Education

Education is a key component in life – education is all important.

My parents managed to hammer this point home from before I could run. “Ayanda Joe Munikwa,” they would say, “you are a wise and intelligent young boy and if you apply your mind you will make it in life.” They haven’t ever stopped repeating those words… I haven’t stopped believing them.

Why do I consider education to be all important? Other than having been brought up with this ideology being drilled into me at school and at home nearly every waking hour – why would it matter? My hero, Nelson Mandela, considered education to be of prime importance and it is easy to see why. All of the things we do and hope to achieve require some form of education and life-threatening situations may have education called upon as well. For example: During the December (2014) holidays I had an encounter that I believe I will never forget. A young boy had been swimming in a hotel pool and his parents allowed themselves to become distracted by other things, after all, the young boy had floaters attached to him and the pool was nearly full of children. A few minutes later shouts erupted from the pool area and they found that the boy had been upended in the water and had silently drowned amidst all of those people. That was not where education came in. No one at the scene knew CPR. No one. The lifeguard, as his post was usually boring and he was only very rarely called upon, was drunk in some obscure corner of the hotel. That young boy died that night, had I known how to administer CPR at that time he would be living today, instead I left his life in the hands of a lifeguard who was not in complete command of all of his senses. I see that boy’s numb, lifeless face every time I near a pool.

-Excerpt from my Personal Statement (2015)

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People Help the People

Birdy’s song is not as iconic as many songs past, but the chorus sticks like young Joe did to a video game controller.

‘People Help the People…’

I think human pride can be a good thing in that it can be a motivator to achieve goals beyond the norm. Unfortunately it often goes hand-in-hand with the idea that, “I can go it alone”. As social creatures we were never designed to live that way and if we did (in the not so distant past) it would normally mean death.

I’ve been doing some reflection. I’ve met a myriad of people in these last couple of years. Some have formed strong bonds with me and others came into my life just to leave it. I’m sure the same can be said of myself at times, I’ve mastered the art of going MIA, I’m working on it. However, I strongly believe that in each and every one of these individuals was something I could have – should have picked up to better myself. (Even removing that selfish aspect, it allows you to look at people with respect and reduces contempt.) Upon reflection it’s so easy to see what I may have missed in the moment.

In a short space of time I’ve met characters with such trememdous self belief and honesty, organisation and vision, creativity and drive, humility and confidence, intelligence and wisdom that if I were to start naming names you’d call it flattery… But it would all be true. Certainly the opportunity was there to glean into their character and see what produced such awesome traits, then develop them for myself. In hindsight, simply asking some of them would have sufficed.

Luckily for me, memory and attention to detail (regarding people stalking :D) allows me to reflect and learn regardless, but the next time I’m in a room with someone I’ll do my best to learn something from them to better myself.

I challenge you to do the same. You never know how much that one thing you pick up may impact your life positively. Let the chorus ring out. Let ‘People Help the People’.

Thank you for your time:)

Talent Working Hard

D! That was my average in Art. I eventually got better to the point my teacher mistook one of my drawings, of a robot – for a lion. I was so terrible I had to label my art, else-wise it wouldn’t be understood. I drew cars in high school the same way I’d drawn them when I was 6… the upgrades arrived 12 years too late 😀 To say I was bad at drawing or painting is an understatement. I had no talent whatsoever.

If you didn’t know me then you’re about to find out; I was an incredibly sore loser! Joe wasn’t comfortable with his fluctuating D grade (normally trending closer to E than C). It was embarrassing to the point I disowned myself (as seen by the temporary switch to 3rd person). Sure I’d often act like I didn’t give a tosh in front of the boys but deep down it really hurt. That awful grade would have an adverse effect on my class position come end of term and even if it didn’t – it just doesn’t feel nice to fail. It never does.

So, I worked! One day we were given an assignment to do over the weekend. That day I told myself, “This time I won’t fail!”

The assignment was to draw a hanging cloth using pencil. I was incredibly stoked about it having made my decision to (finally) succeed in the Art department. Art had given me way too many Ls. I got myself one of the kitchen cloths and hung it from a nail in the wall (fitting for it was designed to hang art upon). I duly informed everyone in the household of the importance of this piece of work and that the cloth should not be moved under any circumstances. I guess there was a steeliness to me at the time for no one questioned me or even so much as sneezed in the direction of that cloth.

Two whole days! Half of Friday, all of Saturday and part of Sunday I spent honing my image of the cloth. Carefully caressing the edges and smoothly shading in the shadows. At the end of it I don’t think I’d never been prouder of anything in my life up to that point. My young sister was impressed by something I’d produced for the first (and perhaps last) time. Coincidentally (or is it?) she’s now the artist of the family and a bloody fantastic one at that I must add.

