When you grow up, you realise that the world was a circus. Everyone was holding back. Everyone was leading a double life. Somehow, everyone had the public persona and the private persona. That the things people deep down desired to do, are the same things they pretend to hate in public. That when you stumble upon these facts, you almost never recover. You begin searching for the private person that everyone hides.
It is then that you realise why society needs a Winnie Nwagi. Society needs the kind of people who have moved leaps into doing things for things sake. They no longer seek validation, they no longer ask for permission, they simply live authentically.
So, when they wake up one day and think it awesome to do a swimsuit shoot, they jump right into having one. When the world says a woman cannot have her cellulite on display, they defy age old structures and shape the future. While everyone is waiting for a perfect body to do a bikini shot, Nwagi teaches the world to accept itself. To find beauty in one’s imperfections. To realise that you do not have to be perfect, that the world does not have to give you permission to pursue your desires.
Society is changed by people who choose to defy some conventions on how and why life should be lived a certain way. It is about those people that make bold statements about their existence and their identity.
The world is changed by the Bobi Wines who choose to stand up, regardless of their insufficiencies. They are the square pegs in round holes. They refuse to play by the common script. They do not let rules hold them back. Bobi Wine would have thought that politics is to be left to the lawyers, the political scientists. No way, he jumped straight into the fray.
And maybe with the Nwagis of this world, we soon stumble upon a secret; “authenticity is attractive.” It is attractive because everyone else is hiding, everyone is pretending.
People are driving cars they cannot afford, sleeping in apartments out of their budget. And running up and down on loans, on cash bailouts, on salary advances. We are leading lives that are out of our reach, choking on debt and pretending everything is okay. We live hand-to-mouth. The Ugandan middle class is no way different from the poor in Uganda.
The Ugandan middle class haggles in the same market as the poor person. They look out for the same deals. They look out for free tickets to events. The Ugandan middle class is a refined version of the poor. They earn just enough to disguise their poverty. It is no wonder supermarkets keep struggling in the country. It is no wonder most apartments have a below 50 per cent occupancy rate. Above all, it is no wonder Ugandan tenants rarely last longer than a year at a given apartment. They are always on the move.
The point is, we all need to move and rediscover the Winnie Nwagi or Bad Black in us. Maybe then, people will humble themselves and stop living a life based on the search for validation. Perhaps girlfriends will realise that it is no use putting their boyfriends on pressure to fund a luxurious wedding. On top of that, they force the husband to take the kids to an expensive international school. But above all, stress the rest of us with wedding contributions. If people realised that there is no big point to prove in life. That there is no overall person to please, you can still live a normal life, then we would solve most of the world’s problems.
Instead, we have the future Winnie Nwagis hiding in church fellowships, pretending to be all super spiritual. We have kids pursuing university courses simply to please their parents. We have parents forcing kids to pursue certain career paths simply because it enhances the conversations with other parents. We are competing over the most mundane of things. We all end up sad.
The lesson from Nwagi is that you own yourself, you are answerable to you, and that you should not be placed under the shackles of convention. The lesson from Nwagi is that you should be unapologetic about pursuing the causes you believe in. You should not apologise for being a human being, for living life on your terms.
The lesson from Nwagi is that life is too short to spend it walking on a tightrope, wondering; “what will people say? What will they think?” Maybe all we need to do in life is just go to a swimming pool and take a shot with our bow legs. And perhaps then, we shall have discovered the secret to happiness.
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