Monday, 11 November 2019

The Coincidence Demands Its Hearing


Courtesy of the William Kentridge exhibition at Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town.
Moments
Quite unusually for me, my one-month sojourn in South Africa from September into October, whilst beneficial for my wellbeing and love life, it was one in which my blog was hardly a window into the experiences I had. I had taken to what might be called photo-blogging, posting groups of pictures on Instagram with some text to accompany my perspectives.
None of that covered to any detail the various insights of the historical and cultural tapestry of South Africa, this was mainly in Cape Town. For all we got to do, there is much more to do and see.
Insight
On one of our outings, we visited The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, in Cape Town, this was a reconstruction that came of out of old grain silos, the height of which once registered as one of the tallest freestanding structures in Africa.
As we paid our entrance fee of ZAR 200 each, I noticed that the annual membership was ZAR 290, having learnt from visits to other museums as the Voortrekker Monument, Liliesleaf Farm and Castle of Good Hope, we have never been able to complete the tour of exhibits with the information provided in one visit.
Experience
The absence of booklets, brochures, pamphlets, or guides covering the exhibits meant that we had to consider returning if we needed to gain the full knowledge and experience of the place. Now, I do not know how many people would get the opportunity to visit South Africa as frequently as I have been able to. My visit in September was my fourth in a year.
We got to visit Liliesleaf Farm again, but there is at least one more visit to go, but back at the Zeitz MOCAA we decided on the annual membership and soon had membership cards to flaunt. We believe we would be returning to visit soon.
Knowledge
Our visit introduced us to the major exhibition of the work of South African artist, William Kentridge, which occupied a couple of floors, much of which we did not get to see, but will soon again, as the exhibition titled, ‘Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings To Work’ runs from the 25th of August 2019 to the 23rd of March 2020.
We hope then to get a better understanding of the narratives, yet, on learning more about him, we came upon the legendary story of his father, Sir Sydney Kentridge KCMG QC who only clocked 97 on the 5th of November.
Trivia
Former lawyer and judge, member of first the South African bar and then the English bars, represented 3 of the 4 Nobel Peace Prize laureates of South Africa, Chief Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, he also represented the family of Stephen Biko at the inquest into his death, his cross-examination so thorough, it exposed the culpability of the Apartheid regime.
At least, I had to let the significance of that sink in, and then understand how the scion of a high-profile personality can forge a career in a completely different direction and still make a significant contribution to national history. By coincidence, William Kentridge has an exhibition at the Tate Modern in London, running until the 17th of November. Father and son have left footprints in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Some inspiration I gained from the exhibition in Cape Town, will inform some future blogs.


Thursday, 31 October 2019

Coexisting with generational shifts by adaptation


Inspired from Facebook
On the usual scans of my Facebook timeline, I came across a post by a good friend of mine about the issue of developing emotional attachments between generations. Much of what he had to say I could very well agree with, but I also had an additional viewpoint which I have extracted from my comment into this blog. [Facebook]
I started with this, “Much as I can agree with you, this part I have thought about for a long time.”
Time and environment
I needed to address this particular statement, “You young people need to be kinder to your parents. They are the products of their time and environment.
It is a good getaway clause, but in my 50s I have learnt I can't use generational exculpation to excuse myself from the responsibilities of emotional engagement with relations across the full spectrum of existence.
I have my generation and the times in which I grew up along with the environments that have helped cultivate my outlook and worldview, yet, I have to coexist with those before me; from when I was a child had parents, grandparents and a great-grandmother along with extended family and other relations,  and those after me; two generations now, of nieces and nephews and their children, along with the extended family that has grown out of the relationships they have cultivated, not only to be relevant but to also have a sense of belonging.
Generational shifts we belong in
My parents have by fate or fortune had to deal with issues they would never have countenanced in their core generation, from the 1960s into the 1980s, but have had to find accommodations for in the three growing generations after them, of children, of grandchildren and possibly great-grandchildren. My father was 80 on Saturday.
We have had our differences, we still do, but slowly he began to recognise that he can't always have his way as the opinions of his middle-aged children begin to dominate and determine the direction of issues. It was hard-won, but education on all sides. I have to learn that difference does not have to exacerbate conflict. Where I am infuriated, I need to find the necessary communication of persuasion, amelioration and compromise, to an extent.
Have a voice that can be heard
Yes, we probably should do more to engender better communion with our parents who are still with us, but if we fail to use our voices at the critical and crucial times, where there are many occasions for it, we would never have a say when it really matters, or when we do, they would be too deaf to hear or heed. Then, it becomes impossible and differences would become irreconcilable. Sadly, the end of this is regret for could have, should have or would have been done give a new opportunity.
We all must coexist with generations, we met here and those we would eventually leave behind, that is the process of our growth it was the process of growth from time immemorial, no one gets excuses to be an island of immunity and impunity, parent, child or grandchild alike. That we must seize the moments and find ways to cherish them would matter for a lifetime.
Make love, not war
My friend ends with this useful, thoughtful and necessary advice, “Your parents wanting an emotional connection may be coming late, but it is what you always wanted, so embrace it now. Seize the moment. Make new memories. Make love, not war. And do not forget to take lots of selfies. Sooner or later, they will be gone.
I guess we need to decide on what memories we want to have of our parents when there is a reckoning of the lives we have shared.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Catching my breath


Catching up
Sometimes, I feel I have abandoned a vocation, yet, it is not because there isn’t much to write about. Other aspects of life have been interesting, exciting, and sometimes turbulent.
For instance, it is almost two weeks since I returned from a five-week sojourn in South Africa, most of it spent in Cape Town with my boyfriend. We had such a wonderful, happy time together, and now we are back to WhatsApp messages and video calls, distance and immigration limiting opportunities for what I believe is just temporary.
Catching faith
Whilst in South Africa, we began planning for my father’s 80th birthday which held just last Saturday with a church thanksgiving service and a feast. I can only commend my siblings on pulling off a logistical and monumental feat that my sometimes impossible to please dad was full of thanks and prayers at how things went.
None of it was easy, as for the first time we had to put our foot down having agreed on what to do that things would not be changed willy-nilly or at a whim. In my case, I was ready to abort all activity if things became untenable, reason prevailed on everyone, in the end.
Catching thoughts
I made no announcement of my impending visit to South Africa as it was at the height of the xenophobic attacks, the few who knew of my plans were not just concerned for my safety, it left me with no other choice but to not inform certain other people who probably would have adjured me under command not to go.
As I ponder what to write about as the year draws to a close, in the moments shared, cherish and remembered with much fondness, you find the time to just catch your breath and get on with life and living.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Thought Picnic: I own my stupid choices to overcome my human weaknesses


