Monday, 18 June 2012

Letter to my Son; Man of production

My dear son 

It was disappointing.  I strained my ears, eavesdropping on a conversation. Young men and equally young ladies debated about life and their ambitions. It seemed they were involved in one business venture or the other. “Admirable”, I thought. However, disappointment strangled my hopes as the conversation descended into familiar territory. It oscillated between what Daddy was going to do and what uncle politician could sort out.

My son, I am burdened with being born in a society that is ridiculous in its fixation with the past. Upon meeting a stranger, the usual conversation begins with the school one went to and the neighbourhood they grew up in. This, coupled with one’s surname determines one’s standing in society. Race, tribe and social standing are seen as the getaways to future success. Or, if your tribe or race was unfortunate to have been disadvantaged in the past, then its mistakenly believed affirmative action will be a form of restitution.

My son, I too was unfortunate to belong in one of the above bandwagons. It soon enough led me to constantly wishing upon a star if only I had been born in this or that family, or with this or that fortune or advantage. I too was plagued severely, wondering why so and so were so and what it would take to be like them. At every corner I began to see all the disadvantages upon my lot. Surely if my blood had been bluer or if my father had been of a certain creed then my fortunes would change.

It is the nature of human beings to be wishful and wishing.

I urge you, at a very young age to dissuade yourself of all these notions. People are successful because they exert themselves in efforts that bring advantage to themselves. True winners care less about where, how and what they were born into. All they understand is that they themselves have the power to determine whom they become.

In life, you will achieve small measures of success, and equal if not more measures of failure. Such is life. It is not for me to coach you how nor to provide the five steps to ensure you win all the time. What I understand of life, and mere observation of nature is that both success and failure shall be constant visitors in your home, especially at a young age. What is important is how you deal with both.

Both, the bible instructs are visitors in our lives. None has found the alchemy or magic to choose one and not the other. When these visitors rest in your home, be assured they remain just that, visitors. You will lament in melancholy when success departs, and you will be elated when failure decides to leave. You have no control over these emotions, in as much as you have no control over the sunrise or sunset.

What you are in control of is your own person and the exertions of your abilities. The more you practise and exert your abilities in the direction of production the more success shall visit your home. The more you delay gratification and build a tolerance for hardship and pain the more your home is insulated of coldness of failure.

There is a reason why a lion fights with its claws, a bull its horns, a crocodile its teeth and a bee its sting. The bee does not ask for horns or a bull for a sting. Each animal and insect uses its natural potency and strength. It is folly of the highest for a lion to learn to fly and spend its days in this pursuit. A lion’s success is directly linked to its natural abilities. So it is for any human being to succeed. Play to your natural strengths and exert effort in those activities you have the best capability. Invariably, as you will learn from the animal kingdom your natural abilities are aligned to your survival.  For humans, survival is producing in surplus.

It is not to say that he with the best natural ability will succeed. Far from it. A lazy, slothful crocodile will never survive the jungle. An intelligent human being without exertion is as dumb as a fish.  Muscles not in exercise are as good as crippled.

But what is production and in what manner does production have to do with one’s life? Production is at the epicenter of man’s life.  Man is a creature bestowed with the worst affliction, of many wants and not enough resources to meet those wants.

You might be tempted, like most, to answer this riddle of life, by limiting your wants. I cannot say with certainty if this is achievable. Since it is the nature of man to want. Then there is the possibility that without the urge to want, man can easily fall into rudiments similar to a donkey. But then again I have seen that a donkey never tires of wanting pasture. Give it hay in the middle of the night and a donkey will still munch. What does this say about the human being? Upon satisfaction of one want, another arises.

Listen careful my son, and how you can conquer this. Production ensures you are at the service of other mankind’s wants. By fishing more than you need, you fish for the next man not willing to fish or without the ability to fish. When at the service of other man, that is, in production, other men are more than willing to trade with you and giving you back what you want. Thus by fishing in surplus, the builder is willing to build you and your family shelter in exchange for your surplus fish.

