Thursday, May 17, 2012

Letter to my Unborn Son ~ by, Edward Chacha

Dear son, If you are reading this letter then I know for sure that your mom — through all adversities, challenges, and obstacles — brought you safely into this planet. And I am so grateful to hear that. Special thanks to God Almighty, your mama, uncles, doctors, nurses, all my dear friends, and many others who were kind enough to extended a helping hand to you and your mom at this thorny time. Anyway son, soon or later (perhaps you have already) — you're going to be entering a strange planet, our very earth. Personally, I’d love to be there to hear your heartbeat for the first time, and see the glow on your innocent eyes; nevertheless my psyche keeps telling me that I’ll not make it. Why? I don’t know son. See, sometimes, some things are better left unsaid. Of course, I know it going to hurts you deep down to not seeing me around, but I want you to know that Dad loves you so! I only wish there was some way I could spare both you and your mom from this experience. My beloved son, I don’t know your name yet, but coming into this world is like being dropped into a huge den full of deadly and venomous scorpions. It demands extraordinary dexterity to survive. You might not realize this until you’re much older, but frankly speaking, it’s a very cold world my son. Enemy territory, as my good friend Sherman always likes to remind me. You’ll learn many lessons in your life; some lessons will be harder, tougher and scarier than your feeble body can bear, but do not freeze when such times arrive, rather keep your head up, stand tall, and be a real man like me, your father. In simple language, just take it slow my son. Day by day. Moment by moment. Remember this: each moment is just what it is, so don't get depressed about what it should have been, or what it is not. As the America-born author and literary critic of the late 19th century and the early 20th century, Henry James put it, "Live all you can. It is a mistake not to. You see son, it doesn’t really matter so much what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that, what have you had?" I know you’re perhaps by now a little confused and asking many questions that you have no answers of. Questions like, "Dad, if that’s the case, why should I even be born? What's the point, dad? Or, how then will I ever make it in this crazy world, dad?" Don’t worry son, there is no doubt in my mind that you’ll defeat every impediment that stand before you because the genes you carry in your chromosomes are much more powerful than the problems you will ever encounter! Besides, your mama is a very beautiful woman who smiles a lot, enjoys life, and sometimes laughs uncontrollably. Yes, she really does that son, and it does sometimes kind of drive me nuts, but hey, I love your mama so very much, and that alone, sort of cancels all her noises out and turns her laughter into some sorts of sweet music in my ears (boy, I love your mama!). And also, she is a kind of a person who thinks positively, I mean always. And if you ever become anything like me, then I know for sure, son, you’ll become a brilliant person; a resilient man. So worry not son, you’ll make it. In fact, I’m sure you’re going to. Why shouldn't you, huh? Furthermore, if there is one thing I’d love you to be in this world, it's to be a critical thinker. An autodidact, if I may. Discipline your mind, question every answer, and strive to be the best in everything that you do. Educate yourself about Philosophy, Spirituality, Math, Science, Geography, and world history. And, if you ever have access to a library, then read every relevant book that you can get your hands on. Read, read, read my son. Take advantages of information technology, too. Study computer Science and high-tech skills. I suggest that you study graphic design too, the very field I had immense passion about. Please son, never lose the will to try new things. My beloved son let me give you an excellent example on this topic, education, before I proceed further, maybe it would help to persuade you of what am about to say, and or perhaps it might help to capture your imagination a bit, if not to completely conquer your child-like mind. One of the great minds of the information age is a Nigerian guy by the name of Philip Emeagwali. I know you might not know him that well because I'm sure all you know is about Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, but, I tell you son, this Emeagwali guy was (and still is) extremely brilliant fellow! He had to leave school because his parents couldn’t afford to pay the fees. He lived in a refugee camp during Nigeria’s civil war that which came to be known as Biafra back then in the late 1960s. And so, at the age of 17, he was awarded a scholarship to Oregon State University and went on to invent a formula that lets computers make 3.1 billion calculations per second. Wow! Some people, like the 42nd President of United States, Bill Clinton, called him "Bill Gates of Africa". I mean, I have always wondered why they don't call him "Emeagwali of Africa, but that's the topic for another day, son. But anyway son, you know what is funny about this Emeagwali guy? Well, I'll tell you. He was largely self-taught in the field of science and Mathematics until 1974, when he won a scholarship to Oregon State University. See, that's why I want you to study hard, my son. I mean, follow