Last week, I went to visit a friend at some company within Lilongwe. As I was walking to his office, in the corridor, I found a cleaner leaning against a war and having a nap. I woke him up and jokingly asked if he had enjoyed full sleep the night before. He confessed that he had slept few hours because he was busy studying. I was curious! He narrated to me how he is pursuing his dream to one day be an accountant. He has his Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) and is studying towards an advanced diploma in Accountancy, having completed his initial diploma in the same field.
I wanted to know the details of his course and this made him reveal to me his challenges. The previous term, he paid tuition fees but this ran down his small savings from his little salary and so he was not able to pay for the examinations. He has now opted to read on his own without tuition so that the little money he can save, he can write one paper which costs MK17,500. He intends to write a single paper per semester until he finishes all the remaining seven modules. This means that he will do roughly two papers per year and that means he needs nearly four years to complete the advanced diploma which he would have ordinarily completed under two years if he had all the money.
What I found even more interesting is that due to unforeseen circumstances, his savings for this semester have been used up. This made me ask him the question “why then bother study at the expense of enjoying good sleep and nice dreams?” He told me that he is studying purely to keep fresh, to remain a student and with the hope that somehow he will get a breakthrough. This now got me really interested in him. I vowed to vouch for him to people of goodwill who may sponsor him until he completes his advanced diploma. This has been possible because he was ready for this luck—discovered through his having a nap while standing against a war in the corridor at lunch time.
Few days later after this first incident, I came across a similar story. There is a young man in Kasungu who was selected to a good public secondary school. However, he had no means for paying his tuition fees at the secondary school. He decided to still repeat Standard eight class to keep going as he hoped something would come up and the world would perhaps smile on him one day. Indeed, one his peers told her aunt about the story and she felt sorry for him. Although she was not rich and had only enough from her entry professional level in civil service, she took it upon herself to pay for the school fees for this young man. With this arrangement, he left primary school and entered secondary school. His fees was paid for up to the end of secondary school level and he passed with good points and is actively working towards going into tertiary institutions.
This young man only got his sponsorship because he was ready to be lucky. He had shown his readiness by signing up for standard eight class again even though he had passed already. Very few people would do this. Many of us like the easy ways, free things and quick fixes.
What we observe from the two stories is a common theme. That luck likes those that are ready for it. In Malawi, people like to claim that those who do well are simply lucky. Very little attention is paid to how much prepared the successful people are by the time ‘luck’ shines on them. You too can be lucky and you too can attract luck. For that to be possible, you need to be ready for luck – invest enough time and work hard, with patience, focus and ambition. Good luck!n