Stone-walling is an effective preventative unless you are faced with the holy ghost – in which case walls mean nothing. They are about as much of a defence as an alibi that never checks out. Otherwise, stone-walling is a skill worth learning. You can sense the shut-down in people you meet with relative ease if you can recognise the sign in their eyes. Eyes are indeed windows to the soul, when they are flung open from within. Open from without is one thing – from within, something totally different. That is why there is a saying: eyes wide shut. It means to be a sleep-walker.
Stalling is another stone-walling technique that has been proven useful with past application. It is annoying for most people, particularly those sitting in a getaway vehicle. However, stalling for the purpose of greater understanding is not only sometimes necessary, it is wise. There is always someone who knows more than you do. Never forget that. If you value learning, you will treasure the experiences of those who know more than you do. It is simple. At every turn in life you need to make full use of all the resources made available to you. It is helpful if you can recognise a resource.
When you have been stone-walled, it is like hearing the words: check mate. You may as well concede defeat. Unless you are the holy ghost, in which case defeat means nothing.
‘Words have an intrinsic power. When they are true, sensible, and sincere, they heal “the hearts that mourn.” They help to settle disputes between husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters. They help to establish and realize initiatives by the community and relieve suffering. Words are sacred.’
– Aminata Traoré
There is a community in the Kwahu mountains of eastern Ghana that is wanting to stand on its own two feet. It needs to find a way to get its youth into work, there are too many unemployed. There are too many single teenage mothers, too many women who have too little. The women are desperate. They will accept a proposal of sex for something to wear, something to eat, or somewhere to sleep the night. Can you imagine being in that position? Your body becomes your trade. Where is your self-esteem when you must trade with your flesh? The problem is that these women are not having protected sex and the result is often a child, or an infection of some kind. The men understand the power they have and they use it, women are dispensable, a convenience. The community is watching itself come undone. The chiefs are looking for a solution, they consult with their people and they look for a way forward. They are strong in their commitment to a better future. My concern is how does a community keep its spirits up when the world rushes by on its busy business of being without even being aware of real-time problems of hopeful people who want change?
Community holds people together. It holds hearts, and heads, together. Perhaps the dissolution of community in places is more serious than the world realises. Africa is founded on community spirit. It is a web, a network whose reach you should never underestimate. You will not find a continent better-equipped to work together – if it can heal the damage done to its soul by the scramble for Africa. Someone, somewhere, needs to say sorry. I think to start with, an apology would make Africa a lot happier. Then she will be able to view herself as whole again and the work can begin. Whilst she is divided – as she currently is – there are two many skirmishes, too much in-fighting. What is she still doing warring with herself? Watching her unfold is like watching a slow-motion movie. The point that should be made is that the longer the community must farm out its resources in trying to keep itself together, the longer it takes for it to make progress. Slow progress is still progress, but perhaps for a change the community must address its defectors and recall all of its wanderers. It is time for a bigger picture and in order to realise that bigger picture, we need unity.