Count your blessings
In our seemingly ordinary, uneventful and mundane lives, a bit of introspection, reflection and recollection can reveal a life of adventure and enchantment, in the moments, events, experiences and adventures that have engaged us.
As the old song goes, “Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” The many times we forget to be appreciative of the little and large things that have come into our lives to give us a sense of contentment, maybe happiness or even the joy of living. There is much to celebrate about life that we could so easily forget.
The human misery
Beyond this, there is another matter of serious import that pertains to how we see ourselves in the world, in relationships, in friendships and other interactions in the community, in society, at work and within the expression of the expanse of the humanity we might have.
Each and everyone might have encountered something in the spectrum of adversity, of crises, of infirmity, of incapacity, in failure, in disappointment, in despair and whatever negative situation has tested our sense of self.
Admit your choices
One would not be remiss to state that where many issues might be unfortunate, there are some where we must honestly admit responsibility for. The courage to admit to one’s choices and the consequences that have resulted from those choices then face up to them even if it reveals ignorance, foolishness, stupidity, obduracy, truculence, hypocrisy, vulnerability, selfishness, cowardice, or evasiveness on our part is probably the beginning of self-awareness.
In my own life, I have made many bad choices that have resulted in life-changing circumstances, I am gay, it is no impediment. I chose on certain occasions to practice unsafe sex despite the risks it posed. By reason of this, I discovered in 2002 that I was HIV positive.
Freedom by truth
Then, there was no policy to adopt immediate treatment, out of fear, possibly ignorance and maybe even a sense of invincibility, I allowed over 7 years for HIV to ravage my body whilst I lived in denial of what might happen. Then in early 2009, the discolourations on the soles of my feet which I first ignored and then thought was Athlete’s foot fungus was then diagnosed as Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a kind of skin cancer and a clear indication of full-blown AIDS.
I could say I was unfortunate, yet the truth is I allowed this to happen because of the choices I made and the resulting consequences of loss in many areas of my life that I had to rebuild my life again are part of what I must face as my own folly for which I found remediation and treatment to give me a new lease on life. I own my faults, to first forgive me, to then understand myself better, to learn from my mistakes and misstep and hope that the knowledge gives me a better respect for life, in me and in others along with a spirit of encouragement to impart to others that come across my way.
Our burdensome responsibility
Owning our choices in career decision-making, in choosing partners for friendship, companionship, relationship, marriage, or business is another area where was should not seek to claim all the benefits when they come and be quick to blame others when things turn sour. If it did not work out, such is life, we move on rather than cultivate resentment to others and allow bitterness to take root.
Too many people are hurting from all sorts of experiences, the wrongs we think have been done to us by family near and others not so near in the many encounters we have in life, we tend to think we can assuage our hurt by hurting others. Even in my own experiences, there are things that still rankle and hurt, yet, I must find the peace I need in myself through forgiveness, through not reacting to every provocation, through finding a positive seam in a negative situation, sometimes by laughing through the pain because the apparent delirium is a surprising painkiller.
Lemonade from lemons
Yes, making the choice to walk away after the choice that made you walk into the pit of indignity and every inconvenience that heralds the most uncomfortable place to be is quite within our power to exercise and execute, albeit with difficulty, but it must be done for the story of our lives to get better than they seem to be when enmeshment in turmoil.
Indeed, from where I stand today, I have been given a better story because accepting the humility of my stupid choices have given me the capacity to have a vision, a hope and a path that starts from this moment into a better version of myself and the possibility of dreams coming true.
I count my blessings, embrace my privilege, I do not condemn myself in the things I have allowed, I don’t repudiate my identity, I honour my expression with candour and count myself among the blessed, the fortunate and the lucky. I am full of gratitude and thankfulness; this journey has been one that is appreciative of everyone friend and foe that has taught me to be more human.


Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Thought Picnic: Sometimes, forgiveness is arrogance and ignorance defeated


Giving and getting without the for
The ability to differentiate between forgiving and forgetting was brought home to me again when I visited the District Six Museum and followed the guided tour hosted by a former resident.
She told her story with depth and feeling, it was palpable, we maintained such respectful silence as she relayed how Apartheid dehumanised an entire community in the pursuit of fulfilling a policy of the segregation of races.
She had not forgotten every single detail of what happened to her up to her mother dying within 48 hours of being forcefully ejected from a home where she raised 11 children.
History, not misery
For me, there is a lot to remember and much else I must never forget, all these in their recollections and stories are part of my life, my history, my narrative, and forms part of how my worldview is defined.
We all need our stories and some of us get to tell them in brutal and excruciating detail. Forgiveness, however, is how we allow those experiences to define us. Whether we would allow the wrongs and those who have wronged us to continue to have a hold on our lives and by their presence become an interminable upset brewing unmitigated resentment and bitterness.
People are who they are
This is where I begin to compartmentalise, some people are pathological sociopaths, they would never acquire an iota of emotional intelligence. I know I few and I have extricated them from my purview, our lives have diverged and long may that divergence continue until distance and time has obliterated every smidgen of whatever constituted our encounter.
Some may not know how to empathise, they think the world revolves around them. To some, I have been as blunt as I can be, to others, I have refused to be wrapped around their fingers, to be at their beck and call. I jealously guard my independence, it is with great difficulty that my autonomy would be subdued for longer than it takes for me to realise I am being played.
People are really who they are
I excuse a lot because for all sorts of reasons, the lives of others have followed courses I cannot begin to understand. Once I find a context within which to characterise that expression of themselves, I can deal with the situation. Between taking liberties and making allowances, you find a way to coexist with consideration out of contemplation.
I do not know if I am my own greatest critic, but I have been able to look at myself at certain times and accept I have flaws, faults, frailties, foibles, falsehoods, and foolishness. Some things I am about to do on impulse would be trammelled by premonition and conscience. I hope to be more alert to these guardians of my soul. I have learnt not to condemn myself in the things I have allowed and in that, I find some forgiveness for myself.
Even in the many cohorts I have identified, I probably have to seek forgiveness for things done and said, in omission and commission, it is a process of getting to be at ease with both oneself and others. Have there been times I have come across as supercilious? At times, it is where I have put myself and in others, it is a projection redolent of where they have put themselves. I strive to lift than to debase.
Disabling my ignorance
In terms of hypocrisy, I am of the opinion that it is not entirely a bad thing, it is a source of knowledge, both the person with a speck in their eye and the other with a beam in their eye need the speck and the beam removed so they can both see clearly.
In the process of managing oneself and understanding the work of forgiveness, in the words of the management sage, Peter Drucker, I need to “discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it.” Take out the word ‘intellectual’ and much more can be done to better oneself, by learning and unlearning with the view to overcoming fundamental flaws in our humanity.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Thought Picnic: In the climes of resentment

