I’m Supposed to be Writing about Frederick Douglas, But Here’s My Audio Book Instead.

I’m not doing a year end review this year. 2016 SUCKED, and there’s nothing more to add. I don’t understand how one year – not even 365 days as yet – could harvest the souls (and minds, in some cases) of so many favored creatives, artists, thinkers and healers. I mean, really. Take Mos Def, for instance. Mos Def ain’t dead, but 2016 decided to sacrifice his craft on its bloody, brazen altar for no apparent reason at all. Lets just be DONE with 2016, already.

Now that that’s out of the way…

I just finished reading Frederick Douglas’ Narrative of an American Slave 4 days ago. It was phenomenal. Have you read it? Douglas’ Narrative was not required reading for me in school, and it was one of those books that slipped through my bibliographic net after I aged out of the classroom. There are so many parallels between the world he describes and the one we inhabit today – few of them good –  and my hope is to finish writing the piece and to publish it on this side of 2016. However if I don’t, there is something else I had on my to-do list (read: overdue) that I am pleased to announce that has been crossed off the itinerary at long last.

TADAAA!!!

After a long struggle, I have finally put my second children’s book on video format! This is great for several reasons; reasons which I am sure that a handful of people will allude to in the comments section. *strong hint*

‘Close to Home’ was released in print earlier this year, and if you have early readers who need a guide to read along with/to them, the book-on-video provides an amazing companion for that purpose. It’s available on Amazon.com. *strong hint part 2*

'Close to Home' is available on Amazon

‘Close to Home’ is available on Amazon today!

No, but seriously: I hope you, your little ones or someone else’s little ones you’ve co-opted enjoy the images and identify with the story. ‘Close to Home’ is about finding courage and I pray that it inspires compassion for children who are adventurous in spirit but may be a little more timid in person.

Reviews are welcome, likes are appreciated. 🙂

Oooooooooh Johnny Mahama. Ah!

Dear Soon-To-Be-Formerly-Known-As- President Mahama:

I trust you are well. Me? Oh…I’m all right. I just returned from an arduous (but fruitful) trek to Cape Town and I’m resting up. I had limited access to Wi-Fi during my road trip, but I caught bits and snippets of the news where I could. As you may well imagine, I caught wind of your intended (now cancelled) ‘Farewell Tour’ that you were planning on embarking on in advance of Inauguration Day.

Image source: The Lead

Image source: The Lead

Sir. Sir! I cannot tell you how much it grieves me to be writing yet another letter to you for the very same faux pas you and I (Okay, fine. I) have been dissecting for the previous 3+ years . My last letter to you concerning such matters was meant to be just that: My last letter. But, here we are again…

My dear Brodda Johnny. Ah! Who do you have advising you? Is it the Oye Lithurs? Sack them ooo. Sack them! They are costing your legacy dear with these amateurish predilections. Farewell Tour for what? It’s like all the talking that pundits and lay people alike have done these 24 months has fallen on deaf ears. Certain Ghanaians are not happy, and announcing half-baked ventures like final self-congratulatory laps around the country on the government dime only plays into their hands. You said you would leave it to history to judge your accomplishments, but you are a media man. You were once known as a communications guru. Don’t let your present title lull you into a false sense of security. Know your audience! They are going to crucify you with every keystroke, every chance they get. Who is ‘they’, you ask? The Douchebags Once Merely Known as the Elite: the NPP and their affiliates who care more about perceptions about the country than the actual advancement of the country.

You may have caught that ridiculous hashtag #CNNGetItRight last week? Yeah. I saw that ish too. What a joke. #CNNGetItRight, but pregnant women are still sharing hospital beds and Ghana is still the world’s 7th dirtiest country. You should have seen them congratulating themselves over controlling/changing the narrative in the international media. “Hoorah! We got CNN to issue an apology! Now no one will ever truly know how polluted our rivers are or that we give our celebrity rapists the honor due a prophet!”

It was laughable.

And pathetic.