By leaning towards your natural abilities and exerting pressure in those endeavors you will be in continuous surplus. When one is in surplus they gain the most important variable in the universe; Choice. By choice, I mean the ability to choose. This is the most liberating variable for human kind. There are those that cannot choose. Usually they languish in poverty. Poverty reduces one’s ability to choose even the most basic of wants like food. They only eat what they are given. Choice derived from production ensures one is able to choose what they eat, where they live, and how they conduct leisure and work. It is not to say that the wants of the man in production are satiable. Rather, it is to say that a man in production’s wants at least the rudimentary and those for his basic survival are met. Furthermore, beyond the rudimentary he has the ability to choose and pick what best will satisfy him.

It is not to say that a man of production is materialistic. Rather, in his urge to be in production surplus he helps society directly. To be in surplus, the production man must be innovative. I grew up in an era without mobile telephony and certain production men exerted pressure and abilities to eventually come up with mobile telephony. Men wanting this gadget were plenty and the production men were soon in surplus. Two goals had been met, the production man and the wants of other men. Society was better off. The nature of life is that there is always something that society wants and still wants. Society will never run short of wants. It is the moral duty of production men to meet those wants.

By doing so they exhibit qualities that make them rise to the top of society. They are gallant, daring, thinkers, fighters, of valor, determined, strong willed, long suffering. Indeed every attribute that brings out the best in individuals. The nature of this meritocracy is that only the best kind, with the greatest determination succeeds. In front of their peers they are successful because they have brought society to excess.  

While I extoll the virtues of the production man, I must warn you of his nemesis. The political man, and the war man. These two types invariably find common cause and are often in one person.  In this letter I will not comment more than this; the political man is never keen on production, at all times he has neither teeth nor claws to survive. He has not the abilities in production and relies in forcing other men to comply with his way.  Usually they use the law to achieve coercion. Usually to ban or impede men of production.

Study carefully history and the man that dot history books.  Not the men that made noise, but rather the men that built our civilization. They were almost always men of production. From Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, British and American civilizations, it has always been men of production who bring satisfaction to society.  Almost always it is self-made men. And in those centuries when society was endowed with Self-made men, civilization was at its greatest.

For every  Borgia and Napoleon, there is Medici and Rothschild. Men of war versus men of production. Interesting that men of war accumulate their largess by forcefully taking from others while man of production accumulate surplus through innovation. Man of war, destroy, and men of production catapult society to a place where most people can meet their rudimentary wants and begin to have choices in their lives.

Monarchs and churches created barriers to aristocracy. Creating a myth of the “chosen individual” to rule over other men. Suddenly man had blue blood. It was the men of production, from misers, bastards, housemaids, illiterates, slaves and all of lowly individuals who had nothing but ambition who brought us our civilization. They gained aristocracy through toll and production. By being in surplus, they raised the lives of their lot.

I have travelled in great many cities and towns and I have been imbued with the history of it all. The Majesty of Barcelona, the glamour of Paris, the Art in Rome, New York, Alexandra, Sydney, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos, Oslo and many more. What I saw was evidence of a trail that men of production had been at work. Even more when I studied the artwork, museums, libraries, universities, medical centers, theatres and the entire sort that habitants enjoy I realized something. It was all made possible through the endowments of men of production. Michelangelo and his work was commissioned by the Medici Family, the largest theatres and museums of New York by JP Morgan, Chicago University by Rockefeller.  All, men of production. Diseases and ailments that shortened the lives of humans were exclusively eradicated through funding by endowments of men of production.

The trend is clear my son. I can only wish that you live a successful and fulfilling life. Rather than wobble and straddle along, it is important at an early age certain truths are made clear to you.

Your loving, faithful


Saturday, 21 April 2012

Saturday morning

What gets me excited and thinking about my next life;

Thursday, 12 April 2012


I remember well, I must have been a little over nine years old. I was neither clever nor better looking than the next boy. My passions lay in the play field, at break-time kicking and batting balls in a game of soccer or rounders’. There was no persuasion at all to venture beyond this boy caricature.

