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"Think of these three things: whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you must account"--Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, March 28, 2008

The Deeper Drama of Blurring Time, & Why I’ve Got to Sing that Song Sometimes

I belong to a strange breed of people who like to dance like there’s no-one around, and I do do it best at night, when I am taking Fenix for a walk. Offlate, I have been doing it a lot. Dancing, that is. But I have been reminiscing, too.

Four years ago, I was still in Brussels—a programme intern/webmaster for an NGO—working and preparing for my then-boss to go to UNCTAD XI in Brazil. Meanwhile I was also preparing an UNCTAD programme for the organization; my primary objective was to make UNCTAD more relevant in Brussels within the Ngo community, given the backlash by the EU into promulgating and forcing economic liberalization for all—except it citizens.

At the time, we were very close to obtaining funding from our partners to get the programme through. At the eleventh hour, it fell through, prompting me to vow to use the time from thereon in to fight the case for small NGOs that consistently needed funding to do their work.

Things changed and I moved on from that endeavour.

Four years later, I am just at the tail-end of preparing for UNCTAD XII here in my home country of Ghana. I have been humbly instrumental in the conception and design of a site for civil society attending this most-attended of UN conferences. This, ofcourse, has been thanks to the fact that my organization—on the strength of its history of working on economic policy, and advocating for the marginalized—has been the focal point for NGOs (on account of the Ghana government’s appointment of my organization as major NGO focal point)coming worldwide into the country.

Earlier, in February of 2004 (29 February to be exact), I had set up RegionsWatch, which was a project to ensure that regional integration initiatives were covered on a regular basis—and all by me! Somehow, somewhere, I would find the time to scan the internet for issues of regional integration—and report it to those who were on my list-serv. Four years later, I have a blog ( linked to the website…(that needs to be seriously re-designed!) that continues to inform those on the list-serv and beyond that regional integration is a great passion of mine that merits discussion by all of us.

The future is bright for RegionsWatch; I am getting almost daily visits from universities, and my irreverent style of writing is apparently appealing to those who come to read my entries. Though this year has not been big on blogging for the blog, yet, I continue to read about regional integration and want to publish a book from the entries some day.

Maria T
She was a colleague at ICDA, where I was in Brussels before I was appointed for the position I am in. A fantastically well-educated and open-minded beautiful young Greek woman, I had the benefit of making her acquaintance when I taught her the ropes of working in the organization; attended conferences in Brussels together; and mused over the NGO world, its challenges and future over drinks at the Greek restaurant opposite our workplace in 115, rue stevin, 1000 Bruxelles—some minutes walk away from DG Trade of the European Commission.

Four years later, she and I are re-acquainted…thanks to Facebook. And it happened that it would be this year--not last—that we would “meet” again, through technology. It is too uncanny to be funny!

Chocolate Hen
The so-called Chocolate Hen I have written about before, and with whom I lost my virginity has finally, through her elder sister (who regrets me and her sister falling out) gotten me her email. She is back in the State of Baltimore she was when I first “met” her in November 2003, when she was going back to Baltimore to finally take her things and come to “settle” in Brussels. This year is four years of getting re-acquainted…

Four years prior to 2004, in 2000, I had written three chapters of what was supposed to be a novel—and one that my professor of Creative writing at Vesalius College, Dr.Jonathon Miles, considered not quite "usual suspects." In 2004, turning those chapters into a novel was the last thing on my mind. Four years on, I am vowing to produce the manuscript ready to send off to best friends and family to make comments…on the grammar. Not so sure about wanting comments on the story, though!

Last week, I finally got my passport, securing myself with a “full” identity, when in 2004, I was walking around Brussels and my job at the NGO with a provisional ID document that was neither a diplomatic one, nor a student one, but a clean hybrid of…neither. The diplomatic ID I had had expired two years earlier, and the Belgian records indicated that I had “left the country” years earlier. Yet, I had been in the bloody country studying at university, and doing an internship! I am glad to feel “whole” again, when so many millions…are not…

I have finally gone in for an eye check, which revealed that one of my eyes had deteriorated after four years. I will be getting a new set of spectacles—much to my joy. Last four years, the folks got one for me, making me wonder at the time when ever would I be able to afford such spectacles.

In so many ways, the selective elements I have made here might be this side of whimsical and slightly solipsistic – but not without reason.

One thing I learnt from the X-files – especially one episode in Season Three when Scully was forced to confront her demons and her faith – was the little snippets of wisdom that peppered the show. My favourite was from that Season Three, when a priest told Scully that "sometimes we have to come full circle to find the truth".

I sincerely believe that to be the case. Putting things into perspective takes time and effort, and we rarely do it – except when we are forced to. I have tried to make it a habit of doing it, despite myself.

As one raised to be a Christian, I also believe that sometimes God is talking, but we rarely are listening. I cannot pretend that an entry like this does justice to whether I am listening to the Big Man Up There, but what I do know is that nothing happens without a reason—least of all our lives, and there is great resonance in often going back and coming forward, for therein – in between – lies the truth of where we are going.

When Benjamin Franklin said that we should think of those three things, I think he was certainly right: of whence you came; where you are going; and to whom you must account.

I’ve got to account to the number four!;-)

No surprises why it’s my lucky number…

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