Sunday, 14 October 2012

What’s your excuse?

Sometimes in life, certain hindrances are thrown your way. These hindrances or setbacks might tempt one to just give up on their dreams. After all if the environment in which you are trying to achieve your dreams is not conducive, isn’t it enough reason to fail and quit?

To put things in to perspective, I grew up in a rural setting; one of the most underdeveloped and remote areas in the country. Everyone around me was just poor. Most of my schoolmates didn’t have shoes, yet alone proper school uniforms. It would suffice to say that 98% of the pupils at my school didn’t have the basics in life; things like food, clothes etc.

Because most of the families relied on subsistence farming, some students had to work up very early and work in the fields before they go school. With this background I don’t think anyone in their right minds would blame students from this background if they fail to get decent results.

Fortunately for me, I wouldn’t say that life was tough for me. My father a teacher at our community school, made sure that I had the basics in life. Despite attending a resource challenged school, I had access to quality books. I even had educational toys and games. Also my father would conduct extra lessons at home. Not to mention access to solar energy; which would ensure ability to listen to radio and watch television.

With this huge difference over other fellow pupils one would expect that my results were far much better than the rest of the students. But the truth of the matter is that I always had to play second fiddle, to the stop student. Occasional I would be the top student but even though, the difference in our results would be close.
My performance in school was really good by any standard. I was scoring on average 90% in all subjects. Which begs the question, how could anyone get better than me despite my background and results? The answer is simple; they worked much harder and efficient than me. 

They would take notes while the teacher was teaching; this was at a primary level. They also had study groups where they would go over past exam questions and help each other. They were not shy to borrow me books. Also they were very active in class, making sure they ask the teacher questions if they didn’t ask. These guys were just effective and hard work at a very tender age. I couldn’t just match their work ethic even though I had better resources and access to information.

For secondary education, I was at a boarding school. But still my former school mates, who were at a local secondary school, were still producing incredible results. There was not much difference with the results the top students at my esteemed school were getting.

Even up to this day, there is not much difference. Most of them had graduated and gone on to work for top companies around the region and the world. There are doctors, managers, accountants etc., among them.
I have to admit that every time I failed to achieve something, I was quick to blame lack of adequate resources and the environment. For example, I would think if I had gone to world class university like Harvard I would be more successful. The same goes with building startups. The truth of the matter is that it’s easy to say “if it was like that”. But the reality on the ground is that someone with far worse conditions has achieved your dreams. So really, what’s the excuse?


  1. mm!, m touched by the story, maybe because i relate to it having being brought up by Educationist(My parents) i must say this is true and at times we don't have the courage to tell our stories to the world

  2. Well that's what I thought also; there are a lot of untold African stories