My first encounter, it jolted my little sinews and in a moment of paralysis my mouth mumbled. I had not developed the rudiments of the English language nor the cheesy one-liners boys inherit from their older siblings. Worsening my fumbles. Instead of calming my nerves and composing myself in the best possible way to my advantage, I was overcome by an urge to say something. I wish I had controlled that urge, because it exposed all my disadvantages.

She giggled and ran away.

What she left behind, were sweaty palms and a dry mouth.

For the next three years or so I recounted this episode in my head so many times over. It was my daydream and my night capsule. Yet, I avoided her at every turn.

With every thought, my feelings grew, bubbling inside like hot larva. Perfect enough reason to claim her as my own. Yet she had no idea she had been spoken for. Like the tyrant of old, I claimed her as mine to my friends and foes. Any disputes were swiftly resolved in threats and fists.

My possession of her had little to do with how she looked, neither her intellect nor amorous thoughts. It was simply how I felt. The debilitating sweats and pumby thoughts came from deep inside me. From depths I never knew a human could have.

I often wonder how she felt, or what would have happened if I had had the courage to share my agony.

The next time I experienced the bubbling hot larva was in my late teens. My voice had cracked the edifice of youth and sounded manly. In essentials I had become precise, well formed and had my share of admirers.

Yet she took the grasp off my breath. Literally. It was my first kiss. This time the rudiments of boy and girl missed me totally. Yet she placed with great dexterity her lips on mine. Slowly, she nibbled and whispered. My loins failed me.

The one kiss, the only one we ever shared possessed me for a long time to come. Suddenly I had all inclinations to make her my wife and consummate our passions. I was deliriously enchanted. I wrote verse and played musical codes to her amusement. I gave up all reason and she consumed my thoughts and days.

She was my forever.

Fast forward and somehow the tinge of a kiss is lost and the loins demand more enchantment. The in's and out's, the twists and turns, the hurts and hates, painful love and delightful romance. Becoming a creature of habit.One is further and further away from deep depth where hot larva resides. The heart dies, slowly.

Love is an experience. The closest I can recount is through the “mis-education of Lauryn Hill,” the power of her voice, the calamity of her words and the soothing melody is the best of my encounters. Nothing matters anymore. Not food, not ambition not family. You fall beyond understanding. For her it was either her Magnus opus or the fruit of the uterus. She had to choose, Zion or fame; She had fallen.

Therein lies the tragedy of love. Best personified by Heathcliff, the character from Wuthering Heights. In Heathcliff we experience the best of our emotions and the worst of our passions. It swirls in intrepid romance and crushes in lunacy. We are like Catherine, ready to forgo our prospects to be with Heathcliff. Yet in the very next turn, willing to give up our feelings for good prospects. A whirlwind of good and bad. Or like Heathcliff, the love that overwhelms and falls over the cliff.

Through Cathy’s character Emily Bronte is as close to the nature of man than any other;

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine (Heathcliff) are the same, and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.”

Yet she chooses Linton. There is an obvious war between the soul and the physical self. To have one is to deny the other. This is the choice that love demands from us.

It seems from my little self, I have been quite aware of this choice. But like most I have denied my soul to edify my self.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

David Hatendi; Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst

"The old fable covers a doctrine ever new and sublime; that there is One Man, present to all particular men only partially, or through one faculty; and that you must take the whole society to find the whole man. Man is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is all. Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier. In the divided or social state, these functions are parceled out to individuals, each of whom aims to do his stint of the joint work, whilst each other performs his. The fable implies, that the individual, to possess himself, must sometimes return from his own labor to embrace all the other laborers. But unfortunately, this original unit, this fountain of power, has been so distributed to multitudes, has been so minutely subdivided and peddled out, that it is spilled into drops, and cannot be gathered. The state of society is one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about so many walking monsters,--a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man. "R. Emerson

David Hatendi was the first black Rhodes Scholar to come out of the then Rhodesia. That, in itself is a high recommendation. Yet, as society we are privy to the many Rhodes scholars who wobble and dither, whose actions make us wonder what good is scholarship if in action it is indistinguishable from the street brute. In David we find what Emerson called the Man.

The man is no more.