The crimes of association
Too many times, the thought of bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly does present itself for self-pitying analysis and a decline into anger. For me, the greatest feeling of being treated unfairly, unjustly, or irritably for all sorts of reasons appear to go back to my parents than anyone else.
For the many times I have bitten my tongue, held my peace or disconnected from that lifetime umbilical cord of familial association, I have tried to convince myself that I have moved beyond it all. There is however a trigger somewhere that brings it all bubbling to the top, a memory too keen as to be a danger to my wellbeing, then with the means to reflect there are avenues of venting one’s spleen by offering what almost ends up a shared experience with strangers.
Control the seethe
Much as I hold few or no grudges; between emotional blackmail and an apparent lack of consideration as others begin to exhibit traits of self-centeredness, you are on the verge of blurting it out, the baggage and burdens that have weighed you down and malformed your outlook in ways that if you’re not careful things become irreparable.
How do you deal with resentment? Resentment borne from childhood abuse in many characteristics from the sexual through the emotional to the physical. In striving is isolate and insulate myself, I need to extricate myself from the need to feel that I can only be approved or validated through someone else.
Much as there is an age-old desire to please one’s forebears and community, it should not become a life suffocating ambition where the failure to meet some objective can lead to and exacerbate depression.
Keeping it measured
Anger also needs to be managed, in finding the measured tone to speak one’s mind and having what you have to say heard, even if it is not accepted. My perspective of things might be myopic, but I cannot ignore what is offered to my sight and the broader experience that gives me the view I have. If that view cannot be ameliorated, it should not be compounded with indifference.
The resent is usually not recent, but so many stories brought into focus at a time when a different focus is required, one with the clarity of purpose, ease of mind and absence of stress. Most particularly, we must appreciate that if we give others the keys to what triggers resentment, we can easily be manipulated to ends and purposes that take away our initiative, independence, purpose, vision, self-assuredness, and self-esteem.
A medium that works
To confront the causes of the different elements of resentment, there would have to be the decision to let bygones be bygones which is one easy exit for my father, but hardly a resolution of the issues we need to talk about. It is usually better to put my forthright views in writing and address the responses or consequences at my convenience. English also reduces the power-distance index allowing for the difficult elements to be suffused in accessible language without the tensions that culture and traditions demand.
It would always be a work in progress, as I learn better ways to control the intricacies of resentfulness when I just want to be at peace with myself.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

A decade from AIDS to life and living

A day of thanks
Today marks an anniversary, a celebration of life in thankfulness and gratitude, quite a miracle too, but I cannot be any less grateful.
As the church service ended, we are asked if we have a point of prayer, we could visit a chapel to be prayed for. My prayer point was one of thanks, I told the priest that 10 years ago today I was admitted in hospital with full-blown AIDS and just a week later, I was told I only had 5 weeks to live if my physiology could not tolerate the medicine.
The week before my admission, I had visited my doctor with an unbearably painful weeping sore on the sole of my foot, it had started as what I thought was a fungal infection, probably Athlete’s foot in the summer, but it didn’t seem to go away.
My foolish pride
Meanwhile, I was praying and hoping that I might just get a miracle cure, I had gone to London the week before because one of the faith healing preachers that I had grown up with, in a fraught and challenging Pentecostal, Evangelical and Word-of-faith suffused environment was visiting. I was there expecting Jerry Savelle to lay hands on me and suddenly I will be made whole.
I battled with the wisdom and foolishness of my situation, hinting to my friend at one time that he must think I am mad to endure so much pain and not seek essential medical attention. I was looking for a quick-fix to a situation I paid little heed to until it was impossible to ignore it.
By the time I saw my doctor on the 15th of September 2009, she was in no doubt that the condition I was in was serious. She plied me with painkillers and immediately scheduled a referral to a specialist hospital, the day after.
In the truth of my pain
At the hospital, they booked an appointment for me to attend the internal medicine department at the earliest possible time, that was 4 days away including the intervening weekend.
When I arrived at the hospital, the pain could only be eased with my foot up, whilst I was not yet in delirium, there were times I just cried out of utter anguish. I was in a wheelchair when the professor arrived to have a look at me. He said, under no circumstances could I return home, I looked too ill. In the next sentence, he said, “We have a bed for you upstairs.”
That began the first day of the 18 nights I eventually spent in the hospital. A battery of tests with processes of elimination followed, more importantly, they needed to be sure my condition was not a complication of diabetes, after which blood tests and a biopsy determined exactly what I had.
AIDS-defining cancer
On the sole of the left foot was advanced Kaposi's Sarcoma, a kind of skin cancer redolent of advanced AIDS complications, but also common to West Africans, mine was AIDS-defining. They could treat it with liposomal doxorubicin with the brand name Caelyx, a chemotherapy drug as long as I could tolerate it.
At the same time, I was put on antiretroviral drugs, the morphine painkillers had to be changed because after two days, I could keep nothing down, I had to tolerate the pain more than was necessary, but I was already on the mend.
On the blood test results, my HIV viral load was astronomically high, my CD4 count was at a nadir of 20, whatever was keeping me alive was beyond medical explanation but my consultant believed if I responded well to the concoction of treatments, I will survive this life-threatening situation.
And after this?
We had no discussion of life expectancy after this dire situation, but I had read a study that at my CD4 count before commencing treatment, rarely had people lived up to 10 years. That thought lingered in my subconscious as I realised and understood that I was beginning a new life after cancer.
And so today marks the day that I became an exception to the study, not so much one of my triumphs, yet, the marvel of modern medicine is revealed my body and the state of my health. Beyond it, I have lived an enchanted life, full of thanks and better attention to understanding my health, my options, adherent to advice and where I have had doubts, challenged the accepted premise. It is my body first before it is anyone’s guinea pig.
Giving thanks
I have medicine to thank, Prof Dr Kees Brinkman is exemplary and exceptional, with other consultants, nurses and medical personnel who have contributed their expertise towards my having this day worthy of note, I will soon visit to thank again.
My friends who stood with me through the toughest times of my life, I can neither thank nor repay enough, Kola, Ola, John (deceased), Sola, Kayode, Peter, Steve, Marc, the de Wolf family, the Kiran family, my C3 family in Amsterdam. Then many other people have in my frailty and my limited ability given opportunity, access, and chances to rebuild my career.
Then, I have a man who has put one of the widest smiles on my face, happiness in my life and joy in my heart, Brian. I am fortunate and thankful; I am probably one of the luckiest persons on earth today.