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(This isn’t it by the way. It’s the first thing I was drawn to when I searched ‘hanging cloth pencil’)

Monday arrived and it was nearly time to hand in our bodies of work. A friend, Felix was his name (I guess still is unless he’s changed it), was mid-conversation during break time, some 20 minutes before the Art lesson, when someone mentioned the homework that was due. “Oh no,” he said. He hadn’t done it. I was feeling real smug as he went about scrambling for a sheet of white paper to use, eager to show off my masterpiece.

Long story short – I got 89%. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a masterpiece. I’d worked my socks off, paying immense attention to detail. I can’t recall a time prior where I’d put as much effort into anything that wasn’t leisure than I had during that period. The people that knew me were shocked. Phrases like: “You didn’t draw this, did you?” and “Wow. Must have been a fluke.” were bandied about. I had the highest mark in the class IN ART! Me! Unbelievable right? That was the case, especially because that was factually incorrect. I had the highest mark of everyone whose assignment I’d compared my work to. To my astonishment Felix had received the highest mark. 90%… The man had natural talent I instantly concluded. “Impossible!” I exclaimed internally, heart being sliced apart with a metaphorical weed hacker and whatever was left behind put through a figurative shredder. Maybe I do him a disservice and there were an untold number of hours behind the scenes that led to him having such obvious skill, but he had bested all of us – me especially I felt – in 15 min without a point of reference. The man’s cloth hung on a nail inside his head. It’s not like Art is a subject about competing but I was a sore loser remember. I therefore became incensed. I was so angry I wasn’t even mad.

This event got me thinking for a long time. What if he had actually tried, like I had? Wouldn’t he have gotten an even higher mark? I was speechless. The saying goes “Hard Work Beats Talent, When Talent Doesn’t Work Hard”. That didn’t turn out to be the case in this story. But what if talent DOES work hard? What happens then?

I guess this is just a reminder of a previous post , only this time in story form. Find your talent then work hard at it. I don’t know what he does now but if he’s anything like the talented individuals that worked their socks off in the past – we’ll soon find out because he’ll be well-known all around the world.

Thank you for your time:)

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(I guess this is a good representation of what I saw Felix’s assignment as through my filter of envy 😀 gg Felix!)

Ambitious Yet Content

Teach me to be ambitious enough to do the things that others thought impossible, to solve the problems people thought had no solutions, to impact more lives positively than I had the right to.

Also, teach me to be content with the process.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
PK-01 [DF-09158] – Will Smith (left) and Jaden Christopher Syre Smith star in Columbia PicturesÕ drama The Pursuit of Happyness. Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal
Thank you for your time:)

This Is Me

“I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.”

There’s a reason ‘This Is Me’ won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. I believe that as humans there’s an innate desire to find our purpose. That identity is one of the fundamentals in this pursuit. In this universe, with 7.2 billion others, we seek something, some point for our existence – to set us apart. But it’s incredibly easy to lose sight of that goal.

Distractions can come in any form. By definition a distraction “is something that prevents you from concentrating on a goal”. And concentration is “the ability or power to focus all one’s energy and attention”.

Unfortunately something as grand as finding, let alone achieving your purpose can’t be done if you allow yourself to be distracted. A sin I’ve definitely been committing myself.

If you want to sing this beautiful song with as much gusto as I do, it’s about time you shed the distractions and focus. Then you’ll stand out from the rubble like you were always meant to, singing: “This Is Me!

Thank you for your time:)

No

No. Such a short and simple word yet for some reason I find it very hard to say lately.

“But I say no all the time,” you say. “Why can’t you?”

Well I can. I like to think I’m very good at saying no, maybe even among the best.

Q: “Wanna go…?”

A: “No thanks.”

Q: “Wanna try?”

A: “I’m good.”

Q: “Would you like…?”

A: “I’m perfectly fine but thanks for asking.”

This is how it would go on many an occasion as I relentlessly pursued independence – individuality. Yet I eventually felt shortchanged. I’d been closing doors to opportunities, gifts and friendships because of my affinity to the word ‘no’. My friends and family felt the barrier I was putting up. I was essentially isolating myself. I had to learn to do otherwise. I had to learn to say yes, and like most things I put effort into I learned it really, really well… in this case too well.

Now we’re at the other end of the spectrum. My incessantly saying ‘yes’ has had a detrimental effect recently. It’s taken away my time and has slowly leeches part of my joy. I guess it’s time to take that back by saying what I used to say all the time when asked to do something beyond my means.

No.

The Best Wisdom

You know that bit of wisdom that you get when you ask for advice? When you’re feeling really hurt, mad, annoyed or desperate?