He died in his sleep. As private and quiet, far from the maddening crowd as was his living years. Typifying what Emerson saw as the true scholar, as someone imbued to reflect and act; “action ripens thoughts into truth”, Emerson wrote to the American public. A man must think and act, think and act. His actions always guided by his thoughts. Very difficult enterprise today, where actions are rather spasmodic. Zimbabwe has lost its own Emerson.

For a young man, David represents a breed very rare in Zimbabwe. That fine essence of being, the combination of thought and action that made him a Superstar. He achieved many firsts, the least of which was his Rhodes scholarship in 1977. He was one of the first black students at the prestigious Peterhouse Boys school, an elite private boarding school 80kms outside of Harare in Marondera. His father, a priest was an Anglican rector there.

From high school, he went on to graduate from the University of Zimbabwe. Throughout his scholarly life he was active in sports and culture. At oxford we are told he, “took part in cricket (including playing for the Authentics), squash, hockey, and athletics, served as President of the Oxford University Africa Society, and was President of the Shakespeare Club (a dining club), and a committee member of the Grid Iron Club.”

After an international illustrious career at the World Bank, Morgan Grenfell, IFC and NM Rothschild and Son, he went back to Zimbabwe to become the first black managing director of MBCA. This was not just any bank but, then an extremely private and prestigious one, whose major shareholders were Old Mutual and NM Rothschild and Son . Which he led for ten years before a brief stint at NMB. So prestigious, was MBCA at the time corporates would fall over each other to have an account and it was the best employer in the country. Testimony of how he led the ship.

What is interesting is to contrast the path he chose compared to the path many bright black scholars in Rhodesia chose. On one hand, you have the Edison Zvobgo, Nathan Shamuyarira, Bernard Chidzero and Simba Makoni who went to prestigious schools and worked in prestigious organisations in America and the UK. They chose public life and became politicians.

David chose the private life and to be in business. Choosing industry over politics is a rare achievement in Zimbabwe, especially during the 70’s when politics dominated the landscape. And every black young man thought it his duty to contribute to the black struggle after which become a government technocrat in Zimbabwe’s early years. Even rarer was that he never became a politician in his later years, or as is the norm in Zimbabwe, an extension of one.

So much political madness has occurred in recent years. One that would have reeled him over would be the political appointee at the central bank in December 2003. His brother in Law Julius Makoni bore the brunt as his Bank NMB was targeted and he fled the country. So did many bankers and industrialists. In one defining scoop, what was a bright future for Banks and Industry turned into a nightmare, worse than a blistering “snowed in day” in Dickens’s Oliver Twist. Zimbabwe’s best left the country at this point and were easily assimilated in the best organisations in London and New York. David chose to stay and build in what little way he could. Spending most of his time in private business and charity.

I remember him most, in his pristine bespoke, Anderson and Sheppard navy blue blazer with glistering gold crown buttons, pinstripe shirt and a polka dot pocket square. Khaki chinos probably made by John Lobb, red socks and standing upright in velvet brown loafers. This was his favourite dress and one he was most comfortable in. Did I mention he had full hair? He was a gentleman in deeds and manners. In conversation he was well read, well thought out and well spoken.

When I look at the personal decisions he made I ponder at how easy it could have been for him to choose a different path. That he remained a private individual and could walk the streets of Harare nonchalantly as any other, only his dress and stature to recommend, is probably his most enviable quality. He was accessible. A man of such breadth and depth, could still hold a conversation with the common man and have direct influence on young ambitious men. Above all make it possible for someone like me to imagine a non political life as a real possibility. That one can still achieve without political connections. Perhaps Africa can learn a thing, Politics does not mean Influence.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

This and that

“There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. “ Ralph Emerson

There is something to be said about a man’s state of mind. It is either he spends the better part of his life wishing he were something else or doing something else other than the present. Or, he spends a great amount of time complaining how this or that does not work or is not suitable to his liking or whim. This, I have observed is what rules the nature of the present man. He is neither happy with his present state nor the state of the world.

