I imagine the “breaking” question on campus now; “is it true that Mr Tando has travelled?” Well, I respond with mixed feelings, it’s true. Happy that I am pursuing a DREAM but I will miss all of you for the priceless moments we shared, learning together. Trust that Dean will find you an interesting fellow in my stead. For this moment, I have a great message for you.
This lecture is not one of our usual so be assured that there won’t be exams coming after. It is a reflection for the real issues most of you started confronting. Do mind to share it.
I know some of you still have resits, writing whiles on national service, some have married, some earned scholarships for further studies both here and abroad, some are lucky with jobs whiles many are still searching for opportunities. Each of these usher us into new rungs of challenges.
Whether still in school, with resit or out of school, I say to you, never give up, keep pushing. Getting used to a side of life; hardship or comfort, only limit you to constructions about your being. You do not belong to where life places you unless you believe you belong there. You belong to where you believe you belong. If you think you belong to third class and trails, that is where you will be, if you think you belong to those who have masters and PhDs, you belong there, if you think you belong to those who have lesser chances of happiness, my dear you belong there too.
Let me tell you why the believe factor matters. If you earn a resit or undesirable class and you think you are doomed with how a lecturer or the university awarded you, then psychologically it damages your spirit to fight harder in subsequent opportunities life opens to you. I came across some of you with real challenges; school fees, feeding, marriage [especially the ladies], work place, etc. You will all sail through successfully if you believe and work it.
You do not belong where you are; who or what we say you are. You belong where you believe you belong to. So forgive that Lecturer and believe in yourself. Many of us who teach you have no idea your dreams but you know how much those dreams mean to you. So soldier on!
In my case, I got a “C” in a six credits project. Now that’s a big deal. “C” in six credits for a final student means a lot. [Reasons why the group leader got “C” whiles others who could barely recall the project title, had As, are for another day]. I soliloquised in awe; “I am not a “C” student, no, I am not”. I spared myself the bitterness [We all accused our Lecturers for grades other than “As” right?]. Many dramas happened in my life at various times. Some could even earn me admission at the psychiatrists. Yet I forgave and moved on quietly for my dreams were bigger than those dramas as time keeps reminding me of the journey ahead.
Fight quiet battles when you THINK people offend you. Let them wonder how you survived despite what is thrown at you. For time and space, I am unable to share much but that my Lecturer was very proud when he read on the Vice Chancellors annual report that there were Mphil and Msc qualifying my name. Three surprises; what was my name doing there? two Masters degrees? A Lecturer here? You can guess the pride if he discovers that I am at the University of Great Manchester in pursuit of the ULTIMATE DEGREE; DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (PhD! You can say that again).
So I throw a challenge at you too. If “I” ever graded you anything other than you think you are worth, make me proud with your life; either in business, politics, academics, marriage, entrepreneurship etc. Yes, MARRIAGE! You can be a great mother too, like my MUM or help a lady be a great mother. I like eulogising my MUM before you. I remember a few of you elected yourselves to remind me of my wife. Hahaha. Well, she is also a great Mum to me first, and our sweet Twins.
Next, persevere to polish your social and emotional skills. Many dreams die early because we lack support. It’s true as young as any of us, we cannot pursue our big dreams alone. We need contacts and mentors so it's not only what you know but also, who knows you. UDS is a bigger community to establish networks. Nurture the relationships you have with others. We sometimes teach you to compete but in life, the reality is cooperation. You need emotional intelligence to work, learn and endure others. You never know tomorrow.
Essentially, lookout for people who inspire you. In my case, My MUM is one and our former Dean, Professor Agnes Apusigah is the other. I tell you the blunt truth, the best help comes from outside than inside [relatives]. What appears a long journey to the summit of the academic ladder is shorter and possible for me by benevolent people I can never imagine I could ever meet. So always, be on the lookout for possibilities. As you see in the picture above, I walked to make a big statement that there is hope and I am worthy of the sacrifice of these great women.
Yet you sometimes come across others I call FIRE FIGHTERS. Rather than flaming you up, they fight off your dreams with many excuses without alternative or complementary possibilities. It is hard but Bob Marley says; “Where there is a will, there is always a way”. Nurture the courage to pursue obstacles and never ever give up. No matter what!
Again, do not personalise actions of fire fighters when you fail in negotiating common grounds. Move on, quietly. I was not like this calm but wisdom and patience combined to turn me into what many perceive as coward. Keep your gaze on the bigger picture. Arguing or personalizing have destructive tendencies, sometimes getting you enemies.
Lastly, don’t give up on Almighty God. Hustle and pray everyday. One day, God will answer you too! If I, a graduate from Fallahia Islamic School in Wa, raised by an “illiterate” MOTHER who persevered “intense-bites” of destitution and abuse, can sit at the prestigious Global Development Institute or teach you in a great University like the University for Development Studies, what cant God do to you? Grace will find you my dear ones. Now that’s one of things about my MUM, she never gave up on her children. She stayed on, praying to see her children to greatness. Have faith in your hustles, please.
I equally resolved not to give up on any of you who try. If you wish to contact me, my email address is open to you. I also left some of my favourite books behind. keep your ears on ground, your colleagues will be circulating them after reading so you could read and share.
Now those with melodious voice can join me sing along……
“….We will get there
Heaven knows how we will get there
We know we will
It will be hard we know
And the road will be muddy and rough
But we'll get there
Heaven knows how we will get there
We know we will……”
See you all at the top of your dreams. NEVER EVER GIVE UP!
Moomin Solahudeen Tando (Phd Candidate, Mphil, Msc)