As a writer, I am condemned to a life of observing. As I move around…walk, drive, interact with my environment and people, I take all I can in. I am inspired by the things I see every day – the waste collector who sits on the pile of garbage from different homes without covering or turning up his nose. The gala and pure water sellers who can give Usain Bolt a run for his money when they chase after cars in a bid to make a sale. The traffic warden who stands under the scorching sun for hours to ensure free flow of traffic for a paltry salary at the end of the month, and the conductor who shouts himself hoarse as he “hustles” passengers for his bus.
Last week, my post was about failure, and how it can be an ally and stepping stone to achieving great things. Along similar lines, this week, I am writing about something I have always been convinced of, and which became more ensconced in my mind in the past couple of days.
The story of Kechi Okwuchi is one that should get anyone thinking. It’s one that should produce a renewed determination to succeed in all of us. It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around how a girl who escaped death by a whisker when she survived a plane crash which had only one other survivor, and was disfigured and traumatized in the process has gone on to achieve mind blowing feats when the average person who hasn’t had to endure one-tenth of all she has been through is content to sit and complain all day?
Before her latest foray into the limelight at the auditions of the 12th Season of America’s Got Talent, she had graduated with a First Class degree, emerging the most outstanding student in her major, Economics from the University and bagged membership of six academic honor societies to boot.
Kechi is also soon to begin graduate school for her MBA. This is a young lady who has had to undergo over 100 surgeries, not to mention the physical and psychological pain she has been through. In a space of 12 years, Kechi has not only cheated death, but has wagged the I-am-having-none-of-that-finger at all obstacles in her way and made something of her life. And she’s not even thirty yet.
It makes me wonder what my excuse would be if I didn’t live up to my full potential. I have never been in a plane crash (and hopefully won’t ever have to be faced with the prospect), I have never gone through a life-saving surgery much more a hundred. I have never had to live with the stares and looks of pity that Kechi must have been forced to grow accustomed to since the unfortunate incident. So what exactly would I blame my lack of ambition or complacency on?
As Nigerians we are used to giving excuses. And admittedly there are some challenges in these climes that make you want to pull out your hair and give it all up. We do virtually everything under adverse conditions. The fact that power supply is still a major challenge in 2017, that the country still has several millions of its monies hidden in obscure places no thanks to thieving politicians and public office holders. That provision of basic infrastructure remains a pipe dream, to the extent that even the first citizen had to seek medical attention outside the shores of the country are all factors that bedevil us.
It’s easy for us to give reasons why we cannot attain greatness, but people like Kechi prove to us that what we regard as valid excuses are just flimsy ones born out of a lack of drive.
While some of some of us lament how internet service providers won’t just let us be great with poor connection, people like Nathaniel Bassey are disrupting the growth hack for digital evangelism with the Hallelujah Challenge; a worship session that has quickly evolved into a movement, garnering over 68,000 online congregants at the last count. Thereby demonstrating the infinite possibilities and magnitude of what can be achieved when a person decides to look beyond their limiting circumstances.
Every time I run into a road block in the course of my journey through life, I remember people like my childhood friends who lost both parents when we were kids, but are all doing remarkably well today in spite of the tough hand they were dealt so early in life.
I draw inspiration from people who don’t have half of what I take for granted every day, but display sheer grit in the midst of their lack. I muse on the bricklayers, cart pushers, street hawkers, single mothers, unemployed graduates, orphans and terminally ill people who are making things happen for themselves and others regardless of their peculiar circumstances.
I remember people like Kechi who possess great inner strength that makes them continue to reach for greater heights through life’s blows, and I say to myself, “You have no excuse, Lolade”
There are physically challenged people who have refused to toe the popular path of alms soliciting. There are orphans who were abandoned by relatives and were raised in the orphanage, but have gone on to build empires.
There are people from a background of abject penury who grew up in squalor and appeared to be doomed to a life encapsulated in scum, but were bent on turning their situation around. And they did!
So, you, yes you…what’s your excuse again?