Tag Archives: Africa

Mr Sluggard

imageThe Lazy Man’s Life

The cock crows, announcing the dawn of a new day. Mr Sluggard tucks himself further into his blanket. “It can’t be dawn so soon,” he murmurs. He has been in bed since seven the previous night, yet he wants to sleep for one more hour. Mr Sluggard’s friends knock at his door. “It’s time to go to the farm,” they announce. As the door handle turns, Mr Sluggard turns in his bed and yawns, “Oh, how I wished it could rain so I could sleep more.”

In my place they say, “The lazy man calls for it to rain.” When it rains it really pours. It’s like bullets have hit you, and the footpaths are impassable. So, much as farmers need water for their plants to grow, too much rain is bad for them. One can understand, therefore, how the saying walked into our everyday communication. Mr Sluggard knows this and he prays that it rains heavily.

“We can’t wait any longer,” his friends warn him. “We will leave you if you don’t get up.” He drags himself to the window. He yawns gain, and after scratching his head, turns to his friends. “There was a prowling lion on the road to the farm the other day. It’s a fierce lion. It nearly got me.”

“Ha ha ha,” his friends laugh. Unable to persuade him, Mr Sluggard’s friends leave him to slumber. Now it’s midday. He yawns as he looks through the window. “Why has it not rained?” he asks. Then he hobbles into his kitchen. Nothing to eat. He can’t cook. The sink is full of unwashed utensils. “This will do,” he says to himself, as he takes a bite on the previous day’s left over cocoyam.

Weeks have passed. It is a beautiful day. Mr Sluggard trudges to his farm with a stomach full of cassava. He can’t find the entrance to his farm. Weeds have overtaken the small farm, forcing life out of the crops. “I will need a very sharp cutlass,” he says to himself, as he turns back to return home.

He stands before the coconut tree and pleads, “Please drop a coconut, for I like the sweat taste of the coconut.” Nothing happens. He hisses and finds a group of people playing Ayo game. He joins them, hoping someone will bring a keg of palmwine. That’s how he spends his day.

Now it’s harvest time. His friends bring home loads of maize, cassava and yams, produce of their hard work. Their barns are full of yams. Mr Sluggard stands outside his friend’s house, his mouth watering, as they pound the yam. He knows exactly when to visit his friend. After clearing his throat, he remarks, “These yams are really matured. I’m sure they will be really tasty.” He knows his friend will always welcome him to dinner. After stuffing himself, and now looking like a python that has swallowed an elephant, he packs all the leftovers so he may have something to eat the following day.

He turns himself into a beggar, living at the mercy of his friends. He becomes the visitor who always turns up at dinner time, and the friend who doesn’t ever have, burrowing money here and there. He watches his children growing up to become servants and his whole family becomes a laughing stock.

That’s the life of a lazy person. The person who is unwilling to work or do something will always find an excuse. The time is never right for the sluggard. But laziness goes farther and more dangerous than the prowling lion. The body is wonderful. It does whatever you want it to do. The less you do, the less you want to do and the more useless you end up.

No one is born with laziness. It’s simply a habit we pick up as we grow up. But it’s a habit that can sometimes be deadlier than a disease. To overcome laziness, you need to make conscious efforts to change your habit. It is not an incurable disease. After all, it’s only a habit. Start by taking small steps towards change. Don’t yield to bodily comfort when you should be up on your feet to face what life throws at you. Don’t be like Mr Sluggard who keeps making excuses that render him useless. If only Mr Sluggard would realise that nothing comes easy. Don’t frighten yourself from the chances of success by imagined difficulties. There’s no excuse for failure. It takes courage and determination to ignore our physical comfort. Sometimes all it takes is just a little push and you are up and going. Try it and you will be a winner.

Can we learn from the eagle and eaglet?

IMG_1282.PNGCan we learn from the eagle and eaglet?

If you try and you don’t succeed try again, again … and again!

To say that I have seen an eagle is, stating the obvious, especially as I grew up in Africa. Eagles fascinate me in several ways. They have a superb vision with eyes that are designed to see both far and near. This endows them the ability to hunt from a distance, sitting high on top of a tree or hills. They can spot a prey several miles away. To succeed in life you must have a clear vision. Know what you want and go after it. Don’t limit your vision. If you read the biography of many great leaders and successful people, past and present, you will find they all have this characteristic.

Eagles are brave and strong. The eagle does not mind the size of its prey. It will always give a good fight to overpower its prey no matter how strong or big. Successful people are fearless. They stand up to challenges and confront them head on.

I never knew the eagle was a wise creature until I watched a scene demonstrating the fascinating, yet untold, characteristic of the eagle. An eagle flew pass majestically, seemingly casually. But all the animals and birds got the message. They knew nothing was casual about the mighty eagle. Hence, they flew and raced helter skelter to take shelter. Only the tortoise was left, as it could not race like others. So it reluded into the protection of its shell. As I watched the eagle landing on the tortoise, I said to myself, “You must be joking!” wondering how the bird would crack the tortoise shell. The eagle turned the tortoise over, trying to gain access to the flesh within the hard shell but all its efforts were unsuccessful. What really fascinated me was that it picked this large tortoise between its claws and flew as high as possible and then released the tortoise. As the helpless, presumably dazed or dead tortoise cascaded down, the bird followed it onto a predetermined rock. The tortoise landed heavily shattering its shell. As I watched the bird devouring its prey, I couldn’t help admiring its wisdom. But it also demonstrated another characteristic. Perseverance. Rather than give up, the eagle thought a way out of its difficulty and was able to crack the shell. We can take a simple message from this scene. Crack the shell of your problem so you can see the goodness hidden within the shell. Never give up.

The eagle seizes every opportunity. It is tenacious. Whenever there’s a bush fire eagles fly high above the flames watching animals and birds that are trying to escape from the blaze. These become easy targets as they are desperate and confused, looking to escape from their predicament. Similarly, when storm comes other birds fly away. But the eagle spreads its massive wings, allowing the current to propel it to greater heights. Whenever there’s a problem we should try and get something out of it rather than bury our heads in the sand or grumble. Look at every change as an opportunity to turn it into a gain. You cannot expect to rise to greater heights unless you are prepared to fly above the storm.

Recently, I was lucky to watch the eagle teaching its baby how to fly. Eagles are known for their ability to nurture their young. Mother eagle allowed the eaglet to patch on its back. She flew high and suddenly swooped out from under the eaglet and allowed it to drop. The eaglet struggled but couldn’t fly. Realising that it hadn’t mastered the art of flying, the mother eagle quickly flew under the terrified eaglet and allowed it to rest on her wing as she returned it to the nest. Later, the mother eagle pushed the eaglet out of the nest. Mother eagle must have considered it either to have mastered the skill or expected to be matured enough to fly. She simply watched as the baby continued to drop. Left on its own, the eaglet spread its wings and gallantly made the first flight and that was it. In life, we can’t always succeed the first time. Sometimes we have a mentor. But we can’t depend on people for ever. The eaglet tried several times with the support of its mother. Like the mother eagle, we should empower people under us, teach and show them the right way to do things. Like the eaglet, however, we must know that we too have to play our own part. It was only when the eaglet realised that it needed to learn to fly to survive that it did. So it is with us.
Let’s learn from the eagle and the eaglet. If we try but fail we have to try again and again.