BE KNOWN AND REMEMBERED FOR GOOD REASONS

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There is a big red- tiled house along Entebbe road , on the way to the country’s only International airport, that I have passed by  for over fifteen years. On many occasions it has been pointed out to me as the house belonging to an ordinary man who through sheer determination and hard work worked his way to the top. The story goes that from a mere porter at a welding workshop he struggled to build his own metal fabrication and design business. On more than two occasions, he had to start afresh but he never gave up. He acquired the necessary skills, became professional and built a solid business.

I think by now he is an old man but I only know his name and many times I have wished to put a face to the name! Then, just yesterday as I accompanied my sister to the airport, Kizito my long time trusted driver from the Airport taxi service pointed out another house to me. It is a four-storied commercial building, as good as new but looking empty and forlorn. “ That building has been like that for two years; the owner died and his children could not agree on how to run it,’’ Kizito explained with a heavy heart.    I found myself thinking about how each one of us lives and writes his legacy every day through our actions and interactions with the people around us.

Like the owners of those two houses, I have two different friends whose lives bring out the values and purpose of their lives. The first is none other than Kizito himself. His telephone number is among those written in my dog- eared notebook that I have kept for over ten years! It is one number that has been among my contacts since the Mobile phone became a vital part of each one of us. I did not know him before . He was recommended to me by a childhood friend as I was looking around for a reliable driver to take me to the airport for the South Africa Airways 7:00 am flight. I used to take this flight back to Botswana through Johannesburg for most of the time I lived and worked in Botswana. The check- in time was an, awkward 5:00 am. For all those occasions, reliable and dependable Kizito picked me from home, located thirty-two kilometres from the airport, on time. If anything, I sometimes delayed him! We have come to know each other well and whenever we travel together we take the trouble to catch up on each other’s lives. He dreams of owning his own transport company. Little by little, he is getting there. He took a bank loan to buy the Toyota Harrier that he is currently driving and is left with seven months of repayments. I was happy to learn that he ensured that he did not secure the loan against his small home.He is also doing his best to get his four children in the best schools within his reach. As a satisfied customer, I have recommended him to many other friends and true to his word, he has never left them wanting. I always remember him with a smile.

The second friend is Moses Kunene of Johannesburg, South Africa. He is another taxi driver who was recommended to me by Kalagi, my childhood friend who has lived in Johannesburg for thirty years. Worried by the violence in the country at that time, I needed a reliable and trustworthy driver to pick my children from the bus terminal and get them to Oliver Tambo International airport for a flight to Cape Town where they undertook their undergraduate education. Kunene has picked me from the airport and dropped me at Kalagi’s place in Pretoria, many times over. He has proved as reliable as they come. He shared his biggest dream of owning his own Safari Tours company early on and it has been  great joy to watch him grow as opportunities and choices opened up for the black South Africans. True to his word; he now owns a small tour company that ferries tourists around Johannesburg the ‘city of gold’ and Pretoria the Jacaranda city and the administrative capital.

He employs four other drivers but whenever I call, he himself shows up. He took me and my sister from Gothenburg ,Sweden, around the  main tourist attractions like Soweto and the Mandela Museum, the Apartheid Museum , and The Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO Heritage site, the Pretoria National Botanic Gardens and the Union Buildings. Kunene loves what he does and is extremely enthusiastic about his work. He has invested time, practice and money in his work. At the same time, he has been able to move his family of five from a shanty area of Johannesburg to Mayville suburb of Pretoria! What he considers as his best achievement so far is having guided his eldest son into a Business Administration degree course at the University of Witwatersrand -WITS, Johannesburg. The transformation has been remarkable! How I wish Kizito could tell me something close to this story for his family in Entebbe, Uganda.

These two men are ordinary, happy and optimistic people walking around with an attitude of gratitude. They treat their jobs with respect and give them the priority they deserve after their families. They make our world better by what they do and say. From the time I got to know them, they had clarity about where they were and where they wanted to be and were determined to find ways of getting there.

The real takeaway from Kizito and Kunene’s stories is that as we go about our day-to-day jobs, we are writing and living our legacy. We influence the present generation and the generations to come, long after we have gone out of this world.

Shannon Alder said: “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.’’

I for one have decided to write and live my legacy every day by whay I think, speak and what I do.

I would be extremely happy if you chose to join me in this endeavour. Together we can make our world a better place.

Kindly leave a comment about this post and share your experiences about living and writing your own legacy.

FINDING YOUR SENSE OF SAFETY

 

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All the standard pre-flight safety demonstrations on board a big airplane take you through the use of an Oxygen mask in an emergency. The safety video clearly instructs the passenger to always fit her /his own mask before helping children, the disabled or any other persons requiring assistance. Simply put, during that limited time, your safety comes first. This cardinal air transport safety rule can be extended to cover our day- to -day living.

As Sonya Parker says: “Put yourself first. You can’t be anything for anybody else unless you take care of yourself.’’

She also tells us: “It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness as a priority. It’s necessary.”

For those of us who read the Bible, the second most important commandment given to us is: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself’. But then how can you fulfill this one if you do not know how to love yourself! You cannot give away what you do not have.

So I have learned to love myself first before I love others, find my inner peace before I help others to find theirs, take care of my health before I take care of others and to forgive myself before I forgive others.

This has never rung so true for me as it has done during the first year of my return home after being away for more than two decades. As I try to get assimilated into the radically changed system, I find that so much is going on around me and sucking up my energy and focus. In this interdependent culture, numerous demands are made on me as a daughter, mother, family member, a woman, a professional, a member of my community and a citizen of my country. The chaotic state in my country adds insult to injury.

Time after time, I have had to stop and think about what the interdependent culture and anarchy does to us ; it places heavy burdens on many of us and we end up carrying too much for too long. This alone has dire costs to us.

I never forget that no man is an island. Each of our individual journeys is intimately interwoven with the journeys of our friends, our families, our co-workers. Every step I take in becoming more fully myself has a ripple effect that affects others and the steps they take affect me. So finding genuine meaning in our lives contributes to the renewal of our families and communities.

As I continue to have a deep conversation with myself in this environment I have come to realize that four options available to me:

  • I could choose to feel overwhelmed, paralysed and do nothing until I run out of time.
  • I could choose to take on as much as my shoulders can carry until I burn out.
  • I could choose to disconnect completely by turning away from it all.
  • Last but not least, I could choose to wear my oxygen mask first and then go out to engage in the world around me; effectively doing the small bit that feeds into the big picture.

To work my way through the tangle, I have gladly chosen to take the last option as it allows me to focus eighty percent of my time and energy on the twenty percent that gives meaning to my life. It is the only way I can live out my own deep and great story.

I know for sure that no life, no matter how successful and exciting it might be will make me happy if it is not genuinely my own.

If I chose to disengage completely then I would miss out on my own unique life task that contributes to the making the world a better place to live in. I bear this responsibility out of the legacy of all the heroes who came before me. I have never been the type who waits for things to happen to me; I have made things happen to me.

Maria Edgeware says: “If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.’’

Delmore Schwartz always reminds us that: “Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn.’’

Let us fit our oxygen masks first then go out to be of service to others.

Thank you for reading this post. Kindly tap into your experiences and leave a comment about this post. I would be grateful if you shared it with your family and friends.