Sunday, 26 July 2015

24 Ways To A Refined Gentleman; Thoughts On My 24th Birthday.

In life, especially as men, we always strive to be gentlemen as we grow up. Being a gentleman is not enough but being a refined gentleman is the ultimate destiny. It takes a lot of effort to attain such a social accolade because the trajectory to refined “gentlemanness” is bumpy and needs a lot of sacrifice. As I turn 24 years old on the 27th of July this year, I found it relevant to share some of the principles that may make us refined gentlemen who are poised to change and impact positively on the various societal aspects.
1.      Integrity: This maketh a gentleman. We should be able to do what is ideal even in the absence of other individuals. Our dignity should not be compromised.
2.      Honesty: We must forever seek to be truthful to others and ourselves.
3.      Respect: It is a two-way traffic. This simply implies that respect is earned and not demanded. Let us hold others in high regard irrespective of their status.
4.      Valuing friendships: Make friends and ensure that you don’t betray them. Make friends who will stand-by you during the difficult times. In the same spirit, assist your associates in whatever way you can.
5.      Having focus and finding purpose: Pursue relentlessly whatever you want to achieve. Do not be vague with life.
6.      Appreciation: Be thankful to all the people who have been instrumental in your life. Saying a simple ‘thank you’ doesn’t cost anything.
7.      Time management: Learn and practice how to effectively and efficiently manage your time. Time is a resource that is easily available to people but what makes the difference between individuals is how well they utilize their time. Appointments, whether they are scheduled interviews, classes or dates with prospective soul mates must be attended on time.
8.      Responsibility: A true and real gentleman is defined by his level of responsibility. We need to be accountable to ourselves without being forced by circumstances.
9.      Decision-making: We should be able to make decisions that make us better persons. Never be indecisive with choices in life. Make decisions and stick to them.
10.  Positive attitude: Being an optimist goes a long way in boosting our self-esteem. Choose to see the glass as half-full in whatever situation and circumstance.
11.  Healthy relationships: Avoid toxic relationships at all costs. Get into relationships because you seek to better and build the other party.
12.  Decency: We should be morally upright individuals in the society in the way we carry out ourselves and in the manner we conduct our affairs.
13.  Willingness to learn: This is one way to stand out as a cultured gentleman. Be willing to learn even from the people who are inferior to you intellectually or those younger than you.
14.  Avoiding to live in the past: Refined gentlemen know that living in the present and working towards a prosperous future is what is important. The achievements of yesterday, if over- glorified may turn out to be obstacles. A dark past should neither drag us.
15.  Getting better: Each year, each day, each time, we must push ourselves to be better persons. So, each day if you are not getting stronger and better, you are getting weaker and worse. Take it as a challenge to make personal improvement and progress.
16.  Dressing smartly: You don’t have necessarily to put on expensive outfits to be smart. Be simple and smart. Remember that you will be addressed the way you dress.
17.  Being prayerful: Always seek for divine intervention. This is a point that nourishes our souls and gives us the power to soldier on with life by instilling faith in us.
18.  Being ambitious: The path towards being a refined gentleman lies in one being ferociously and ruthlessly ambitious. A burning desire to achieve life’s goals is a sure-fire for a better life.
19.  Setting high personal standards: Never settle for the average and the lesser things in life. Set high standards for yourself and live by them. Never apologize for this.
20.  Listening more and talking less: Being a refined gentleman is pegged on mastering the act of listening more and talking less. There is a reason why we have two ears and one mouth. Still waters run deep.
21.  The act and art of sacrifice: To attain the good things and to be able to be an exceptional personality as a gentleman, then we’ve got to forgo some things in life.
22.  Getting a good body shape: A refined gentleman must have a good physique. This does not mean that one should be an obsessed “gym rat” and a “he-man”. Instead engage in exercises that make you to look fit as a man as this will boost your self-confidence and self-esteem.
23.  Finding a passion: Figure out what you like in life and execute it with utmost passion. Getting to know your hobby will prevent you from idling around.
24.  Being disciplined: This is the cornerstone of being a refined gentleman. It is the bottom line and the most fundamental aspect towards such a personality. Self-control is a quality that must be cultivated to attain such an admirable character.     

