A tribute to Dr Maya Angelou

Kilonshele my people…….

I woke up this morning, and my first thought after thanking my maker was “the world is the still f**ked”. I can’t turn on the TV or open a newspaper without seeing some depressing news was with ISIS, Boko Haram, potential terror on the streets of London, Ebola….the list goes on and on. If all that wasn’t bad enough, I don’t get paid till the end of the month and my colleague who I was working on today’s original post with informed me that he wouldn’t be able to submit his portion before the deadline.

Not one to be defeated, I have decided to dedicate this week’s post to the Great  Maya Angleou. You may be thinking this is the oddest introduction to a tribute, you would be correct. Tributes have been paid to this wonderful human being by Bill Clinton, President Obama and Oprah Winfrey. This tribute comes from a man who did not know value the influence this unique individual had on his life till he read about her passing earlier this year. My body went numb without me fully knowing why. I have read two of her books, I Know Why Cage Birds Sing and Gather Together in My Name. I have explained to many that she was one of the greatest influences when it came to writing my first book, Memoirs of a Young African. It wasn’t until her passing that I realised that she inspired me to write my own book. I believe that I have always had the writing ability in me but it was because of her that I became a writer without even realising it. I admired her writing style, prose and wit, she put words to paper like an Eagle takes to the air. I am not ashamed to say that I emulated her writing style initially until I developed my own style. People have often asked me if I took creative writing at University and they are surprised when I say no.  I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Doctor Maya Angelou. One of the greatest things I took from her as a fellow writer as courage… courage in the sense of pouring my heart out on paper. There are a few stories that would not have made it into the MOAYA if I had not reflected on the courage it took for her to  share  her trials and tribulations with the world through her writing. I value her courage even more now  because there is one story I was not courageous enough to put in the book, something I regret every time somebody complements me on the book.

Upon her passing, I realised that I loved and admired Dr Angelou and the reason her passing hit me so hard was that I had always nurtured the hope of one day meeting her even for a few seconds. Through her words, I had learnt the meaning of courage and humility. I once heard her say “courage is the most important virtue a person could have, without courage one cannot practice any other virtue consistently”. Through her I have also realised that humility is probably one of the greatest virtues one can attain, humility is a virtue one should always strive to attain throughout one’s life. In my opinion, if one believes that he or she has achieved humility, one is in danger of falling into a state of arrogance – that’s just my interpretation.  Humility supresses the ego, without the ego there will be no desire for power, there will be no appetite for war, no greed, no envy and so on and so forth.

Another reason I have dedicating the post to Dr Angelou is that she brought to my attention one of the greatest quotes I have ever heard “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto” (I am human being, I consider nothing that is human alien to me) by Terrence. This quote has had a profound effect on my life and I implore you all to reflect on this.  I say to all who believe that their faith, status, wealth, class, race or education make them better than anybody else, please remember this quote. It will make the world a better place. I believe I have tried to apply these two virtues over the course of my day. Despite all the troubles in the world, I have the courage to hope and pray for a better tomorrow. I am humbled by the fact that there are millions out there who will not get paid at the end of the month and others won’t get paid enough to sufficiently feed their family. I am grateful.

I believe that Maya Angelou epitomised what it means to be courageous and  humble.  She  brought a smile to a million faces and inspired millions more. She may be gone, but through her words, her legacy will live on. She showed me the power of words and I aim to continue her legacy through my own writing

RIP Dr Maya Angelou.

Till next time

KKB Out

“Google is god……”**

A friend of mine made the above statement recently; I was a little perplexed because he was a Muslim. If he were an atheist I would have pointed out the contradiction in terms, if agnostic I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. He clarified his position in that he meant god in the lesser sense and as a concept which could compete with `smaller` gods. Do we dare say Google is Omnipotent, Omniscience and Omnipresent? (OO) I digress, this is not a theological dialogue. Let’s get to the crux of the matter.