Man is the only species whose weakness is apparent to him alone and whose world is then governed by those weaknesses. Plants and animals are prone to greater vagaries that expose and make bare their weaknesses. Yet never has a plant or animal stopped sprouting or its being, to complain of inherent short falls. The eagle soars as far as it can and so do ordinary flies, roses bloom and so do thistles. The day never stops.

Man cannot survive as if the world owes him a living. The universe, in its reality and existentialism has existed way before man and his thoughts ever existed. His birth is significant and unique, since he possesses ability no body or form possesses. Man can create in the same likeness and foam, nature and nurture like his maker.

The drivel

Yet man is best useful and happiest, in another’s creation. He is told of a “New York state of mind”, and thus leaves his village in Kenya, sells his cow and soul to fund his trip. Upon, his arrival in New York, he toils, changing his accent and stride, acquiring those peculiar habits that will make him a New Yorker. In this quest, of embodying New York, the boisterous boy shouts in mantra, “New York State of mind”, (after all he lives there) as if to convince himself and not the crowd that he shouts at.

A state of mind is a spirit. It is not a location. Search New York itself and you will find the caricature is boxed and preserved in a fantastical Hollywood location site. And never evidenced in New York itself.New York, was someone’s creation. Before they sold it to those men fond of being followers.

Of Politicians

What of those men keen on revolutions and ravel as surrogates of defunct ideas? Whom one finds happiest amongst fellow hordes in "occupy this" and "occupy that". 99% nonsense and 1% noise. I see many coming out, with t-shirts and such, with aplomb subscribing to the Obama frenzy. “I got your back”. What foolishness, utter laziness to abrogate one’s ambitions to a political demagogue. Obama is a man blessed with trickery to force other men to follow a fade. The more that follow, the more popular he becomes. Never leave one’s fate to any politician of any hue.

Entrepreneurship and starting something that changes the world

Whatever it is let it be what has never been done before. Only then can you attest to have changed the world. Write a book if you must, break the Olympics record, record music, paint art, invent- innovate, in all remember fortune favours the brave. Be different. Let your story be one your grand children will find relevance. That is good enough.

A venture like any adventure is best explored with closed eyes and an open heart. Trust your guts and will power. Dream differently and relish the creative realm- therein the story of life is weaved.

Of youth and school days

What I learnt most in high school was less the core curriculum and more the extra- curricular. In extra activities-non core (the irony) I veered off science and economics and entered the worlds of Dickens, Hardy and Austen. I debated with much acclaim and understood team spirit on the grounds of sport. Here, the lesson is quite clear for any young man out there. The best of humanity is found on the sports field and in liberal subjects outside of the classroom. One learns to lead through experience as a track captain, learns of human attachment by being part of a team, and meritocracy through competition.

Sadly these virtues are lost to the stupidity of youth. Saddest, is that the less stupid find great accomplishment in the classroom to the detriment of the extra curricula? The classroom teaches one to parrot and become a follower. Most people are of this fold. True leaders, those of a breed of born qualities such as intuition, courage and will power find practise in some sport, art or cultural pursuit.

On Marriage and life long associations.

In all of society the propensity to get married is equal if not more than the propensity of a bird to fly. It is an innate human quality, a selfish desire for affection. No matter how primal or sophisticated the human becomes, instinctive desires lead us to mate. This ability to create is a laudable endeavour and gives one a sense of purpose beyond the self.

What I find disconcerting is the desire to mate as the single most important human desire to live for. How pathetic is the human race in its desire to copulate and wish all troubles away. The hurdle is twenty six living ages for women and thirty five for men. After which, hormonally the human species cannot habitat alone and the desire becomes greatest to be hitched. This has obvious dangers, which any mind can decipher.

My comments shall be restricted to finding the right mate. Circumstances permitting, an individual shall come across as many hopefuls as the stars in the sky. A difficult endeavour to compute the “right” mate, since any metric used is likely to change with time. Moreso, a star in the sky only shines brightest depending on where one stands. The wisest words I have heard where in a parable about Wheat and Tares. Let them grow together, since it is difficult to differentiate when they sprout and are growing. But at harvest time, Wheat and Tares become obvious. Live life and be patient until harvest time. Before then, everything is murky and ill conceived. Imagine harvesting a maize cob before its time.

