A LETTER FROM GERMANY (2)
Places worth seeking
– Professor Brando Okolo, African Heritage Man of the year 2011 is a full Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the German University in Cairo – Egypt
The Scripture says, “…seek and you shall find…”
The concept of seeking and finding is so basic.
I have an eleven month old daughter, to test her resolve; I sometimes hold up an object to her face then turn my back to her and hide this object with the hope that her curiosity would kick-in. Having hidden this object, I then stand back to watch her act. First thing I notice is that she had all along been watching me, paying a keen attention to the moving parts of my body; particularly my hands where this object once was. She now concludes that the object is neither in my hands nor in my pocket, as there are no visible signs. She then proceeds in the direction where I had been prior to standing back, to begin a search. I observe that she is especially working her eyes and hands. For this reason I am quite convinced that she is very busy and determined to seek out the object. After a while of searching she looks back at me expecting me to help her through the situation. I raise my hands into the air, and then frisk myself to show her that the object indeed is not on my person. I point in the direction of where she could find the object and then resume my observation while she resumes the search. I have hidden this object not behind one of the small pillows on the couch but underneath the removable sitting-form. Two months earlier, Courtney would never have figured-out that the object is hidden underneath the sitting-form but now out of experience, developed through repeated exercises, she knows that searching at this location is an option. I watch her stick her hands underneath the sitting-form and then smile pleasantly because she is making the correct move. My smile matures when I notice that there is a twitch in the upper part of her searching arm, indicative that she had struck the object. She then turns to me smiling, with beads of sweat on her forehead, whilst carefully pulling out the object, examines it to confirm that it is the item sought after and then shows it up to me with both hands in the air. We are both happy that the search is over. Courtney is especially glad that she has got the object in her hands. She had invested some time and energy in this search and the reward is the joy which purposeful seeking and finding had brought to her.
The German socio-economic system is fashioned in such a form that once a permit is issued for a prolonged legal stay in the country one can quickly seek after the various options available for residents to fit-in socio-economically.
It is true that a lot of emphasis is placed on qualifications/credentials in Germany. One often is required to provide an accredited proof of skill in any trade should one seek employment. If the system insists that this requirement needs to be met then the first step towards positioning oneself socio-economically should be to first seek ways of fulfilling this condition.
There are two main statuses for foreigners living in any country; not only in Germany. One is with a visa permit and the other is an asylum permit. A significant amount of Africans living in Germany have an asylum permit. This status prevents them from engaging in economic activities until their application process has come to a successful end. Once a stay permit has been granted then one should quickly seek ways of fitting-in socio-economically.
What can we seek after ? Contacts, Qualifications and more Contacts. As many as can be brought into one’s portfolio.
Reach out to people, make yourself visible and advertise your strengths. Be prepared to learn new concepts and how to apply them using the best in you. Train yourself to become trustworthy at all cost. Make a positive and remarkable impression wherever you find yourself.
Read, read and read more, keeping in mind that information is the key to getting inspired and that with it you will be projected within reach of your aspirations.
Regarding qualifications, my frank suggestion will be for one to first take an honest inventory of one’s capabilities. For instance, it will be dishonest to oneself to expend valuable energy contemplating being a rocket scientist when one’s personal record indicates that passing basic-school mathematics was a pitiful struggle. It will also be a wasteful effort for one with scholastic inclinations to move onto bar waiting. My point here is simple: if you must be comfortable in your chosen vocation then from the onset ensure that your talents are appropriately aligned to the right areas, period.
Areas where I think Africans need to begin to register and consolidate their presence are in:
– Private security agencies
– Private driving services
As short as this list of options might seem, in them lies the opportunities which are now available to us in the current German socio-economic configuration. Kindly give this list an honest thought and seek-out your niche in it. We are ripe for integration into the German main stream. Our dominance in any of the areas mentioned above will guarantee that we are consulted when decisions which may affect our interests are to be made.
As the saying goes, “the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the next best time is now.” Upcoming articles on this column will discuss how one can be qualified to be a player in these areas. Stay tuned.
Professor Brando Okolo, African Heritage Man of the year 2011 is a full Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the German University in Cairo – Egypt. First printed in African Heritage Magazine in 2006.