Self and the Apricot Tree

This article is written by Mamohlakola Letuka as a submission to the Blog Writers Challenge (We Write for Africa). Courtesy of the African Book Club and

Self and the Apricot Tree
Self and the Apricot Tree

In our backyard we had a big apricot tree which my grandfather used to water daily after his bath and would ask us to water after doing our laundry.

Curiously, I asked why we should always water it and he told me the roots need nutrition in order for the tree to be fruitful.

I didn’t understand him then but I have recently realised that my grandfather’s notion of needing to constantly water a tree’s roots in order for it to bear fruit not only applies to plants, but to people as well.

Roots are the part of an organism attaching it to a greater or more fundamental whole; the end or base. As individuals, our minds are the foundation of our daily activities; before any ideas are brought to life, they first are formulated in our minds.

How we see things, how we react – basically our entire life – revolves around our minds.

Wikipedia defines the mind as a set of cognitive faculties that include consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement and memory. These faculties hold the power of imagination, recognition and appreciation and it the responsibility of processing feelings and emotions, resulting in the attitude and actions.

As humans we are all unique in one way or another. We have different perceptions of things, and different likes and dislikes which set us apart from one another.

This difference I would like to refer to as “individuality”.

Individuality is defined as the quality or character of a particular person or thing that distinguishes them from others of the same kind, especially when strongly marked.

Despite all the characteristics that our minds share, we each have our unique identity or what I will refer to as the “I-theory” (self). Originally from German “selbie” and Dutch “zelf”, self refers to essential traits that distinguish people from each other, especially in introspection or reflex actions.

I-theory is a theory that focuses on who you are as an individual, your potential and your purpose.

The world as a whole is full of people who do not understand who they are, what they want with their lives or where they are going. Most of us have the picture of what the future should look like, but we do not want to put in the work.

During my research I have come to realise that the formula of success is not sleeping for an hour a day or reading a thousand books (although that is important). The formula to success is having answers to the following questions;
• Why do I want success?
• What is success?
• Where can I find success?
• How do I reach success?
• When do I want to be successful?
• Who do I need to be successful?

The above questions summarise the “I-theory”. If you have the answers to the above questions I promise you will be successful in whatever it is you pursue.

One can only assume that if our politicians had the sense of “I theory” in parliament or in their parties Lesotho wouldn’t be where it is today.

It is a sad truth that most, if not all, of our politicians have failed to understand their responsibilities and roles in their respective fields hence the shambolic coalition governments we have had in recent years.

A coalition government is a cabinet of a parliamentary government in which several political parties cooperate, reducing the dominance of any one party within that coalition. The usual reason given for this arrangement is that no party on its own can achieve a majority in the parliament.

I am not an expert in political psychology but I believe that when entering a coalition agreement, parties have an agreement to work together with the interest of the nation at heart. However, I have since seen governments failing to practice their roles which have led to grumblings within the partnerships.

I strongly believe that had previous coalition parties known their roles and responsibilities, and mastered the “I-Theory” Lesotho would not be facing the second elections.

Secondly, our leaders have overlooked the “notion of watering the roots” which I will refer to as self-development. Had our leaders developed the skills on politics and how to lead, Lesotho would have developed, or at least have something to show for the last 50 years of independence.

During my practice as a journalist I have heard of people leaving the country for a workshop on development only to come back and tell us tales of what they had seen on their “trip” not what they have learned or what they are going to do to develop our nation, and those are the few who will stay behind when others go on retirement.

As a nation we need to be more cautious on who we invest in. Yes, elders are important to the country, but they are no longer the roots, the youths are. If the country could invest a little more into the youth rather than pampering elders on their way to retirement maybe we would have a more developed country.

The “notion of watering the roots” mainly means to invest in the future. Instead of workshops on how to decorate the city, how about investing in small entrepreneurs, who in return have the potential to create jobs and generate revenue that goes back into the economy of the country as a whole.

Another important factor of development is self-awareness defined as the conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings.

As Basotho, especially citizens with no political interest (myself included), we are focused on seeing developments done but are ignorant to put in the work. The environment we are currently in is a politically influenced and corrupt one, yet we do not want to change this situation.

Muckraker once said we are ‘all talk no action’. This headline had not sat well with me until I read the whole article. I had to agree with him, we are all talking but with no action. We yell that the government is corrupt, but when given a chance to do something about it we start giving a pile of excuses.

I believe that it is important to realise our environment, as citizens and try to align our missions and values with what is currently happening, what is the use to buy rain boots if we live in the dessert?

As leaders all those aspiring to be, it is time to master the three notions I have mentioned and see our country prosper. I strongly believe that if we nourish our roots (Minds) as individuals, then we could live a more fulfilling life and lead successfully.