Africa and the Misplaced Priorities

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Time and opportunities wait for no one. Life is full of risks and opportunities; you need to take the right steps and make the best decisions in order to achieve something tangible in life. Opportunities are, in fact, chances that not only come to us in life but are equally created for ourselves, following many years of hard work and sacrifices. Unfortunately, if you do not grab the chances or make the right choices and decisions in life, you might end up making wrong and misplaced priorities, which means a waste of your life.

The worst mistake in life is not making a mistake; rather, it is allowing your old mistakes to repeat themselves. Often in life, we mourn death, which we see as the ultimate end. However, in life, you can die before your natural death; that death before the natural death comes due to one’s inability to live with well-defined priorities. It is catastrophic, and in fact, worse than the natural death, to live with misplaced priorities. Often, our inability to live a well-prioritised life leads to frustration, anger, jealousy or even mental anguish. Of course, we cannot talk about “misplaced priority” if we don’t know what our priorities are.

I strongly believe that, as humans, we are in this world for a purpose. We are on a sacred mission. A mission of accomplishment. The goal of our journey is to bring positive changes in our lives and those of others. The question is: How do we achieve this important natural task? From the individual perspective, do we allow pursuance of less relevant goals overshadow our important, valuable ambitions in life? Will you rather die for money and other materialistic things at the expense of building a fulfilled life that will not only benefit you now but your future children in general? The obvious reality is that it makes sense to live a structured, organised, disciplined longer life than to have more wealth. Therefore, we must aspire to live strong and healthy to enable us to live longer. Are you ready to make sacrifices in order to create a satisfactory life? Like a seed sowed in the ground, which must first die in order to germinate or bring forth life, a meaningful life is the mother of destructo-creativity. You must make sacrifices (destruction) in order to create a meaningful life (creativity). Are you busy living in jealousy and competition rather than setting a goal, which will lead to a purposeful result? Is your aim to buy the latest iPhone or Samsung, while you do not know how to pay your house rent, send your kids to school to increase their opportunities and chances in life? Before I am misunderstood, I am not against having good things in life, but we have to draw our scale of preference and the opportunity cost. Everything has its priority in life; it is your duty to set out your goals in life and prioritise your wishes to enable you to achieve those goals. If you have a habit of smoking just to “belong” and you cannot afford to buy a cigarette, then you need to ask yourself if you are on the right path of your mission. Furthermore, you may need to question the reason behind that destructive habit or social behaviour? Is it a healthy habit? Could such a habit destroy your life or later lead to health problems, and for that matter, more expenditure in the future? At the end, it may be that you have made wrong choices and chosen misplaced priorities in life, which might lead to personal annihilation.

On the government level, the need to take the right decisions and steps cannot be more important. With the lives of millions of their subjects directly or indirectly affected by every little decision our leaders have made, making wrong choices by the government is tantamount to an ethnic cleansing or genocide. Do the leaders put the interest of their citizens at heart or does the personal interest of the leaders come first? How are issues like education, healthcare, job creation and other social issues affecting millions of the citizens prioritised? Unfortunately, any bad policy of the government could effectively destroy the future of the subjects and even that of their future generations. Worse still, making misplaced priorities by the leaders could lead to other social ills like violence, insecurity, unnecessary dichotomy amongst the citizens. Often, we talk about these social problems in Africa, however, we hardly relate them to making wrong priorities by the leaders. Definitely, there is no perfect society or system, but if you look at Europe for example, you have less violence and other social ills, simply because their system is much better organised than, for example, that of the USA. Forget about those nostalgic fantasies you see on your screen about the USA, but the raw truth for those who have been to the USA or are conversant with the realities on the ground is that the American society is polarized and highly hierarchical. It is a country of inequality, where the social and economic gap between the rich and poor is extremely wide. Sadly, the government seems less interested in addressing those obvious social hiccups. That said, the big questions we need to ask ourselves are: What exactly do we want in life? Are you comfortable basking in the glory and comfort of your Mercedes car at the expense of your poor neighbour, whose land you have fastidiously grabbed and sold to satisfy your self-centered life? Will you rather live the rest of your life seeing your neighbour as your enemy and living in fear of unknown enemies? When you die, your money or Mercedes car is gone, but your footprints and the impression you left behind remain. Will you prefer to take unimaginable risks, break the laws just to have yourself a car – a single act, which might destroy your life forever?

At the end of the day, if you make the right choices and work hard towards achieving them, you will not regret your sacrifices. As an African, look around you. Look at your country. Ask yourself whether your leaders have misplaced their priorities. Has bad leadership given birth to instability, lawlessness, violence, ethnic consciousness, greed and hopelessness?

Despite all the obvious challenges, we must remain hopeful. It is not too late to look back and learn where the rain started beating us. We can always learn from our mistakes, but that is not enough. We must have the determination and honesty to make positive changes in life based on the past mistakes we have made.

My beloved Africans, are we ready and willing to correct those misplaced priorities? Remember, you have just one life. Your mission in life is to make that life – and that of others – more meaningful. Death is, to me, not the worst tragedy. Your willingness to accept and live a life full of badly defined priorities is, in fact, the worst death. It is time to ask yourself two simple questions: Am I living or just existing? Have I made the right choices in life?

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