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Are You Just Busy Or Productive?

More often, we claim to be busy or we have encountered individuals who claim to be busy. Being busy is a good thing because it pin-points that at least we have something to do other than just idling around. But have we ever carried out a self-evaluation to determine how far we go in achieving the personal goals that we put down? This certainly is where we miss the mark as we hardly carry out a self-evaluation analysis by involving ourselves wholly in numerous activities hence ending up being nebulous in achieving our targets. I wish to challenge various individuals that we must strive to be productive other than being busy. 

Productive people set few goals that are attainable. They do not set so many goals which often makes individuals to shift goalposts in the eventuality that goal attainment becomes a mirage. This latter statement befits the busy people who have so many goals that they hardly achieve.

Another element that differentiates productive people with the busy people is the efficacy with which issues are approached. Productive people value efficiency as compared to the busy individuals who are wasteful as they chase too many goals and only achieving very few of them. Setting few goals leads to attainment of most of the targets.

Productive people have the power of focus. They choose to concentrate on few relevant activities to get results. Busy people have less focus. They want to deal with so many issues at ago therefore lacking concentration on what they are doing.

Productive people prioritize their activities and this enables them to be able to deal with the important tasks and issues at hand. Busy people hardly set out their priorities. As stated earlier, busy people lack the power to concentrate on few goals and this is a clear indication that they fail to prioritize their activities.

Busy people will always be heard speaking loudly how their “busyness” has shadowed them . Productive people always let what they are doing speak for themselves. They do not show-off that they are pursuing things that are perceived to be important.

Busy individuals will always accept pieces of work from other people. This means that they will always say “yes” to so many people’s requests. What distinguishes productive people from the busy ones is the ability of the former to say “no”. this is something that not so many people are capable of doing. Choosing to accept nearly every request from other individuals implies that your personal goals will be vague.

Productive people know how to play their game as they know the appropriate time to take a good rest and rejuvenate themselves. They know how to put into action the adage that states that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. Busy people often pretend that they hardly have time to re-energize their bodies by engaging in activities that refresh their mind and body. This makes them to be consistently and constantly less productive thus struggling to achieve their goals.

We should shun away from the culture and norm of always claiming to be “busy” and instead focus on how we are going to be productive. Being productive is always pegged on the principle of efficiency. The moment we cease being shrouded by and immersed in “busyness” is the time that we shall be able to unleash our full potential hence ending up energizing ourselves for the sole purpose of being productive in our endeavors. Let’s change tact to attract high quality results and outcomes in whatever activity we engage ourselves in.

Friday, 10 July 2015

South Sudan 4 Years On; Nothing To Smile About.

 July 9th this year marked four years since South Sudan became an independent nation following a successful referendum on its secession way back in 2011. The independence was a critical juncture in which many indigenous South Sudanese people and other non-citizens viewed it as a break-through which would initiate a new era of development politically, socially and economically.

After several years of civil war that pitted the northerners against the southerners, a peace agreement famously known as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in Naivasha, Kenya.  This was a peace concession that involved the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) led by the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior and the Government of Sudan apparently led by Omar Al-Bashir. This was a ceasefire to the civil war that took place from 1983 to 2005.

The high expectations of a newly independent state were imminent and various investments were carried out with the expansion, growth and development of the petroleum sector, financial and banking systems and general infrastructural growth.  The oil industry in particular, forms the economic base of the economy of South Sudan compared to the other sectors and/ or industries. After enjoying several years of relative stability, violence broke out in December 2013 that involved rebels led by the former Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar and the government side led by the President, Salva Kiir Mayardit.

A close and cross examination reveals that the fight can be traced to ethnic machinations in running the government between the Nuer and Dinka tribes. The Dinka ethnic community where Salva Kiir hails from, were alleged to be favored as compared to the Nuer community where Dr. Machar comes from. So the boiling ethnic tensions consequently resulted in a strife that has since led to the death of thousands and leaving a hundred of thousands to be homeless.

