BY Herbert PRINCE Mtowo
Growing up in a rugby family of nine children, extended family and other orphaned children from my dad`s side, was no stroll in the park. My mum had her house open to relatives, and other family members` children, to grace us and be part of this unique institution. Within such a rugby team, you don’t always bond, because of personalities, and developmental changes that take place as people mature and grow up from the shadows and influences of others, as they take their place in life and society.
We all have difficult experiences as we grow up in life, and the same we go through and have gone through ,other people can go through the same instead of drowning in their sorrow, rejections, betrayals, abuse ,etc., refuse to be victimised all their lives. I don’t know about you, but I speak for about Herbert, here, some of the most of the fights, pain, struggles, relationship hurts, mistakes, and losses in and to life, that I have gone through, I wouldn’t want to go back to them again, but this one thing I am so sure about, this man I am and have become and will become, is because of some of these that I went through in the past. My past isn’t squeaky clean, when it comes to mistakes, some I could have avoided, some which I had no clue how I had gotten myself in them. But one thing I have learnt, you can live beyond the shadow and influence of your past, and not let the past chain you and make you its prisoner for life.
My circumstances IN LIFE could have overwhelmed me but instead I chose to use them to help me overcome my teenage and life`s chalenges. I knew I wasn’t going to allow drugs, gangs, fights and teenage sex to control me. I wanted nothing to do with it. I saw what it was doing to myhigh school friends, and neighbourhood and some of the youths in my town and I didn’t like it. I have had many people ask me over the years, how I avoided the temptation of drinking. I can honestly say the many nights of watching my high school friends get drunk burned a desire in my heart to live a different kind of life. More importantly, I know God’s hand of protection was over me. I wanted to create my own path to freedom. That’s when I made the decision to immerse myself into reading, God, writing, speaking, sports and school. It was my only hope of keeping my sanity. My life didn’t have it easy all the way; it had rough days and terrible experiences. Having grown up in a family, were from my father`s side, we are relatively a very small clan, and from my mother`s side, it’s a nation of people on its own, it was easy to get lost in the hate wars and fights from both my dad`s side and my mother`s side. But my eyes couldn’t be denied of a future that was beckoning me to come, to come and be celebrated as Herbert.
I hear so many stories of people who feel trapped by their circumstances and they don’t know how to get out. They eventually accept their destination in life and live the lie! My friends, you don’t have to live as a victim. You can live a life victoriously. Are you willing to make changes that can get you out of the role as a victim? I saw where my life was headed and I didn’t want to go there, even as a young boy reading and writing took a hold of my life at a very early and tender age, and this was an escape route to all the vile, and harsh realities about life.. It was up to me to take that first step. I had no idea how to do it, but I knew I didn’t want to live a life or be like my peers and young people I associated with. I had to fight my own way out of the box. Back then, dating wasn’t an option to me, I literally struggled to date only after high school, and when I started it didn’t go well either, had messy relationships, some have really hurt me so bad, and it was learning the hard way. I had to make up my mind and pick my life up and run with it than let all I was left with fall apart like a deck of cards.
The key for me was looking to the future and asking these questions:
• What did I want to do with my life?
• How was I going to get there?
• What kind of situations (drinking, smoking, parties, women, drugs etc.) did I want to avoid?
• What kind of people did I want to be around?
I watched my brother’s life go downhill after the age of 13. It saddens me to this day to know that my brother became an alcoholic at the tender age of 14. He went to parties during the week, skipped school, began smoking, and rarely was at home. he had so much potnetial in boxing,but all that went to waste,and it all could have been avoided,and that at times eats me,that help wasnt given when it could have been given.
He hung with the bad crowd, drank to excess and refused parental supervision ,though my dad was a really tough nut, but this one proved a bit too much for him. He had so much potential, so much wit and treasures in his life. He could have been as mean in the boxing ring even to become a World Heavyweight Champion in boxing , much better, than the great Muhammad Ali, and the steel and brute Iron Mike Tyson,but he rarely attended school, and was gone for days at a time. I couldn’t help him since back then we were pretty young. But I saw a life slip away and wasted, and destroyed painfully and couldn’t come back into shape again. We were the youngest boys left at home others had outgrown their stay in the house and had started their families, as we tried to come to grips with the direction of our lives. He wasn’t daft or slow to learn, but somewhere along the line, he had everything screwed up, and it was not easy to easy then to get back on track and run with his life. Several times he was locked up for violence, and though he never really much provoked people, but when provoked he really fought like a lion, and would take on a gang and fight till the end. I was too young and I was trying to figure out what I had to do to survive myself. It’s never too late to stop being a victim.
Many of us feel like victims due to the following
• Difficult marriages and relationships
• Circumstances out of our control
• Alcohol and drug abuse
• Lack of money and poor investments
• Health, diseases and weight issues
• Work, loss of it and problems at work
• Stress and bad behaviour
These are just a few that I see when I counsel and coach people. It’s amazing to me how many people accept being a victim and don’t realize they don’t have to be a victim any longer
Going through a painful divorce can be ugly; fighting to keep a marriage from failing can be exhausting. It takes work either way, letting go a marriage/relationship you have fought all your time,it sure can be really stressful, but so many times we do decisions for our kids, relatives, families ,and not for our own good, which most of the times is good for our children and them around us too.
And the rugby team has since become much a small team, can`t even make netball team. That means responsibilities and challenges become even tough and difficult, one has to learn to navigate and find their way through life. But, for me to realize, am the only male figure at the helm of decisions, yet, I was down the bottom, when it comes to decision making, it`s a wakeup call to me, and requires more wisdom, understanding and maturity, and such doesn’t come easy. But one has to take a stand or you drown, in the sea of life`s floods.