Postscript
One final note is to stress the need for regular testing, early diagnosis, getting involved in reviewing options for treatment, the immediate use of therapies and an understanding of the prognosis, the condition, and the prospects you have. Medicine offers the best outcomes for HIV/AIDS situations, and where other remedies intervene, their efficacy must always be tested and verified against medical results under supervision of a consultant. Only let medicine be the ultimate arbiter of any claim of a cure.

Friday, 20 September 2019

There is a whole new life after a HIV diagnosis


Facing up to the news
17 years ago, I had taken the day off, it was a Friday too as I went to the sexual health clinic to get a confirmation of what was to become a new chapter in my life.
The week before, after years of having check-ups but somewhat fearful of what the results might be, I had been persuaded to take tests but had a growing disinterest in what might be at the end of it. The indicators had shown there might be antibodies, but they needed to confirm with a further battery of tests.
The usual advice is to visit with a friend, I didn’t, but I had told my pastor that I was having a blood test and whatever the outcome was, that was the outcome as far as the science could say it was.
In the calm of the news
That morning, I was called into the examination room and informed that the tests were conclusive, I was HIV+. I was neither shocked nor overwhelmed, it was news I was ready for as I maintained my demeanour.
Some people might just learn of this, I have lived with this for definitely more than 17 years, it is no time to cry for me, pity me or worse, that time has long passed.
The nurse who gave me the news somewhat became quite upset for me and began to cry, here I was, the recipient of life-changing news comforting the person who had delivered this news to many others long before I was known to them, and he probably had since learnt of the death of some who had succumbed to the complications brought on by HIV and culminating in AIDS and consequently death.
Give me nothing but hope
In the therapy session that followed, we began to discuss options ahead of me, whether it was time to consider treatment, who should take on my primary care and what the further prognosis might be. I was given a pamphlet that talked about what my emotions might be on learning I was HIV+. Anger, despair, disappointment, lowered self-esteem, depression, suicidal thoughts, regret, and fatalism were some of the issues I was supposed to be undergoing.
As I leafed through the pamphlet, I said to the nurse, there is nothing in here that appears to be useful to a person who has just received news like the one I have just been told. What about hope, I asked. Hope is essential for me to know that there was a tomorrow after today, that whatever the future holds I would not suddenly succumb and expire. More importantly, if this was the first day of the rest of my life, then I needed more than the negative emotions I had just read about.
He nodded when I said, this is not going to kill me without a fight. Then I left for my home, called my pastor and told him the news before settling into my thoughts about what my future holds.
The life so amazing
On the pamphlet itself, I wrote, HOPE, BELIEVE, LIVE, I have held onto the pamphlet since then. In the ensuing 17 years, I embarked on a post-graduate programme, travelled to places I only ever dreamt of had progressive advancements in my career that is ongoing for 31 years in October, survived cancer, fallen in love and I live as someone living rather than someone dying.
I have been blessed with friendships, good fortune, health, means and opportunities not just for myself but also to encourage others who faced despair out of which came a future they could never have dreamt possible. HIV did not become a death sentence, it became the impetus to make something of my life, add importance, significance, and relevance.
We are miracles in gratitude
I am full of gratitude for the life I have had the pleasure to live and for whatever time I still have, I hope to continually show that HIV is not the end of life, but the beginning of a new future.
Advances in medicine have given many of more than a new lease of life, the virus when we are under medical supervision and adherent to our medications becomes undetectable that first, our immune systems are not further weakened for opportunistic infections and then we carry literally no risk of passing on the virus.
In some ways, we are miracles of science and resilience, we have become stories of hope against adversity and when our time comes, we can be assured that we have lived fulfilled lives. We are not defined by HIV, we are just everyone else, at one time afflicted and never defeated.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Zimbabwe: The Grand Despot of Africa departs


Nothing to weep for
For a long time, I referred to Robert Mugabe whose demise has been announced by his family as the Grand Despot of Africa, entrenched as Zimbabwe’s first post-independence leader, he never transformed from a liberation struggle fighter into a statesman. [BBC]
When he was kicked out of office by a coup in 2017, he had already overstayed his welcome, impoverished Zimbabwe, overseen pogroms against the Ndebele in Matabeleland before he set on white Zimbabweans, seizing lands which probably with better political skill and status could have improved the lot of the majority even as the farmers suffered some material loss.
The state of Zimbabwe is in today is the legacy of Robert Mugabe, gerontocrats still hold sway clueless about what needs to be done to turn the ship of state around.
A failed leadership
There is very little to celebrate about Robert Mugabe beyond leading Southern Rhodesia to the new Zimbabwe, the many who fell along the way as his insatiable quest of ultimate power with the vehicle of ZANU-PF kept Zimbabwe from rising from colonialism to great prosperity, just because one man and his cohort of henchmen had an entitlement to rule and any challenge to his throne was met with unmitigated violence.
Three decades into his rule, Robert Mugabe would still raise his fist like a guerrilla leader and rail against colonial powers that had long since left things in his care, his claims to the right of Zimbabweans to govern themselves arrogated solely to himself as he presided over a corrupt enterprise that led to his wife, Grace Mugabe being labelled The First Shopper of Africa as his fellow countrymen were left on the breadline.
Smith and Mugabe both bad
When I wrote a piece at the passing of Ian Smith, the last president of colonial-era Southern Rhodesia in 2007, I inferred that the only difference between Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe was their race, every other act, policy, idea and implementation was literally the same, they were evil men.
It is literally impossible to mourn Robert Mugabe who died at 95, I could easily have replaced their names in that piece, and it would have read the same.
In 2000, Ian Smith said, “We have never had such chaos and corruption in our country, what Zimbabweans are looking for is a bit of ordinary honesty and straightforwardness.” Sadly, not much has changed in 2019.
Another parable of the talents
He went on to say, “We had the highest standard of health and education and housing for our black people than any other country on the African continent; that was what Rhodesians did. I wonder if we shouldn't be given credit for doing that.” This is not to celebrate white oppression, but it was a foundation that could have been built upon to put Zimbabwe in the class of one of the most prosperous countries in Africa with its citizenry not having conditions in their country used against them when they seek to travel abroad.
Robert Mugabe was given a country of great potential and talent, and he took it like the servant who was given one talent in the parable Jesus told in the Bible and buried it in the ground of his atrocious abuse of power. History must not him judge better for the realities of his misdeeds.
As false eulogies sound all over Africa, we must never forget, “Zimbabwe will remember Mugabe for his unrepentant racist attitude and the killing of thousands of innocent people.” This was said of Ian Smith, it applies to Robert Mugabe too. The evil these men did cannot afford me the basic good of saying – Rest in peace.
Let the accounting begin.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Doing what I do for love


