For me, it is far much easier to hold a cooking stick than grasp a machete. I can conveniently operate a blender, a cooker, and any other kitchen appliance as opposed to running a mill or a generator. Keep in mind that I have testosterone running through my veins. To say it modestly, I’m 100% male, and an African male at that. But what explains all this? What is the reason behind it? Is it nature or nurture? Yes. If you guessed the latter, I’m glad to tell you that you are correct.
I have spent close to half of my nineteen years on earth with my mother. That is the reason why I can confidently cook, do the laundry properly, do the dishes with much ease and clean the house (turns out to be my favorite) thoroughly. I do owe it all to her, but a larger percent of credit goes to this seven-letter noun here; nurture.
I’m sufficiently made to believe that if I had stayed with my father for the same period I had with mother, then, dishes wouldn’t be in my list of vocabulary, I would hate cleaning the house with immeasurable passion and what about cooking? Heck, I’m a full-blooded African male, remember? Instead, I would delight in repairing stuff, I would dutifully offer myself to repair a punctured wheel soon as I notice one and of course listen carefully to what the mechanics say in the garage as if I were to take an examination on that matter discussed, the following day.
Nature, on the flip side, does play a pivotal role in the moulding of a person. This takes me ten years back when my Standard One teacher asked us what we would like to be in future. Actually, it was “…when we grow up.” I cannot clearly remember what I said, but I guess I did say something like ‘Doctor’, ‘Teacher’ or ‘A soldier’, these were the only popular careers we knew at our age. However, I bet a good amount of money if I had heard any of my classmates say they want to be ‘Politicians’.
Four years ago, when I was in high school actually, the same question that I had been asked a decade ago, was being asked to me once again. This time, with much awareness, I said that I wanted to be a Journalist. Yes. I said that without any shame, I did not feel intimidated that other friends of mine said they wanted to be Nurses, Engineers, Doctors, Pilots, Actuarial scientists, just to mention a few. But still, no one said they wanted to be ‘Politicians’.
You see, in Kenya, most people like to refer to our leaders as politicians. Actually, they confuse ‘leaders’ with ‘politicians’ .You’ll always hear Maina, Nyongesa, Adhiambo, Mueni and Kipchoge argue that, “Hawa wanasiasa wanatunyanyasa!” (These politicians are harassing us!) There is a big difference between leaders and politicians. Here’s the difference, a leader, is anyone who has authority to direct people in a certain way, while a politician is anyone appointed or elected into the government and engages in politics.
“Great leaders are nurtured.”
How many times have you heard that phrase? Countless times, right? To me it’s almost becoming a cliché. Africa, unlike other continents has great leaders. African leaders are utterly unique in their own way. They stay in power until they cannot move a muscle, let alone make sound decisions. Need I say that they rule with an iron fist?
Let us keep in mind that while “Great leaders are nurtured,” Nature also plays a role. Mostly seated at the back, watching carefully and waiting to take centre stage once it is called out. But how were we brought up? Let me help jog your mind, we were always lectured to about the ills of the government, we were always told of how most ‘leaders’ anticipated slots in the government only for them to add layers of fat in their initially skinny beings. Needless to mention how our History teacher emphasized the fact that some of these leaders lived lavishly in high-end residential areas like Runda, Kileleshwa, Lavington, Karen and the likes only for his or her people to languish in runaway poverty in that place I cannot mention.
Ellen Johnson Sireleaf, the Great president of Liberia (if you think of calling me a feminist, there you go, choice is all yours), said that :
Africa is not poor, it is poorly managed.
There you go, we are not poor, and speaking of management, who leads us? Our good leaders. Nature, our African nature, has taught us to be selfish, egocentric and insensitive about what we do. Therefore, if we will be nutured to be be mindful and responsible citizens (I bet this phrase features in most high schools’ vision statements) and yet nature fails to uphold those virtues in us, then it will all be pointless.
As Africans, let us be watchful about what we say and do because there is where our children learn and pick up some habits. Let us trust that our nature will make us and our offspring thrive as we nuture them in the best way possible.
The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough. -Ellen Johnson Sireleaf.
Let us always get nervous when we think of that wonderful Africa we all desire to have. I strongly believe that it is surely possible.
After graduating, I hope to visit some schools and I’ll ask the kids I meet there what they would want to be when they grow up. I hope to get responses like,”I want to be the next leader of a Kenya, Uganda, Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, Egypt, Ghana, Swaziland…” You name all those African countries you know.
With that, I’ll be certain that indeed our nature will be able to nuture people of substance.