Eagles Don't Hang Out with Chicken ...
It's been a week of tension and uncertainty no doubt caused by the elections that have been going on in one of our East African countries, Kenya. As people turned out in large numbers to vote, it was obvious from the small talk being engaged as they queued that memories of the post election violence that happened in 2008 were still fresh in people's minds. You could also tell from the massive engagement on social media that everyone was hoping and praying that peace would prevail; so far it has and we continue to believe the occurrences of the previous elections will not happen.
If the long queues seen on the 4th of March are anything to go by, then it is safe to say Kenyans made a decision to forget the past and look forward to the future. That's why people braved the sun (which had turned up with its entire family) to vote too; man that day the sun was hot. It's like there were twelve suns in the sky! People were actually fainting, especially women, but they still held on and made sure they voted out the leaders they did not want. In fact, there was one who gave birth while at a polling station, and thankfully, she managed to vote then was taken to hospital with her new born. That's how determined she was to make her voice heard. In some areas, voting went on till after midnight; that's how long those queues were.
For people to be this determined, it meant there was going to be some shockers when the whole exercise was over. By Wednesday evening, it was quite evident that many political bigwigs had been ousted in this year's polling exercise. For some, it came as a shock to them because they had not seen that coming; they had become comfortable in their positions and thought they still had the people's support. Shock! Some actually cried tears of disbelief when it dawned on them that their political careers were over; in the words of one Tweep, they were now "raia kama sisi".
On the other hand, we saw unknown and unexpected faces joining politics for the first time. One such face is a lady who defied her cultural background to become the first Maasai woman in political leadership in Kenya. The other was a very young boy, still in his teens, nineteen to be precise. He too started his political career amid shock and disbelief from those he beat to win. Besides his age, what is quite interesting about this young boy is that while others were traversing the landscape with powerful machines like choppers and 4 x 4 guzzlers, he was doing his campaigns on a borrowed motorbike. That not withstanding, he won and now he will be representing those who believed in him enough to vote him in.
Like millions of other people, I have been observing what's been happening during this whole electoral process and as always, I could not help but identify several lessons we could learn from it, be they politically inclined or not.
To begin with, like I mentioned earlier, the number of people who came out to vote was staggering. Despite the fact that it was unbearably hot and the queues were nearly stagnant, people were ready to wait for as long as it would take till they cast their votes. This made me realize how powerful a determined mind is. If you are determined to do something, nothing will stop you from achieving your goal. Yes the sun may be hot on your head, the queues too long making your goal look far fetched, but if you stop focusing on these obstacles, you will definitely achieve your goal, albeit later than you had expected.
Still on determination, the female politician from the Maasai community and the teenager venturing into politics for the first time are great examples of what someone can do when they purpose to follow their dreams. Does it mean that they never got discouragement from people around them? Of course not! For instance, the lady had even been "cursed" by the elders for going against tradition and vying for political leadership. She didn't care or listen to the naysayers, but instead surrounded herself with people who believed in her, and eventually, she was home free. If you have a dream, never let it go because someone feels its not right for you. Besides, it's your life not theirs you are living! Instead of surrounding yourself with such negative persons, always look for people with positive energy, people with a similar vision and mentality like yours and fit yourself among them. Remember, eagles don't hang out with chicken.
As for the political heavyweights who were given knockouts by lightweights, what really could have gone wrong? The answers to this question could be many, but I want to encapsulate them all in one word: complacency. They expected that because they had been there for as long as they had been, they would continue being there. What they had not realized is that the citizens had gotten tired of "action-less talk", and hence their decisions to risk electing new leadership in the hope of bringing new and fresh ideas to their regions.
One renown architect by the name of George Keller once said this, "to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted”. If the ousted politicians had probably known this, I'm sure they would have striven to do better and greater things for their people. Well, I hope they've learnt a lesson they will now apply in other areas of their lives, just like we should. And if you are a politician reading this article, may this be a wake up call for you.
Friends it is very easy to be number one in any area of your life; the challenge is in maintaining that number one position. You have to be creative enough to ensure whatever you do is always refreshed and gives no room for monotony or boredom. This cuts across all areas of your life, from the bedroom to the boardroom. You just can't afford to be complacent in this competitive life. You can't afford to settle for mediocre when you can be better than you were yesterday. If you do, you will find yourself in unfamiliar territory like these politicians did.
In conclusion, I will say this: take some time today or tomorrow and seriously analyze your life. Look at the areas in your life that you have become complacent in and find ways of stepping out of your comfort zone to make them better. Is it in your spiritual life? Your relationship/marriage? Your business/career? Whatever the area, the power to make things better is in your hands.
As I wish you a non-complacent week, I leave you with the words of Eugene O'Neill. "A man's work is in danger of deteriorating when he thinks he has found the one best formula for doing it. If he thinks that, he is likely to feel that all he needs is merely to go on repeating himself . . . so long as a person is searching for better ways of doing his work, he is fairly safe."
PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 10th of March, 2013, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"