your instincts and teach yourself. And more so, don't ever waste your precious time studying irrelevant things in the classroom that you will never come to use in your entire life (I made the very same mistake years back when I was doing my undergraduate studies at Lake Michigan College). I think I did Electronics Technology degree or something of that nature. I mean, I just wanted so bad to have a certificate (because every one of my friends was getting them)! (I think it was in 2006, if I remember correctly). And if I can be honest with you my beloved son, I think it was a total waste of my time. At least that's what I think of now when I look back -- now that I'm a little older, wiser and more mature than I was six years ago. So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, son: certificates, diplomas, degrees, especially in this day and age, are overrated. That is what they are, overrated. They mean nothing! So study to enlighten yourself son, and forget about all those kind of boring stuff! They are nothing! Absolutely nothing! And so in the words of George S. Patton, a United States Army officer during World War II, I urge you to learn from my past mistakes and prepare for the unknown. I mean, talk to your mom about this one son she will tell you more. Ask her to be as honest as she can, to tell you everything that she has ever known about me. She need not hold anything back; remind her about that. And if she seems hesitant to do so, give her my personal diary. I put everything therein. Ask her to tell you all the good, the bad and the ugly stuff about me. That is, ask her to tell you about all the mistakes I ever made along my giant mankind journey. By the way, if you ask me, I will tell you the journey has been pretty good: I traveled a lot, had good friends who really cared for me, and also did what I truly loved doing, that is, engineering drawings and creative designs, and poetry, too (I love poetry son! It’s the true and pure language of the heart). Your mother needs to tell you about the good I accomplished or tried to accomplish along the way, and moreover the wrongs that I tried to correct during my life time. You too will achieve good by studying and analyzing all of the above, but mostly by learning how others from the past have coped with different sorts of unforeseeable and unpredictable events. More so, if possible my beloved son, just do it using largely the methodology that I've developed/used throughout my career/lifetime. It will be easy that way son, because I am pretty sure that we all share some of the same DNA material. Or, if I can borrow the words from the 1987 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, Donald Cram, do it by starting with a question as to what might be the properties of a set of compounds that could be invented which were unusual and unpredictable, which could actually bring a positive contribution to mankind's endeavor(s). Apply the same methodology in everything that you do, son. Apply it in Math, Modern Science, Arts, Literature, even in your marriage. Furthermore, I urge you to try your best and feel comfortable in your own skin. It's okay and perfectly legal, son, to compare yourself with great minds like Edison, Columbus, and Steve Jobs. Don't be ashamed to do that. I know some kids, perhaps your close friends or your siblings will look at you and say, "Oh boy, look at this awkward and not so socially gifted dude..." But hey, don't let stuff like that cage you into a little and dull socially constructed cage. Just free yourself up, my boy. That's the best advice I could ever give you. Be yourself, be yourself, son. In fact, who cares about what your little friends think, anyway? There's no relationship between what your friends think now (at this very young age) and what your destiny will be someday. So keep that in your mind, son. Because, I tell you the truth: all three of these great minds that I mentioned above were also viewed the same way by those who had inferior minds in comparison. Nevertheless, they never really shied away from attempting new and extraordinary things. They often even went out of their way to do something that society never imagined was possible (they went rogue, if I may). These pioneers never really cared about what either super-educated liberal elites or the far right-wing crazies thought about them. They just went for their guts, man. They embraced their instincts wholeheartedly. They stood their ground, testified enthusiastically in what they believed in, toiled through sweat and blood, and finally brought their baby-dreams into the sunshine of tomorrow. In other words, they talked the talk AND walked the walk. In a sense, they kind of defied gravity [I wonder if that’s the right word, there, but don't laugh at me son]. You know, English is my second language, and so whenever I don’t have the right word to use, I kind of sometimes just smile, take a sip of water and move onto the next paragraph. Oh, now I remember the words I was looking for: I meant to say, "They defied conventional norms and popular belief and went straight for the kill". Yup, that's what they did, son. Not the literally "kill” as taking one's life, no. But the figuratively "kill" as in realizing their dreams. And you know why they did that, son? Because they weren't afraid to fail. Because they well understood that failure was just an event, not a person per say. That, failure