Importance of learning from others



It was about 03:47hours one 2015 June morning when Ganizani and Sokani were already walking to town on bare feet. It was chilly; and their shoulders were raised with hands in their respective pockets as a result of cold weather. They were going to apply for loans at a certain micro-financing company in town; almost 60 kilometres from their village, Tasauka.

‘Do you know why we are poor?’ Ganizani asked. ‘Mmmh! Ganizani. Is that what you have started talking about. So you think we are poor just because we are going to apply for loans in town? Who told you that we are poor?’ Sokani asked Ganizani. ‘We just want to add to what we already have;’ Sokani argued while removing an insect which entered his left eye.

‘No!’ Ganizani retorted. ‘The problem with you is that you are content with the little  that you have. We would have been much better than this if we learnt from what others do; and how they do certain things;’ Ganizani observed.

Because Sokani knows that, from a Chewa proverb which states that ‘Galu wam’kota sakandira pa cabe’; and that Ganizani doesn’t say things without reasons, he asked Ganizani to explain his point for their sustained high poverty levels.

Ganizani said God was never foolish to allow population to increase on this Earth.

‘Stop being philosophical, Ganizani! Just hit the nail on the head. Why are we poor? Sokani asked.

‘Look here, Sokani. From God’s kind heart, he allowed the world’s population to grow. We can appreciate God’s kindness to allow population increase from what the British Poet, John Domme said: ‘No man (woman inclusive) is an Island’. So we are supposed to learn from each other!’ Ganizani observed.

‘But that’s what has been the case; and we have been learning from each other for years in memorial; and we are still doing so. This is why we are going to apply for  loans because we learnt from others that there are loans in town;’ Sokani reminded Ganizani.

‘But if you claim that we have been learning from others, why are we still poor?’ Ganizani persisted on the same question.

Sokani maintained that they weren’t poor; and if anything, that is the will of God to make them so.

But Ganizani argued that it was because of low levels of willingness to learn from others that they were poor.

‘If we were observant and attentive to what was happening around us, what people say and do; and ask others where we are in doubt; or where we don’t know what to do to improve our lives, we would be more comfortable by now both as individuals and as a country;’ Ganizani observed.

‘What level of comfort are you looking for Ganizani more than the one God has given us?’ Sokani asked.

‘Look here Sokani;’ Ganizani, who was in front of Sokani while travelling stopped walking; pointed at Sokani’s face while staring at him; and said: ‘It’s because we don’t learn from each other that we have been the same for many years now.’ You mean they are no better off people or countries around us where we can learn how to improve on our lives or and that of our economy?’ Ganizani asked.

Ganizani said friends, relatives, other politicians, local communities and the world at large has many activities, events and lessons which when one observes, listens to or asks, one  can learn a lot; and know what to do to improve oneself or contribute to the well-being of many other people.

‘Let’s learn to discover from others;’ Ganizani said while turning towards where they were going to continue their ulendo.

‘But Ganizani; you have confused me now. What is the problem with you?’ Sokani asked while being very reluctant to continue the journey to town.

‘The problem is that we are not honest with ourselves. As a result, we don’t accept our limitations; and appreciate other people’s strengths. If we were, we could learn from those who do better than us to improve on our lives; and that of our country’ Ganizani insisted.

‘Look! There are some friends and other people who are doing very well in our communities. But we have never tried to do what they do; and how they do it for us to move from high poverty levels to improved life;’ Ganizani observed.

‘But Ganizani, how can we improve on our lives when most politicians we vote for in all  political parties are selfish and greedy against public interest?’ Sokani asked.

‘That’s my second point;’ Ganizani replied. ‘You know, if an individual cannot learn from others before one is a political representative, even when such a person is elected into political office, he or she will be the same;’ said Ganizani.

‘Should one learn even bad things from others just because we should gain knowledge from others? I am saying this because there is a new philosophy of politics of benefits that has mushroomed among some politicians;’ Sokani observed.

Can you explain if politics of benefit is part of learning from others.

‘No! If others are immoral, practice illegalities or are greedy or practice politics of benefits; don’t learn from such people or from such politicians respectively. But if a friend or another person in the community is morally upright; abides by law; and is doing well in his or her studies, business or in employment; or as a politician, one is facilitating development projects in his or her ward or constituency well, pick a leaf from such people; and learn from such citizens  to improve on your life and those of others’ Ganizani advised.

‘While each one of us is to blame for not learning from others, we should also blame our politicians for not learning from each other in their respective political representations. Why is it that some wards and some constituencies are more developed than others? Why can’t current politicians learn from the good things or mistakes former ward councilors and former members of parliament (MPs) or former republican presidents did or made?;’ Ganizani asked.

‘For decades now, from the scarce meager resources our local authorities and government treasury have, former and current ward councilors, MPs, ministers and others have been or are in most cases on foreign trips. Don’t or haven’t such political representatives see or seen respectively what other politicians in other lands have done; and how, for them to transplant such ideas into their respective wards, constituencies and country?’ Ganizani asked Sokani angrily.

But Ganizani the way you are talking to me is like I am the councellor, MP or a president who hasn’t learnt from others on how best to facilitate development in my ward, constituency or country. I am not a politician for you to talk like that to me;’ Sokani observed.

‘Yes, because the way you and I have glaringly failed to learn from others to improve on our lives is the same way most political representatives have bungled to learn from others on how to facilitate sustainable development even if they are given many opportunities to learn from former and current politicians in other wards and constituencies; and those in other countries;’ Ganizani said with high angry voice.

Considering low levels of income among many people; and how  government struggles to raise revenue, Sokani wondered how individuals and political representatives and government leaders could implement what they learn from others. Sokani asked Ganizani to explain further how learning from others can be beneficial with low incomes and low government revenues for individuals and politicians including government leaders.

‘Do you want individuals and political representatives including government leaders to perform miracles to improve on their lives; and those of their respective wards, constituencies and those of citizens in the country?’ Sokani asked.

‘It’s not about miracles! It’s a question of how we set our priorities. If you put resources into areas which don’t add value to your sustainable development processes, you will remain poor for the rest of your life;’ Ganizani observed.

‘Do you mean that even when we get loans from micro-financing institutions, if we use it on beer or for instance, on women from our neighbouring countries, we will remain poor in our lives?’ Sokani asked.

‘That’s the point!’ Ganizani retorted while raising his right hand forefinger. ‘Individuals and political representatives who set their priorities right with the few resources they had or have respectively made or make remarkable progress in facilitating sustainable development processes;’ Ganizani observed.

It was about 07:27 hours when they were remaining with about 4.7kilomentres to reach town.

But after Sokani learnt something from what Ganizani said, he felt it wasn’t necessary for him to apply for a loan for he can use what he already has to make remarkable progress in his life.

‘I see. So, it’s a question of setting priorities with the few resources one has;’ Sokani observed while standing with his left hand in his pocket of a yellow pair of shorts.

Sokani proposed to Ganizani to make a U-turn; and go back to the village. As they were going back to the village, Sokani further suggested to his friend to stop any bad habits and extravagant expenditures on the meager financial resources they have. He learnt that diligent use of meager economic resources would facilitate remarkable sustainable development processes in their respective lives.