When I turned fourteen years old, my grandfather, a tall and slim, yet very strong man, who wore an abundance of grey hair and an impressive beard, called me to his big house that had iron sheets for its roof. He was dressed in a blue work suit and had a bottle of locally brewed beer in his right hand. My heart was pounding since I was a naughty boy and was filled with fear, not knowing why he wanted me. I was dressed in dirty khaki shorts and a light blue shirt, without shoes on my feet - dirty for I had been playing soccer with my friends. Despite this fear, I told myself to still go and meet him and hear why he wanted me. When I reached his house, he asked me to sit down on an old brown tree trunk, while he sat on his chair sipping and enjoying his beer.
My grandfather faced me and looked directly into my eyes, his sharp brown eyes piercing into mine. . Then he coughed to clear the air. . After a long pause, he said, ‘‘Young man, I want to teach you how to build a house. We are going into the forest tomorrow to cut trees that we shall use in building this house. Are you ready?’’ I was dumbfounded but like waking up from a dream, I said, “Yes, I am’’. The next day, a beautiful and sunny Saturday morning, he led meinto the forest and started to cut down trees for this house. We carried the long poles from the forest to the village on our shoulders while listening to his anecdotes. Later on, the house started to take shape and eventually, in no time, we had completed building a house from the poles and mud. I felt great that I had learnt a vital skill as a young man.
Growing up as a young man, managing people in my work place, I had a leader who believed in me. He trained and mentored me to realize the best in myself. He was an outgoing and vivacious person who had the best of me at heart. Learning from the best I became the best.
As time went by, I took over from my leader and became the Marketing Manager. One day, I sat down and asked myself what was my purpose on Earth. I vividly recalled my late grandfather teaching me how to build a house from poles. I remembered how I became a real man. I told myself then that I should put ‘Ubuntu’ into effect. As the Marketing Manager, I chose to recruit young men and women who had no practical work experience. - all I looked for was the willingness to learn. After taking these young men and women through a training and mentoring programme, they became the best employees and contributed most positively towards the bottom line of the company. Seeing them realise their dreams made me happy and satisfied.
Eventually I joined Eloquent Toastmasters Club. I was straight away assigned a mentor who had time to listen to me and mould me into what I am today. My mentor spent his quality time with me to assist me perfect my presentation skills. He carefully drilled me in what was meant by vocal variety, purposeful movement and eye contact when presenting a speech. His efforts paid off since from then on, I volunteered at every meeting to either present a speech or take up any leadership role .
My late grandfather, my work leader and finally my mentor at Eloquent Toastmasters Club, and my desire to see this world become a better place to live in, have influenced me greatly to be a mentor. Seeing my fellow Toastmasters realize their dreams through spending time with them, has made me happy all the time. It is in reaching out to others that we are blessed. What are you waiting for? Extend your hand out to your fellow Toastmasters, take them through the Pathways process until they navigate it with ease, and you derive greate satisfaction in your life.
- Robert Salijeni