Yet these are the people you are trusting to write objectively about your single term as president of the Fourth Republic? My advice to you is to get working on your memoires quick as you can, get on the offensive and dispel all myths before they have a chance to germinate. Why? Because other than hateful redneck Republicans post-Trump victory, I have never seen a more miserable group of people than NPP supporters and party members. They have won the prize and yet can’t bring themselves to enjoy it without utterly denigrating the opposition in the process. You should see the way they talk about you on my newsfeed. You’d think you had spent your 6 years in the function of the president performing botched abortions and selling harvested fetuses to the Chinese at Kotoka for juju. Mind you, these are the same people who will descend you on like a hoard of blood-sucking bedbugs if you say pi about their precious Nana.

The behavior is stomach turning on its own merits, but considering these Notoriously Pompous Piss-takers (save a handful who have demonstrated laudable decorum) paraded themselves as the more refined – and therefore morally superior – alternative to NDC’s kubolor bend, it makes their actions even more insufferable. I am already looking forward to the end of the NPP regime.

This is where you come in, Dramani. Please listen carefully.

NPP is already setting itself up to stay in power forever. They’ve got charlatans out here ‘prophesying’ that the party will rule Ghana for the next 40 years. My guess is that this 40-year time frame is supposed to inspire awe in the mind and spirit of the hearer as it happens to be the exact number of years the children of Israel spent wandering in the wilderness. 40 is a divine number, abi? My Father. It’s so easy to see through these smoke and mirror “men of God”.

That’s not the point.

The point IS none of this is good for Ghana’s democracy. Your political rivals are going to paint NDC as perpetually and patently unfit to govern the nation and will do everything they can to discredit you personally and your party as a whole. If you truly love Ghana and you truly believe in the ideals of democracy, do all you can to stop this from happening. Don’t allow them to plant this root in the minds of the citizenry. The days of a one-party state are over for us. The idea may have served its purpose at a time, but no longer.

Here’s the rub. You can’t be announcing ‘Farewell Tours’ to tout your success for one reason only: Although some people benefitted from your policies and infrastructure implementations, the right people didn’t benefit. Those people are the middle class at large. See how nobody was minding you until the cedi fell sharply against the dollar? Nothing provokes the merchant class’ dander like messing with their money. Not street kids washing windshields for a few pesewas; not the choked drains in front of their palatial houses; not even the fact that the price of kenkey is 20 times more expensive today than it was in 1993. Nah. You mess with that foreign exchange, and you’ve got a real problem on your hands. Now suddenly everyone wants to Occupy Something. Have you ever seen the middle class organize themselves to demand federal funding into SITO schools on behalf of the poor?

Nyuggaaaa…

I get so frustrated with you sometimes, because you conduct yourself like you don’t know whom you are dealing with! I mean, this is a cabal of super villains masquerading as the Avengers led by that lamb from Zootopia. These are the very same people who held the country hostage after the 2012 elections because they felt they had a right to the presidency. They threw a massive hissy fit, the consequence of which was stymied investment into the country. Bruh, you were there! Instead of commissioning factories every second week, what you ought to have done was hold a series of open forums to explain your vision for the nation, for that current year and beyond, while also detailing how those first two years of the NPP’s veritable coup d’état interfered with your timeline and set in motion a series of setbacks leading to hurried social works projects. What happens when you hire someone to do something at the last minute? You have to pay a premium. We all know this, but it was down to you to put it into words that the people could understand and that the opposition could not deny.

I know these people are your friends, but bruh…they ain’t treating you like a friend. They will eat fufu with you behind closed doors and treat you like a leper on the playground. Playing nice with these folks is like punching yourself in your own face.

Here’s my advice.

After everything is settled and Nana Addo has gotten comfortable and well acquainted with the A/C units at Flagstaff House, you embark on a series of tours around the country. Go to the places that politicians rarely go to, beyond Cape Coast and Akosombo and the like. I mean deep into the hinterland where no one knows your face. Listen to the people…I mean truly listen. Take some rising stars within the NDC with you; men and women with passion and talent who have new ideas and are not afraid of doing the gritty work required of civic duty. Don’t take Stan Dogbe with you. Ask the people what plans they have for their future and what kind of Ghana they want to live in. Ask them how government and/or private institutions can partner with them to make those goals a reality. Spend a year or more in true dialogue with the people. You will find that the goals of the city-dwelling Ghanaian usually differ sharply provincial counterparts. Use that.

