Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

"we can do better, we refuse to settle for less...."

Expand Messages
  • Deosaran Bisnath
    Someone asked about GOETHE s quote (see end of this mail). Natasha Ofosu s column in today s Guardian provides a good explanation. By Natasha Ofosu
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 2, 2007
      Someone asked about GOETHE's quote (see end of this mail). Natasha Ofosu's column in today's Guardian provides a good explanation. By Natasha Ofosu It’s a ubiquitous sight in London. An inescapable reality that increasingly grates on my mind and my heart. It’s the sight of people of African origin cleaning the streets, the trains, shops and offices, in such numbers that you’d think Africans and rubbish go hand-in-hand. The more I noticed it, the more I asked myself why. Why do so many Africans settle for the crumb jobs with low pay, little responsibility and zero prospects? Are Africans somehow predisposed to doing these jobs that other groups seem to reject? I resolutely say, “hell no!” Let me say now that in no way do I intend to malign the integrity of honest, hard-working Africans who toil in these jobs. I recognise that they are paying their way and providing for their families and in effect creating a springboard from which their offspring can rise
      higher. My concern in this piece is to implore Africans to see ourselves as abundant, limitless, resourceful. And, we must hold ourselves in such high esteem that if we can do better, we refuse to settle for less. For our evolution as a whole, this is unequivocal. A colleague of mine has a theory that immigrants take the jobs the indigenous population don’t want, in other words, the crap. But, his theory comes unstuck when applied to the predominantly Bangladeshi community in which my colleague and I work. In this district in the East End, where the glitz of skyscrapers and shiny shopping precincts rub shoulders with the grit and grime of inner-city tower blocks and drunks defecating on street corners, a distinct division of labour has emerged. Very rarely do you see Bangladeshis pushing wheelie bins and sweeping the streets or doing any of the menial tasks that some see as the preserve of immigrant groups. Instead they run the market stalls around these parts
      and dominate the wholesale clothing trade. Their restaurants abound. The community has its own social problems, I accept, but I use their example to illustrate a very specific point. It hit me that the fundamental difference between Africans and others is the way they see themselves. Your sense of self equates to your self-worth. It determines your attitude, your demeanour, what you accept or reject, what you compromise on or don’t. In job choice, Bangladeshis seem to be saying they value themselves as worthy of something more than cleaning other people’s filth. They are also uncompromising in the retention of their cultural dress, lifestyle and language. Hierarchy of needs Sixty-odd years ago, American psychologist Abraham Maslow attempted to explain what directs and sustains human behaviour in his famous Hierarchy of Needs. At the bottom of his hierarchy, widely represented as a pyramid, are four rungs of “deficiency needs” such as physiological ones for
      food, shelter and warmth; safety; belonging; and self-esteem. These needs, he theorised, had to be met before a person could rise to meet more advanced needs for self-actualisation and beyond that for self-transcendence in which they seek to connect to something higher than themselves. Too many Africans are stuck at the base of the pyramid, addressing survival needs. Perhaps they are gripped by an intense fear when they think of not being able to provide their basic essentials. I know that fear. Its force suffocates you and blinds you to the truth of your greatness and ability to overcome. That fear makes you jump at anything that offers a way out, and for many Africans that means jobs that are poorly paid, require little or no experience or qualifications and minimal commitment. Perhaps they have set their horizons so low because they believe this is all they are capable of, my colleague surmised. Or it could be they hold themselves hostage to their poor background,
      thinking this is all they “should” aspire to. And they fear the backlash of peers who think they are selling out because they’ve moved on. Daunted spirit My friend Morris Aberdeen, owner of Morris Roots natural hair salons, explains it as a type of poverty of spirit. “If you are hungry, any food you get will be all right. If you are thirsty, you will drink even dirty water, “ he says. “It’s thirst and hunger which make us settle. If we weren’t, we’d be in a better position to choose. “When you are in a poor position, you can’t make rich choices.” By selling themselves short, festering in mediocrity rather than feasting on excellence, Africans are paying the price with the ebbing of their soul, their essence, their creativity. Even if we settle for a fixed time because it is a means to an end, the sacrifice of fulfilment for survival, still takes its toll. In so doing, we are swapping the slave master’s chains for some of our own. Ain’t no mountain high
      enough At some point every African must understand that no condition is permanent and no obstacle is insurmountable. We’ve got to cut the bands from our bellies and stop sucking salt long enough to celebrate and draw strength from our ancestors’ proven track record of survival over millennia. We are here because our African ancestors resisted and rebelled and triumphed against every attempt to annihilate them. We continue to overcome every weapon of mass or individual destruction formed against us. But we must guard against insidious enemies like mediocrity which stunt our growth. Our collective advancement is inextricable from our individual redemption. My colleague puts it succinctly: “The yardstick of where everybody is is not the person at the front of the line who has reached where they’re going, but the one at the back. He is the one we’ve got to move forward.” Press on hard Dr Donda West, mother of hip-hop star Kanye West, said recently: “Where you fit
      in the struggle has a lot to do with how you feel about yourself.” To get right with ourselves, she advises we answer three key questions: “Who are you; what is your purpose in life; and what were you put here to do.” “Go back to history,” says Aberdeen. “Know and understand your history to be in an informed position to make informed decisions.” He also advocates learning from other groups. “They watched us long ago, that’s why they’re on top of the pack,” he said. For me the historical starting point is the fact that human life, culture and civilisation began in Africa. The power of our bloodline runs deep. It is the root of the root, the bud of the bud and it is the foundation that sets us up to walk erect, to achieve greatness in this world. To paraphrase artist LeRoy Clark, “we must press on hard on ourselves, alone,” to secure our progress, our emancipation. I’m not expecting an overnight revolution. But I am confident that Africa’s renaissance, both on
      the continent and in the Diaspora, will be steady and incremental as each succeeding generation stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before and advances their achievements. This is something that probably needs verification as I’m sure Bangladeshis are employed in garbage collection and other menial jobs