To be specific, the root cause of this civil war in South Sudan was apparently due to the actions of Riek Machar, Pagan Amum and Rebecca Nyandeng who seemingly voted to boycott the meeting of the National Liberation Council.  This irked the president, Salva Kiir and he ordered the head of the Presidential Guard to disarm all the ethnic communities that formed this guard. However, the head of this guard, Major General Marial Ciennoung ordered that the Dinka soldiers should be rearmed but his deputy from the Nuer tribe was not happy with this action and also made sure that the soldiers from the Nuer community were rearmed. 

This resulted in a fight in which soldiers from the Nuer community engaged those from the Dinka tribe. The aftermath was the use of extreme force by members of SPLM against civilians who belonged to the Nuer tribe in Juba and this was the ultimate point where violence spread across the country. What flummoxes me is that all the peace conventions that have been held in Ethiopia under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) have not been successful.

Let’s contextualize this South Sudan complexity; the first general election was to be held on 9th July 2015 but was pushed ahead by three years and this means that the elections will take place in 2018. The postponement of the national elections can be alluded to two main factors that are being propagated by the government. Firstly, the government holds that a national census has to be carried out before any election is to be conducted and secondly, the Salva Kiir-led government also maintains that the constitution should be changed so as not to continue using the transitional constitution.

To me, these are delaying tactics and political gimmicks that have been orchestrated by the president so that he can consolidate power in the wake of political threats that are being advanced by Dr. Riek Machar.  Dr. Machar had vowed to trounce Mr. Kiir in the event that elections were to be held and methinks that the latter subscribes to the spirit of political camaraderie of clinging on power which is the political gospel of Robert Mugabe, Yoweri Museveni and other African “strong men”. This group believes that a leader is supreme and should use any means and ways to remain in power, whether it is through the orthodox means or the unorthodox means.

The realization of peace and stability is far-fetched and still remains a mirage as the situation is chaotic and diabolic if the recent events are to go by. For instance, the declaration by Riek Machar that they will use force if Salva Kiir doesn’t resign is a clear indication that we are yet to witness more catastrophic happenstances. The sanctions that have been imposed on the two leaders by the international community seems not to have engineered a road-map that will ultimately cease the political stalemate that is on-going.

I clearly understand the effort that IGAD is making to normalize the situation but the African  Union must do more to ensure that the political ideals of independence are realized. The AU has recently been embroiled in political rhetoric against the International Criminal Court (ICC) by arguing that the proposed African Court of Justice, supported by the Malabo protocol can be able to execute the same task as the former is mainly targeting African leaders. This is the time that the AU should ensure justice for the South Sudanese nationals by fronting and advocating for the prosecution of these two leaders as they have been circumnavigating the path leading to peace. If the AU fails to take action then the intervention by the ICC will be necessary.

The political imbroglio in South Sudan has with no doubt led to a socio-economic quagmire that definitely jeopardizes the progress of the world’s youngest nation. This is a state whose levels of illiteracy are high and whose infrastructure standards are below par and in a state of want. The South Sudanese civil war has hindered the progress of this country as the gains and aspirations have been dwindled. The nation’s desire to join the East Africa Community is a dream deferred because of this war. 

The intervention by the international community needs to be intensified to salvage the people of South Sudan. The low level of development should not mean that this state should be neglected. But again, the nationals should also reason to see the long path that they have travelled in the realization of their independence. Being an oil dependent economy and a landlocked country complicates the situation as war totally disrupts the production activities. I guess what remains for the people of this nation is to be religiously hopeful due to the failure of diplomacy between the two political camps. So, the 4th independence anniversary was to be a period of celebration but it is all sorrow and despair. What follows next may be possible or impossible to tell but definitely we look forward to the restoration of order some time, some day otherwise a pariah state, a banana republic and a stateless nation will be beckoning.