Posted by News Express | 20 June 2020 | 1,514 times
I used to have a good laugh whenever I saw my school mates in the primary school in the ’70s and secondary school in the ’80s who later went into sports, especially football, changing their dates of birth to read that they were born in the ’90s.
However, when I realised that the act has become a cultural thing which may never go away, the laugh changed to serious concern.
The truth is that due to parental insensitivity with regard to spotting the gifts or talents with which their children came into the world and coupled with the dearth of well-trained career counselors, most Africans don’t realise who they are or the potentials in them until the later part of their lives.
That is why a lot of us are becoming late blooming adults and adept at age falsification.
A late blooming adult is an individual who does not discover his talents or abilities until later than normally expected. At times, the discovery could even happen well into retirement. Some even die with theirs.
A story had it that one day in the 90s,our own Hakeem Olajuwon, a former NBA star, visited Nigeria and decided to go and see how his compatriots who were in the camp preparing for an international basketball competition were faring in the game.
According to the story, when he got to the camp, one of the players saw him and made a “smart move”. He quickly called a photographer and posed with Hakeem. When he got home, he showed the picture to his father who was then a Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service.
Taking a cue from former Nigerian national football team coach Clemence Westorhof, who reportedly accepted somebody into the Green Eagles camp as a goalkeeper just because of the way he dived in a picture, the man vowed that his 26 years old son must play in the NBA.
He quickly arranged travel visas and took his son to the United States.
There, they were introduced to a basketball coach, who he proudly showed his son’s picture with Hakeem and told the coach that his son was the greatest thing ever to happen to the game of basketball in Nigeria.
After all the encomiums on his son, the coach threw a ball into the court and told the young man to go and juggle it for some minutes.
After about ten minutes, the coach called the father of the youth and told him in plain language that what his 26 years old son was doing with the ball was what every eight-year old American does with the ball; therefore, there was nothing special about his son. End of Discussion.
That is the importance of starting early. I always feel uncomfortable any time I am asked to educate adults on choice of career. The truth is that any career that one did not begin at the age of ten is too late.
So, in order to curb late blooming in Africa, parents should begin to take more interest in their children’s growth.
Feeding, clothing and paying school fees are certainly not enough. They should be watching their children closely to see the traits they are manifesting, the potentials that they are showing. Parents should be watching their children closely to see the things that have passions for, the things that they like doing when nobody is watching, the things that wake them up from sleep or give them joy whenever they are doing them.
When parents discover the potentials in their children at a very tender age, it then becomes easy to bring an expert or professional to guide or encourage them towards those paths.
So, catching them young is therefore, the only way to curb late blooming adults in Africa.
ABOUT THE COLUMNIST
Peter Anosike is a well-known journalist and development economist.
His book, Dangote’s Ten Commandments on Money (Lessons on How to Make Money from One of the World’s Richest Men), was rated as one of the best development books in the world by Wall Street Journal and FORBES. The book has been adopted as a workbook for grooming entrepreneurs by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN). Anosike’s other of his books include, How To Be The Best You Can Be and Look Forward and Lean Less On Your Past – all trending in Smashwords along with Dangote’s Ten Commandment on Money and How To Be The Best You Can Be. You can follow him on Facebook and Linkedin.
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