      To be pleased with one's limits is a wretched state.
      Johann Wolfgang von Goethe





      ---------------------------------
      Choose the right car based on your needs. Check out Yahoo! Autos new Car Finder tool.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Raul Bermudez
      A link to the story would be much appreciated. Thanks! --
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 2, 2007
        A link to the story would be much appreciated. Thanks!

        --

        >
        > From: Deosaran Bisnath <deobisnath@...>
        > Reply-To: TTLUG@yahoogroups.com
        > Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2007 04:03:26 -0700 (PDT)
        > To: ccdsj@...
        > Subject: [TTLUG] "we can do better, we refuse to settle for less...."
        >
        > Someone asked about GOETHE's quote (see end of this mail). Natasha Ofosu's
        >
      • Deosaran Bisnath
        Trinidad Guardian, Wednesday August 1, 2007. http://www.guardian.co.tt/features3.html Regards, Raul Bermudez wrote: A link to the
        Message 3 of 3 , Aug 2, 2007
          Trinidad Guardian, Wednesday August 1, 2007.

          http://www.guardian.co.tt/features3.html


          Regards,


          Raul Bermudez <toymaker@...> wrote:

          A link to the story would be much appreciated. Thanks!

          --

          >
          > From: Deosaran Bisnath <deobisnath@...>
          > Reply-To: TTLUG@yahoogroups.com
          > Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2007 04:03:26 -0700 (PDT)
          > To: ccdsj@...
          > Subject: [TTLUG] "we can do better, we refuse to settle for less...."
          >
          > Someone asked about GOETHE's quote (see end of this mail). Natasha Ofosu's
          >






          To be pleased with one's limits is a wretched state.
          Johann Wolfgang von Goethe





          ---------------------------------
          Take the Internet to Go: Yahoo!Go puts the Internet in your pocket: mail, news, photos & more.

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.