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In my thoughts
Even as some wondered others did ponder as to what it was that brought a smile, a glow and a joy to my face. The unintended consequence of travel, a break away from the norm almost decided on a whim when I considered the possibility of regret if I did not act.
As the last year closed, there was so much going on, meetings, travel for work, consultations in hospitals and not a few until I made the decision I will stick with those who have a history in my care and wellbeing than sitting with a doctor who put me off, at first sight, his bedside manner as gruff as his look, my mind was made up.
In my mind
After the procedure, I could not fly for at least a fortnight, meanwhile, I had persuaded my nurses that I should switch back to the medication I was on since May 2010, this after submitting a 47-page diary of side effects and discomforts that were anything but adding to my quality of life.
Then, I was in Germany for business when I thought about the idea of visiting South Africa for Christmas through the New Year. I had been contemplating this for months, then I booked my tickets and flew out on Christmas Eve to Johannesburg.
In my deeds
I last had a summery Christmas in India at the Taj Mahal in 2011. Out at the clubs was where it happened, a sighting I won’t have dared ventured approached me with a greeting and the rest is becoming something of a whirlwind romance.
The song says everything and soon we’ll be together again.
In my world only you make me do, for love what I would not do. [Bobby Caldwell - What You Won't Do For Love Lyrics]

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

The UK: Exercising a prerogative of protest at the prorogation of principle


This is trouble brewing
Amidst the other uncertainties that have occupied my time and space, it was a sense of powerlessness and numbness that caught me when I read that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom had asked the Queen to suspend Parliament. [Channel 4]
This could easily have been a constitutional crisis, but the decision was purely political, a gambler’s last stance at a poker table to get #Brexit over the line where the power of persuasion, the force of argument, the exchange of ideas and robust debate had failed to bring Parliament over to the intentions, agenda and programme of Her Majesty’s Government.
A brigandage in Downing Street
The Prorogation of Parliament is rarely used in a high stakes drama like this, almost never in living memory except for peers of the super-septuagenarian set. It is in this case an act of malevolent Machiavellian statecraft that would have far-reaching consequences for the way the traditions of our parliamentary democracy can be gamed in the interest of ideology over national interest.
The Queen by terms has the prerogative power but is bound to act on the advice of her government and the Privy Council. Whilst she might offer advice, the monarchy has the solemn duty to be above the fray that it cannot interfere even of she as a person and sovereign of our nation has had the great fortitude of inviting 14 Prime Ministers to form a government since she was enthroned in 1952. Sir Winston Churchill was her first.
A disorderly mess
Our distorted, rancorous, and disorderly exit from Europe has left many carcases in its wake, we are on our third Prime Minister and for over three years, not one side of the people’s representation in Parliament has been able to claim a decisive victory in the quest for either exiting or remaining in Europe.
An advisory referendum, poorly implemented, badly fought and corruptly won has hamstrung the country and sucked oxygen out of any viable activity in the UK, yet, the creed stands strong in the hurtling down this precipice in a display of everything redolent of English bloody-mindedness.
Europe is not the problem
I do not believe that Europe has ever been the problem, it is the people we have sent to Europe that has left us with a raw deal. Where other nations sent their best, we found the eccentric, the rabble-rousers and fringe politicians to negotiate on our behalf, the likes of Nigel Farage whose penchant for insult, rudeness and cringe-worthy soundbite would never have with the best ideas in the world be able to win a consensus or an agreement in any committee.
He, as a member of the fisheries committee only attended 1 of 42 sittings, and he had to audacity to board a fishing boat throwing dead fish in the Thames to make the point about seizing back control of our waters.
We, as an electorate have ourselves to blame the most, those who came out to vote won over by questionable arguments, those who allowed apathy to rob them of a say in how they are governed has led to a representation of gamblers. David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, they all owe their rise to people gambling on their future or hoping their single vote can send a message, which is fine, but many messages can end up choosing the wrong representative and lead us down the road to an uncertain future as Brexit portends.
How Europe gives clout
Being in Europe still matters, the evidence of that is in how the Republic of Ireland with just 4.9 million against the almost 70 million of the UK has clout by reason of being backed by the heft of the EU-27, the UK stands alone looking in from the outside with an outsized view of her influence that was progressively lost after two World Wars.
All the trade deals we now want to negotiate after Brexit, we already have as part of the European Union, we are not going to get better deals than those that the EU has already won with hard bargaining, the numbers, the skill and the statesmanship. The UK in the hands of these peddlers of vacuous optimism who have the temerity to question our patriotism when we challenge their baseless assertions leaves one terrified of the future.
Not this cacophony of jesters
Yet, we are full of fight, the last has not been heard of this matter, for if at any time there was a leader of the calibre of Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee or Margaret Thatcher amongst this lot, there might have been a slight chance that they can pull off a successful Brexit, I doubt a hundred of them together can successfully manage a piss up in a brewery, they would likely piss away our future on the altar of privileges they have come to expect as their entitlement to rule without taking responsibility for any failings.
The Parliament is supposed to be sovereign. At this juncture, where the country faces a momentous decision as to our future, we have a Prime Minister who has no electoral mandate putting the mother of all Parliaments in the cooler to allow his government carry the country divided as it is through to a conclusion many of his cohort including himself have severally said to be anathema.
We already have the best deal
A no-deal Brexit is the worst-case scenario with no upside to it as the pound languishes at about 25% below its value before the Referendum, businesses are closing or moving to Mainland Europe, EU citizens who have made their home in this country are none the wiser of their status post-Brexit and the retired Brits out on the Mediterranean coasts of Europe and further afield in the Canaries have to contend with unnecessary geriatric anxiety.
For those who want to leave and those who wish to remain, we have a greater issue at stake, the reckless abuse of and usurpation of power by the executive in silencing the elected representatives of the people with the revising chamber for the presumed will of the people, which first was advisory, which was superseded by a general election, which should have had the full-throated agitations of the Parliament and having not won the argument, the government should have conceded defeat or sought another mandate.
We will fight this
This is a travesty and I believe there will be civil unrest for the fact that if taking back control was not to give it back to the sovereign Parliament, but for the executive to arrogate those powers to itself, our democracy is at an impasse and we need to revisit the fault lines of the separation of powers and how the Parliament should by rights be able to hold the executive to scrutiny and sanction for every action they take in the name of the people.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Not perturbed by mountains


