The slave trade rapidly transformed Africans into the most humiliated race in human history. Within two centuries alone over  12 million Africans were exported to the new world, the Americas.  It is estimated that for every slave who reached the America market, another died in transit.

Those who survived proved to be more durable than the Indians or Poor whites. Ironically the African Slave trade persistent partly because Africans were so tough.”

Africa had exported to the west men and women, potential implements of production. Africa had imported from the west, guns – by definition instruments of destruction. Indeed the slave trade and the gun trade were interlocked, in some cases guns were the currency with which slaves were bought. Slaves in exchange for guns. Africa had helped to enhance the industrial revolution of the west through those very slaves sent by force there. And yet the guns out here initiate a whole new culture of violence. That culture of violence extends right into present day Africa”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MOROCCO: A Destination For Happy Endings…

A group of people climbing the fence that separates the borders of Morocco and the Spanish territory of Melilla in an attempt to migrate to Spain, on April 3, 2014. (Blasco Avellaneda/AFP/Getty Images) A group of people climbing the fence that separates the borders of Morocco and the Spanish territory of Melilla in an attempt to migrate to Spain, on April 3, 2014. (Blasco Avellaneda/AFP/Getty Images)
A group of people climbing the fence that separates the borders of Morocco and the Spanish territory of Melilla in an attempt to migrate to Spain, on April 3, 2014. (Blasco Avellaneda/AFP/Getty Images)

The term ‘happy-ending” is ambiguous at best. Depending on who you are, where you are from and your perspective in life a happy ending could infer an illicit activity, behaviour or inversely it could mean something sweet, innocent, and wonderfully miraculous.  Be that as it may, Morocco’s third largest city and tourism capital  Marrakesh, has all the happy endings you can dream of.

LET YOUR HEART DECIDE

Picture the spirit of Marrakesh through the words sung by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle in the song “A whole new world”, a soundtrack for the 1992 Walt Disney animation fantasy film “Aladdin”.

“I can show you the world, shining shimmering splendid, tell me princess, now when did you last let your heart decide? I can open your eyes take you wonder by wonder, over sideways and under on a magic carpet ride.  A whole new world, a new fantastic point of view. No one to tell us no or where to go or say we’re only dreaming”. A whole new world (don’t you dare close your eyes) A hundred thousand things to see – (hold your breath it gets better). I’m like a shooting star, I’ve come so far… I can’t go back to where I used to be….” 

It is these words which spring to mind as I reflect on my recent week-long trip to Marrakesh – Morocco.  It is surprising to me that I didn’t think of it at the time, because, it’s a song which best describes my experience of the country.  But in that week I was entirely focused on something else. In fact there was no room to wonder. I had been given, offered, an opportunity to tell a story which I had been training and preparing for retrospectively for the past 13 years. In a competition initiated by the African Media Initiative (AMI) called The African Story Challenge   aimed at improving the quality of news stories in the continent.   By this time I knew that there was more to see than I could ever see and more to do than I could ever do. My heart had decided on what was most important to me and the story was all I could think about. I had enough on my proverbial plate, and was, as a result content to remain within the tall palm trees and the beautiful landscape at the Pullman Resort and Hotel were we had been booked.

MAKE A SHOPPING WISH

Before travelling to Morocco, I did a bit of online trolling to see if there was anything tourism related which I’d love to do or see whilst there. The souks and historic Mosques and buildings popped up prominently as popular tourist destinations. Online pictures of course looked magical, an amalgam of colours, and endless choices of shiny trinkets which reminded me of markets in Egypt. I had accompanied a colleague of mine to one of them en-route to Syria some years ago.  She needed to buy Louis Vuitton bags for her relatives back home, but she didn’t want to go shopping alone and I was the only person willing to go with her.  After what seemed like hours of walking around, the novelty of the souks quickly wore off.  I felt as though I had been swallowed into a rabbit hole of monotonous stalls, shops, wares and people so much so, I could no longer tell my left from right. Everyone beckoned, begged, bickered, haggled, hustled, insisted, in an effort to lure customers into their shop, for the best price for this, good quality that, cheapest this you could ever find in the world. The alleyways were narrow, hot and crowded. Everything started to look identical, the heat was suffocating, and the vibrant noise was loud enough to silence the sound of my heart beat.  I had no energy to engage in endless banter or mindless negotiations for goods I knew I had no intention to purchase. I just smiled and laughed the rest of the way, the least offensive response to people hard at work, making a living. No amount of no thank you would stop them.  Egyptians were relentless negotiators.

