Last night I had the privilege to stand in front of 35 young first years from Stellenbosch University. I thought back to some previous ideas on the blog and shared some of them. We spoke about passion, questions regarding WHAT I AM BUSY WITH and how to plot the way forward for a hopeful future with anticipation.
“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.” Why are Aristotle’s words so important to understand for development in Africa? One of the biggest challenges Africa faces today is that Africa is misunderstood and that western cultures are not thoroughly equipped in the art of listening; to their own vocational expedition as well as the hidden wealth of potential in Africa. I might have found a way for all of this to change, but it entails that we should all understand something first – our passion.
‘Semper aliquid novi Africa adferre.’
The saying goes: ‘Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.’ Combine these words with Aristotle’s words and you will soon understand the heading for this paragraph which, translated, means: There is always something new coming out of Africa. A Greek elder first spoke these words some three hundred years B.C. and though all those years have passed, it still remains the truth. However, I fear it is a misunderstood truth, one that the emerging Maties of 2014 is going to battle against.
To take a closer look at why I fear it is misunderstood, we need to define some words first. What is meant by ‘vocation’? ‘Vocation’ means a strong impulse or suitability for a particular career or occupation. More importantly, it closes the gap between career and life. In Latin vocatio means ‘to call’, or ‘being summoned’.
For vocation to catalyze social and economic innovation, there are three things to remember. We should have the courage to follow our passion, we should find and define our talents and skills and we should distinguish between interests and passion. The concept of a particular career is getting harder and harder for many communities in Africa to understand. Consequently, what we have in Africa are people who have utilized their passion (or understanding of it) to think creatively and innovatively about making money with the talents and skills they have.
I have high hopes for these young students and I am definitely looking forward to seeing them again on campus- being beacons of hope and passion.