Paul Akingbola: The Speech That Made Me The World Speaking Champion Within 7 Minutes

Topic: the greatest global movements have been ignited by the action of one visionary individual

I was only 12 when I lost my mother to a very severe anemia. When she passed away, I was broken,  not just like anybody else would be but a lot more because I believed my dream of ever becoming a pilot had been dashed, little did I know, there was a better plan right ahead. My mother was a very emotional woman. She was a great singer too, even though she never had a single until her demise. Weeks before she passed-on, she called me one morning and said “Come Paul, take a seat. I see that you will be great but the greatness must first begin from within you before transcending into the global community”. Before I knew it, she began to sing “things cannot be fine all the time, Push! But it can be the way that you want it, Push! The more you try the more you get close, Push! Always try your best to be better, Push!”…And that’s why up till today, I always believe that every single thing can be better.

The JCI President Shine, the Contest Chair, the judges and my fellow Active Citizens with the PUSH!

Today, I can stand tall to say that the greatest global movements have been ignited by the action of one visionary individual. Sometimes in the early nineties, some two brothers by name Wilbur and Orville Wright openly declared that it was time that man created machines that would fly. Beyond their understanding, the greatest Technicians, Scientists and Philosophers of that time said it was an absolute impossibility. Even their Father, a Clergyman said it was vividly insane for anyone to imagine such but just a few years later, the first airplane was flown on a sandy beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA and that began the era of flying machines. So today, we all enjoy the product of a so-called insanity.

This story goes a long way in buttressing one of Leo Tolstoy’s quotes “the world needs no more of supernatural people or geniuses, all the world needs are people who would wake up one morning, think of what has never been and ask the question: why not?” Notre monde est en train de mourir et il parait que nous n’avons plus d’espoir si nous considérons la pauvreté, les maladies, les guerres, le chômage, et ainsi de suite partout en Afrique, aussi bien que les crises économiques dans les pays les plus avancés? Let’s talk about the poverty, unemployment, war, diseases and other scourges all over Africa. What if we ponder over the economic recession in the more developed economies? Our world is dying and gradually moving into an era of hopelessness.

I know Bill Gates and Aliko Dangote, many celebrate Thomas Edison and Willis Carrier but how many really know how many times they tried and failed in a bid to make life comfortable for you and me. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Theresa among others are the idols of several others but have we ever pictured what they gave just to make lives better? I appreciated Henry Giessembier more, when I discovered that he gave his entire life just to give us all as young active citizens, an opportunity to save the world by starting JCI in 1914. Here, the similitude in the lives of all the afore-mentioned is that we celebrate more, the product of their actions and not what they gave. And this reminds me of a recent Banki Moon’s statement “As Active Citizens, JCI M embers own the key to solving some of the most oppressive challenges of our time”. His predecessor Koffi Annan however, also said “Begin now in your Community, at your University and in your own little town…” This shows that we are exactly the Change we want to see.

I was moved to tears seeing a video some years ago. There was a little boy of about 5 with his back-pack on his way to school, one morning. He noticed an unusual traffic incited by a mighty tree that had fallen across the road. Vehicles could neither cross over nor come over. No one did something and so the boy simply turned back too. Suddenly, he dropped his bag, turned and moved towards the tree. I saw him trying to push the tree off the road. What could he have done considering his status quo but he pushed and pushed even though the tree seemed not moving. As some other kids saw him pushing, they came closer thinking he was having fun and so they pushed together. The heavens opened and poured forth. Moments in the act, an old man spotted them from afar, bursts into tears and passionately joined the children in pushing. Every other onlooker were then motivated to move closer and they altogether, moved the tree and after the rain, was a dry and free road for everyone to use.

Before the action of the little boy, there were two policemen in a car eating and chatting; they did absolutely nothing. But this boy in his incapability found capacity. The smallest seemingly foolish ideas are the ones that have changed the world. If that boy could, why can’t we? It is not about the government; not about what we can get but what we can give. We live to give and not give to live; this we must admit. We can’t keep folding our arms and expect miracles that will never come. The best time to have done something was yesterday and the second best time is now. It is high time we stopped agonizing but started organizing, the time we stopped criticizing but started mitigating.

Many have done their bests, where is mine? What if we “Dare to Act” and “Unite to Impact”, would we not smile?” Let me share the analogy of the four candles: Love, Peace, Faith and Hope. They were quietly burning in a room that if one listened well, one could clearly hear their conversation. The candle of Love said: “I am love but have been neglected and so, why do I have to keep burning?” Moments in, a little breeze blew and the candle of Love went off. Then, Peace said: “once love is out, there is nothing left for me to do”, so, the candle of peace gently went off after a light breeze. A moment later, Faith retorted: “no one cares about me! Trust is nowhere to be found, even faith in God declines daily…” and just after that, the candle of faith went off. Then a little girl came in and asked sobbingly “why are you all off? Aren’t you supposed to stay alive till the end?” Then the fourth candle said “I am hope, while I am still alive, the other candles can come back to life.” So the girl gently picked the fourth candle and lite-up the other three.

Hope is all we have left. No positive action is small. The things we regret most are those we never did. There is power in “one”. Why can’t I be that one? Yes, I am only one, but I am one, I cannot do everything but I can do something. And the little I can do, by the grace of God, I will do. Why not you? Yes you can too. It is our collective responsibility to fix compactibilities where necessary. It begins with us; All of us! It will never be easy but remember nothing good comes easy. The more we try the more fry we earn. Just as my Mama puts: “things cannot be fine all the time, Push! But it can be the way that you want it, Push! The more you try the more you get close, Push! Always try your best to be better, Push!”

Thank you.

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In the beginning...Let there be Light

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