Learn to make the hard choices in life (Part 2)

__The commandment to “Love your neighbor” had no exceptions…

You know, of course, that your neighbor is more than someone who lives next door to you. He or she is someone who will come to help you out when you have been beaten and thrown into the ditch of life. Or someone you have absolutely nothing in common with at all. Let’s talk.

A few weeks ago I was invited to speak at a business forum organized by the same group that puts together Tanzania’s National Prayer Breakfast. At last minute I was unable to attend due to logistical challenges. I was sad about that, so I hope I get another opportunity. I have spoken at two National Prayer Breakfasts in the past, in the USA and Kenya.

For my friends from Tanzania and others who are interested, I thought to share the talk I delivered at Kenya Prayer Breakfast a few years ago. You can click here to watch: http://bit.ly/National_Prayer_Breakfast

Prior to arriving to Kenya, I had spent days drafting my speech, but when I got there I learned the organizers had reduced the time slot. It was incredibly inconvenient. (It seemed I had travelled around the world to speak for only 10 minutes!)

In such situations, you can choose either to get mad or get busy, so I basically abandoned what I had written and scribbled a few notes during the event.

Now I have had the privilege in my life (for which I’m eternally grateful to The Father of Light) to speak before world leaders and in panels with famous people. And yet for me this is probably the greatest speech I ever made, anywhere!

The entire national leadership of Kenya was there, including the President and his deputy, along with cabinet ministers, judges, legislators, and members of the opposition. Religious leaders — Christians, Muslim, Hindu, and Jewish — were also there.

Kenya was in mourning following a deadly terrorist attack at Garissa University which left 147 innocent students dead and 79 others injured. It was horrific.

As I listened to speaker after speaker recount what they did, and how they were feeling, it was clear that Kenyans of all religions, political backgrounds, tribes, race, gender were standing as one in rejection of extremism and intolerance.

When it was my turn, I got up and read the Bible verse about the Good Samaritan, and shared some of my research on who the Samaritan people were, and why they were generally despised by the majority population:

# They were people of a different race, tribe, and religion.

# There was a history of animosity between the communities that dated back hundreds of years.

As I was preparing to leave the hotel after the speech, a group of religious leaders representing Christians and Muslims was waiting in the lobby. They hugged me tearfully.

People who had watched on national TV sent me messages, including the Kenyan president’s mother. The leader of the opposition, Hon Raila Odinga, called me about it.

At the airport, Kenyans of all ages, particularly young people, told me they had seen it.

__My friends: The “Good Samaritan” could turn out to be your Muslim neighbor, your Christian neighbor, the Jewish guy, the white guy, the black guy, the Arab guy, or even the guy from a tribe that once murdered or persecuted your people… You might not even approve of his or her way of life.

We must reject and fight intolerance, whether it be racism, tribalism, religious bigotry, anti-Semitism, xenophobia or extremism of any kind.

If we want to unleash the full potential of this great continent, we have to pull down the borders. We have to be good neighbors to those who are different from us. I will never forget the day one of my children cried about being mocked by a teacher for believing in Jesus Christ. I had to sit her down and tell her that her teacher was guilty of “religious bigotry and intolerance,” even though that teacher did not consider himself religious.

__We must be respectful of the dignity and rights of others to believe, or not to believe (as the case may be).

Now the African continent is a giant waiting to be awakened, but first we must kick the elephant out of the room! (If you don’t know the expression, look it up!)

# The elephant is intolerance. One of the worst forms of intolerance is from men who cannot accept that women have the same rights as men in everything.

# The elephant is the injustice where you cannot live with your neighbor. No matter what our fathers and mothers may have told us that happened in the past, it is in the past.

The elephant is also the silence of those who can speak up for mutual respect, love and integrity… yet choose not to.

To be continued. . .

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About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

4 thoughts on “Learn to make the hard choices in life (Part 2)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.

    On the platform we have a team of people who monitor comments for extremist and intolerant views. They are instructed to delete and ban from the platform anyone who writes racist, anti-Semitic [hatred of Jewish people], tribalist, sexist, or xenophobic [including hatred of people and people groups from other countries] and religious bigotry [aimed at fermenting hatred against people of other religions] comments.

    Reply
  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.

    This week I’m in Rwanda attending the Transform Africa Summit. Whilst it’s true that I really love Rwanda, one of the reasons why I attend so many of their events is that they plan well in advance. It is really very difficult to schedule anything in my calendar without at least 12 months notice. I am sorry to disappoint, but please remember that speaking at events is not my day job. I have a business to run and although the invitations are a real honor, it’s difficult to respond to all the requests to speak. Sometimes I get 20 or more in a week.

    We actually decide at the beginning of the year how many events I will participate in, and my team then starts to work with the organizers. The rest of the time is focused on running the business and attending to other commitments.

    Reply
  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Omaya writes,

    I watched you live tata n it was so inspiring. What most people dont know is that the then President of Garissa university lost his life by fighting the terrorists while asking his fellow students to escape. He lost his life in the process but rescued almost everyone in that room. Thank you mukoma for standing with our country at that trying moment. Thank you.

    My reply,
    These are our true heroes of modern Africa!

    Reply

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