Upon finding the right mate. Never regret one’s choice, since regret is self fulfilling. The more one regrets, the more disappointing the choice.

Should I conclude?

The danger is apparent. One cannot live a life as if they owe it to anyone. Not even their parents. Man owes it to himself to live. To his spirit to determine his course and state. Only then will the universe listen. Man is made to lead. Uncover this great secret and watch how other men of weak disposition will imitate.

Monday, 6 February 2012

My thoughts on "Lazy (intellectual) African Scum

On Field's opinion piece You Lazy (Intellectual) African Scum!

The weird and the bizarre

The first time I read Field’s opinion I had my moment of chuckle and I quickly moved on. I did not see the need to pass his opinion around; actually it had no substance whatsoever. Alas, between the times I had my first chuckle and now, my email box has been inundated with comments directed at this opinion piece. Field’s opinion has gone viral. Perhaps, in itself a testimony of how to attract African “intellectuals” to anything. Ridicule, and make fun of Africans and in hordes and heads they come out of their holes to defend. So I had to re-read and understand the fascination.

So what is it that I found weird and Bizarre about this opinion piece? Well I goggled Field Ruwe and from what I gather he is an intellectual with a penchant for fictional writing. I suppose that sets the tone for his opinion piece since most of what he wrote was fictional. Beginning, with this character called Walter. In my estimation, this character is one Field imagined and the conversation that took place took place in his head. My estimation is based on the following; Walter works for a Vulture fund. That is, a hedge fund that buys 3rd world debt. Yet, in all that Walter says, besides the insults there is nothing to convince me that he works for a hedge/vulture fund, nor has he ever been part of the Zambia debt restructuring.

The factual case noted against Zambia with respect to Vulture funds is Donegal International vs the government of Zambia for an amount of $3.28m with respect to a loan between Government of Zambia and government of Romania. A London court ruled on this matter and as far as I am concerned, a legal issue that was addressed appropriately. The other Vulture funds, perhaps I should add, where vulture funds have been of concern or raised concern is in DRC, Uganda and Cameroon. Nowhere have I found Zambian lawsuits or notable disagreements with its external creditors.

But, you must realise that Walter oscillates between Zambia and Africa with such abandon I am convinced he either does not know of the issues or believes Zambia and Africa are the same. If Walter does ostensibly exist beyond the imagination then surely he is not the intellectual we suppose him to be. Truly weird and bizarre. The premise on which the argument stands on is nothing but quick sand!

Much ado about nothing

That brings me to the other issue, this idea of intellectuals driving development. Or rather the lazy intellectuals in Africa. Field studied History at Master’s level. I am not sure of his particular specialisation but every History student is aware of research methodology. Of my History friends, I find there are more pedantic about facts and historical accounts. Even pejorative remarks are taken to their logical conclusion through a very precise and elaborate exposition. I find this opinion piece lacks in intellectual rigour. If indeed Field and Walter sat on a plane and exchanged words, then I am utterly surprised Field could not see through Walter’s lies. And call his bluff. I am therefore surprised it has received the attention that it has. Especially from Africans.

Another fact is that nowhere have I ever read that America was built by Intellectuals. Indeed I am yet to find a civilisation built by intellectuals. Hardly, have I come across an article hailing Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Sean Parker as intellectuals. Andrew Carnegie could hardly read. An immigrate worker who came with nothing and with basic arithmetic he became an industrialist. The same is true of Rockefeller . The same with Lincoln and Washington. Men blessed with nothing else but the will power to get things done.

If ever, I am to be part of this conversation and contribute meaningful then I would direct readers to one Joseph Schumpeter whose work on development is the most erudite and comprehensive. Schumpeter after studying nations and how nations develop summed it beautifully; “ successful innovation requires an act of will, not of intellect. It depends, therefore, on leadership, not intelligence, and it should not be confused with invention". Indeed Field’s postulation is much ado about nothing.

