The shock, the Himalayas and the way out

The shock, the Himalayas and the way out

The Union of Campus Journalists (UCJ), a body of versatile and responsible students impassioned by self-development, organised its annual Press Week last week during which it featured a number of activities. One of the highlights of the Week was its formal opening on Tuesday, May 30, 2017 and the incisive lecture delivered by the Head of Mass Communication Department, Dr (Mrs) Saudah S. Abdulbaqi, on “Sociojournalism: The Future of Journalism”.

The occasion was graced by the Sub-Dean of the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences, Dr Lukuman A. Azeez; the Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kwara State Council, Mr Abiodun Abdulkareem; and a former UCJ President, Engr. Waliyullah Olayiwola, among others. Each of them contributed to the success of the day.

My own intervention was to draw attention to the need of the moment using two books as the backbone of my short discourse. These are Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock (1970) and James Scott’s Lost in the Himalayas (1994). The thesis of my submission essentially was self-development and acquisition of skills, especially communication, as a way of surviving the shark-infested waters of the fast-changing contemporary life.

Many jobs will soon become “irrelevant” due to automation and alternative systems as everyone, especially students and graduates, will have to answer the same question that confronted James Scott: “How do I survive?” With automatic cars, green energy, climate change, robots and so on, many jobs will phase out. Few people will be holding newspapers in future as much of such will migrate online. Then, it be will be realised that whatever you call yourself is immaterial, it is what you can do that will count. If care is not taken, everyone will be shocked by their own Himalayas.

The Himalayas are a vast mountain range that spans a number of  countries in Asia including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Nepal and more. A home of many mountains including the highest in the world, Mount Everest, believe or leave it, if you were lost in the winter of the Himalayas or some of its snow-capped mountains, chances are that you would not survive a week. But James Scott got lost in 1991 when he was hiking with his friends and was trapped by heavy snow. A mere 22-year old then, he survived a heart-chilling ordeal and grueling near-death experiences everyday until he was rescued 43 days after by a search party. He had eaten just the two bars of chocolate he had with him in the first two days. He made a meal of a caterpillar too. He survived on snow and his high spirits.

According to Scott, “Before this terrible event occurred, I would not have believed for a moment that I would be capable of overcoming such seemingly impossible odds. The lesson I have learnt, simplistic as it might sound, is that no difficulty is impossible to overcome.” There are many things we are capable of doing if we just exert ourselves a bit more. In the same country that thousands are fleeing from, perishing in the process in the Sahara desert or at the coast of Lampendusa in Italy, many young Nigerians are still becoming successful without resorting to crime. I know students who are successful entrepreneurs already.

When Toffler wrote of shock, many people failed to realise that the shock was/is here and the future is now. To absorb the shock that many graduates are confronting, regarding the gulf between expectation and reality even in the so-called lucrative professions, students must have multiple competencies. Anyone that wants to stand out must be outstanding in something and be capable of doing many things. This is not just a matter of talent or good luck, it is also a matter of toil or hard work. Talent is good but it is not enough.

As Toffler puts it, “To survive, to avert what we have termed future shock, the individual must become infinitely more adaptable and capable than ever before. We must search out totally new ways to anchor ourselves, for all the old roots – religion, nation, community, family, or profession – are now shaking under the hurricane impact of the accelerative thrust. It is no longer resources that limit decisions, it is the decision that makes the resources.” In other words, it is not the course that makes an individual, it is an individual that charts his course regardless of his course in school.

The way forward for those who have a future ahead is to strategise or plan now. This is because, to borrow further from Toffler, “the future always comes too fast and in the wrong order” and “if you don’t have a strategy, you are part of someone else’s strategy.” The strategy lies in self-development, acquisition of skills and positive mental attitude or “high spirits”, the type of which manifest in such vibrant minds among students that I know like Muhammad Basheer Ishola, Chima Osuji, Adoto Hussein, Folorunsho Fatai Adisa, Ridwan Olawale, Olowoyo Ghaniyat and a host of them.

Ramadan Mubaarak to all!