ALL THAT MONEY CAN BUY

By the time I was physically walking through one of those Moroccan souks in Marrakesh – accompanying a colleague who was eager to experience what Moroccan Markets had to offer and needed some company I was claustrophobic. As we walked through the popular tourists square Djemma El f-na  the crowded evening streets, meandering through the mosque, horse driven carriages, through to the main square where musicians, magicians, fortune tellers, snake charmers and artisans employed their best tricks for a dirham – I realized that I had no desire to see more. Perfumes, scarves, clothes, carpets, lamps, lamp shades, fabric, electronic gadgets, everything for sale, I had seen before countless times. I committed instead to enjoying the experience through the eyes of my colleague who was curiously excited about the new-ness of everything and was in  search for a special gift for a special friend back home.

FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD

The food stalls near the entrance of the souk were, bright and honestly very inviting. Mountains of fruits and vegetables, fish, beef, lamb kebabs, seafood, pizza, pasta, patisseries, burgers, pita bread, all lit brightly and prepared while you wait were hard to resist. Maybe a taste of something, I thought to myself.  The food stalls reminded me of food quarters in Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon.  It suddenly occurred to me  as we  meandered through the different  stalls and I feeling a  bit like a famous movie star who was being pursued by the  “paparazzi”, who all shouted  enticingly with animated hand gestures, inviting me with their gleaming eyes,and striking smiles on bright young faces begging me to  “please join us for dinner, please come this way, madam please” while  ignoring my please of  “no thank you, I’m not hungry’ responses as if  I  were speaking a language they didn’t recognize. It was only then, in that totally unrelated haze that I realized – I hardly ate in Beirut.  I cannot remember what Lebanese food tastes like.  A late colleague of mine, Dudley Saunders, a camera-man who had been in Beirut for a while before we arrived had organized a fixer in the city who invited us to a place said to serve the most delicious food in town. It was full, lively, and vibrant, people were talking and shouting everywhere, food was in abundance the tables were overflowing. The atmosphere was electric for lack of a better word, people’s faces were animated with laughter and loud passionate conversations about war. It was June 2006 the hottest summer in Lebanon. We had just walked down from a five-star hotel chain Les Commodores Hotel, where we were staying for a few days.  The hotel is famous for its 50 year history of hospitality to international journalists and reporters in the centre of the Amhara business district. The festive scene, the hustle and bustle of waiters traipsing back and forth like busy buzzing bees between tables, serving plates piled high with falafel, shwarmas, Tabbouleh, pitta bread lamb, chicken on rice, coca cola and sprite in an endless list of food items on the menu, all of it belied the fact that just a few kilometres away people were dying. The festiveness of the restaurant did not give an impression that just south of the city rockets were being fired, there were no signs that Lebanon was under attack.  So even though the food looked deliciously inviting in Marrakesh – I had no appetite for any of it.

