The Sunday Mail
Milton Kamwendo Hunt for greatness
It is also not because I am brown-eyed, dark-skinned and flat-nosed. I am an Africa because Africa lives and throbs in my veins and its cries are etched in my umbilical cord. The spirit and love of Africa, its rhythm, tastes and sounds pulsate through me like a crowded Makokoba street or Mereki on a month-end weekend.
Wherever I go, I find Africa still beckoning at me to come back home, to serve, be relevant and uplift my people. Africa has a strong magnetic pull on my spirit that animate my mind with dreams and visions that keep me awake with possibility. An abandoned and abused Africa will not just bloom to greatness by chance.
The greatest promotion for me as an African is not running away from Africa to the serenade of some haven beyond the seas, distancing myself from its problems and waiting for change and development to come. My consuming joy is to have an opportunity everyday to touch and serve someone in Africa in any humble way I can. It is not the limelight that I seek, but a little space everyday to be of service in lifting Africa and instilling a sense of vision, confidence and self-belief. I am an African by choice not socio-economic convenience.
Africa is magnetic, alluring, dynamic and different. There is something that Africa just is. Sometimes you can explain it but at times Africa is a type of spell, it is akin to a maddening love affair.
There are things you can do and be in Africa that you cannot do elsewhere. Africa is a place, life, culture and heritage. At the face of it, it may temptingly look chaotic, empty, unstructured, sad and deprived. Yet deep within, it has a seductive cultural heritage, awesome stories of gallantry, wisdom with incomparable imagery and wealth that is unimaginable and largely untapped and undervalued.
There is a special call whose drums beat daily in Africa and there is ever an open invitation to dance with life that Africa presents to those who would dare love her. Rise and dance with an African dream. Sulking and sneering everyday and waiting for a chance to flee is mere cowardice and disloyal.
The challenge of limitations
Most people in Africa are born in circumstance that are deprived, with little to smile for or sing about. African names tell it all, they are not just mere clichés. Even when names are given in an international language the names in Africa are always an adjective or adverb of sorts. Africa always seeks meaning not tomes. African names said in English sometimes appear a bit funny but that is Africa, you do not just give a name because of its sound. You know the names of your peers and you dare not laugh if it’s your boss with that weird and usually misspelt name!
When anyone in any field in Africa makes it to the global stage, they have had to fight, hustle and challenge their limits. In Africa we sadly learn to master other languages and currencies better than our own. In Africa we grapple with more problems than we are able to create or sold in a generation.
Our aspirations are not limited by geography nor are our tastes limited by economic advantage or distance. Africa is a microcosm of the world. Within a small geographic confine you will experience the cacophony of the first, second, third or any other world you could imagine possible. It is all in there like at Okro soup.
Luxury and poverty are part of the tapestry of Africa. Big and small are part of our perspective. Rich or young in Africa, you can only be limited if you choose limitation to be your mindset. Africa’s problems signify abundant and unbridled opportunity for anyone with a warrior spirit.
In Africa you are sometimes born at the mercy of death, hygiene and multiple risks. Many in Africa are born in mud huts and without any medical facilities.
Sometimes the nearest clinic is too far and ill equipped. The challenge of Africa is to value life and improve its resources for the broad many. Africa is wealthy, but crying for leaders who will spread the wealth and have bold visions to lift their people not fatten their belly or wallet with toys. Africa is marching forward and pockets of places are showing that excellence is possible, leadership is present, development is feasible and prosperity is achievable. Rotten African leadership apples do not mean that the whole orchard is diseased. Africa still has salt.
In the villages of Africa, people struggle for water, sanitation and food. To reach for higher goals when all you are obsessed with is living for today and this season is a far outcry. The challenge for anyone is Africa to adopt a different can-do-mindset. To look at every challenge and dare to challenge it with new possibilities and different action. Africa is full of people and problems, presenting an abundant opportunity in every direction. Many in Africa do not need to be reminded to believe in God, they need to be challenged to believe in their potential and to see the God in them.
Greatness lives untapped and strangled within many African souls. Africa is crying out for leaders of worth, who seek to lift up people and not magnify their own deprivations.
The challenge of value
Lack of exposure makes you sell for a pittance the precious family jewels. Greed, blind leadership makes you sell the future, while others rape your resources. The challenge in Africa is to begin to put a premium on Africa and its resources and wealth. It is to think about resources with responsibility. It is to think bigger than a few pockets and totem poles. It is to think about posterity, strategy, grassroots development and financial intelligence.
Resources with greed simply allow a few to taste the fruits of Africa while the rest linger in abject poverty, with little to smile about. The call of the African buffet is leadership with equity and integrity, development with responsibility, wealth with morality. Everyday and everywhere in Africa you see wealth covered in dust. The challenge in Africa is to see value beyond the sandy surfaces.
Then discern between true friendship and greed in the hands of friendships that are ensconced the African space. Sometimes the problem in Africa is not those from outside, it is that the only people that do not see value in Africa are the Africans themselves. Small thinking in great places results in small results out of big resources. For how long will we think small?
The challenge of responsibility
Africans are not victims of the present or the past. Unless we are willing to take responsibility we will always be victims. Until Africans dare to take charge of their destiny they will always be the world’s children and be treated as such. Africans are capable and able. It takes self-belief and self-drive to do more and be more. Some Africans are not used to excellence and have grown to accept anything and everything. Addiction to begging leaves you always looking for other worldly help when you can help yourself. This is not the legacy of Africa neither should this be the reality that Africa has to live with. To feed our children the diet of bitterness and irresponsibility to be irresponsible.
Change is possible, it begins in the heart and mind of everyone in Africa. So long as Africa is stuck in blaming everyone else for its misery, it has given up the power to change.
What will you do for Africa? What is your contribution today? What difference are you making?
Milton Kamwendo is a cutting-edge international motivational speaker, author, strategy and innovation consultant and leadership coach. His life purpose is to inspire people to release the greatness trapped in them. He can be reached at: [email protected]