for them, wasn't really an option. Son, this is important too: I know you’re going to grow up and become a very handsome, talented, and brilliant young man, to whom lots of girls will become attracted or flirt with so easily. Please son, don’t let that sort of thing sidetrack you. Because, even though I’m a strong advocate when it comes to the question of free will, here I will argue with you to save sex for marriage. Don't go out there and sleep with multiple girls for temporary pleasures which last for only 4 seconds or so, and think it's a cool thing to do. After all, sex is nothing but a state of mind, son. A total illusion, especially when it's done outside of marriage. I know you might not understand this for now, but when these girls hurt you and leave you brokenhearted, I'm sure you’ll understand it. My beloved son, on this planet earth of ours, everyone makes a vote as to the type of the world we have with his/her lifetime efforts. You’ll learn this in History class someday. You will learn of great people like Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Mother Theresa, Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jack Dorsey, Wangari Muthai, Ken Sara-Wiwa, Paul Sozigwa, Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Magabe Kibiti, Kalebi Mgomi, Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy, Robert Einstein and many more, who "influenced these voting results by stuffing the ballot box with an increase in the number and size of actions for positive change." Any positive change, my son. Whether is, for example, Ms Wangari Muthai who dedicated her entire life trying to serve endangered species/forestry in Kenya and/or Nelson Mandela who through all adversity of apartheid policy and such, managed to forge a united South Africa, where blacks and whites leave harmoniously though it was hell place to be in the late 1950s and early 1960s, even in the late1980s. And so I’ll love to see you too my beloved son involved in making some real and lasting changes to lives of less fortunate people, especially in your home country of Tanzania. The truth of the matter is, your motherland (some people like to say "fatherland"-- but I prefer to use the world 'motherland' myself) is blessed with enormous natural resources, but its leaders, its leaders son, are so corrupt and unethical that all those resources are being enjoyed by foreign investors at the expenses of poor Tanzanians! It is sad, but that’s the truth. So make sure when you grow up, you do something about it. Correct that problem, son. Stand for justice and fairness for all Tanzanians. And above all, fight hard with every fiber of your beings for the poor and forgotten Tanzanians who can't speak for themselves or know (to say the least) where to turn to for help. You don’t have to do so much my son, just little things with a great love. See, "It’s like in a movie where you root for a good guy over a bad guy." And so, just root for yourself to be a good guy in a real life, especially that crooked life of your motherland, Tanzania (The country full of, notorious traffic jams, bribes in every sector of the economy, never ending power rationing, impassable roads, insufficient drugs in hospitals, and lack of clean drinking water). In closing, let me also address to you about this thing called loneliness. It’s true that if you chose to carry my genetic material instead of your mama’s, you’re definitely going to get lonely somehow along the way. But don’t panic or feel bad when such times arrive because there is no such thing as loneliness. "Loneliness is similar to darkness, son. You can go on fighting with the darkness for the natural term of your life, but you’ll never succeed. You cannot push darkness away. There is no possible way to make darkness disappear. All you need is just a small candle to dispel it." That is all. Now, you can chose to create a little illusion to forget your loneliness, but it isn’t going to help you my beloved son. Illusions like creating a fake relationship or friendship with someone. Though you may forget for a moment your loneliness by doing that, then just the next moment you’ll suddenly become aware that the relationship or the friendship is not permanent. Today you are friends, but who knows about tomorrow? Tomorrow you may be enemies again, hence the pain. You see son! Do you see what I am trying to say here…? One more thing, son: Don't you ever ever put your trust on stuff like money or power! Ever! I forbid you on this particular thing, son! Yes, I know you are now starting to ask those useless questions of yours again. Question like: where do I put my trust then, dad? Well, I'll tell you: put your trust on nothing but God. Trust Him, Love Him, and if possible, try to make good friends among your peers, too. That's all you need son. The rest are just empty things that cannot profit or deliver you (from day to day heartaches), for they are nothing. My beloved son, I can’t help tears in my heart 'cause I know for sure this is my last piece of fatherly advice to you. “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Be a good man. Be a good man, my son! And, as I begin the journey that will lead me to the blackout of my life, for you and your father's land, Tanzania, I know there will always be a bright new morning ahead. May God always bless you son! May God always bless the United Republic of Tanzania! Bye son, Love, Dad