Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book Review: Rich Dad's CASHFLOW Quadrant by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Anyone who is familiar with my reading interests may very well know that motivational book and tapes aren’t my passion. This is because I’m convinced they achieve no useful purpose other than giving people what I term a ‘feel good’ effect. A friend once aptly captured in my view what best represents what these motivational speakers do saying they are just selling hope – and a false hope at that – to a desperate people. So you can imagine my surprise when this same friend strongly recommended I read a book by an author I’ve always perceived a motivational speaker. Ye the conviction with which my friend spoke and the evidence of the benefits he’d been reaping by applying the lessons he’d learned from the author was compelling indeed so I decided to take him at his word to read the book and boy, what an insightful read it’s been!

Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant, the sequel to Robert T. Kiyosaki’s best seller Rich Dad Poor Dad, is my second encounter with the author having read the first in the series sometime in the past while I was still in school. The book to my surprise didn’t fit my preconceived notion of a typical motivational book as it was very realistic in tone and down-to-earth in its practicability.

The author takes time to introduce the reader to the four parts of the cashflow quadrant i.e. E for Employee and S for Self-Employed on the left side of the quadrant with B for Business Owner and I for Investor on the right side while expounding on the pros and cons of each part. Though he doesn’t quite come clear on which part of the quadrant is best (as he assures the reader that no part is without its risks and gains), it wasn’t difficult to deduce that he favored the right side of the quadrant over the left side and even on the right side, the author favored the I over the B. Here, I often felt the author was playing fast and loose with his analysis and frustratingly so. I also found certain portions of the book to be needlessly repetitive almost to the point of being boring.

However, unlike your typical motivational book where readers are psychologically induced into a transient optimistic mood with the aim of jolting readers to action (often prematurely), the author advocates taking what he calls “baby steps” instead of giant leaps when venturing into a new quadrant. He underscored the importance of extensive and continuous education and knowledge acquisition with adequate experience because certain rules that may have been effective in one quadrant may prove ineffectual to one’s loss in another quadrant.

The author also shares many pithy quotes from his Rich Dad urging what may very well be unorthodox advice among motivational speakers such as “be prepared to be disappointed” because “only fools expect everything to go the way they want.” He observes that “just as we learn from our mistakes, we gain character from our disappointments” and that inevitably, “losing is part of winning.”

The crux of the whole book for me was succinctly expressed under the section he sub-titled BE˃DO˃HAVE where he teaches readers to spend more time acquiring the right attitude required to achieve the desired end instead of hastily seeking a shortcut by doing what one thinks will achieve a desired end. The end result of such impulsive action he noted is usually a burnout causing one to abandon one’s dreams even before one has truly started.

Cashflow Quadrant was a real eye-opener and I recommend it to all especially the financially naïve and for new business owners. May be it’s time I heeded the advice of the author to “mind my own business.” 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chale What's Your Guy Name

I recently visited a friend at his office, only to serendipitously bump into an AMOSA who was my friend’s colleague. This chance encounter drum home the trite remark that “it’s a small world” we live in. We exchanged pleasantries and carried on with a hearty chitchat. During our chat I realized that I did not remember his name. And so I did what I knew how to do best: I feigned knowledge of his name, while trying hard to recollect, yet engaging him with a phony smile. Halfway through the conversation, I mustered the courage to confess my ignorance. He just smiled knowingly and told me his name. I sheepishly exclaimed “Ah yes!” as though I was at the edge of recollection. Thankfully, this little gaffe did not dampen our chitchat till I took my leave.
Picture |Courtesy Yujin Evans

On my way back home, I tried to figure out why I generally found it a bit more difficult to recollect the names of my mates from Senior High School as compared to those from my Junior High School. The most obvious reason was that, I spent much longer time with my mates from JHS than I did my SHS mates since most of them were the same people I attended primary school with. Thus typically, I tend to remember and mention their names in full whenever I bump into any of them. Secondly, there were fewer of us in JHS than in SHS since we tended to have smaller class sizes. In JHS, the general population of the school was not very large so it was not a very difficult task getting to know almost everybody in the school. The third reason which I also thought it most fascinating was the prevalent usage of nicknames in SHS which incident was almost non-existent in JHS.

Sometimes referred to as ‘guy-name’ or ‘nicki’, the use of nicknames in SHS was commonplace and oftentimes preferable even to one’s proper name and they came in great assortments ranging from such cool ones as Shaker, Phastbone, DKNY, Khemistry, Dada Bee, Commotion, Paul Saul among others to very bizarre ones like Oshɛwoho, Bordordor, Digestive, Anyaa Popo, Odompo, Teefoi, Kontomire, Bazaywa etc and to the downright obscene like Twɛdash.

Some of these nicknames, as ridiculous as they were, often reflected certain aspects of the bearer’s quirky mannerisms or physique. Examples included names like Obaa Yaa, Nana Borrow, Onyintus, Azaa Bobby,Shro, One Muscle, Lil Chicken, Skelebo, Nana Nyankopong among others. Some too were infamous for their notoriety and cruelty. Those that readily come to mind are Pinky, Okonkwo, Wadada, Shanton and Nana King (whose nickname later metamorphosed into Serebour). There were also those people whose proper names were often mistaken to be their nicknames. Classic examples were Batsa and Kaiser.