PEOPLE AND PAPERS

I considered writing one or two news stories about Morocco’s migration policies  in the absence of a tourist activity worth pursuing within that short space of time. I had read news articles of Moroccans specifically targeting, assaulting, abusing and tormenting sub-Saharan Africans from neighbouring countries such as Mali, Guinea and Senegal. “ Moroccans are racists” warned a  friend before my trip “they don’t consider themselves African, even though the country is on the continent of Africa” She insisted “Cover up, it’s a Muslim country” she advised.  It seemed there was an endless number of news stories to pursue.   Moroccan authorities had refused entry visas to artists traveling by road from Lagos, Nigeria en-route to Sarajevo called the Invisible Borders Trans-African. The project which has been running since 2009, aims to document life and movement on the continent and use that information to create art for Africans by Africans. Invisible Boarders founder and director Immeka Okereke said they hoped to open up a dialogue between Europeans and Africans to re-negotiate the imaginary and physical borders between the two continents. But it seemed Morocco – a gateway country to Europe – was under pressure to further tighten its borders. Which meant that that migrants and or travelers from sub-Saharan countries would face even tighter restrictions for travel and those that didn’t have the required papers or permission for entry  did so illegally and hundreds have lost their lives in the process.

ON A NATURAL HIGH

Morocco is also a source, destination and transit country for drug trafficking. It is known to many as the hashish capital of the world, though a recent study by Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy &Kenza Afsahi “Hashish Revival in Morocco”- reports that Hashish production levels have fallen by 65% percent in the past decade. Even so Morocco is currently the second largest producer of Hashish and exporter of the drug after Afghanistan.  The drug is offered fairly openly by peddlers in the souk who I heard calling out “hashish! Do you want some Hashish” to a group of American tourists who were loudly incensed and offended by the insinuation.  This exchange which I found humours I witnessed with my ears during my second trip to the souks in Marrakesh.  This time I was with three colleagues who were eager to experience the what Marrakesh had to offer. And since I had been there before I was invited to come as a “guide”.  “The square is shaped like a star, I know exactly how to navigate the space, we are not lost” said one of them as we walked aimlessly in circles on the outskirts of the city. There were no tourists milling about in that area, and  after a while, the fear of the unknown  trickled down with the stcky sweat on our bodies. Two of  our colleagues decided to ask for directions “Just to confirm that we’re in the right direction” from local boys who were willing to show us the way for 50 Dirhams or a full packet of Marlboro cigarettes.  It seemed like forever before we emerged back to where we had started and the search was now  for  a restaurant to sit, and cool down  after two hours of walking.  My colleagues yearned for a cold pint of Beer, but Morocco is a Muslim country: alcohol consumption is strictly forbidden and highly regulated for tourists who can only drink it in secluded or well covered licenced international hotels and restaurants at very high prices.  Sweet Mint tea is the preferred national beverage.

THE HONEYMOON

After our walk around the food stalls and the market it was hard to imagine what it is that makes Morocco such an attractive holiday destination for hundreds and thousands of people especially tourists from Britain, France and Europe each year.  But for those who can afford it, those who had  copious amounts of money to spend Morocco is a place of dreams. Even Hollywood actor George Clooney was rumoured to be honeymooning in an undisclosed location in Morocco with his new wife Amal Alamuddin.  Morocco is popular with LGBTQI travelers who can enjoy time spent luxurious in  Hammams across the city(steam room similar to a Turkish baths where Moroccans habitually go each week to cleanse themselves and each other) While same-sex relationships are forbidden in Morocco – the separate lives between men and women in Morocco  (and most Muslim countries) makes it a perfect environment for  people in same sex relationships to enjoy each other freely without any judgement or suspicion.  Men and women take Hamman baths  separately.   There are  many  Hamman Hotels and spas which cater for all kinds of tourists  looking to experience something new. And if  you’re not unfortunate enough to be caught like the 69 year old British tourist Ray Cole who was detained for four months for ‘homosexual acts”  – you can also order a massage with a Happy Ending!

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? COUNTING THE COST OF RELATIONSHIPS

Does a good career guarantee romance?
Does a good career guarantee romance?