Take that information and build a Dream Team of political activists of good character. Groom them to think before they speak, so that they won’t make threats and use idle words like “I will release your nude pictures”, “Ghanaian women are cheap,” “Lydia Forson is a voice from the brothel” and “Show us your wife” when they are presented with a political challenge. Create a new culture in Ghana politics and elevate the discourse. Document everything, bruh. As in put it on film, hire a professional editor and commission screenings around the country when that dialogue complete. Call the documentary something snazzy like Whispers from Ghana’s Heartland… or something. You ain’t hired me to be coming up with docu titles.

Again: DON’T TAKE STAN DOGBE.

You’ve got 4 years to re-brand the NDC. Make sure your ministers show up for work and go over each piece of legislation with a fine toothed comb before it passes. It’s important that they are present and can hold the ruling party accountable. I don’t tell you any of this because I like your party. I really don’t…but I recognize that having a strong opposition is integral to a healthy political environment and critical to a functioning democracy. Unless some other third party springs up out of the woodwork in 2018, you guys are it. Just because you are not in majority rule does not mean that Ghana does not depend upon you.

All right, dude. I just needed to get that off my chest. I don’t want to hear about you making these sloppy political mistakes again, okay? Merry Christmas and fire those who have been giving you bad advice.

With someway love bi,

Malaka

 

Dear Mzbel, No One Else Will Say It, So I Will: I’m So Sorry

Mzbel:

I am not one of your fans. I can’t name a single song you’ve performed and up until yesterday I have been mispronouncing your name, referring to you as “Mmm-zee-bell” instead of “Mizz Bell”. I only have a passing familiarity with your person and your brand.

I only mention all this to let you know that what I am about to write does not come from a place of bias or fealty, but from compassion as a woman and fellow Ghanaian. And because I am a woman and a Ghanaian, I hurt for you. As a mother of 4 myself, I hurt WITH you. What I’ve seen you endure these previous days has been unconscionable. It is beneath the dignity of our humanity and every Ghanaian who condones this behavior must hang their head in shame and ask whatever deity they serve to cleanse and forgive them.

A friend sent me the audio clip of an interview you did after a mob showed up at your house and camped out for one hour, shouting for you to come out. It immediately triggered images of the Ku Klux Klan assembling outside of the homes and businesses of their quarry, hell-bent on a lynching that evening. I imagine the very “tough” men who stood outside of your wall would have been proud and satisfied with their display of ruthless violence. Like Klanners who collected bones and body parts of the lynched as trophies, they too will surely sit around with their friends over beers and gleefully admit that they too were there.

“I went to Mzbel’s house and shook her! Hahahahaa! God is good.”

Fine group of men. What valor they displayed. Surely their ancestors and all of Heaven are clapping for them for this display. Surely the people who have maligned you online for showing vulnerability in the face of this intimidation are equally proud of their viciousness.

The people responsible for these atrocities will never say it, so it’s left to me to stand in the gap: I am sorry. I am so sorry that you had to go through such terrifying intimidation and that your children were present as it happened. That your precious kids had to witness this beastly behavior in their countrymen, to whom they are supposed to show respect and deference after this.

I’m sorry that the voices of women’s groups and advocates are eerily silent in the face of this assault. One can only guess why the women who were scrambling behind the scenes formulating hashtags like #TheyThreatenedRapeAndMurder to defend one women are quiet when a woman who was actually sexually assaulted and robbed finds herself barricaded behind her doors years later. The cynic in me believes that this is their partisan bias fueling their silence, and my inner cynic is rarely wrong.

I’m sorry that we both come from a country where some women’s lives and right to safety are worth more than others because of age, political affiliation, class and ethnicity…

I’m sorry we come from a country where women are not believed about their assaults unless they are the perfect victim. Why would anyone believe YOU, Mzbel? You’re brash, sexually liberated and an unwed mother. You are not worthy in the eyes of our average pious citizen.

I’m sorry that your chosen profession – an entertainer – automatically makes you a celebrity, and therefore precludes you from participating in the political process by campaigning for the candidate you believed in.

I’m sorry scientists are not considered celebrities in Ghana and that the burden to excite the populace about the political engagement falls on artists alone.

I’m sorry Ghanaians in opposition are not mature enough to allow you the freedom to campaign for a candidate you believe(d) in without threatening physical harm in the wake of their fresh victory.

mahama-and-mzbel1-e1474017691406

I’m sorry that Ghanaian politics is so immature that you felt like you had to say and do the things you said in order to connect with the voting population.

I’m sorry you didn’t feel like you could elevate the discourse and still be heard, because honestly, our people’s frequency isn’t tuned into Reason, and the only pitch they seem to understand is Insults. If we are not shouting at, insulting and now assaulting each other, our voices are deemed to somehow lack strength. And as MPs and pastors show us every day, there is no better way to demonstrate your strength than my intimidating, denigrating and beating women.

I’m sorry that the same party that ousted the one you support – who called NDC hooligans and thugs – have exhibited the same hooliganism and thuggery both online and off. I’m sickened by their hypocrisy.

I’m sorry our people have lost compassion and decency. I don’t know how a person could listen to your narration and still find it within their spirit to call you an ashawo who deserves everything she’s getting because you made a parody of their preferred candidate.

I’m sorry Ghanaians are not mature enough to understand the use of parody.

I’m sorry Ghanaians can’t discern between fake news and real media outlets, and that real media outlets accept soli and end up distributing fake news. I hear some factions are expelling you to Burkina Faso based on a satirical fabrication.

I’m sorry satire – indigestible by our poorly educated population – has poisoned reason and killed the ability to engage in discourse.

But most of all, I’m sorry that in this new era, we are not Ghanaians first. That as this new dawn rises, it becomes clearer that Ghana is for some and not for all.

I’m sorry you had to find out this way.

mzbel-otanfo

 

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The Chicken Connoisseur – On The Exploitation of Black Creativity

Excellent read. The trend of colonizing Black culture shows no signs of abating.

everlivingroots

Elijah Quashie, the 23-year-old sensation known as the Chicken Connoisseur, has created waves on the internet with his brilliant reviews of chicken shops at several different spots across London [link to his YouTube Channel]. With each episode of The Pengest Munch, Quashie visits a new shop. Before he even begins his review, he undertakes his compulsory crep check to reassure the viewers that he’s looking fresh. He then proceeds to analyse several aspects of the shop, from its pricing structure and standard of customer service, to the breadcrumbs on the wings and the assembly and presentation of its burgers. Everything he says is executed with light-hearted rigour along with a fantastic comical twist.

His take on the quality of breaded wings and fries resonated with many; rating the standard of an establishment’s food, as well as noting down which bossman will nice you with an extra…

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Farewell, President Mahama

John.

Dude.

Chale!

How are you feeling right now? My spidey senses tell me you are relieved, but certain elements on Twirra swear you are despondent, based on the tone of the concession speech you gave last night. They forget that I know you better than they do, so we won’t mind them okay? I know you were playing it up for the cameras. I know you are happy not to have to deal with these Team D players you’ve picked up like cat fur on Scotch tape.

I mean, how would it look to all those who worked so tirelessly for your re-election (and 4 more years milking the cash cow that is the country’s coffers) for you to be smiling in the face of such a sound shellacking? You were convincingly contrite and it was one of your finest performances. I didn’t think you had these sort of acting chops within you. When they want to film your biography, don’t let Idris Elba steal your shine. Play yourself.

It seems the pair of us underestimated Ghanaians, my dear Brother John. You for your confidence in the brevity of their memories, and I for believing that there is/was no tipping point for Ghanaian discontentment. You were the Ike Turner to their Tina, the Mister. to their Celie; and like the female protagonists in both diegeses, Ghana walked away from you, your party and everything the NDC has come to represent, head high and heels on. No abuser ever really thinks his victim has the power to walk away until it happens, but here we are today on December 10th, 2016, with reality’s foot shoved way up several people’s jacksies.

You and I both know you never really wanted to be president. You are a fantastic Number 2 guy, and from many accounts, I hear are a genuinely nice person. But you were uniquely unqualified for the job to lead the nation, and that’s what’s gotten us to the myriad of quagmires Ghana is experiencing today. Your response to every quandary was to set up a task force. You appointed people who did not respect you, your office or their personal call of duty. You rewarded impunity and ineptitude on one too many occasions. All these proclivities constitute the old school ways of running a West African nation. If they weren’t, we’d be much further advanced socially than we are now. The fatal error for your party was that the old heads in charge failed to recognize that this is a new century, with new expectations and new technology. Ghanaians can never again have ‘short memories’ because the internet never forgets….and we all have access to data. Someone always has a clip of something you said saved in a file entitled “Mahama Receipts”.

Wow, man. You lost. I still can’t believe it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that certain people (*cough* Stan Dogbe *cough*!) will be out of a job and nowhere near a policy making position, but I can’t actually believe YOU lost. You were supposed to have it all: youth, good looks, and intelligence. But you got too comfortable, bruh. You treated your campaign – and the country, by extension – like it was a part of a line up for a low budget circus or reruns for Saturday morning cartoons. It was too unserious. You pandered to the lowest denominator of guy-guyness with such gems as “I can’t t’ink madness” and posing as an overfed, Ankara clad Usain Bolt on Facebook. Now look at us. I’m sitting here writing about the first single term president in recent Ghanaian history and you’ve got to live with people forever trolling you for that fact. This is patently unfair to both of us.

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There are two things you said in your concession speech – which I thought was pretty good despite what your tireless detractors say – that I found extremely poignant. You said that you have done your bit as president and that you would leave it to history to judge your contributions.

You were probably thinking of the interchanges you borrowed against and factories you commissioned and oversized sandals that you placed on the feet of impoverished school children when you uttered these words, but your contribution goes beyond that. You, sir, serve as a living example of a right way and an absolutely terrible way of doing things, and that’s not a bad position to be in. We can all glean lessons from your tenure, and those lessons are applicable in business, love, faith, etc.

  • Don’t wait to do things at the last minute. Don’t promise more than you can deliver.
  • Don’t take people for granted.
  • Don’t invoke God’s name in vain, unless you are absolutely sure the Almighty would hang himself on the cross all over again to bring it to pass.
  • Watch your words, because you never know who is listening.

The list of “don’ts” you enacted is endless. Nevertheless, these are valuable lessons, wherein you and your team instructed us with the domino of failures in policy and performance that we witnessed month after month. If your bootlickers and hangers-on had merely spaced out the scandals, you might have been forgiven and survived this lashing…but you didn’t listen to me. I told you after (and long before) Montie 3 that you would be left holding the bag, but you didn’t listen, John!

Arghh! Why do my eyes burn?!?!

Arghh! Why do my eyes burn?!?!

I am hurt. Your behavior in that regard is akin to my children jumping into our freshly chlorinated pool and screaming because their eyes are now burning. Didn’t I tell you the pool was not safe to be diving into? Didn’t I TELL you not to pardon those three dolts? But it was as if you didn’t want to receive wisdom!

All in all, you are a decent guy. Truly. You did the right thing by stepping aside. The nation needs to feel like there’s going to be shift in its course, even though for every clown in your cabinet, Nana Addo has his own variety. Dela Coffie is a douche bag, but Ken Agyapong is a b3ntwa nozzle. And there are just as many people preparing to get paid for their loyalty to Nana Addo’s campaign as there were when you came to chop. It’s Ghana politics. People have staked their last meals on this outcome. I grew up attending elite schools in Ghana, and we all know who the usual players are on either side of the aisle who are first in line for the biggest slices of pie.

As for the voting irregularities you mentioned, we know…we know. People are acting like the nation didn’t just use imported Indian indigo and recycled paper for balloting in this election. People were baying for results as if they forgot the process of voting and counting was not the colossal manual affair that it was. People are also acting like voting in Ghana is a completely linear process…as in we put our thumbs down, the votes get counted, a winner is declared, presto! Those who are honest know that there are many more moving parts and external influences behind the scenes, and that is why you did the right thing by just letting Nana Addo live out his dreams of following in his daddy footsteps before he dies. You made an old man happy, and God will bless you for that. But also, let’s not forget that NDC played dirty game by declaring yourselves the winner ahead of the official results in 2012 and the opposition played it back. Perhaps you could work secretly to be a vector for change for this sort of tit for tat politics? Perhaps not. It’s your prerogative how you live out the rest of your days.

Who couldn't love a face like this?

Who couldn’t love a face like this?

I’m going to miss you, John. I really am. I’m going to miss your infectious giggle, your denim tuxedos and the subversive art that you inspired. Making fun of Nana Addo when he screws up (and he absolutely will, because his last name ain’t Christ) will be seen as ageist and unfair. You know how we venerate our elderly, even (or especially) when they don’t deserve it. I can’t say with confidence that Ghana’s media elite will hold him to the same unwavering standard with which they held you.

But don’t you worry! Nana Addo and his team will never get a pass from me. I will be here to troll them on every broken promise; every time one of their MPs says something disgusting about women; every time a child goes hungry or homeless because of a policy they’ve failed to enact. Because they promised us better and now they must deliver.

Go gently into the night, my Deceased Ruminant. May the grass on the other side of the presidency be sweet, now that you’ve been sent out to pasture. Adieu.

Get Through Your Hump Day With FRA’s Brain-Itcher, ‘Happy Yourself’

It’s finally Wednesday!

Many Ghanaians will be heading to the polls; your Woman Crush Wednesday has reneged on doing argon oil review she’s been promising to do; you still haven’t lost any of the weight from stuffing your face during Thanksgiving and now your ONE good pair of holiday trousers is hugging your testicles like a long-lost cousin and you’re sitting on the toilet regretting your decision to scoop up that spicy veggie casserole roll-up that Erica from accounting brought to the office potluck. You should’ve just let Erica sulk – but no! You had to play faithful sidekick to her damsel in workplace in distress.

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Image source: Pintrest and my worst nightmare

Now look atcha. You have flames shooting out your backside and there’s a team meeting at 8:30 am.

On top of that, there are now officially only 16 more shopping days left until Christmas! *gasp!*

How are you going to cope with all the madness? Well, since Pharrell didn’t see fit to drop another Happy bomb on us and Taylor couldn’t shake off more time away infusing snake venom into her pot of Bad Blood, it is to Africa – Ghana, more specifically – we must turn to for the feel good song of the year. And it couldn’t come at a better time. You know as well I as do that 2016 clearly marked the beginning of the End Times. Fortunately, FRA released this fabulous ditty to help us dance our way out of this acid-fueled carnival that is the Chinese year of the Monkey. How apropos.

Hey. Hey! Look at me. I'm your president now.

Hey. Hey! Look at me. I’m your president elect now.

Before you click the link and listen to the song, I want to go ahead and say, you’re welcome.

 

Who is FRA? They are five Ghanaian guys that formed a band in 2015. They started out doing covers in 2015, performing live in venues all around the capital. There is a sad truth about live Ghanaian bands that few people are brave enough to speak – and that is it’s unlistenable. As in, it’s so loud and disjointed that you can barely hear the music for the sake of the noise. Nevertheless, we Ghanaians jam dutifully with the racket makers, because we’re a loving and encouraging group of people. Our reward for that long-suffering has been the development of groups like the Compozers and FRA, who feature the inimitable Kyekyeku on guitar in Happy Yourself.

The phrase ‘happy yourself’ is the common (wo)man’s parlance for the esoteric call to find joy within yourself. Essentially, it is the entire volume of The Secret summed up in two words in pidgin English. It makes the instructions accessible to the rest of us. Not everyone wants to listen to a lecture about methods to find sources of happiness, but I can’t think of one person who doesn’t like music. Everyone likes some form of music! And with this offering, FRA guides us through the process in three simple steps:

  1. Do the woogi mami
  2. Shuffle leg o padi
  3. Joromi

Make you happy yourself , ‘cause you owe nobody your life!

You see how good you’re feeling right now? That’s because this is that song from your childhood. This is Osibisa, Cool and the Gang, Earth, Wind & Fire and raucous summer holiday picnics with your cousins packaged in plantain leaf. There’s no way you can’t like this song. That would make you abnormal. This song will have you jammin’ like…

giphy

For me, Happy Yourself is the Febreeze we needed to mask the stench of the most stank year of recent memory. Nina Simone said it is the artist’s duty to reflect the times, but I say it is also their duty to help us get through them. For this, FRA has my thanks.

‘Happy Yourself’ is available on iTunes.

A Lesson About Success

My son’s class conducted a life skills practical in their fourth term. Each student was given a bean, a shallow metal dish and some moist cotton in which to plant the seed. The goal was to connect the bean’s growth to the story of Jan en die boontjierank (Jack and the Beanstalk). Stone is a born botanist, and has loved plants since he was a toddler. He brought his bean home and made sure the cotton was kept moist and frequently moved it all around the house in an effort to always keep it in the sun.

In time, a shoot broke through the bean’s outer shell and a fragile root system began to develop. Stone kept watering and moving the plant.

One weekend after his bean turned into a seedling, we had to go out of town. The seedling had no water, too much exposure to the elements and appeared brown and dead by the time we got home three days later. Stone quickly took it over to the sink and moistened the cotton, and his father advised that now might be a good time to put the seedling in some soil. I advised that he stop moving it from place to place all around the house and allow it to get adjusted to one spot and the conditions in that particular area. That’s how the bean ended up on the ledge of our front porch, where it rebounded. The old, dry leaves dropped off and new green shoots began to emerge from its tiny stalk.

“Isn’t it cool how new life can emerge from something you assumed was once dead?” I mused to my husband.

A man of many words, he replied, “Mmm hmmm.”

My conversations with Marshall are so deep…

It’s now been two months since Stone’s bean was planted, and it’s about 3.5cm high. Ecstatic that his seedling had achieved some semblance of an actual, viable plant, he asked if he could take it out of the tin and plant it in the garden bed next to the garage. He dug a hole, tipped the plant out and dropped it in. The next morning when he came to check on his plant, it was dead…Really dead this time.

The summer sun and gale force winds that gust around our house at this elevation killed it in 24 hours. Distraught and disappointed, Stone dug up his seedling and put it back in its makeshift pot to see if he could revive it. It’s been over a week now, and it doesn’t show signs of recovering. We are still holding out hope, however.

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Come back to us, bean plant!

Why do I mention this story to you? All of us has a dream; some sort of ambition that we harbor deep within ourselves. The bravest (or more foolhardy) of us will sometimes take the step to put flesh to that dream. It may be a business idea, or a talent, or a philosophy you’d like to see incorporated into the culture. If it’s a particularly unique or good idea, or if you have people who support you because YOU are unique and think you are particularly a good person, you may find yourself pressured to put your idea, talent or skill in the sun before it’s had a chance to develop deep roots.

The function of the sun is to sustain life, but the sun’s rays can also be fatal, as we learned from the demise of Stone’s tender plant. You may be looking at other people in your field of interest and ponder over their achievements. Their success must surely come from full exposure to the sun, whereas your growth has only been gradual because you’ve gotten those rays in smaller measure. This may inspire you to think you’re ready to launch yourself into the same atmosphere, but if your gift is not developed, it will kill not only the gift, but its potential as well. When the winds of criticism, negativity and hostility come, your potential will be shaken loose from its roots. There is nothing wrong with a little caution.

This is written to encourage those who are looking around at your circumstances after putting in whatever effort and asking yourself “Why am I not further along?” The answer may simply be as simple as it’s not your time. Your growth – or lack thereof – is not for lack of trying: It’s because everything and everyone develops at his or her own pace.

We live in such an exhibitionist culture nowadays that people expose their talent in its infancy and the culture consumes and disposes of it quickly. The music industry provides the most visible manifestation of this. We cycle through more rappers and crooners annually than Rob Ford did needles and pipes. (RIP, Mayor.)

Take the time and care to hone your craft and build your core. Sure, there are times when you can drop a seed in a harsh environment and it will not only anchor, but dominate that environment as well, crushing all in its wake. Those are called anomalies…like Beyoncé. Most of us are not anomalies. Most of us are Solanges; or at least we should be trying to be. There’s only room for one Beyoncé in the world at a time, maybe two. However there are plenty of seats at the table for a dozen Solanges or more. (See how I just did that? You like that? Of course you do.)

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Be encouraged. Be glad for other people who have established their roots and have found their place in the sun. When your turn comes, you’ll want others to be glad for you too. Don’t give up, but more importantly, don’t force your success. Build upon yourself, and it will come.