“I need help with this!”

“Could you please just hear me out…”

Then those that were listening have the nerve to give you reasonable advice? They tell you the words you needed to hear, even if you didn’t want to, no – especially when you didn’t want to. In the end you’re frustrated because they leave you empty of that anger.  You wanted to be mad but in the end you’re filled with peace. They shared their wisdom; their reason, when all you wanted was someone to back you up. Those people are definitely on your side.  They are backing you up. Those are the people you should put more effort loving, cherishing and keeping… because that painful advice we just described earlier, is the best wisdom you’ll ever receive.

I Am THAT Guy

I am THAT guy. That wasn’t always the case. I used to be that guy. I started out really petty, for what reason I will never be certain. I craved success and absolutely detested failure, I still do, but my attitude towards obtaining both has changed. Young Joe would pout if he lost. He’d think about it all day and all night and would not be consoled until he either forgot or won at something else. If I’d lost in a competition then whoever would have beaten me couldn’t be my friend. At the same time though, cheating wasn’t something I would take pride in. I remember a race I took part in, in 1st grade. We were meant to race to a building touch it, then return. I remember racing to the building, turning back without touching it, taking first place for the majority of the return sprint and… I still finished 3rd. In the end it wasn’t coming 3rd that hurt – it was doing so after having cheated. I didn’t talk to the boys that beat me, that was the way I was back then.

I liked being top of the class. In 2nd grade I didn’t; I came 7th instead. Who remembers what position they came in 2nd grade? I do, isn’t that odd? Well it’s because it pained me greatly. I went to the prize-giving ceremony and felt like a big helping of poop watching my peers receive prize after prize while I was relegated to just watch and clap. I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t let that happen again. I was beyond jealous and couldn’t even bring myself to applaud the winners.

That was the old me.

After teaching from my lovely parents and role-models as well as a bit of first-hand experience, I shed that skin off. I decided to be THAT guy instead. You know THAT guy? THAT guy who celebrates your victory more than you would. THAT guy who you can always tell your success stories knowing you won’t receive resentment, just encouragement and an supermassive dose of enthusiasm. Part of the transformation was being taught to value the success of others and never to moan when someone one-ups me in anything.

Use the success of others as inspiration, as motivation. Celebrate them as you would celebrate yourself and if possible, find out how they earned that success.

So what if we went in for the same scholarship and you got it and I didn’t? So long as you don’t follow me on the way home saying, “Sorry you didn’t get it,” or “I totally smashed you!” (You probably wouldn’t do that because you’re not a certified prick) I would be glad for you. I would probably want advice on how you edged me and feedback from those that made the decision so that next time I have a greater chance at the scholarship. Of course I would be sad I didn’t win it. I’m bound to be if it’s something that I wanted but I would also be happy that you did. I will strive to congratulate and motivate, “You did fantastic! You deserve it! Keep up the good work! Hopefully next time we’ll both get scholarships.” It’s in my nature now and whether you think it’s cool or not, I’m not getting rid of it.

That’s what I’m all about. Tell me about your victory, it motivates me to pursue my own. You need a hype-man to bounce your excitement off of? I got you! I am THAT guy, I like to say probably even the best THAT guy! If you didn’t know that by now, you probably don’t know me very well.

P.S. You can be THAT guy too. It’s so much more liberating than being that guy.

Anime: “Rap” (Poem)

Look around in any direction, what do you see?

More than big budget movies it astounds me.

Colours flashing, the whole spectrum on display.

You have to watch this! What’s in your way?

People’s opinions? The fact it’s drawn?

Wasn’t the Mona Lisa? Psssht… (Yawn!)

You’re missing out on so much – of that I’m cert.

Embrace boredom, be a knowledge introvert.

 

I like when you resist. “It’s Japanese!” you yell.

So is your TV. What? Now you gonna sell?

Look – I won’t persuade you. I don’t feel I need to.

Watch Boku no Hero and you’ll know it’s true.

Feel Angel Beats burrow into your brain.

Cry as Naruto pleads with Pain.

Moan as Subaru dies over and over again.

Rejoice as he stays strong nonetheless.

When his voice is hoarse and his bones have cracks.

A determination Hollywood ain’t grasped yet.

 

What moves my heart? What keeps it going?

It’s that rhythm the music ain’t slowing.

It’s in the back the whole time in every moment.

The same in anime, it’s why I love it.

The joy is tangible. The pain is agonal.

The love is actual. The grit is cannibal.

 

It’s as real as it is fake.

It’s more than admirable.

No greater point can I make.

(Watch it I say!)

A good anime’s infallible.