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19. July 2018 at 22:07
I see you don't trust me. No need to worry my head over that. You don't trust anyone but yourself. Maybe I'm way too honest- my bad, I am a Taurean. That's what gets me into trouble these days. Our past has the present looking like a fresh murder, a typical prototype of the scars we hide under our clothes. We pin the pains and dim the paints of our hearts and swear to never be taken for granted ever again; engraving marks on walls and soils to seal them.
So we shudder at the truth when told. A bitter-sweet chocolate to munch on. It looks too good to be true and too bad to be true- we judge with our scrolls of many experiences. Scrolls that define everyone to be evil and us, just us, to be good. "People don't change" oh how we spread our bedsheets and fly our limbs with this; blessing ourselves to an episode of cinnamon sticks between our teeth and never asking the million dollar question, 'Aren't we also, People?'"Somebody needs to sweep here and clear these gutters" he points with his index finger with voice echoing through the winds. He forgets that he too is 'Somebody'. He forgets that he has hands and legs that can pick up a broom and a spade to shove a mud, he forgets.. that the government is you and I and not someone in an Italian suit sipping a glass of scotch and playing poker with friends. He forgets that the world doesn't revolve around him. He forgets.... that everything is not about him. He forgets.

I pinched myself to this truth a long time ago. People don't just do things because of me, or because I had something to offer in return to their courtesy, no. What we do, whether in words or deeds, are only products of our good-old selves. They are extensions of our emotions and thought pattern, dictated by knowledge and past experiences. He doesn't understand a word you say, he never appreciates what you do for him, he doesn't love you back, looks like he's zoning out on you every now and then and shouldering off anything that has to do with you? They are all feedbacks. Actions, springing from his mental imagery.

I stopped my colleagues from continuing to teach the BECE students 'at a distance', as their tutors did. We were at a field work in a rural community as part of the university's sweaty curriculum, and volunteered at the community schools to help the BECE candidates with their studies. One thing I noticed was, we kept telling them about how to make the best of grades and expose them to the fact that they were in competition for the senior high schools with other first cycle schools in the big cities. The Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) was the first 'alien hurdle' on the ladder of academia in Ghana. You sure don't want to sleep-lazy on this one!

"You are competing with big big schools in Accra and Kumasi, so you really need to sit up" their very typical daily bread- but for the 'Tuo zaafi', of course. His life is remoted around sheep and cattle and has been fed, since childhood, in the bowl that, the rich and successful is one who owns dozens of farm animals and has many wives to please his loins. He wakes up to bleats and moos, another day of boos. Checks the sun and makes an experienced guess of time, he is late for school. Last night was so hectic, the weeding spree was fagging, leaving his joints gagging. He feels nauseous. After a 'few' chores, he dons his tarted school uniform and pursues his rice sac of a school bag. "There it is" he finds it within the bags of animal feed.

He gets to school late, receives his usual dose of lashes, then lessons begin. He missed Assembly. I literally watched a teacher spend an hour talking about how dumb the students were and how incompetent they will be in the race for the senior high schools. Onward he went with the discouraging memoir, when a girl gave a loud yawn throwing the class into laughter amidst the straight face he wore. Aren't we all just tired of hearing people talk our heads off about our weaknesses and how we can't induce positives in them?

We can complain all day long, beat them up all weekend, reset their brains all harmattan, but the problem still remains untouched. They still are same as old. They still will produce the same bad grades. If only they could get someone who understands them, studying won't be a problem, I believe that with every fibre of my being . Understanding establishes and refines. "Understanding the question is the first step to solving Maths. It's easy, you just have to see it that way." mum said. Her words blessed my soul, refreshed me like dew from Heaven. Within the micros of two weeks, I sprang from a milk teething Mathematician to a Math Lord- I still don't like numbers though.

But the point is, we kept telling them something they already knew- not that it was relatable to their realities even. Something that has already labelled them as failures and from the way it looks, have no plans of relabelling. What different accent can we also offer? Imagine if we grew up with the words "You can be anything you want to be in this life. Just believe" laced beneath the tongues of our parents and relatives, oh how unstoppable would we be! But no, it was only the negative lyrics that sang on our streets, in the classrooms and unfortunately, in the church. Why then should we blame them for their failures and many flaws when all we do is to dampen their spirits? That is enough killing, enough cognitive murder, which consequently springs enough failures; for our mental images materialise into our actions, then sip into our language, becoming us. Unconsciously. Unfortunately.

I gave a letter writing assignment. It was only two weeks to the BECE. On the day of submission, I read through the ones submitted. My eyes watered, so much work to be done here. I proposed a few lines and catchy phrases then gave out another assignment. The following day, I was presented with the same phrases and sentences I offered the day before. The topic was never a concern to me, so long as they could pen down and replicate exactly what I taught. The first assignment read "Write a letter to the editor of the Daily Graphic Newspaper, telling him/her about the challenges you are facing as a school" The second read "Write a letter to a friend in a different school telling him/her about the challenges you are facing in your school" These certainly, are two different letter types. The first is a formal letter, the second, an informal. But that was not a baffle to them. For them, they had found new words to write, new ideas, new pages, completely antonymous to their old routines. I don't mean to wound the integrity of teachers in rural areas, they really are doing the best they can. But I believe that results don't simply show up from the blue; they are embedded within the hidden shots of the process.

So if the same results keep popping up, and we keep brimming blue with anger, directing all our calories to dead pools, hurting loved ones and leaving murder scenes stained carelessly with our fingerprints, we wouldn't only be hurting ourselves, but abandon the errs in the process, and never know why the failure episodes are stuck on repeat. And never know why the results are always far from change.

Cite This Article As: Christopher Tawiah-mensah. "Image-action." International Youth Journal, 19. July 2018.

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