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Leaving your mark

By Kate Henshaw
When babies are born, there is joy in the home and in the lives of the parents. Expectations are high and everyone prays that their child will grow up to be great and leave their mark in their generation.

Parents have mapped out a plan for the life of the child but somewhere along the line, as a child grows into adulthood, he or she decides on which course in life to follow to become asuccess. Much as a lot of people are celebrated when they die, they should also be remembered when they are alive.

I walked into a hall during the week, unaware of the event that was going on to meet with the First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, an exceptional lady who is selfless and simple.  Her intelligence is something I admire so much, and she inspires me more than she could ever know.

I took a seat and waited for her to finish her speech and got to learn of a lady I had never met but the crop of people in attendance gave me an idea of who this lady was and what she stood for. She had just passed on and her friends and colleagues decided to come together to remember her good works.

This was the speech the First lady read and she gave me her permission to use in my article and share with you all, titled THE TASK OF A GENERATION:

Sindi Medar-Gould was born in 1944. This makes her a Traditionalist, that is the generation of people (1925-1945), who grew up in a world torn apart by a vicious world war, critical engagements to dismantle colonial structures, leading liberation struggles, as well as fanning the embers of powerful civil rights and social movements that dared challenge racial and patriarchal power and privilege around the world.

This generation raised the Baby Boomers, a generation known for bravery, fearlessness, innovation, a strong craving for social justice, and a willingness to question givens on fundamental levels. It was also a generation charged with following through on revolutions that had been envisioned by those before them.

Sindi Medar-Gould was a poster-girl for the two generations she saddled— the Traditionalists and the Baby Boomers. The values that the traditionalists were known for –loyalty, dedication and sacrifice, duty before pleasure, were traits that Sindi was well known for. The issues that Sindi cared about and worked hard on till she drew her last breath, were the very things that defined the next generation— The Baby Boomers— confronting oppression and defining alternative ways of conceptualizing power and community.

This generation asked dangerous questions and also came up with outlandish answers. Every generation around the world faces its own tasks. Not everyone within that generation is even aware of the task; talk less of knowing what to do about it. This is why so many of our communities have such severe leadership deficit. Each generation has its own heroes and villains. Sindi knew what the task of her generation was and this is why she made the women’s movement her intellectual, professional and emotional home.

The gains that we celebrate today in the women’s movement, especially here in Africa, were made possible by women like Sindi. The challenges we still face were things she constantly agonised about and pushed herself to work harder on. A true Shero and survivor, she was passionate, funny, irreverent and committed. She learnt, taught, campaigned, advocated, trained, travelled, wrote and spoke fearlessly and ceaselessly all in order to fulfil the generational tasks assigned to her.

As we celebrate Sindi Medar-Gould, let us reflect on who we are and our  future in history. Regardless of whatever generation we belong to— Traditionalist, Baby Boomer, Generation X (1965-1979), Millennial a.k.a Y (1989-2000)— what is the task facing your generation? What role have you assigned yourself? Sustaining gains that have been made as we seek new ones is something we all have to work hard on as fearlessly and as tirelessly as Sindi did. Every generation is also charged with the responsibility of correcting the mistakes of the villains who refuse to live up to expectation.

There is no easy ride for any of us. There are no short cuts. Our music, fashion, dance steps, celebrities and literature and so on might differ across generations. Our technology will evolve with the speed of light, even within one generation— the first telephone I used was the ring-around.

It is our constant need for us to refine, reshape and affirm our humanity in an ever-changing world that will always remain the same. Do we know what our task is? Sindi knew and she spent every moment of her amazing life getting the job done. Rest in Peace Sister Sindi. I pray my dreadlocks grow as long as yours.

There you have it, lovely words spoken about Sindi Medar-Gould who certainly did leave her mark and it would have been an honour and privilege to know her. What mark are you leaving behind?  The decision is entirely yours.

 

 


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.