Lake: Message from the Morning Man by Kojo Yankson

Lake: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson
17th May 2016
Did you catch Uncle Ebo’s Food for thought yesterday? He talked about the lessons he learnt from his mother, and yesterday, he shared an expression his mother often used to describe some friends of hers. She described them as lakes into which all rivers flowed, but not a single drop returns. I thought about that expression all day. I started to realise the many ways in which this statement, at one time or the other, means something to all of us.
What did Uncle Ebo’s mother mean when she described her friends in this unintentionally poetic fashion? Well the imagery is pretty straightforward. It suggests a person who takes and takes from everyone but gives nothing in return. I’m sure you can think of someone you know like that, can’t you?
That uncle from the village you regret giving your number to, because he’s always calling to ask for money, that colleague who wants everyone to help them do their job, but will never lend anyone else a hand, that friend who always calls when they need something, but will never rings you when you’re sick, that girlfriend who wants you to pay for everything, give her massages, AND carry her handbag, but won’t even make you a sandwich when you’re hungry, that husband who expects you to cook, clean, iron his clothes, wash his skid-marked underwear and clip his fungal toenails, but won’t even open the car door for you… let’s face it, we all know someone who takes without giving back. And if you can’t think of anyone like that in your life, then maybe it’s you. Now that’s a thought.
Could it be true though? Could it be that we’re all lakes in one way or the other? Do we always give value for the investment, expenditure, commitment, and blessings people bestow upon us?
If you’re always late for work, you take two-hour breaks and spend the rest of the time using your work computer to catch up on your social media, but you take a full salary at the end of the month, are you not a lake?
If you always preach to your congregation about tithes and offering and sowing seed, if you know which church members earn 20,000 a month, but you don’t know which one lost a child last month, are you not a lake?
If, as an academic, you have benefitted from an education that was funded by the people of Ghana, you have travelled on the National Ticket to study in other countries, and then on your return, you are given a cushy job in a university, tasked with the obligation of developing young minds, but in return for all this, you feed them knowledge that hasn’t been updated since the 1950s, are you not a lake?
If you run around the country, begging Ghanaians for their vote, promising them development, education, health, prosperity, change, promising them solutions to their every problem, promising them better leadership than they’ve ever had, and then you get their vote, and all you do with the power is enrich yourselves, are you not a lake?
My friends, if you recognise yourself in any of these descriptions, and you don’t like what you see, then don’t be a lake. Be a river.
Water flows into rivers from many streams. Those are your blessings, your gifts and all the time and resources others invest in you. Rivers, in turn, flow along the banks, nourishing the soil and giving opportunity for plants to grow. They provide homes for fish, and, of course, flow into the occasional lake. But ultimately, more benefits accrue from a river’s flow, and the more streams flow into it, the more a river grows, and the more people benefit from its existence.
To whom much is given, much is expected. And you, my friend, have been given so much. For all the blessings you have received, make a vow today to give back far more to the world. Give far more than your salary’s worth to your employers. Give far more than the cost of the product to your customers. Give far more than your wife’s love. Give far more than your friend’s affection. Turn water into wine. Feed five thousand with five loaves of bread. Give far more than you receive. Let those who bless you be glad they chose you.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and so much was done for me. That’s why I’ll do even more for you.