A week ago a friend and fellow journalist posted a question on her Facebook page which intrigued me. When I first read her question I immediately wanted to write about it. But I thought it wise to wait and clean out the cobwebs in the  attic of my mind and heart before writing a conclusive argument on an issue I have been wrestling with for many years. You must wonder then what the question was.  Here it is:

‘So if you had a love interest that you know is not too good at his job, would you still be interested?”

My default or rather instinctual response to her question was  to pose another:  Are you interested in the job or in the man? By the time 30 people posted their comments on her stream, many of them responding with an emphatic no for an answer;  I realized that I had not given this subject the due consideration it deserves.

The Play ground

So I decided to go back to my childhood playground and  revisit the way in which we played as children or the ways in which children play  in order to better understand how we “play” as adults today. The playground like the office or any other corporate environment  is not for the faint hearted. Children as with colleagues and bosses can be very  callous  with their words and actions. The main difference however  is  that children  tend to be more honest and speak  truth much more than adults do. So you always know where you stand in the playground. It’s obvious.  Children  are also less likely to be conniving, malicious or do anything they don’t feel like doing despite  fervent admonitions, unless of course there’s an adult at hand who might be more persuasive.  Let me use myself as an example.

I am one of five children and grew up within a large extended family.This meant that  my playground was effectively  at home as my friends were my siblings and cousins, aunts and uncles.  I hardly played with other children at school, often preferring to keep my own company.  It is safe to say that I never learnt quite how to “make” friends because I never felt that I needed friends to begin with and If I did I already had “friends” at home.  It was on very rare occasions ( and often under chaperon) that I played with other children ( children I was not related to) in the neighbourhood. As a result while I did not actively pursue friendships with others, I was always curious about the “other”. In other words I was always drawn to or curious about people who were not already part of my own family.

At home we played together almost all the time except when we were at school or when one of us was ill.  We used school as an opportunity to explore new things, find new information, which we would later re-enact/ share/teach /exchange  with each other back home.  Even though at various points in our childhood all of us went to the same school, we never “hung- out” together – preferring other people or “friends” to each others company. Of course we would share everything about the “other” once at home.  Some in the family were more successful at making  friends ( bringing new people home) than others. I was generally not good at making friends.  At school I was a loner, awkward, shy, reserved, timid and mostly an outsider looking in, who was a source of jokes or an easy target for bullies. So as a result I kept to myself and never tried to infiltrate the sacred world of school “playground” relationships. Whether by default or as a result of my  own anti-social conditioning – at school I always assumed the role of the observer. I spent most of my time in and outside of class either watching people, reading or day-dreaming.

On Home Ground.

At home I was a completely different person to the timid, reserved girl, who seemed lonely and alone. At home  it was lights, camera, action! At home I was free to live out my wildest dreams, with my siblings or by myself on the mirror. At home I could sing, dance, walk around naked, tease my brother until he cried. At home I was an outgoing, confident, strong girl, who was also talkative, full of drama and  loved to perform. I think a part of me emulated many of the characters I saw at school. I beguiled my mother and siblings with stories of my classmates and teachers while doing  impersonations of them.  Going to school for me was like a game. Because at home I learnt the serious art of studying my “friends” based on their parents relationship with my parents. I keenly watched how the elder’s behaved and used that knowledge to interpret, correctly or erroneously,  the behavior of my siblings and or cousins, uncles and aunts. Even though I knew we all “loved” each other – I knew that their (as with my)  loyalty lay with those who fed them, sent them to school and loved them when no one else was around to witness such love. Ultimately no matter how much  we as children “loved” being together it was never up to us to decide the fate of our relationship. It was the parents who did.  So regardless of what was said, actions always spoke louder than words. I also knew that you can never really know a person until you have at least met their family, you can never understand another, until you know his or her parents. So in life I learnt, that unless I met your mom or dad or your family, I was not your friend. And our friendship would not last long if your parents and or most of your family did not like our friendship and  visa versa. As a child I intrinsically understood the nuance and  dynamic nature of familial relationships and the influence they have in our lives, whether we care to admit it or not.  I learnt that with people nothing was ever cast in stone, and that relationships could sour quickly and  end without much notice, provocation or any particular reason. I learnt that  it was best to accept those relationships as they were rather than  “fight against” the storm.   Even in my childhood play(home)ground there were  hierarchies, formed along the same lines we use to form relationships in our adult lives or in the “business world”.   Even within my own family, friendships were formed  according to  age group, language, familiarity, common interests, good looks, special skills/ability, access (money/influence) and geography ( how often they see each other). And you would be favoured/despised at different times, days, years  depending on which of the above mentioned skills  you had acquired or lost not to mention the state of parental relationships.  So one holiday you may be the butt of all jokes, the next holiday you might be the popular one whom everyone is focused on and wants to be with, favour was seasonal and fleeting. It was always a mystery to me how this worked. But I learnt that I could never  base “love” on any of those “things” which were wonderful to have,  but never seemed to last. Love was a deep connection shared between two people which could never be  quantified.

