A letter to my community in the wake of stalling local community development programs

A letter to my community in the wake of stalling local community development programs

My devotion to matters of social and economic development in our community will not be weathered because i see a potential that, if nurtured well, will leave us in heights which for now are only a distant dream.

I will start off here, i strongly oppose the idea that we are successful by merely growing up in a small town, farm or village and managing to make it out to the big cities and their glittering opportunities. Don't get me wrong, it's a good milestone. Rather than awarding it the status of success, i see it as the first step towards a greater destiny.

My point is, for most of these traditional communities, one breakthrough is celebrated universally because the outgoing prodigy carries the dreams, hopes and adoration of the whole community. He is their brand ambassador. He sets a bar, an inspiration to those that come after him and an example of reference to parents who still attempt to motivate the young ones to dream beyond the local horizon. Uncomfortable as it often is, i would know, i have worn the shoes of both the motivated and the one used as as symbol of motivation and i am proud. I apologize, don't be turned off, this is not a story about me. This is about *US*

The ones who left, by road, rail and air. The ones who travelled, far beyond the mountains and rivers to big and bigger cities, beyond borders, seas and oceans. They carry with them a part of us. Our identity and pride. We applaud their milestones, follow their social media posts and brag about them more often than they know and can ever imagine. But again, let's save that one for another day.

So.....as i was saying, a story that ends with the breakthrough of a single kid from one side of the village or a huge business opportunity for a local businessman from the other side just doesn't sound complete to me. I know these odd ones out would have sacrificed a lot of time, effort, resources and sleep and would have foregone a lot of pleasures to break the ice. Trust me, i understand the relief of looking back of looking back from across the river or down from up high in a plane and thinking, 'Damn, i made it out'. As that popular conclusion draws near, i crave a spark, one more chapter, a chapter of looking back and thinking, 'i made it out against all odds, what is it i can do to better the odds of the next kid who tries to do the same?'.

The adult eagle, equipped by nature with the enormous power of flight and hunting skills, understands the potential bestowed in it's young one. It understands that its own strength should not only dominate its hunting lands but should be used to carry food back to the nest to the eaglet which still needs nurturing. Snares and catapults there may be on the way and no matter how self satisfying the hunting grounds are, the eagle understands that it needs to make it back with the food to give the little one a fair chance to survival. It is my hope to one day write a story of how those who broke the ice in our community made it back with ladders and maps for those that remained to have a better chance of making it, both locally and abroad.

Competition gives us the determination to push ourselves a little harder. Isn't success sweeter though when shared with those with whom we connect the most?.... Isn't it more satisfying when achieved in your own territory?, a place where your heart is. I was privileged to have a little chat with this rich man a while ago. He said the saddest aspect of making it out of a disadvantaged community is the loneliness that comes with it. He said, 'individual success alienates you from your kin, it sprays you with a scent most people are not comfortable with'. Further explaining that success that is shared with strangers feels empty and means less, he made me understand that my neighbour's success isn't competition, it is good for networking and may be utilised to complement my own efforts. 

I don't know about you, but i'd rather have my family, my friends and my former classmates that have riches that will separate me from them. I would like to mix and mingle at social gatherings without fear of unconsciously talking about a business idea and watching my friends stand up and walk away because they don't relate and the remaining ones mistaking that speech for bragging. If it's too late for me and you, i hope we are the last generation to allow that plague amongst us. 

I say we become grateful for our chances and the exposure we've had wherever we ended up. Educated or not. Rich and not so rich. Taught or self taught Artisans, businessmen, hustlers and academics. Let us look back to the schools we went to, the dams to which we drove our cattle to drink when herding them, the service provisions we got........and tell ourselves, that with all we know and have now, we will make life easier for the upcoming generations and those who come after them.