Voice from Afar: The will must be stronger than the skill

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The wise observation quoted above was made by Muhammad Ali.  Many of us know Muhammad Ali as a great boxer, not a philosopher. 

We generally believe that most boxers are more brawn than brain. Of course a boxer must be trained. 

He must improve his skills and be coached. But champions like Muhammed Ali are not made in the gym. They are motivated by something deep inside them: A desire, a dream, a vision.  As a nation, we must be moved by the desire to achieve and be great.  We may not become the greatest but we can be great.

Failures often blame their tools.  We should therefore not blame our skills.  We should not blame our schools and universities for not imparting skills to the youth, although they should sharpen the minds of the youth.

Real skills are acquired and improved on the job. The job must, therefore, be there for skills to flourish. But first of all, the will must be there to create the jobs.

Unemployment is a major problem in many countries today.  It is easier for western countries to deal with the matter because of established structures, institutions and idle skills.  Countries like Ghana must make their institutions and structures work. They must have goals.  They must have plans for industries, services and finance. They cannot simply follow the western pattern.

But ideas and plans take time to materialise.  Therefore it is necessary to have projects to occupy the youth now. But even these projects should not only provide jobs. They should implant the work ethic and the discipline which are sorely missing at the workplace today.

Our governments have a difficult task. Not only should they have the will to build a great nation, but they should also be prepared to confront the attitudes of the people who are greatly influenced by behaviour and events in the shrinking global village.

In a nutshell, should our governments give the majority what they want so that they may be happy and vote for them at the next elections? And is this practice not at least partly responsible for the present corruption in high places?

The African American, Carter G. Woodson, suggested that our governments should educate us to understand what is best for us. But will such an idea not lead to dictatorship? Should someone teach us what is good or best for us or should we be led to understand what is good for us?

Leadership has a difficult task in our situation. Should we be led to believe that democracy means that we get what we want? Or should our democratically elected governments use their extensive information and other services to make us understand that we must work for what we want and that we should sacrifice for future well-being?

Our governments trying to do what they believe the people want have allowed parts of Accra, for example, to be engulfed in filth, stench, and noise. Meanwhile the influx into the city in search of non-existent jobs continues.  Governments have not taken the actions required because they fear people will not vote for them if they do what would be good for them. Our governments tend to act that way because they have no strong will and they did not strive to be elected to serve the people.

Education is not only a matter for schools and colleges. It involves the family.  It involves the community. Society has a role to play. Our children would not aspire after learning and higher values if success in society is measured by the acquisition of money. Our governments and leaders should embrace education in its totality so that we learn not to acquire certificates for non-existent jobs, but to strengthen our will to build a great Ghana by abandoning our enslaved begging mentality, and Thinking Big.

The great African American neuro-surgeon, Dr Ben Carson, bids us to Think Big.  We should Think Big and embrace the meaning.  The acronym THINK BIG stands for:

Talent: Our Creator has endowed all of us not just with the ability to sing, dance or throw a ball, but with intellectual talent.

Honesty: If you lead a clean and honest life, you don't put skeletons in the closet.

Insight: It comes from people who have already gone where you're trying to go. Learn from their triumphs and their mistakes.

Nice: If you're nice to people, then once they get over the suspicion of why you're being nice, they will be nice to you.

Knowledge: It makes you into a more valuable person. The more knowledge you have, the more people need you.

Books: They are the mechanism for obtaining knowledge, as opposed to television.

In-depth Learning: Learn for the sake of knowledge and understanding, rather than for the sake of impressing people or taking a test.

God: Never get too big for Him.

Article by K. B. Asante