The teachers were not exempted from this phenomenon. Apart from the obvious motive to ridicule, giving teachers these nicknames had the added advantage of affording students the leeway to jeer at teachers to their hearing, while they remained oblivious to the mockery directed at them. Some of the popular nicknames were Kriss Kross, Alonzy, Tampico, Abeezi, Prokayo, Barbie, Mɛdem, Iron, Aggrey Goat, Aggrey Bouncer, Auntie Faustie and what have you. Even the headmaster and his assistants were not spared. The headmasters usually retained the standard ‘Headzee’ nickname. I hear the immediate past headmaster was called ‘Worfa’. I also recall there was the ever dreaded ‘Payaa’. Some of the teachers were well aware of their nicknames and sometimes affectionately responded to them when students cheered them on during special occasions like the Speech Day celebrations.

So now tell me, with this plethora of nicknames laden with fond memories, is it any wonder then that i am unable to recall the names of my old school mates?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cry, The Beloved Country By Alan Paton

What’s The Story About?

Stephen Kumalo is a priest in the little village of Ndotsheni where very little happens. One day he receives a letter from another parson, Rev. Msimangu, from the big city of Johannesburg carrying grave news of his sister’s ailment.

Kumalo has heard many dreaded tales about the goings-on in this bewildering big city of Johannesburg but the gravity of the news of his sister’s ailment and other even more pressing reasons impels him to embark on this journey for Kumalo must also find his son, Absalom, who had initially gone to the big city to look for his aunt Gertrude and her son but had stopped writing home leaving them without any further news of his activities and whereabouts and so they feared for his safety. Moreover, he must also find his brother, John, whom he hadn’t heard from in a long while.

But what awaits him in the big city?

My Sentiments

The whole narration was very moving and believable. It almost felt like watching a sad documentary of a rustic family whose misfortune and sorrow seemed to know no end. The characters felt real and one could easily identify with their pains. Take for instance the protagonist, Stephen Kumalo.

From the time of the receipt of that foreboding letter from Msimangu, he suffers a spell of misfortune throughout the book even to the very last page where we find him keeping vigil on the eve of his son’s execution. One would have thought that amid these dark times of his life, his faith would have ebbed away with the tides of his mounting sorrow yet the opposite seems to have been the effect for in several places, we find him giving advice and even maintaining a posture of gratitude for he reckons he still has a lot to be thankful for. Indeed, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to say Kumalo represents the quintessential village priest cum father!

Another lovable character is Theophilus Msimangu, who unhesitatingly plays the part of a good friend and advisor to Kumalo helping him every step of the way in first finding his sister, then brother and eventually his son. It would be safe to say he was even present at the execution of Absalom because he had promised Kumalo he will be there. Msimangu, unlike John Kumalo (Stephen Kumalo’s obnoxious brother with a selfish sense of self preservation), comes across as a level-headed man because he seemed to have a good grasp of the vicious cycle of the fear induced oppression with its resultant rebellious crimes. Thus he bemoans the systems yet refuses to hate the white man because he notes they are not all alike citing Father Vincent as an example of this exception while appealing to the marvelous care and training in craftsmanship he gives to poor and blind black kids at Ezenzelendi. Kumalo marvels and retort that even he with his sight cannot achieve such finesse as displayed by the blind kids at their craft.  

However, the hero of this novel for me was James Jarvis whose son, Arthur was shot dead. The tragic irony of Arthur’s demise is that he was vociferously advocating the termination of the apartheid system when he met his untimely death at the hands of a black man. Jarvis had had a few altercations with Arthur over his heady insistence on pursuing this cause so one would have expected him to be bitter against the blacks and more especially the family of the man that killed his son yet that was not what happened. He was gentle to Kumalo when the latter unbeknown to him ended up at his house seeking information. He even went on further to seek the services of an agric extension officer in attempt to restore the fallow valleys of Ndotsheni to arable farmlands to benefit the people.

Moreover, he is quick to reassure Kumalo upon receiving his letter of condolence after the demise of his wife that though she was never quite the same after the demise of their son, the ailment she had suffered was not due to that incident and that she was in full support of all the philanthropic works he was undertaking. Even more shocking and commendable was the fact the he allowed his grandson who was on vacation in Ndotsheni to be frequenting the house of Kumalo. This is indeed a very magnanimous man with a heart of gold!  

Without dispute, Mrs. Lithebe qualifies as the heroine of the novel because though she was childless, she was very welcoming to the Kumalos who were properly strangers to her and was always quick to spot “idle and careless laughter” between Gertrude and male passers-by whose salacious intentions were obvious and she will proffer sagacious advice accordingly.


A lot more can be said about this novel but in sum, the author tells the story in such a masterful way which poignantly captures the pathos of the apartheid era in simple language rich in indigenous expressions. Grab a copy if you can!