Love Has Everything To Do with IT

Going back and re-examining my childhood and the behavior we displayed as children in our different “home” playgrounds re-enforced my instinctual question – Do you love the person or the Job? Why? Because even in childhood finding a  good mate to play and just “be” with  – even within such a conducive home  environment – was not always easy.   Sometimes your siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, had other interests which were very different from yours. This differing interests would necessitate a compromise either from one person or group – in order for a the ‘game’ to continue. If there was no agreement, there would be no game. Sometimes you had to be content in your own company even if you were in a room full of people, because none of them shared similar interests to you or wanted to participate in the particular activity you were interested in at the time.   For example I enjoyed classical music but  my older sister loved popular music  and R&B, because she was older and had a more dominant  (parental like) role in our relationship she more than often got her way.  So I had to either choose to also enjoy her brand of music or go somewhere else and do something else. Often there was nowhere else to go.  So I learnt how to be present or absent from a place without ever leaving the room. Even though this may seem like torture it helped me to understand my siblings better, to know what they liked and didn’t like, what they enjoyed, what they were like in the morning, how they slept in bed, what they were like when they were happy, sad, hungry, irritated, scared, angry. And knowing all this made our bond stronger and closer and the love we had for each other had nothing at all to do with our marks at school.  Our love didn’t depend on the our performance at school or at home. Whether I passed or failed didn’t change how much I loved my siblings. Of course we would celebrate if one of us did well, and empathize with each other if the other did not do so well.  But the love didn’t come from what they did or didn’t do, it was about sharing all the good and bad things in life together. My siblings were always there, annoying and angelic  sometimes, I know where I stand with them.  I learnt that love is a choice. A decision you make everyday. And it  a choice or decision you can extend to everyone.

 I chose to love a long time ago!

So while finding a mate who is brilliant or great at their job is wonderful and would be much preferred. I think it is a weak trait to base your decision on. Do you love the man. The person, the human being.  His personality. His character. Do you share his values. His  principles. His aspirations.  Do you enjoy being with this person. Are you free with them. Can you share yourself with them? Can you imagine yourself changing the world with this person ? Do you love them? I think those can be more enlightening questions to ask. In fact it might even be more beneficial to meet the person’s family and relatives  first before making a decision. Considering how hard it is to find someone who can love you (more) like family does, someone who loves you for  who you are, not what you can or cannot do. I would  shy away from someone who loves me because of my job or status in life. Because that has nothing to do with love, that’s just about  appearances and material things. Love shows up when times are hard and sticks around to celebrate with you when you triumph. Yes relationships are costly, and it is only when you truly love someone that it wouldn’t even occur to you to count the cost. Because ultimately – money, career, status, influence – can never buy you love.  While some things are possible to achieve and maintain without love – with love – everything is possible. Only love can change people for the better. But you can never make or force anyone to love you no matter how good you are at your job!

That’s my opinion.