“i beseech you in the bowels of christ think it possible you may be mistaken.” O Cromwell

Evidently Field is mistaken in all fronts. And it is not him I beseech. But the many people who have found time to make this opinion piece go viral. If Field meant to instigate, then let him be. If he meant to insult, then take his insult as harmless. Of the many opinion pieces in the world in this new age era this my friend is what you decided to dwell and labour on? Of course taking pot shots at you, incidentally means I am guilt as well. To that I am ashamed. But my shame paled in comparison to the damage this viral has already caused. I have been amused as some defended the indefensible, as some agreed with pies in the sky and some became resolute to fight a cause. Yet all we had to do was open the book of Ecclesiastes “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

This part of my life... this part right here? This is called "happyness."

I am inclined, in most instances, to deliberate and interrogate all issues in my life. I am disinclined to sway that way at this moment. At this moment I have the flower bloom spirit, I content in my little happiness. Like the blooms of spring I attract the bees and their sting. But, that little irritation will not sway or abate my happiness. I am alive, i am alive, thank God i am alive.

Do not be bothered much on why i was reading "little red riding hood". It's not what you think. Anyway, i found an interesting interpretation of the story, that made the little fable even more interesting;

"The wolf in the fable was likely fabricated out of an inherent fear of the unknown, not on the genuine threat of wolf attacks. While wolves are in fact predators, there is only one recorded death of a human by a healthy wolf; and yet, fables like this have led to the gross misrepresentation of this keystone predator. Both wolves and wilderness were treated as enemies of humanity in that region and time. Sadly, these types of stories continue to misrepresent true patterns of wolf behavior (i.e., fearful of humans) and they perpetuate the false notion that wolves are a threat to humans (all historical evidence shows that it's actually the other way around)."

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The man in the arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

The year came to an end. Like most, I too reflected on all that happened. My first thought, was to look back and think it a hard year. My first thoughts were to look at the many friends lost, the uncomfortable terrain, the embarrassments, the let downs and the failures. I started reflecting on life and how it would all be much better in the comfortable fold, in the pastures of wellness. I started envying those quiet souls surrounded by calm waters. I thought about how sleep is a distant relative, and when it does come, like many distant relatives it’s not welcome at all.

I started making new year’s resolutions- how I will be a better person, I jotted down all the lovely things I will do, places to visit and all the generalities of the normal life. I almost prayed for normalcy.

I stopped in my tracks.

What solder trains and prepares for peace? A soldier’s time is in battle. I then blacked out all thoughts and remembered Hannibal, the Carthaginian General. To fight the Roman army, he tracked through the Alps and lost half his army before his first battle. Losing his eye was no worse than losing his family in battle. The Romans, called him a savage, a barbarian without superiority of mind. His fellow Carthaginians did not support him, in fact the senate stopped his food and men supplies. Hannibal, after tracking for over a year and bracing the vagaries of the deathly Alps winter did not hold back. He brought war to the Romans.

I started, thinking, what Hannibal would have wished for after that year. What was supposedly a disastrous year? Hannibal, was a soldier, what he wanted was war. He thought it fortunate, that although he had lost a lot, what he lost was what was pruned off. What remained was the most suitable for war. He wanted war. For the next sixteen years, that is what he gave the Romans.

To understand what sort of man Hannibal was, the historian Titus Livy provides useful background information;

Hannibal was possessed of enormous daring in facing dangers. He could be physically exhausted or mentally cowed by no hardship. He had the ability to withstand heat and cold alike; his eating and drinking depended on the requirements of nature, not pleasure. Not given to sleep, when he did it was not brought on by a soft bed or silence-many observed him lying on the ground, amidst the sentry-posts and pickets, wrapped in a soldier’s cloak. His dress was no better than that of his comrades, but his weapons and horses marked him out. On horse or foot, he was far the best soldier; the first to enter battle and the last to leave once battle was joined.

All of sudden it dawned on me. My heart is least settled in quiet waters. In any case it is too early to lie in my pastures, much needs conquering. Being the man in the arena, I am aware of many errors along the road and the pitfalls of any journey. It does not mean I give up my sense of adventure and my sense of building something. It’s war that I wish for and to be a better solder.