1. DECIDE TO BE DIFFERENT
We all begin life's journey together in a family, church and school with friends and relatives. As we go through life, it is easy to float and ride the tide. Some people ride the tide throughout life and end up where everyone else is going. However, some people don't do what everybody else does. They don't settle for average or do things because everyone is doing it. These people make a choice to do things differently in life. They make bold decisions and apply themselves at every opportunity with determination and skill. It is easy to tell these people apart from the rest because they do not behave like a school of fish caught in a tide. They actually swim against the tide.
If you have been to Mombasa, you will know that the tide goes out in the morning and comes in in the evening. Sometimes in the month, it is the other way round. The tide is fun to watch but it is really going nowhere. As soon as it gets to a point, it turns around and comes back to the same place it was before. There are people we know like that who are really going nowhere and really have nowhere to go so they drift off to school and then drift back home again. They go to school in the morning and go home again in the evening. Having accomplished little more than nothing. They move from shore to shore – the same shore. The tide will never take you anywhere.
It is a sad thing, but many of us don't do enough with what we have. There are millions of children who have no opportunity to go to school. Those of us who do go to school waste it chewing gum, playing Kati and just riding the tide. If you live your life like a fish in the ocean tide, it may be fun but it will also be fatal. We know what happens to fish that are swept by the tide. So why go against the tide? We need to go against the tide because we know where those who ride the tide end up and never achieve anything in life. They and get caught in things that are going nowhere in life like drugs alcohol & sex. Life is as broad as the ocean and we should all strive to see what is on the other side of the ocean.
2 –SWIM UP STREAM
But there are tides in streams too. The way I see it you have three choices in a stream.
1. Join the main stream which means you will end up downstream or
2. stay in mid-stream which means you won't move very far in life or
3. Go upstream and give birth to new life.
The salmon is a fish that swims upstream. In school, the tide to do nothing is strong. To be able to develop the courage to go against the tide is one of the most difficult things you will do in life, but if you manage to develop the will, skill and courage to go against the tide, you will not only be successful in school, you will also be successful in life.
I train employees of big and small companies to develop themselves and create wealth. One of the most astounding things I find happening again and again is that employees just swim with the tide. Many have not developed the will to save or become entrepreneurs. They just go to work, go home, and complain that the money was too little. If you don't swim against the tide in school, you are likely to be carried by the tide throughout life. I can tell you from fifty years on earth, that that is not an exciting journey.
The defining mark of these people in life is that they have goals. They are going somewhere. If you don't have goals, it is easy to float down stream with the rest of the crowd. The rest of the crowd floats down to the bar, the disco and the latest phone. It is easy to join this crowd. All you have to do is have no goals. However, it is also important for you to know that only dead fish float downstream. Most fish are happy with mid-stream but only a few dare to make the journey upstream.
So there are three kinds of fish those that float down stream, those that stay mid-stream, those that hide in the Mud in midstream and those that swim upstream to give birth to new life. In life you have a choice; you can either be a dead fish – in which case you won't have anything to worry about the tide will take care of you and you will be dead anyway. Or you can be a mudfish, do nothing special and yes, hide in the mud. BUT WHY SHOULD YOU SWIM UPSTREAM? You can choose to be a salmon, swim upstream and give birth to new ideas, invent new technology, give hope and new birth to millions of people around the world. To swim upstream you must have a goal. A serious goal which you CAN pursue ALL your LIFE. Like a career or a calling.
So what is the key to getting up stream?
1. Goals are what you do for yourself
2. A career is what you do for others
3. A calling is what you will do for God
Some people think that you don't have to make this decision today and that since you are young you can postpone the decision until you grow up. By the time Jesus was 12 he was sure of who he was and where he wanted to go. He attended university (the temple) while his age mates, and family attended celebrations and went home. Jesus swam against the tide. His friends and relatives came to Jerusalem for a party, he came to study. He swam against the tide. If you want to make a difference, you must swim against the tide.
When I was 12, I read a book by Legson Kayira, I WILL TRY. Kayira was born in Mpale, a village in Nyasaland (now Malawi); the precise date was not recorded (1942). Soon after his birth, his mother threw him into the Didimu River as she could not afford to feed him. He was rescued and acquired the name "Didimu". He himself added the English-sounding name "Legson" when he was in school. At the age of sixteen, he decided that the only away to achieve a college degree was to go to the US, and he set out on foot to do so. When he reached Kampala in Uganda he saw the name of Skagit Valley College, Washington State, in a US Information service directory, so he applied and was awarded a place and a scholarship. Kayira then embarked on a journey of over 3000 kilometers and walked to Khartoum, where he obtained a visa, and people from Skagit Valley raised the money to bring him over to Washington. He arrived at Skagit Valley two years after setting out. He went on to become a graduate student at Cambridge University, and subsequently a probation officer and the author of several novels. He swam against the tide. When I was 16, I read another book by Norman Vincent Peal – The Power of positive thinking. After I read those books, I began to swim against the tide. I was determined to make a success of my life. I began to swim against the tide.
All of us are in the ocean. All of us are in a school; our challenge in life is not how much we have, but how much we will give to humanity! This is a choice we must make early in life not because we are rich and not because we are poor, but because each of us has a choice of goals, a career and calling in life. You may be poor and perhaps your education is sponsored, but don't worry, when you get an A- grade nobody will care whether you are rich or poor. It will still be an A-Grade!
3. SWIM AGAINST THE EDUCATION TIDE
Why am I telling you all this? It is because I want you to understand the tide that that is working against you and I want you to overcome and win. There is a great tide in education, which if you will succeed will require much, much more than the bare minimum. It will require courage; it will require great will skill and determination for you to reach the end of the journey in the education stream. Nevertheless, when you do it may just be the greatest moment of your life and the fulfillment of your dreams. Let's look at some statistics that will help you understand what I am talking about
1. Primary 7.5 million children in 2006,
2. Secondary 2.49 Million in 2010
3. University 182,000 in 2011
Less than three people out of every two hundred who join primary school in Kenya ever make it to university. Only 3 out of every 200 ever make it to get a college degree. The truth is the tide is very, very strong. It is vicious and merciless. It sweeps aside those who do not have Goals, a Career or a Calling or the courage to go against the tide. Education is a mighty river that throws many more people out of its path, while millions find themselves downstream. Education only rewards those who make it upstream. There is no way you can make the journey unless you make a commitment to go against the tide!
God Bless you
©Allan Bukusi, August 29th 2013
Presented at EFAC CONFERENCE AFRICA NAZARENE UNIVERSITY