In his address, “Your Turn”, delivered at the 32nd convocation ceremony and 40th anniversary of the University of Ilorin on October 23, 2015, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali, made reference to Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat: A Short History of the 20th Century published in 2005.
According to Prof. Ambali, who is also the Vice-President of the Association of West Africa Universities (AWAU), Friedman wrote that an African proverb, translated into Mandarin, was posted on the wall of a company, ASIMCO Technology, in Beijing, China. The proverb was given thus:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed
Every morning a lion wakes up
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle
When the sun comes up, you better start running.
In other words, in the world of today, whether you are a lion or a gazelle is not what matters. What really matters is that you run in order to succeed and excel. All countries cannot be United States of America or United Arab Emirates in terms of eye-popping infrastructure; yet, BRICS (i.e. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are making profound statements in setting the pace for others. In the race of development, they are running fast.
Our problem in much of Africa is that we sleep too much, literally and literarily. When others are running, we trudge lazily behind. The rest of humanity has now overtaken us while we still walk or crawl drunkenly behind. At a time commercial flights are being planned to commence operations into the space, we are still grappling with ordinarily things like epileptic power supply and bad roads.
Students should especially realize that they have no time to waste. Time passes quickly and a four or five-year course soon ends. Things hardly begin before they finish. The essential thing is to run and not trudge behind.
What students often fail to appreciate is that the short time of four years on the average that they spend in the University eventually determines, relatively speaking, what they will achieve later in life. Life in school is a precursor to life after graduation in terms of success or failure.
Life after graduation is a survival of the fittest and luckiest. Few jobs are available for the annual output of thousands of graduates. The way to separate yourself from the crowd and stand out is to be outstanding. You better run!
Strictly speaking, a conscionable student knows the purpose for which he is in school. The purpose is simply to succeed. Therefore, no stone is left unturned in order to graduate as and when due and with a good grade. He faces the business at hand, studies hard and ensures that he comes out in flying colours.
It is immaterial if you study medicine or engineering. It is irrelevant if your course is law or accounting. It doesn’t count if you are admitted to student physical education, visual art or a language. What is important is that you run and be among the best.
If you run your race well, you will be able to pick gold in your field. If you don’t run, regardless of what you think of your course and its vast or limitless opportunities, you will be caught up and choked by the crowd.
The world is not interested in Below Average or Average, the world is interested in Above Average. Below average people crawl; the average people walk; the above average people run. So, yours is a highly competitive world, you better run!
The story is told of a father who preferred his youngest son to his two brothers. His neighbours accosted him and wondered why he behaved like that. The father replied calmly and told them, “Wait here and discover for yourselves”.
So, the father asked his three sons to go to the port and come back an hour later with their reports. When they returned, the eldest said, “We received a shipment of machinery”. The middle one reported, “We got three machines from Japan yesterday.” The youngest submitted thus, “We got three machines, spare parts are missing and one unit is damaged but I have filed a claim with the insurance company. We must complete the documents next week in order to meet the deadline and avoid demurrage.”
If you would award marks or employ a single person, who would you rate highest and who would you hire? Always go an extra mile in your positive endeavours. You better run!