‘TO LEARN HOW TO SWIM, YOU MUST FIRST GET INTO THE WATER’ By Mwangi Ndegwa

Amadi was a very strange boy. Having been born and raised in the rural areas of Ethiopia, he was used to the simple ways of life in...


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Amadi was a very strange boy. Having been born and raised in the rural areas of Ethiopia, he was used to the simple ways of life in the village. Most things were routine and were only slightly affected by the weather or an unusual occurrence. Amadi spent time visiting caves located a few kilometers away from his parents’ home. There were some prehistoric sites many of which were unknown.

As he grew older, Amadi’s curiosity grew in equal measure. He had that urge to learn something about everything and through his basic schooling, the library was his place of hangout. Amadi loved the feeling of being surrounded by so much information in the form of books. He knew that anything he wanted to know about a particular thing, event, issue, person or place, this could be found in books. But he had one challenge – Amadi had amassed so much information but had applied very little if any of it to his life. Simply put, he was nothing more than an information storage medium. He was more theoretical than practical.

Amadi wanted to learn how to do so many things but he never went to the level of practicality. He was mroe a reader than a doer. When he joined high school, he was excited because there were so many extra curricular activities on offer than he’d ever known. Basket ball, badminton, squash, table tennis, lawn tennis among the other popular sports. As they were being shown around as part of an orientation tour of the school compound,  Amadi saw the swimming pool and he was blown away. After the tour, he enrolled to be part of the swimming team. The training took place in the evenings after classes. The instructor couldn’t help but notice that Amadi hadn’t turned up for even one single training session so he sought to find out why.

On asking around, he was told that Amadi was in the library. The instructor went to the library and he was shocked to find Amadi’s head buried in a book about swimming and next to him were copious notes on his notepad. A tap on his shoulder brought Amadi back into the real world. When the instructor asked him what all that meant, he told him that he was studying to become the best swimmer. The instructor didn’t know whether to laugh or feel sorry for him but explained to him that there are those things that are studied theoretically but some are practical and that to be good at them, one must physically do the particular thing. They include driving, cycling, most forms of sports, flying a plane, learning to play musical instruments etc. It was at this juncture that the instructor asked him to rush to the dormitory, change into his swimming gear and join the other swimmers in the swimming pool.

Many people, especially the youth, have what I would call the Amadi syndrome. They harbour dreams of becoming successful in business, academics or relationships, and yet, they don’t want to put in the work and/or efforts required to achieve that, which they aspire to have in life. If you look at the history of all the genuinely successful people, you will find one thing they have in common is hard work, lots of sweat and sacrifice and more important, they just went for it and dived into the swimming pool. They went many days with little or no sleep, food and sometimes even shelter was a challenge. They made sure they were right down on the threshing floor choosing not to wait for bread in the stores but instead, opting to be involved in the whole process of baking that loaf of bread. For our success to be sustainable, we must purpose to be there every step of the way. There are no microwave solutions or lifts to success neither can you succeed through association alone. Its a personal thing and we have to put all our efforts in to it.

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