The monk who set himself in flames in protest

Did they tell you of the monk who set himself in flames in 63?

Did you ask why the doers of the deeds did so?

They say he sat still in lotus as flames roasted his flesh to medium rare. His mental control gripped his body to not flinch as flames scorched.

Some say his blackened skin finally managed to shed light to the world.

I say the flames he sparked where more powerful than the ones that burned him.

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Why you should spend less time working and more time doing your hobbies.

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As the demands of our work and other life’s commitments became more and more we increasingly feel pressed for time, when this happens we make up for it by giving up on things that matter to us but we are not getting paid to do. Having time to do your hobbies is increasingly being seen as something that is enjoyed by the unemployed or the lazy.

This may sound trivial but it is as important as our deadlines and commitments are. When people don’t have time for hobbies, our families and our colleagues pay a price. Hobbies can make workers substantially better at their jobs. I know this from personal experience. I’ve always loved cooking food from stretch, making pasta from flour and eggs, roasting and brewing my own coffee beans. But just like everyone else everywhere, I can fall into the trap of feeling that I have no time to do these things.

As both a medical student and entrepreneur I have enough on my plate to keep me busy around the clock. I can easily fall into the trap of the “72-hour workweek,” which takes into account time people spend connected to work on our phones outside of official working hours.

Going to bed is an active decision of weighing pros and cons because there’s always the temptation to do something sedentary and mindless, We usually spend our downtime doing sedentary things such as watching TV or being on social media.

However, choosing to spend that downtime on our hobbies relax our minds with good brain chemistry that relaxes our minds and allows us to think clearer. Many of us suffer from brain exhaustion and burnout no because we are overworked but because we do not know how to rest, like good quality rest.  Learning to rest well has a lot to do with doing hobbies we enjoy instead of scrolling through our ‘Timeline’ and clicking ‘likes’ and ‘comments’.

A creative hobby pulls you out of the chemical cauldron of mental fatigue. Whether you’re a musician, artist, writer, or cook, you often start with a blank canvas in your mind. You simply think: What will I create that will evoke the emotion I’m going for? it is in this state of mind where we give ourselves the mental space, to focus on our feelings, and reawaken our creativity. It is as if rational thought and emotions involve different parts of the brain and for the floodgates of creativity to open, both must be in play.

When I take a break from work to roast coffee beans, I reconnect with that perspective. I keep thinking about how someone enjoying the cup of coffee will respond to the different textures and notes of the fatty acids from the beans. I do all I can to bring out the best from the beans by playing special attention to the smell, the texture and coarseness of every cup. Then, when I resume with my studies or work project, I take that same mentality with me. I can tell that my brain was craving that kind of satisfaction. And when I face that work project again, I bring confidence with me.

Being in Medicine is extremely rewarding in many ways but I do not have to tell you that it comes with its stresses too. What we do outside of work can often attribute to our success at work. Maintaining a healthy level of stress has many positive benefits but there is a thin line between healthy and negative stress which we all cross from time to time.

 

 

The grandiose delusions of Churchill won the war

This statue was on display in Norwich, but not for long as you can imagine. I am borderline certain it caused a lot of quarrel and turned a lot of heads as the Brits saw their wartime leader in a straitjacket. As an African  blogger, I can stick my neck out and defend the statue, and write what I like, as Steve Biko would put it.

The problem facing many mental health campaigners is that there is a huge stigma attached to mental health disorders which have plagued us since Victorian times. The use of the straitjacket is pertinent since to many people mental health problems have connotations of the loony asylum.

Picturing someone of the stature of Churchill in a straitjacket isn’t designed to denigrate him. It is intended to demonstrate that everyone can suffer from mental illness and that it should not be considered something unmentionable, embarrassing or shameful.

No one would express anything other than sympathy for people suffering from a physical illness, yet psychiatric illnesses are taboo.

Anton Storr in his book believes that Britain wouldn’t have won its wars had it not been lead by a man who suffered from bipolar disorder with delusions of grandiose, he could never have been able to inspire the nation when all the odds were against it, a leader of sober judgement might well have concluded that Britain was doomed.

Winston Churchill referred to his periods of depression as the ‘Black Dog’. “Black Dog” was Churchill’s name for his depression and as is true with all metaphors, it speaks volumes.The nickname implies both familiarity and an attempt at mastery, because while that dog may sink its teeth into a  person every now and then, it is still, only a dog, it can be cajoled sometimes and locked up other times, and sometimes leashed on Prozac.

 

 

 

Does Higher Education Still Prepare Young-people for Jobs?

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We often hear employers and business leaders lament the unfortunate gap between what new graduates have learned at university and what they are actually expected to know in order to do their jobs well. This is particularly alarming in light of the large and still growing number of unemployed youth.

While education is free for students in South Africa, it is not cheap, there is a clear premium on education the returns of investments are very lucrative for those who choose the right kinds of skills for the future. However, the value added by a university degree decreases as the number of graduates increases.

At the same time, as university qualifications become more common, recruiters and employers will increasingly demand them, regardless of whether they are actually required for a specific job. So, while tertiary degrees may still lead to higher-paying jobs, the same employers handing out these jobs are hurting themselves and young people by limiting their candidate pool to university graduates. In an age of ubiquitous disruption and unpredictable job evolution, it is hard to argue that the knowledge acquisition historically associated with a university degree is still relevant.

