An uncle of mine has a rather funny driving habit. He steps on the accelerator three times before he starts his car.
After I observed him doing this a few times, my curiosity got the better of me and I asked why he did that. I watched him think about my question for several moments and come up with nothing.
A few minutes later, he said, “The car I used to learn driving had a fault. You had to get the gas flowing by pumping the accelerator a few times before it would start. That was the car I had for the first 15 years as a driver, so now, I drive every car like that – even new ones like this one.
Of course, I finally understood. I also realised that as a people, there are lots of things we do that may have been necessary in times past, but are rather pointless in today’s world. We still do these things automatically, without giving them much thought, and without fully understanding why .
Why do we teach kids who want to become lawyers how to calculate sine, cosine and tangent? Is there ever going to be a day in their entire career when that knowledge becomes useful?
Why do government offices not accept official letters in the form of emails? Is this not 2015?
And do we even know why we refuse to accept emails? Do we know why we teach kids sine and cosine? Do we know the reasons why we do these outdated colo things? Or are we just doing them because someone says “That’s the way we have always done it”?
I often tell the story of the woman who was teaching her daughter how to cook. She took a frying pan, cut the tail off a fish and placed it in the pan. Her daughter asked, “Mummy, why do you cut off the tail? Mummy thought for a moment and said, “I actually don’t know, but that’s how your grandma taught me to do it”.
So the little girl went off to ask Grandma about it. Granny scratched her head for a minute and said, “You know, that’s how my mother taught me too!”
The next time they went to the village, the little girl cornered her great grandmother and asked about the fish tails. Great granny smiled as she remembered. “My dear girl, I used to cut off the tail because our frying pan was too small”.
So why do we hold on to things we don’t even understand? Perhaps it’s a fear of change.
Today, I want to demystify change. It is the driving force of progress. Development will never come without change. It hurts, but, like surgery, it is necessary for a sick nation. Let’s start asking ourselves some crazy questions; like, why do we do things this way? And if an answer is not forthcoming, please, for the love of GOD, let’s change things.
We need to embrace a little stubbornness. When we ask questions about the things we do, and we don’t like the answers, let’s change the things we do. It doesn’t matter how long we have been doing it, or which legend started doing it first – if it doesn’t make sense to us today, let’s drop it for something that does.
Let’s start from our homes, our offices, our streets, let’s gather courage to ask the tough questions, and take action to change the way we do things for the better. We can do it – correction – we MUST do it. Nobody else will.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and they say I’m stubborn, because I don’t do things I don’t understand. Well, they say the meek shall inherit the earth, but the stubborn shall change it.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!