What Matters to You Most and Why

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A little before darkness set in on town of Suame, it rained heavily and before I could barely hold my eyes open that night, the sky was still moody, as if to warn us of a doom approaching. With the clouds colliding, one could sense the foreboding humidity. Suddenly, I woke up to loud blasts from the hallway heavily pounding my ear. I jumped out of bed. “Ye dinn” my mum signaled me to keep quiet, as she placed her forefinger on her lips. The smoke from the gunshots polluted our breath. I remember this day like it was yesterday. My breathing rapidly increased as the men escorted us to living room. Three masked gunmen pointed their weapons at us. One had a short gun. The rest had what I would later learn to be AK47. I had enjoyed Queen Latifah’s Set It Off but little did I know I could be a victim of a real-life robbery attack. That night, after the robbery, I found myself wandering in the kitchen occasionally peeping through the kitchen window, to see if further danger loomed.

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Several hours had passed yet none of us could sleep a wink.Eventually, I heard the cocks crow. I peeped through the window once again, this time, to the first territory displays of the day. It was about 5am – the break of dawn. For some reasons, I could feel my fear gradually diminishing as though I had become immune to any further danger. Days after days, although the nights brought back the horrors of the robbery, the break of dawn always came with comfort. Eventually, my biological clock became in tune with this time of the day and the break of dawn easily became the most important part of my days.The little light at the break of each dawn has become a beacon of hope. It assures me that no matter the hardships of the previous day or night, there will always be a calm moment; that I will always find the strength to conquer the misery and despair caused by misfortune. In May 2007, barely a year after the robbery incident, I received the news of brother’s demise. In the thickness of the shock, I didn’t even realize how much my life would be affected by the passing of my brother. My mum became emotionally drained. She could no longer go to work and my education hanged in the balance. However, amidst all the chaos and confusion, each break of dawn shed new light into my life. As I observed the calmness of the atmosphere every new dawn, I always felt some peace and serenity to meditate on life and aspirations. Gradually, I experience the healing power of the hope that each break of dawn brought to me and my mother.

To me, each break of dawn is a chance to hit the restart button. It reechoes to me the opportunities to make good what I failed at yesterday. Whenever the alarm chimes at 4 am, I wake up to take an inventory of my life – my aspirations, my commitments and the failed attempts I have to revisit. And as the golden sun slowly rises up again regardless of the previous day’s weather, I am constantly reminded not to relent on my goals no matter the history of failure. This has helped me to develop a positive approach towards life. I have learned to concentrate more on the smaller opportunities than on the bigger challenges I face. When I have difficult decisions to make, I find this time the most appropriate to strategize and plan.After the robbery, my mother and I moved in the slums with inadequate supply of water and electricity.

However, in the face of these challenges, there were some opportunities that contributed greatly to my development. As I reflect on the future of my country and continent, I find my thoughts repeatedly drifting back to my own experience. I believe my childhood experience as an African is a good illustration of both the challenges that confront the continent and the opportunities that await it.Africa is going through its own dark night of difficulties; poverty, unemployment and sporadic wars. Nonetheless, it is the continent that produced vuvuzela, Kente cloth and the seventh UN secretary general. To me, these positives are synonymous to the small beams of lights that permeates through the dark clouds at the break of dawn. They reinforce my hope in the future of the continent.

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