Many years ago i was on adventure in the thick mangrove of West Africa.
We were only a bunch of adventurous teenagers, mostly from what you called ‘protected homes’, however there were three or four boys among us who were street-wise or should I say jungle-wise; needless to say we owe them so much.
Here was a jungle where you could probably survive for days, months or perhaps years just living off nature, wild fruits, games, even insects as long as you knew what to do and where to look. On the other hand however you could be dead in minutes for eating the wrong thing or poking your fingers into wrong holes.
When you’re only a bunch of rookies in any jungle, it’s always helpful to know you have companions who knew what to do all the time; well most of the time. We were travelling through the coastal regions of Nigeria.
I remember one instance we needed to travel through a small river to get to a village on the other side. It wasn’t particularly deep in most places, waistline on average, but certain spots could be to the neck or even deeper. Our jungle-wise colleagues came up with a brilliant idea as we waded through the river. We must hold hands as we go through they said, thereby forming an unbroken human chain.
The sense of this strategy soon became obvious to everyone of us. The depth of this river varied so erratically, such that you could be wadding through at waistline and suddenly plunge into a huge depth without warning. At such times, you were glad to be in the chain holding somebody's hand whether you like their faces or not.
Once again we seems to be navigating some sort of uncharted terrain as a nation; we will do better if we hold hands and look out for one another irrespective of race, colour or belief. It can only make sense since we are on the same boat, fighting the same enemy that recognises neither race nor colour.
This is not intended to serve as some sort of analysis of our present situation or a blame game attempt, though every now and then it might be necessary to make references, it is not intended to either vilify or validate any government past or present.
Our nation like most nations of the world is going through a very challenging time. As a matter of fact, our present economic situation has been likened with frightening accuracy to the era immediately after the Second World War. The difference at this time I suppose is, we are not hearing the warning sirens, the bomb blasts or perhaps spending the nights in bomb shelters or our underground stations for safety.
The victims this time don’t fill our media with blood splats or dismembered bodies except of course in the cases of the very few who being overwhelmed by the despair of the present thought there was no other way out than suicide. These take the easy way out leaving their loved ones to clean up the mess. At the end of the day, arguably, suicide is a selfish act.
During the bombing of London, one of the virtues that got us through as a nation was our togetherness. Everyone stuck together in spite of age, race and social status; the man in East London fled his dwelling just as much as the one in West or Central London, the white as well as the ‘coloured’.
'The significant problems we are facing cannot be solved by the same level of thinking we were at when we created them' –Albert Einstein. This quotation seem to describe our present situation perhaps it’s a good thing the politicians are thinking differently for once abandoning the boundaries of partisan politics, though it may have been for a wrong motive, winning votes. The electorates also need to adopt this mindset; we must look beyond our racial, religious, social and other forms of segregations and embrace the cohension of our communities. What’s binding us together is greater than what seem to drive us apart and if we look hard enough, we’ll find a common set of values, our believe in excellence, freedom, trust, morality, integrity etc the list is endless though our interpretations of each of each may differ.
We shouldn’t only demand for these values in the leadership, we must demand them of our own selves, building them into the services we render in every little way. The government can do so much when it’s got the right people and its set up properly, but it will never be able to solve all of our problems. There are things we can do either as individuals, families or even as communities.
This is a time of great uncertainties that leads to anxiety and fear of the expected change. Sometimes this is even worse than the realities of our present situation hence among other things we must replace this fear of change with the fear of what would happen if we don’t change. What could happen for instance if rather than carry on with further integration of our diverse communities at this crucial time, we decide to promote further segregation. It might become the situation described by William Butler Yeats in his 1920 poem The Second Coming; ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;’ may we not with our own hands loosen more anarchy upon our world.
According to Keith McFarland in his 2009 book Bounce: the art of turning tough times into triumph, 'a crisis is a terrible thing to waste because people are willing to do things they won’t normally do'. We must build on the spirit of this crisis and let it carry us into heights hitherto considered unattainable.
The solution to most of our problems especially in this crisis is not going to come from abroad, or the big conglomerates of the City. It will come from us working together to unlock the hidden potentials in the ordinary men and women of our communities. We should all put on our thinking caps and work out our unique solutions. And right now there are incredible opportunities to do something differently. Yes, they’re risky, and some will fail. But while others wait for the storm to pass, I’m busy expanding into new areas. If I wait for money to start flowing again, the opportunities will have passed. Gregory Berns, M.D., Ph.D –New York Times Dec.7, 2008.
In Conclusion, to say we are going through a very challenging time is only stating the obvious. We must continue moving forward as we can’t afford to stand still or even consider the options of a retreat. Manage the anxiety and manage our limited resources making sure we are always making strategic decisions to invest what we must. Keep a good morale, this is everybody’s duty. Above all, we must keep holding hands irrespective of our differences because together we’re stronger.