For the past few months, I have been reflecting on the impact technology has had on `our` (limited to western society) ability to think, communicate and function. I know from whence I speak. In 2012, I returned to study eight years after finishing Uni. My first assignment was due for submission within 10 weeks.… this was a long time so I thought….I procrastinated for three weeks before tackling the assignment. I typed the question on Google, within a split second it had given me thousands of links. The first 10 links didn’t give me the required answers so I rephrased the question. I read a few more links but to no avail. The only way I can describe how I felt is to imagine a Bedouin lost in a snowstorm in Alaska…no hope. For a week, I stuck to Google like glue, I refused to believe Google couldn’t give me the answer…. I mean come on….this is Google. Two weeks after a many different re-phrasing and reading useless links, I felt that Google had made me dumb. I had forgotten the skills required to study, research, review, books, etc. Panic set in and I began praying to God. Long story short, I went into a Library borrowed some books and submitted the assignment on time. (Now ask yourself honestly, when last you went to a library to gather information) I am not blaming Google for making me dumb or for decrease of intellect in the `world`, one cannot ultimately discount personal responsibility. But I put it out there that the ease and volume for which information can be accessed has contributed to the general decline of the average intellectual aptitude. I mean, why should one go hunting when the game can come to one’s dinner table? With ready access to so much information, we have to dispose of the old more quickly to make space for the new. We lose the capacity and ability to dissect, process and reflect on what on the information we have received.

My people, don’t let us confuse information with knowledge. Google and other technologies should be used as a tool not a means. I am sure all are familiar with the phrase “just Google it”, now compare that to Mathew 7:7 “Ask and you shall receive” (paraphrased). Or the ultimate Oh my God (OMG), we say this things without even realising their significance. (NOW DON’T FORGET, this is not a theological post)  “I read it on Google” is probably the most dangerous statement one can make during an argument. I would respond “but have you read the latest version” (LGW). Although we now have ready access to the works of Socrates, Wole Soyinka and John Rawls, “I read it on Google” seems to have more weight. (Don’t get me started on Wikipedia….yeeesssh) There is a fear to quote these intellectuals because one may come across as too serious or erudite.   Kwame Ture once said “Ignorance is no excuse for a debate”. Need I say more?

You may think that I am Google bashing, no believe me, I “love” google, I have used it approximately 20 time in the process of writing this post. Technology is intrinsic to my daily life… to a certain degree. It has positive and negative effects on the world (that is discussion for another day) I use Google maps on a weekly basis, google books, google drive etc. But I am weary that the world will become so reliant on technology that slowly but surely we will decrease the use of our brains. If something is not exercised or used, its function diminishes and becomes useless…this is dangerous.

Wisdom is gained over the course of a lifetime, knowledge is sourced and attained over a period time and information is provided in an instant. I believe society has become lazy, there is no desire to look behind the curtain or walk down the yellow brick road. But ironically, Google should the start of that yellow brick road, walk down the path and there are endless possibilities. It’s a gateway for which if one has the will, desire and intellectual courage can change the world for the better. A word of warning: intellectual courage without intellectual humility is in itself dangerous.  There was a time people used to travel for months and even years to visit majestic libraries in Alexandria and Timbuktu. Knowledge was valued and Scholars were revered because it was known that they worked hard to gain that knowledge.  But now that we have answers to a million questions at our finger tips, we have stopped searching for meaning.  There has never been a time in history when the level literacy has been so high but yet, the level of intellectual capacity is on the decline. If this is not the perfect example of irony, I don’t know what it is.

I conclude by saying that, I do not blame Google for the ills or congratulate them for goodness of the world but merely to acknowledge technology’s powerful influence on shaping the 21st century mind-set. Ultimately, they have laid down a path, it’s up to us walk down it, ask questions and seek meaningful answers. We should never stop the quest for meaning, human beings have a natural desire to seek answers. There is a school of thought which suggests that this is the purpose of religion. Has Google taken over this function? What say ye?

Before you answer the question, please ponder the following Chinese proverb:

“When the wise man is pointing at the moon, the fool is looking at the finger”

Thanks for reading and thanks to my fellow collaborators (TK, DM, TO, OO SC, JA, and LGW)

**Coined by T. Sadiku

Till next time….KKB Out

A PERFECT WORLD……….Imagine

A world without the have’s and the have nots

A world without boarders

A world were conscience rules the hearts of man

A world where equality is paramount and inequality is obsolete

A world where nobody lives in mansions, nobody lives in mansions, nobody lives in tin shacks, nobody is homeless

A world where  WAR, HUNGER and FAMINE are remnants of a bygone era

A world where true democracy means the will of the majority not the desire of the rich and powerful

A world where education will not be for some but for all

A world…………..

KKB Out