[]
A weight of waiting
I sit in the quandary of mind, far away a dear awaits the notice to act, together we wonder about the near and the far, unsure of what it might portend.
Yet, an agreement does persist that regardless of what we eventually learn, it would not stand in the way of what we have planned. In the waiting is some anxiety, it deigns to sap the reserves of hope and expectation.
We would not faint in the quest of what is happening between us, for the consideration is deep and the purpose is crystallising into something dreams are made of. Gems and treasure gain value in the labour expended, of time, of toil, of trial, of test, and of testament.
In that, there is assurance, that hurdles would be skipped, mountains will be scaled, obstacles will be overcome, difficulties will be solved, rivers will be swum, forded, boated or bridged and at the end will lay a prize that no one will be able to take away.
In our talk comes the comfort from turmoil and in our conversation is the calming of the nerves, we like iron sharpens iron, strengthen each other, supporting the waning to bring it to the thriving.
It is a little setback that gives way to great opportunities, in that, we are confident that love does conquer all.


Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Sexual Education and Parental Naivety


Unforgiveable parental naivety
This would naturally be a taboo topic, but thinking this afternoon, my mind wandered off to a distant past of my childhood where I concluded that by the age of 10, I knew a good deal about sex without having received any sex education, at least from a formal perspective.
This issue of parental naivety is still rife, the feeling that good sexual mores is acquired by some osmotic transference from a nondescript place. The way parents play with childhood innocence with the view of keeping their wards ignorant of the basics about sex can at best be criminal.
You have to wonder
For instance, the only time my sexual organs were examined by any parent was when I think I was 8, my father was checking if my balls had descended, I was however clueless about what he intended, it might well have been concerns about my development having been a pre-term baby.
Yet, unknown to either parent, I had already had my first sexual experience at 7 and was growing in the knowledge of it through those years. I remember going through a dictionary and looking up every word that began with sex-, which included sexagenarian, sextant, sexual and sexy. A form of titillation of the mind for my age.
Has any parent even wondered, what does my child at their age know about sex?
Enlightenment is protection
The truth is, my parents never discussed sex with me, the first time that subject came up was after our house-girl had been raped by our driver, the enquiry of who might have been responsible for her pregnancy asking if I was responsible. I was mortified, the thought just never crossed my mind, but the sad narrative here is that many parents get to talk about sex with their children the first time, usually after the consequences of bad, risky or unsafe sex have become impossible to ignore.
Just imagine if by the age of 5 I had been told, if anyone touched me in a funny place, I should scream and run to a responsible adult to report my ordeal. I doubt many parents broach that subject out of fear, ignorance, foreboding or hope that everything is fine, when things are not.
Teach or they’ll be taught
The truth is if you do not take on the onerous responsibility to teach your child about sex, sex abuse and the way paedophiles gain sexual favours of unwittingly innocent children, your child would get their lessons from people, places and circumstances you have no control of and you not hear a pip about it for years because the abuser would have put in threats and dares that would prevent your child from running straight over to you.
In the end, you as a parent would ultimately responsible for the ignorance is bliss approach to the sexual education of your child, whilst the poor child is already recruited as a pleasure unit of the abuser, terrified into silence and damaged for life.
You have to decide how you manage this subject, what you cannot do is pretend it is not important, moralise about bad influences and then down the line threaten hell, hell and brimstone on the child has not done what should have been done long before you found yourself caring for a mental illness, treating an incurable sexually transmitted disease or holding an unexpected grandchild.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Thought Picnic: On growing into being at ease with everything


Understanding me
With time I have grown to understand that I am a child of privilege, the privilege of my place of birth, the privilege of my early education, the privilege of having parents who exuded professional confidence in the choice of career and the progression it took in their professional lives, the privilege of not needing to belong when there was the pressure to belong, the privilege of knowing, understanding and accepting who I am, the privilege of having horizons only limited by my ability to dream or imagine.
In having this privilege, it does not mean I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, we were not a moneyed or rich class, but we had sufficiency and contentment, I saw in my parents a steady ambition without greed, a healthy bearing of self-respect, a commanding confidence in leadership, the ability to adapt to many situations and relate to people in different walks of life.
Fixing on the positive
It did not make my parents perfect, they had their numerous flaws, part of the privilege of my upbringing included appreciating value and discarding the dispensible; as a preacher once said, to have the sense of an old cow by eating the hay and leaving the baling wire.
Altogether, these examples have helped me adopt an outlook and mindset that allows me to thrive in many settings in which I have found myself. To accept the many privileges, I have without repudiation and guilt, recognising there are many not as fortunate as I have been and seeking ways to help others rise above the limitations imposed by the absence of privilege or opportunity to realise any of their potential.
Glad to help
Where I can, I provide means, hopefully, I can show some example, in some cases, I offer guidance and to some, I have been honoured with the opportunity to mentor. If I seek any reward, it is to see whoever I have engaged thrive and succeed, whether they better my achievements is usually up to their innate abilities and good fortune, I will celebrate and herald them, for it redounds to my joy.
In view of this, I am thinking of ways in which I have help people be first at ease with themselves and who they are without shame or self-deprecation, then be at ease with any place or situation they might find themselves to be able to express themselves clearly, with confidence, polish and assuredness.
Working on the foundations
Know that they can fit in, by merit, by ability and by achievement with every means to find opportunity, gain favour, have others see potential in them that can take them to new ground. Maybe there is a way to teach presence whilst understated, bearing, class and sophistication without putting on airs or having delusions of grandeur.
To find ways of being the best representative of yourself with simple adjustments and accoutrements, by so presenting the version of yourself without having to struggle to maintain the standards you have created for yourself in having principles, integrity and poise.
An identity crisis
In watching 'How to Break Into the Elite' on BBC Two last week, I realised how many having much academic achievement still found it difficult to access elite professional opportunities because whilst their qualifications might have taken to interviews, they rarely clinched the jobs due to other subjective elements of their person, personality, expression or conduct.
Their backgrounds, identity, schooling or absence of example of how to access these places then thrive in those environments appeared to dog their efforts and probably there is no finishing school that can properly inculcate the necessary mien and mores to give them a fighting chance. [BBC iPlayer]
Starting somewhere
The little touches matter, like the effortless knowledge of the basic social codes of appearance, language and comportment, these things appear to carry much significance in getting access, getting ahead and getting noticed. For some, it comes naturally, for others, they need to have a place where they observe, appreciate, learn and exercise how it opens doors of interest, engagement, recognition and help.
This is an area where I hope I can begin to give back in gratitude for the good fortune and privileges I have had.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

