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Opinions of Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Columnist: anishaffar.org

A sense of purpose and lifelong learning

An address at Academic City College’s 7th graduation ceremony

A message – purportedly posted at a certain university – was sent to me on Whatsapp. It read: “Destroying any nation does not require the use of an atomic bomb or the use of long range missiles. It only requires lowering the quality of education …” It cautioned against low standards: “Patients die at the hands of such doctors. Buildings collapse at the hands of such engineers. Money is lost at the hands of such economists & accountants. Humanity dies at the hands of such religious scholars. Justice is lost at the hands of such judges … The collapse of education is the collapse of the nation.”

[The gas explosion at the Atomic Junction (Accra, 7th October, 2017) is a most gory case in point. The lack of qualified supervision in the delivery and storage of such explosive materials confirms the need for the appropriate education for all across the whole chain of service delivery. That caution goes for every service provider – from big government officials to the wayside mechanic fitting brakes on vehicles.]

The value of good education

It was an honour to have been invited by Academic City College (ACC) to address the 720 graduands at the College of Physicians and Surgeons [Accra, October 7th 2017]. In the company of Dr Kapil Gupta and Dr Abhishek Tyagi of the Governing Council of ACC, Professor Paul Buatsi, the rep of Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Ghana – H.E. Olufemi Abikoye, and Professor Abdulai Mohammed-Sani, my address to the graduands went as follows:

Congratulations for clearing a hurdle that is likely to be the most important challenge so far in your young lives. I remember how I felt, many decades ago, having finished the last paper towards my first degree. I was driving home on the freeway in Los Angeles, screaming and thanking God that it was all over for now.

It took me a while to complete all the requirements for the reason that I had to take breaks in between terms to work, to make enough money to pay the school fees. There was hardly any menial job I didn’t do to accomplish the task of paying the fees. I learned through manual work that a good education included the discipline and ability to take care of one’s own self. That principle shuns the folly of expecting others to do for you what you could do for yourself.

Lifelong learning

But my real business here today is to congratulate and remind you – through my personal experiences – that there are more hurdles ahead of you; and they have to be cleared, one by one. In other words, though you seem to have finished now, you are still not finished completely.

Let me share with you three essential things for your journey outside these walls. The first one is something called LIFELONG LEARNING. No sooner have you learned something than something else – more modern and more applicable – appears. As I speak to you, I recently turned 70 odd years – the biblical “three score and ten”; and know that I am studying more today than I ever did. Why? Because I have to keep up with new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new ways of getting things done.



Africa’s new graduate for the real world

A sense of purpose

The next point, then, is to HAVE A PURPOSE: a sense of purpose is that which will drive you the rest of your life. And if you don’t have a purpose now, find one. It is that purpose that will attract good things to you, but you have to work for them. There’s nothing in the world like a free lunch. The so called miracles you hear about from prophets can be misleading; good things do not just happen in a vacuum of indolence; you have to work daily for them; they don’t happen through mere prayers.

The American writer, Arthur Miller, once said, “The world is an oyster, but you don’t crack it open on a mattress.” In other words, whatever you want, you have to work for it.

So how do you find a purpose? Consider the following: What is the product you can produce as a result of your education and interests? What is the service you can provide for other people to make their lives easier? And again, what societal problem can you solve as an entrepreneur, and hopefully become rich in the process? It’s never too early or late to begin to ask yourselves these key questions even if you don’t have the answers now.

Be the very best

My last point is simply this: Whatever you find yourself doing – whether for yourself or for someone else – do it to THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY by going the extra mile. In the process, you learn the right habits of leading yourself. Yet another way of saying that same thing is to exemplify that thing you will be known and respected for.

In whatever you choose to do, do it so well that you become a brand in your own right. You deserve to be recognized as someone special in the noble deeds you choose to do. Be the “Go to person”. If not you, who? If not now, when?

On that note, congratulations for a well-deserved accomplishment. Take good care of yourselves, and I wish you all a most productive and enjoyable life. God bless you!

Email: anishaffar@gmail.com

Blog: http://www.anishaffar.org