SPIDER'S WEB with CHEELA CHILALA
During the time I was growing up in Lusaka’s Libala Stage Three area, we kept chickens at home.
We never had to buy chicken because all we needed was to slaughter one from the chicken enclosure; neither did we have to buy eggs. We had a sizeable number of chickens.
For many years, however, there was one particular hen which was protected from slaughter, the reason being that it was the most productive: it laid lots of eggs and hatched lots of chicks.
There came a time, though, when the hen was too old to be productive, and my mother decided it was time to slaughter it. Had we slaughtered it earlier, we would not have benefited from its productiveness. It was a valued asset.
The story of the beloved hen draws attention to the wisdom of preserving what is productive and valuable. Yet there are times when we destroy what is productive – for a variety of reasons.
There is a famous saying about killing the goose that laid the golden egg – engaging in unprofitable or unproductive action driven or motivated by greed.
Greed is dangerous, a cancer emanating from a selfish spirit. Greed blinds the person who has it. All they want is to satisfy their personal need at whatever cost, and regardless of who or what is hurt – and unfortunately this can be at the expense of productiveness.
Mahatma Gandhi, the famous Indian leader, once said, “There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.”
Eartha Kitt, the American singer and actress, once said, “Greed is so destructive. It destroys everything.” Greed is insatiable.
Greedy people do not think of others; they think only of themselves. They do not think of tomorrow; they only think of today. I like illustrating it this way. If you are given a dry cob of maize, and that is all there is, you have several options: you may fry it, make chiwaya and eat to satisfy your craving, or you may plant it.
The first option is what I call the “chiwaya mentality” – the mentality that wants to enjoy now without thinking of what happens tomorrow; eating the seed instead of planting it to produce more. Eating now and remaining with nothing for tomorrow.
We have seen people sell land, houses and other valuable assets all because they want to sustain an expensive lifestyle, or to meet a need which could still be met through other means.
They sold their house and today are struggling to pay rentals or are squatting in other people’s homes.
They sold the only piece of land they had and today have no land on which to build even a shack. They misused the profits from their business on a lavish lifestyle and today are beggars.
They stopped school in order to get married. They destroyed the future in pursuit of the joys of today.
Some advice: do not permanently destroy your future because of the temporary needs of today. If my family had eaten the productive hen earlier than we did, we would not have had as many chickens and eggs as we did.
Before you sell your land or house think about tomorrow. Before you stop school to get married you should remember that academic qualifications will provide you with some security in case the man you think loves you now throws you out tomorrow.
Never take actions with permanent consequences in temporary situations. The chiwaya may be nice today but tomorrow you will have no seed.
Only self-discipline and a sense of sacrifice will keep us from the chiwaya mentality. Resist the urge to kill the hen that gives you chicks.