My keynote address to FEGO Class of 98


I was invited to give a keynote address to the Federal Government College Odogbolu, Class of 98 on the general topics of Alumni, Networking, Life and Purpose. After a few light jokes on how I was surreptitiously co-opted into this activity, I began my address.
This cohort of successful people are entering middle-age, in mid-career, raising families and would face challenges ahead, I suppose there was a view that I could share some of my life experiences to help them avoid mid-life crises and attend to healthy life choices.
It was an honour to meet the Class of 98 and I wish them Godspeed.
My lead-in
FEGO Class of 98, you graduated in the Silver Jubilee of the founding of your school, quite auspicious.
My history with Odogbolu is somewhat long and interesting. In January 1976, we were living in Kaduna when my parents had this crazy idea of sending me to a secondary school to be imbibed in Yoruba culture, close to where they were born, Ijesha-Ijebu.
Baptist Academy, Mayflower School, Odogbolu Grammar School, Remo Secondary School (RSS), I can’t remember the school I attended the common entrance examination for in Ibadan, but did I have a life of privilege? I flew in from Kaduna, there was someone to pick me up and take care of me for the duration of my visit.
I don’t know why I was not put forward to any of the unity schools even though I realise there were opportunities for those. I guess my primary school environment in Jos and Kaduna was a disadvantage to my getting integrated into Nigeria. The schools were international with a high percentage of Europeans, Chinese and Japanese, I wasn’t really growing into a Nigerian per se.
Odogbolu Grammar School and Remo Secondary School offered me admission, I took the latter because the former’s campus bordered on a graveyard, I had the strangest things happen to me at 10 and that was my decision.
Two years ago, my nephew was admitted at the Federal Government College Odogbolu (FEGO) at the age of 9, a year after, his brother with whom he shares the same birthday, but two years apart joined him. They are probably the youngest of their year group in the school; just as I was in primary school and then in secondary school.
I find it strange that I am giving an address to an alumni association because, whilst I made a few friends at RSS, my memories of the 5 years I spent there are not ones I cherish that much. We had to be street smart even as we were different because of our accents, we were bedwetters; then it was thought a weakness than something psychological, there was the occasional bully and the use of collective punishment was rife. Thankfully, the core of individuality, inquisitiveness and lack of fear for the person could not be beaten out of me.
Apart from on Facebook, I have no enduring friends from RSS Class of 81, I met up with old school mates from my primary school after 41 years in 2016, I still have friends from Lacostech, YabaTech where no one believed I was 16 when I was admitted and the Federal Polytechnic Ilaro, where on my first day there I met up with a junior from secondary who was in his final year, whilst I was starting afresh.
Have your purpose
Considering the good fortune and opportunities I had from birth through secondary school, the 4 years after secondary school I was in two polytechnics and ended up with nothing, my third trial as something in travail and raw experience had widened my perspective to what I could achieve, I was no more haunted by my past or the fear for the future, I just determined that by 35, I would be able to stand with my peers unashamed of what I had done in my life. I began seeing good results already at 24.
Do something radical
In 2000, just after the Millennium bug issue, I was having problems getting a new job, I was attending interviews, getting good reviews but not getting any offers. A mentor advised me to chat to an occupational psychotherapist. He concluded I was suffering a mid-life crisis 10 years early. His advice, consider a career change, maybe go back to school, or even emigrate to another country.
I took the hint, started looking for opportunities in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, I got a job in the UK and, on a day, off, I flew out to the Netherlands for an interview, got that job and 13 years of life in Holland.
Have a plan, do things in the interim, but don’t lose your focus and don’t be distracted.
Embrace youthful aspirations
When I was about to buy an apartment in Amsterdam, the first thing I did was ask the estate agent to feel my hands, she said, they are soft. Indeed, I retorted, I don’t do DIY, I want a place I don’t need to do anything to and please complete the deal in 6 weeks. She did.
The couple I bought my home from was in their mid-70s, they had lived in Eindhoven for 25 years, they could easily have lived out the rest of their days there, but they bought an apartment in Amsterdam off the plan and came to live in Amsterdam for almost 4 years. During which time, she became the chairman of the homeowners association.
Then they considered, because of their age, they needed a place where they could have better care, they sold up in Amsterdam for a healthy profit and bought a riverside residential care apartment in Arnhem. I still always wish I can make decisions like that whatever age I am.
Then, I have an uncle, he was and still is the playful adult in my life, someone I can chat to about anything. I can be utterly irreverent, but always respectful. He was one of the foremost insurers in Nigeria, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Insurers and an examiner for the council.
In the space of a few years, he lost his car a couple of times to armed robbers, so he decided to move to the UK and is settled here. He called me one day and said he wanted to go back to school to study Petroleum Engineering. I asked if he was going for a master’s programme, he said he was applying for a bachelor’s degree.
Obviously, I thought he was too distinguished for that somewhat lowly pursuit, but he expressed such humility in his decision to pursue that endeavour.
He was already 60, he tells me, the course was one of the hardest he ever attended. He had failed many examinations in adolescent into adulthood that my father on returning from the UK, promised him £10 if he passed. That £10 debt is still a running debt in our conversations.
He stood out throughout the course, the older man, wise from a world of experience in C-suite jobs, students and faculty were always seeking his viewpoint on many things. At graduation, he had been gravely ill and was recuperating. The university arranged to pick him up from the hospital to attend his graduation. When his name was called along with citations, he got a standing ovation.
Such can never happen, if you are not ready to embrace your youth and youthful aspirations; do something new, assess yourself against your aspirations rather than against others, believe in yourself even if no other believes in you and never let your failures in life define you today or in your future.
