Ever since I could remember, I’ve always challenged the status quo. I remember my father looking at me in frustration and telling me that I was the most difficult child he ever had to raise – mind you there were 9 of us and 5 were boys! I smugly considered that to be a compliment.
My journey thus far has been long, often quite painful and convoluted, and yet never dull. Growing up was tough, not in the conventional sense of never having enough food to eat or lacking shelter. Rather, it was in knowing that I viewed things differently and my siblings could not relate to it, so they sought to beat it out of me. The slaps and kicks I received for daring to speak my mind, for having the temerity to not only have a mind, but attempting to even use it. So I rebelled! If they said yes, I just had to think no (even if not outrightly say it).
Looking back, I know this was the foundation for me choosing a career in development. I channeled my energy into school, and as soon as that was done, I moved to another city. And it was here that I met people who didn’t pay lip service into encouraging dialogue, but actually worked the talk! At last I was able to speak my thoughts candidly, I met people who were unafraidly controversial and relished it and it was like coming home.
Since then I’ve come to realize that my family was just a microcosm of society in that they couldn’t understand and appreciate difference. Of course it’s easy to hail icons like Nelson Mandela, Ken Saro Wiwa or Steve Biko in their fight for change, but very few realize that such icons are rarely born that way, a lot of them are only able to achieve greatness based on the encouragement and support they get. Soon living in a different city wasn’t enough and I moved to a different continent, although to be honest, it wasn’t all in a bid to get as far away as possible.
That injustice prevails in whatever form it chooses to manifest itself is a fact that we are all too aware of, and often become numb too. After all there are only so many newspaper articles you can get worked up about, and most likely forget as soon as your morning coffee is done. In my work, I have come to realize that unless you tell your story and tell it well, very few can relate to the change you seek to bring about. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; well a well-written story is worth tomes of discourse!
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision.