A Swahili saying that goes ‘ujana ni moshi’ loosely translating to youthfulness, is like smoke- it dissipates quickly and before you realize it is gone. The saying is usually used to warn the young against wasting their years and to be more intentional in planning for the future.
I have spent a few days in the village, and this saying could not have been more accurate. In my short stay in the countryside, I encountered the youths of the 90s, grey and wistful.
Their priorities have changed, and they are less vain than 30 years ago. They are no longer keen to show off their once beautiful legs. Instead, they dress in heavy frocks and saunter purposefully to church – their worship books in hand. Their bodies visibly display signs of ageing – sagging chins and wrinkled eyes.
The happier ones amongst them may not be those with beautiful homes or prettier faces. They have since realized that beauty fades and palatial homes loom with sadness when old age and lifestyle diseases creep in.
When we are young, we rarely consider the repercussions of our reckless lifestyles. We compromise our health, our future and that of our children. When we are young, our focus is having all the fun we can afford, even if that means increasing our notch count.
The contemporary generation is low on morality, we ridicule religion and frown upon marriage, we advocate for liberal sex and detest tolerance in marriage. We may not know it now but our current choices will bring forth disastrous outcomes as we age.
As age creeps in, so do lifestyle diseases and other illness that may result from our reckless lifestyles. We realize when it is too late that the paths we took were fun but not necessarily the best ones.
It dawns on us that the friendships that were birthed in pubs were as flimsy as the froth in alcohol and we try to find meaningful relationships that will be anchored in goals and sober mind.
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The married ones find their way back to their partners who they have previously considered less fancy. It dawns on them, rather too late, there was so much more in marriages that staying beautiful and having endless fun.
In most cases after a boot of illness or a close shave with death, we reconnect with the religious beliefs of our parents.
We may not know it now, but our present life styles are the seeds we are sowing for our future. Rather than wait to see the fruits we will bear, we should learn from the youth of the 1990s.
As they age, they all agree that family is important and man needs religion. As their sunset years approach, they have all found respite in the serenity of the homes and in the company of genuine friends, and perhaps their creator.