This is not a New Year’s resolution, but I’m planning to write a lot more on this blog this year. As I listened to the book of Proverbs towards the end of 2017, I thought there was much wisdom in there for us to feed on for at least the beginning of this year. I especially like the pithy, short sentence, poetry-like proverbs from around chapter ten going forward. So, we’ll be looking at a lot of those, and let me start with the one that seems obvious:
4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
5 He who gathers in summer is a wise son;
He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.
Proverbs 10:4-5 NKJV
I spent my formative years in the village, where my dad had moved the family after retiring from the civil service as an educator, and starting to work with Busoga Diocese in their development programs. Looking back, I think that’s where a part of my hard work ethic was developed. We’d wake up early and head out to the gardens to dig. After the tragic death of my dad (he was shot), agriculture took on a much more important role as the economic engine of the family. My mum was a primary school teacher in the government village school, so her income wasn’t going to sustain six school going children!
I remember that we’d head out around sunrise and dig until about ten or eleven O’clock – four hours later – when it would start getting hot and we headed back home. Depending on the season however, we sometimes would go longer. Together with Kenneth my cousin, we’d milk the cows, take the goats out to the nearby pastures first and then the cows; which we’d hand over to a handler who’d take them, together with other people’s cattle, to a valley that had pasture to sustain that number. We’d then head back home and have breakfast around noon! Enter chores and other activity around the house! There was always something to do; from putting out maize to dry, to getting beans out of their pods, to washing, to cooking, to being sent to the shops, until evening when we’d go to get the cattle back. We’d factor in an hour of football at a small pitch where the cattle keeper would find us. We’d head home, milk the cows, get the goats back, and then take out the milk to sell. Did I mention the pigs?
Going away to boarding school was a welcome relief from this village work life, but still, you knew what awaited you during the holidays! That was our life. No breaks, no siestas, no pulling your mouth. We had to get things done to survive. Our mother managed to take us all to school, of course with lots of help here and there. I saw firsthand the benefit and necessity of hard work. Poverty was lurking at the door, ready to pounce if we took a break.
Here is the beauty of work: Anyone – ANYONE – can work themselves out of poverty. Work is a blessing, a virtue that must be embraced by every generation if they want greatness. Even inherited wealth must be sustained by hard work. Otherwise, children who inherit wealth that was sweated for and have no clue of what it took to get it or sustain it will soon squander it. As the saying goes, what you leave in your children is much more important than what you leave for them!
So friends, let’s get to work. Let’s work hard and smart. Develop strategies for getting more out of your work week than the ordinary person. You may not have had a great start to life. You may not have received an inheritance. You may not be responsible for how you started, but certainly you’ll be for how you end.
It’s 2018. Let’s get to work!