Thoughts on being original and not living an imitation

Nasreddin is a well-known folk character in the Middle East and Central Asia. One of my favorite Nasreddin stories is the one in which four boys (t)asked him to share a bagful of walnuts amongst them.

As the story goes when Nasreddin was approached by the boy she asked whether they wanted him to share the bagful of walnuts  “God’s way” or “mortal’s way.”  They opted for God’s way and he proceeded to share the walnuts unequally amongst them: one boy got two handfuls, the second got a single handful, the third got a mere two walnuts and the fourth received none at all.

The Author
The Author

The boys responded in indignation and disbelief which prompted Nasreddinto explain:”Well, this is God’s way. He gives some people a lot, some people a little and nothing to others. If you had asked for mortal’s way I would have given the same amount to everybody.”

I’m tempted to tell this story anytime (and this happens often) I’m asked by Ghanaian journalists: “of all the things you could have been why a rapper?” We’ve all been blessed with many different gifts, unequally. Yours might be walnuts, hers might be velvet tamarind (yoryee), and his might be aluguintugui.

That said I pity the man with lots of guava but hell bent on only making mango juice because he’s been taught to value it more than all other juices. What makes being a musician/rapper such an incredulous choice to be made with someone who could have possibly been something else?

During one of my post-midnight in Accra soliloquies – I struck gold. I understood it all better finally.

There seems to be a prevailing myth in Ghana that anyone capable of excellence should only vie to be part of a select few professions. This is a terrifying fallacy. What we need is people of excellence in all parts of our ecosystem. Creatives, educators, entrepreneurs, carpenters, waakye sellers, drivers, etc.

To find your calling in life and to commit to it relentlessly will always triumph over being average in a line of work you chose solely for social status or under social expectations.

Born original, why live an imitation.

The prospect of an uncertain future is terrifying to most of us. So far I don’t know anyone yet who can eavesdrop on the future. All we can do is make choices. Will we choose to believe that since our childhood friend Kwasi started a successful photography business we will try to mimichim or will we be inspired enough to find our strengths and use them to our advantage?

The boy who didn’t get any walnuts should have probably just thanked Nasreddin. He might have been allergic to nuts anyway.

By: M.anifest

Note: This was first published by on April 8, 2014. We have reproduced it as a note from our archives.

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