Recently, on the radio I heard Isabelle Allende who was asked, “How do you fall in love at 76?” She answered, “Like 26, only with a little more urgency.”
Identity is a construct
I have a keen sense of my identity, I am an Englishman of Nigerian heritage. How I came to that idea of who I am was when I lived in the Netherlands. I had to answer the question of where I am originally from.
I was born in England, I grew up in England and Nigeria, then lived in the Netherlands for almost 13 years. Why am I not Nigerian? I was like everyone else until my accent betrayed me. To so many, I was the child born abroad, I wasn’t entirely accepted in Nigeria.
My mother tongue is English, but my mother’s tongue is Yoruba – I am proud to say even as an Aje-butter, I speak Yoruba to a very good standard, my Hausa, however, needs some work, I was in the North only until 1977.
Identity is a construct of influences, many good, some bad and a few you need to discard of completely. Accept who you are, don’t let anyone question the legitimate version of you.
On an Uber ride last week, the driver was telling me about his extraordinarily brilliant nephew who had excellent results for A-levels but could not make it through Oxbridge interviews to gain admission. I knew what the problem was, much had gone into academic achievement but very little into identity and personality development, the poor chap was cowed by the environment.
Community is good, but you also need to interact with the wider society, have a sense of confidence; completely different from arrogance, a healthy self-esteem; completely different from being an impostor, the ability to express yourself clearly; completely different from being loud and vulgar.
When I returned to the UK from Nigeria in 1990, I already had a good sense of who I was, my blackness was always part of me, anyone who had an issue with it, it was their problem, not mine. I also had a good sense of history. So, when someone trying to offensively racist said to me, 100 years ago I would have shot you, I was immediately able to respond, 200 years ago, I would have eaten you.
Be a sleeping dog, but be ready to bite when kicked, probably take the leg off, if you must.
Let the best influences of culture, of beliefs, of location, of friendships, of communication, of reading, and of learning define who you are in personality, in expression, in empathy, in humanity and in the pursuit of happiness.
Your health is wealth
10 years ago, what appeared to be athletes’ foot had become painful and was beginning to weep. At the back of my mind, I thought it was serious but was willing it away. A residual element of my religious upbringing was interfering with my sense of reasoning. Things about faith, miracles and so on.
Then, I decided to visit my GP, she had one look at the sole of my foot and said, ‘this looks serious, I need to refer you.’ The first reference 2 days later led to another 4 days later because of the intervening weekend.
The professor came to examine me and said, you can’t go home, we have a bed for you upstairs. That is how my treatment for cancer started. I did not realise how serious it was until the 8th day in the hospital when the professor came around to tell me. “We can treat this, but it depends on how your body can take the treatment; if you can, you’ll be fine, else you probably have 5 weeks.” 5 weeks!
I was 18 days in hospital and then 5 months of gruelling chemotherapy, sometimes, I couldn’t keep my food down for days.
Because of cancer, I lost everything, status, wealth, my home of 10 and a half years, prospects, but I did not lose hope and definitely not the will to live.
Part of my life education had been the ability to let go of things, not let things have a hold on me and because of that, I have been able to go on to new things, do new things, think new things, achieve new things and prosper in life, despite old things of the past, because they pass and in the process, you are given a better story. In the process of letting go, I realised that an open hand is one that is ready to receive.
Consider your health, go for scheduled and regular check-ups, I have a better idea of my health situation than my medical notes can provide. I have been fortunate to be treated as an intelligent patient even though with hindsight I have been foolish.
One identity construct that has helped me get the best outcomes for my health and treatment was my telling two professors of medicine, “It is my body first before it is your guinea-pig.”
They listened and backed down on the intrusive course of discomfort they had planned to take.
These are some key points from my address.
·         Don’t be afraid of failure, be afraid of never trying.
o    I have failed at many things; the lessons have become part of my world of experience.
o    I say, do it, rather than regret not doing it at all.
·         An opportunity once lost can be regained after a temporary setback.
o    I have had many setbacks, but never entirely lost opportunities.
·         Accept your vulnerabilities, they are part of your humanity.
o    I needed therapy and when I went for therapy, it helped me and enriched the therapist too.
·         Embrace change and be prepared for it in every area of your life, because if you hate change, you’ll hate irrelevance even more.
o    I have not survived 31 years in IT being stagnant, I have had to continually adapt and improve. I have been a self-employed contractor since 1995.
·         Learn to rest, learn to play, find time for yourself and do new things.
o    And suddenly, I found this liking for classical music, travel calms me down. I love quirky things.
·         The greatest thing you can pass down is example; an example of contentment which isn’t the lack of ambition, an example of resilience that you never fold in adversity, an example of empathy - walking a long hard mile in the shoes of another before you dare assume you know better.
o    I would probably not inherit much from my parents, but these are things that have stood the test of time.
·         Everyone has a story, you can tell yours too.
o    In the ordinariness of our lives, when you begin to count your blessings, you realise how extraordinary your life has been.
In closing
In speaking to this alumni association gathering, it is 21 years since you left FEGO. I hope it is more than the fact that you attended school together that has brought you here. I hope there is a friendliness that goes beyond acquaintance, a love that is deeper than mere concern, an engagement that ensures that no one of you falls to the ground, a brotherliness/sisterliness that means each one of you has another to whom you can go to for advice, direction and even admonition.
Yes, you can gather to laugh and play, but there must be times when you would have spoken the truth so frankly and without equivocation, we all need some tough talk along with the support to see it through. We cannot afford to be ashamed amongst true friends.
FEGO Class of 1998 – I commend you, live well, live strong, live long and live happily.
Thank you.