Mr P.O.P: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson
26th Jan 2016
Yesterday, I had lunch with an old friend. I was particularly happy to see him because the last time we’d met, he was in a really bad place. His wife of five years had left him, and had emptied their bank account on her way out, so he had been forced to close down his business and sell the house he built for his mother, just to deal with the debts she had left him with. Suffice it to say, he had been depressed and totally inconsolable.
You see, my friend had depended on his wife for everything. She made all the decisions in their relationship. She managed the money, she ran their shop, she chose their bank, their church, their daughter’s school, their friends… he was just coming along for the ride, and would have happily spent the rest of his days on earth being the supporting actor in his wife’s life story. So when she suddenly announced that she had fallen for her boss and was moving to Australia with him, my friend’s whole world crumbled. How was he supposed to function without her? As far as he was concerned, his life was over.
To help him through it, I did what I do best. I told him a story.
When I was ten years old, I broke my wrist. I was playing football in the school yard, and my friend Ashley let off a shot at goal. I was playing defence, so I leapt up to block the shot, but my left hand got in the way, and the ball snapped my wrist back rather violently. Everyone heard the crack as my bone snapped.
It was agony. They took me to hospital and the doctors put my hand and forearm in Plaster of Paris, or POP as we call it. I had to wear that thing for months. It wasn’t pleasant, but the Doctor had explained why I needed it. He explained how something had to hold my hand in place and show my bone which direction to grow in. Once the two fractured ends had grown back together, I wouldn’t need the cast anymore. That was when it would come off.
Understanding why I needed the cast made it much easier to bear, and after a while, I even grew to appreciate it. It was there to serve an important purpose – to do something for me that I couldn’t do for myself, and once its job was done, it would be gone.
In life, there are people and situations that come our way that are supposed to be temporary, but we often make the mistake of thinking that they are permanent. We make ourselves believe that we cannot function without that person or situation, and so when it changes, we can’t cope. Our whole world shuts down, and we lose the will to live. It’s really the worst thing we could possibly do to ourselves, because we end up missing the real purpose of things.
My plaster cast was there to show my bone which way to grow. In the same way, some relationships happen to teach us important lessons. Lessons that we couldn’t possibly learn on our own. How to be patient. How to be tolerant. How to be brave. How to be self-reliant. How to cook. How to drive. They come to improve your life, not to occupy it. When their work is done, they leave. And it can hurt sometimes, but the trick is to remember why they were there in the first place, and appreciate the ways in which you are a better person because of them.
As a nation, we have always seen ourselves as a producer of cocoa. We have defined ourselves by this label since the 1920s. Our great grandfathers, with their clay pipes and muskets, sold cocoa, our grandfathers came along with their bell bottoms and Beatles music, and sold cocoa. Our fathers took over with their cassettes and camboo, and they also sold cocoa. They all sold cocoa to a changing world without a single thought to changing ourselves. We consider our status as cocoa producers to be a permanent thing, and so our inability to let go of that label has prevented us as a nation, from exploring the other avenues that could make us more relevant to this changing world.
Friends, it’s time. It’s time to let go of what must end and give room to what must begin. The more we hold on to the past, the longer we delay the abundance of the future God has equipped us for. Our bones are fully grown now. Let’s take off the P.O.P and say, “thank you for bringing me this far. I’ll take it from here”.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and I won’t block what’s to come with what’s already been.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!