People will tell you that you can have everything that you ever dreamed of. That you can have your best life. Be whoever and whatever. Believe and achieve. Confront and conquer. By fire and by faith, and so on. They’ll have you believing that all you have to do is close your eyes and imagine greatness for greatness to be thrust upon you. That just by the power of your will, and with all your purest intentions aligned, you can have it all. They are wrong.
Well, maybe not wrong, but not all the way right. See, your heart and your mind are powerful tools. Together, they can change the energy around you and create a fertile environment for your dreams to grow and your goals to materialise. But you’ll still have to put in the work. You’re going to have to work hard and smart. Sometimes you’ll get lucky, and good things will fall into your lap, but the rest of the time – about 95 per cent of it – you’ll have to be ready for the opportunity. You have to keep working on yourself to prepare to milk them for all they are worth when opportune moments present themselves.
And to quote Dana Owens, also known as Queen Latifah, you will also have to fight. You’ll have to fight fatigue. Fight discouragement. Grief. Disappointment. Depression. Fear. Self-doubt. Low self-esteem. You’ll have to fight your way past negative people through toxic situations and difficult circumstances. In her acceptance speech when she received the W E B Du Bois Medal by Harvard University, Latifah said that she often goes into her backyard and screams: ‘Fight! Fight!”
That hit me straight in the chest. As she spoke the words, you could tell from the tenor of her voice that she was fighting even at that moment. She was fighting to be strong and poised when she was mourning the death of her mother—fighting to stay calm and represent as a rapper, actor, singer, and cultural icon in an auditorium filled with students, academics, and experts. Fighting to embody the poise, grace, and essence of the queenhood we know her for. And you know what, she fought, and she won.
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In receiving the Du Bois Medal for her contributions to black history and culture, Latifah became even more of who she already was. Fierce. Graceful. Strong. Accomplished. Witty. Grateful. And prepared for the next big thing.
That’s the goal. To embrace the best of who we are as we fight to grow, evolve, and mature. To become more and more of our “authentic” selves. To show up having learned how to love the skin we are in and how to leverage every aspect of our creativity, energy, and imagination. That should be the goal. And it’s a good goal.
Often, we experience positive growth, but there are some occasions when there is more darkness than light at our core. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a human being, a corporate, or even a government. In time, true colours will be revealed.
Take the current administration, for instance. In 2013, when Uhuru and Ruto took over, Kenya was about Sh1.9 trillion in debt. Eight years later, we are at Sh7.28 trillion. That initial figure has almost quadrupled, and Treasury still wants the statutory debt ceiling lifted to above Sh9 trillion to accommodate anticipated fiscal deficits. It’s hard to see what this money has bought, apart from V8s, tea, and mandazi. I mean, doctors and teachers are still waiting for a raise.
Oh, yeah. Silly me. The president himself has alleged that we lose more than Sh2 billion a day to graft. That would be almost Sh1 trillion a year. Then there’s the Sh14 billion we’re going to spend building a bridge to some undisclosed location. And the Sh4 billion-plus that’s been thrown at the members of county assemblies to prop the bridge up with their votes. Also, there’s the push to increase Raila’s and Kalonzo’s retirement benefits – this is part of the Sh785 million that has already been budgeted for retired State officers. That’s Sh1 billion for a handful of high-ranking retirees per annum.
Meanwhile, there are clerks, messengers, drivers, educators, health professionals and other government employees who can work for decades only to receive less than Sh200,000 in pension. It’s ridiculous. But hey, if the goal is to grow and become more of ourselves, then our government has shown itself to be selfish, greedy, and fiscally irresponsible. And as Maya Angelou so wisely said, if someone [or something] shows you who they are, believe them the first time. This government has been showing us for years.
Ms Masiga is Peace and Security Editor, The Conversation