Analysis: DEXTER NJUKA
‘TIME is a great equaliser.’ This phrase deeply resonates on the back of my mind that indeed in the struggles of life, hope, time and tenacity are part of the mantra for success.
Many of us have had it rough in life. And we all have our stories to tell. Suffice to say that it all boils down to ‘never give up’. Ever heard this song – ‘Hope’ by hip-hop artist Shaggy? It goes like:
“I remember, wasn’t so long ago we had a one-room shack and the livin’ was low. And my mama by herself raised me and my bro. Wasn’t easy, but we did it with the little that go… Worked hard got us off to school every day.
And kept her eyes on the stars when the skies were grey. Gave us pride to survive, really showed us the way.
“Now I really understand what she was tryin’ to say. She said, ‘son there‘ll be times when the tides are high. And the boat may be rocky, you can cry. Just never give up. You can never give up.’ In this life you could lead if you only believe… And in order to achieve what you need# And this hope. That keep me holding on…”
I grew up in a shanty. Life was tough then. I came from a humble background, where having a three-squared meal happened once in a blue moon. This made me think that probably I was destined to live life that way. Being older, I made sure that I regulated order and fairness during these meals. My tightened face and periodical hand gestures were more than enough to make me turn good as a traffic officer.
Bed time was another problem. We could hardly sleep and warmly during the cold nights in those ripped or hole-studded blankets. As the saying goes, the-earliest bird catches the worm; whoever got to sleep earliest got a better share of the tucking. And sleeping in the middle, one was spared from the pull-and-grip of the blanket.
And primary school was something I didn’t enjoy. I mean, what kid can find pleasure in a classroom of over 70 pupils and sitting on the dusty potholed cold floor for a couple of hours? I was an average classwork performer with a low self-esteem such that on two occasions in my primary school I wetted my school shorts. For me, please teacher may I leave the room was a deadlier moment than being in a casket.
I dropped out of school twice after falling off the cut-off point before I embarked on the journey of educating myself with little adult help.
Walking eight kilometres back and forth on an empty stomach, five days a week, became overbearing. School distance was sometimes overtaken by fantasies of me driving in one of those fast automobiles. Then a VW microbus was a thing and my dream car. I used to stop and watch it. I loved it in bottle green colour. The engine, coupled with the emersion sound from its exhaust cylinders, underwired my train of thoughts of being married to this lady of colour whose complexion had replicated into the bunch of our kids in the rear auto upholstery.
After school, I tried my hands at so many things and nothing was really working out for a long while. Goodness, I was so determined to succeed at whatever I was doing. I tried my hands at barbing, ironing second-hand clothes for a wage, weeding fields, offering school tuitions at my parents’ backyard, going round the compound hawking sour milk and brick moulding.
And imagine with a pregnant woman! Life became tougher. During the day, I pulled up the bed and used the space for preschool teaching and in the evening I pirated a taxi as a co-driver (kazizi). Life was tougher then. Either sleeping on an empty tummy or chewing and sucking cane sugar whenever I felt uncomfortable to cross over to my parents’ house for a meal.
And in all this time, I met good people. They encouraged me never to give up. They taught me to keep on hoping. They told me that indeed education pays the dividends. And those wonderful people taught me to count my blessings, naming them one by one. They taught me that it’s okay to lose some battles in order to win a war.
And the song crescendos.
“Boom-boom, couldn’t have made it alone. I got a wonderful life, two kids on my own. With a strong foundation that was curved in a stone… And my mama for the love that made my house a home. Made me wonder some time if it was meant to be. And this for a humble little guy like me. And all I ever wanted was a family. To teach my kids the same value that she gave to me.”
I can say this to someone that you keep holding on unto your faith.
Never, ever give up.
The author is a media and communication enthusiast.