Many of my African brothers and sisters would be familiar with the ‘I went to school with no shoes’ story. For everyone else who doesn’t, I will explain.
When I was in primary school, I absolutely loved ‘Back to School’ season. Or rather, new stuff season; books, shoes, bags etc. However, I also hoped that my shoes did not fit and that my bag was in a state. These were ‘new stuff’ prerequisites. I should have probably learned from my younger sister and put one too many books in my school bag. That way, by the end of the year I get a new one! So my mum would announce that since our shoes still fit, no need for new ones. And this would be followed by ‘but why? They are kind of a little tight…mumble…mumble…new ones are nicer.’ My Dad would then take over and tell the ‘going to school with no shoes’ story.
Long long ago, when my father was my age at the time, there was not enough money for shoes after paying fees. So he walked many miles to school. He was too happy to be in school to care much for the shoes even though they would have definitely come in handy. Even though I was probably ten or so at the time, it made me realise how ungrateful I was. To date, there are many children who go without shoes. That is why I love things like TOMS One for One motto. For every shoe purchased, a child in need receives new ones. But charity starts at home and instead of discarding old shoes and clothes, they would find their way to those who need them most. Even as I really would not like to disclose how many pairs of shoes I own, I am conscious of the fact that some people go without. And yet, we live in a ‘need more…want more’ society. What we need to do is tell this story more because there is such a thing as ‘enough’.
One of the most beautiful and sad things about Africa is that you will meet people who are so happy with so little. I never had to go to school barefoot; but I hope people in the society will not lose sight of cherishing what they have as opposed to obsessing over what they don’t have.
So please share the ‘going to school with no shoes’ story. And you can be as creative as you like and include dragons and goblins. Besides, if it always sounds the same then it just looks fabricated. Just like the ‘when I was younger I always came first’ story. But that is for another day.