Njundu Drammeh

Dear Njundu,

Do you remember the sobering conversation we had with your great mummy many seasons ago, her wise counsel about life, what we can do to have a respectful relationship with others? They are as fresh in my memory as if said today. Our salad days when we were green in judgment; now I fully appreciate the import of each counsel.

By way of reminder, I share with you what I can remember:

1. If at any time in your life you think you are superior to others, in any way, then check your ego. It is poisoned. Pride comes before a fall.

2. Never be haughty towards others, big or small, high or low. A person you think is beneath you in status or dignity may be better than you in piety and values.

3. Mind your prejudices and stereotypical beliefs about other people. They give birth to bigotry, discrimination and misogyny. Fight them with all your might and never look askance when you witness others exhibiting the attitude. Treat everyone as equal in dignity, respect and rights to you.

4. Never hate a fellow being regardless of how they treat you. Hate is an unchecked cancer which corrodes the personality and eats away the soul. When you hate, you engage in petty scheming which denies you sleep, and sleep is great for the body.

5. Be a people lover. The person who has people has everything in this world. So build bridges, not walls.

6. Avoid getting into arguments as much as possible. It is often a win-lose or lose-win game. If you must, try to understand issues from the perspective of your ‘opponent’. In that case, you may convince him to your side.

7. Avoid the company of mean, petty and small men and women. You will eventually get mired in their mud. With small men and women, nothing great has been achieved

8. Seek out men and women with analytical minds. You may not be like them but they can help to nourish your mind and soul.

9. The adage ‘do unto others as you would want them to do unto you’ is as golden today as when it was first uttered by Confucius. To act otherwise is unfair, unethical and hypocritical.

10. Be sure, absolutely sure, before you speak or write about a person. Check your facts. Words once spoken or written cannot be retrieved. If you are not sure, then keep quiet. If you are sure but the statement is malicious or would be injurious to the person’s good name, standing and character, observe the rule ‘do no harm’.

11. Never judge people. You are not infallible yourself. Deal with your imperfections first and seek the Lord’s mercy for your sins. Let the Lord be the Judge of us all.

12. Let not your material possessions or status make you haughty towards those less favoured.

13. Love unconditionally. Give unconditionally.

14. Respect people’s opinions even if you do not accept them. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Do not be disagreeable or contemptuous towards them. Think it possible that you could be wrong sometimes.

15. Stand for a cause. Fight for a cause. Someone sacrificed for you yesterday that is why you are enjoying your present.

16. Do more listening than talking. You already know what you want to say. So listen so that you can learn more. The Chinese say that God gives us one mouth and two ears so that we can talk less and listen more.

17. Connect heart-to-heart with people. Never lose the common touch. People with never give you their hand if you have not connected with them.

18. Regardless of the situation you may find yourself, never mortgage your integrity for the world; never be false to others; never use other people’s miseries to your advantage.

You are won’t to getting yourself into quarrels too often. Please remember these words of mummy. This world is a transition. We are all here for a purpose. Do play your part and well. Mind only what the angels will tell about you to God before His Throne, not what men will write on your tombstone. Keep your relationships with people, once tested. Niit, nitt moye garabbam.

Aah, remember one day you would be food for the worms and insects in the ground; those things we despise. What is man then? Why carry a mustard of pride in your heart? Why look down on others, when your final resting place are the same? Food for worms.