By Jeff Kenyatta
In kindergarten, there’s this story we used to recite, during English lessons. The tragedy of SIMON MAKONDE’s short life.
In the brevity of a lifetime, Makonde achieved what takes us years to fulfil in a week. And some of us die without having fulfilled such noble dreams.
Nature so designed his life in speciality that he was born on a Monday, named on a Tuesday, married on a Wednesday, got ill on a Thursday, treated on a Friday, died on a Saturday and buried on a Sunday.
Autobiographers and Eulogists of his day documented his life, all cuffed in a span of a week. Poets and singers in his funeral gave recitations that were captured in books; books that have been passed over the ages to the ones we once read in classroom.
Makonde was a man of his time. The legend of Makonde has it that when he was born, many kinsmen marvelled at his birth, and many reserved names to call him, prompting a day to be set apart to name him. They chose Makonde for his name.
And because of the feeding and care and love, Makonde grew overnight to be given a bride for a wife the next day in a celebrated wedding. Such was his miraculous growth that tales of Aladdin’s lamp are incomparable.
Storytellers also say that when he died, Makonde had left an enviable legacy. So short was his life than a pygmy’s height that Guinness Book of Records had him as the shortest most renowned life ever lived.
I don’t know how true are these stories. Or if Simon Makonde ever lived. And if he did, whether he lived and died a week old. Or if he met the life stages at different times, but on different days, to summarary compress his life in a week.
Or was this story meant after all to inspire us? Make us achieve much when young? Make us resilient and adventurous and ambitious and aggressive?
That’s perhaps the tragedy of our time. Those who stepped in classroom know this story. And such is its memorability that we have grown to be newer or latest versions of Makonde.
We want to set records. We want ‘fairy tale’ lives… Be named in Forbes as the youngest millionaires, the youngest billionaire entreprenuers. The finest… The sexiest… The hottest… Anything in the superlative (-est) form. The Makondes of our age.
That’s the Makonde version of our generation.
We want to get ahead. We want to be important, to be recognised, to be in the spotlight, to have cameras rolling and phones calling us for appointments and dates.
We want days to be set apart to fete our achievements. Graduation days. Wedding days. Birthdays. Any day and all days in a week to be marked by our glory.
We want to accumulate much. We want to know much beyond our years, and in the public sector, we want to steal enough, to get rich or die trying. And once dead, in our funerals, we want eulogies be read of a man who achieved much too much before he was 40. Top 40 under 40, you get it?
We want to school and have degrees and titles that it will be said we were without peers, we were beyond our age. You probably will hear someone pride (s)he graduated before 20 years, completed masters before 25 and was a Doctor before 30. That is a Simon Makonde.
And because of the deeply embedded Makonde DNA in our nerval systems, we use overt and covert means to justify our means by our ends.
We have so many Makondes today.
The Makonde syndrome of instant success and a youthful, fulfilling and celebrity life is the dream of most millenials.
The harrowing dilemma of capitalism has so narrowed our lives to 8-5 working system, that in so chasing a living, we’ve lost a life.
The 8:4:4 schooling has robbed our time from home, has ambushed kids for preps and chilly dawns, that education has become a competing life experience.
Makonde, by all estimates of human success, passed all stages of human accomplishments. But his obituary was hollow, was wanting.
There was nothing to write home about if Makonde gave society back, the community that set a day aside to name him.
Makonde’s means of life outlived his ends in life. He maximised the minimums and minimised the maximums. His life stages was narrowed to birth, marriage, sickness, death and burial.
Such a good name to be named Simon- the Rock. Such a celebratory feeling to have been in the Who’s who of his day. But he failed, by large. He failed to enlarge life beyond the cyclic human stages.
Nothing beats than such a life. A Makonde life. A fateful life that seeks normalcy and whose story mirrors on one character- me, myself and I. Makonde’s biography was all about himself.
I’m not sure if the current kindergarten pupils read the Makonde story, but to us who are living, don’t lead a Makonde life. Make your obituary and eulogy worthy reading. And if so biographies and story tellers ever narrate your living, may it capture and transcend your life beyond the common rigour, that often narrows us down in a Makonde-like life