There are several data-driven arguments that question the actual, rather than the perceived, value of a university degree. A number of  meta-analytic reviews have long-established that the correlation between education level and job performance is weak. In fact, the research shows that intelligence scores are a much better indicator of job potential. If we were to pick between a candidate with a university degree and a candidate with a higher intelligence score, we could expect the latter to outperform the former in most jobs, particularly when those jobs require constant thinking and learning. Academic marks are indicative of how much a candidate has studied, but their performance on an intelligence test reflects their actual ability to learn, reason, and think logically.

University degrees are also confounded with social class, while many universities in South Africa do select students on meritocratic grounds, even merit-based selection is conflated with variables that decrease the diversity of admitted applicants. Affluent  families with more money can afford to pay for better schools, tutors, extracurriculars, and other privileges that increase their child’s likelihood of accessing an elite higher education. This, in turn, affects the entire trajectory of that child’s future, including their future career prospects providing a clear advantage to some and a clear disadvantage to others.

Having said that, universities could substantially increase the value of their graduates if they spent more time teaching their students critical soft skills. Recruiters and employers are unlikely to be impressed by candidates unless they can demonstrate a certain degree of people-skills. This is perhaps one of the biggest differences between what universities and employers look for in applicants. While employers want candidates with higher levels of EQ, resilience, empathy, and integrity, those are rarely attributes that universities nurture.

As the impact of Artificial Intelligence and disruptive technology grows, candidates who can perform tasks that machines cannot are becoming more valuable and that underscores the growing importance of soft skills, which are hard for machines to emulate.

In short,I believe that the job market calls for a paradigm change. More and more students are spending more and more money on higher education, and their main goal is largely pragmatic: to boost their employability and be a valuable contributor to the economy. Even if the value attached to a university degree is beneficial to those who obtain it, companies can help change the narrative by putting less weight on “higher education” as a measure of intellectual competence and job potential, and instead, approach hiring with more open-mindedness.

The Innovations Closing Africa’s Electric Power Gap

Image result for african energy crisesWhen you fly over Africa you realist how dark the continent is, and this is not because of her people, its simply because Africa is not powered.Humanity has never before had such resources, knowledge, and technology at its disposal yet it is a long way from translating those advances into decent lives for all the world’s people. We believe that innovation by businesses large and small can play a central role in closing that gap and solving the world’s challenges. Africa’s shortage of electric power is one of the greatest such challenges, and the push to electrify the continent provides inspiring examples of entrepreneurial solutions.

A few numbers show just how far Africa has to go in power generation. Electricity con­sumption per person in large African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria is less than one-tenth that of Brazil or China. In poorer countries such as Mali, a typical household uses less electricity in a year than a Londoner uses to boil a kettle each day. And nearly 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity altogether with the result that whole communities literally live half their lives in the dark.

The power gap imposes high economic costs, electricity is the life-blood of any  economy, it is the key to getting businesses to work, whether you’re in the agricultural sector, or mining sector. When we talk of foreign capital investment, one of the most deterring factors for foreign to invest in Africa is the energy crises it faces.

While I understand why investors might see energy in Africa as reason to avoid Africa, I do strongly believe that the lack of energy in Africa is an opportunity rather than a threat that which bold innovative investors can use to help close the power gap.

Expanding Africa’s power grid is very important, it’s not the only part of the solution. A new breed of African innovators is harnessing the  advances in solar power and battery storage, to leapfrog the continent’s gaps in electric power generation. One example is Kenya-based M-Kopa, which provides solar-powered electricity generation and storage solutions to households that lack access to the grid

The time to expand the  use digital technologies in Africa has come. The time to decarbonized, decentralized energy in Africa has come, fortunately this cannot be done by governments neither should it. It is only the muscle of businesses that can switch on the plug for Africa.

 

paradigm switch instead of shift

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Like a multi-compacted Swiss knife, so should your character be.

 

This pliability is important in maneuvering  unfamiliar terrains. I was recently having a conversation with one of the computer science professors about paradigm switch: thee ability to switch ones paradigm as opposed to shifting or changing it.

His American accent gave him away that he is observing from the birds-eye-view of an outsider. He was talking about some of the observations he noticed from his students who come from the rural parts of South Africa, and how their socially navigate these spaces with all they encompass.

Most of the time students from rural areas feel that they are too rural for these places and when they go back home they feel too urban for their homesteads. This is how the social re-engineering of being able to switch instead of changing your paradigm.

Paradigm switching requires a much greater sense of self-awareness to be able to successfully navigate your way in both the rural and urban spaces. The danger of shifting (moving from one to the other) is the parts of your identity and you might loos in the process.

paradigm switching, allows you to benefit from both worlds, without renegading   the other. I can do a Mochaccino and croissants with you with the same craftiness I can do maas with maize with a gogo back home. I am like a Swiss knife, when a situation requires a screwdriver I can easily open the right compartment of my social skills as per requirement. In situations that require a pair of scissors, I open my social scissors, cut and move on.

A Swiss knife is not a screw-driver, its not a pair of scissors,its a Swiss knife! don`t let its ability to switch around confuse you.