Audience: Message from the Morning Man

My neighbour has a four year-old son called Baba. He’s an adorable little thing. On weekends, while I sit on my balcony, reading, I smile to myself as I watch him running around in the courtyard playing all kinds of games.

He has a very fertile imagination, and I can’t help but marvel as I listen to him imitate his teacher, his father, the police and all the adults he observes daily with his attentive little eyes.

Last week was a rather draining week, so on Saturday; I decided to have a much deserved lie-in. That was until the enthusiastic voice of little Baba intruded on my rather luxuriant dreams. He was playing one of his games, but there was something rather familiar about what I was hearing, so I opened one eye under my duvet and strained to hear better. After about ten seconds, my ears were properly tuned in, and I started chuckling to myself as Baba’s game became clear to me. He was chanting,

“Morning Man Kojo Yankson…

Arish-rish Kontomire”

First of all, I was delighted to identify another discerning listener, and I found it infinitely adorable just listening to him vigorously imitate me. I never realised little Baba even listened to my show. But after a while, a certain gravity also presented itself to my mind. Little Baba listens to my show. Included in all the little influences and details and information that his young impressionable mind absorbs on a daily basis are the things I say on my show. In those formative years, his sense of right and wrong, good and bad are all being formed and moulded by the things he sees and hears – including the things I say and do.

That’s somebody else’s child. And without knowing it, I’m contributing – even if in a small way – to the kind of person he will grow up to be.

My friends, do you know who is watching you? When you stop and pee into the gutter, do you know whose child is observing you? When you’re having a screaming match with someone in the car park for stealing your space, do you know which young impressionable mind is paying attention and forming their own views of the correct way to express their emotions? When you’re jumping red lights, doing your nails at the reception desk, smoking, drinking, gossiping, lying to your creditors, bribing cops … do you know whose corrupted future you’re ensuring?

As a nation, we keep saying our children are the future. Well, who do we think they’re learning from? If we don’t realise that there are young eyes watching us, and start to set the right example, our future is going to be identical to our present. And how satisfied are we with the present?

We often think we’re not answerable to anyone, and that we have the freedom to act in whatever way pleases us – after all we’re adults. But freedom isn’t free. There’s always a cost to the choices we make.

Do you know where the expression Role Model comes from? Well, it’s because in life, our actions are played out on a stage. So in our daily actions, we are all modelling a role – whether we want to or not. And here’s the kicker: there’s always an audience who don’t only watch, but copy us. So ask yourself: what kind of performance are you putting up?

My name is Kojo Yankson, and I have an audience, whether I want one or not, so I’d best MODEL a positive ROLE.