Call to Act Now - Commencement Speech at the 46th Congregation KNUST
It is a great honor for me to stand here on this special day in history to be part of your graduation. I must say 2012 will be the beginning of greater things to come in the history of our College and Country, and I am glad to say that, you are the pacesetters - the change makers. By the time I end this speech, you will truly agree with me, that the change you so desire has begun with you and you have all that it takes to make it happen.
I'm going to share with you some aspects of my life, and how you can relate to it and make the most of it. In 2004 as I graduated with a first class honors here in the University, from the Department of Integrated Rural Art and Industry under the College of Art and Social Sciences, a course that taught me to be disciplined and sharpened my multi-talented abilities. I am proud to stand here and say that I am the designer of the current logo of SIRA. Little did I know that I will be standing here today to deliver this speech. I had not even the faintest idea of how my life was going to be but I had one thing, I had DREAM!
That is the first thing I want you to know – that you must have a dream, a dream bigger than yourself. I had a dream and I know, that you also have some dreams. My goal was to build the largest art village with state of the art technology available to appeal to international audience, to be the best I can ever be, with all that I have, and can do; to help people live a happier more fulfilling life. That got me started on the discovery process of 'who am I'. I read all that I could find and did all I could do, and still do. I'm glad to announce to you that I have authored four motivational books. Not that I have arrived, no not in any way but I am enjoying the journey, I messed up so many times, was knocked down but not knocked out. You are going to face so many battles you will win some and lose some, either way keep fighting for your dreams. I pushed through the stormy weather, went through dark valleys, climbed mountains but I never gave up because I had a dream.
One thing that will keep you going at all times is your passion for your dreams. You must be passionate about life; your dreams and goals. I must say the journey of success as you set out this day, is not going to be easy, it will be tough, long road of loneliness, you will encounter wolves, there will be delays, disappointments and detours but in all this keep hope alive, don't ever give up on that one thing – your dream! You may need to start small on your big dreams, but don't give up on them, those little beginnings have seeds of greatness in them.
Secondly this is what I want you to know; Life is an ART and everyone is an artist or can be an artist. Ask me why? This is it. At every year and every graduation such as this, we are all presented with the same primary colors of life, to paint the portrait of our lives and our world. The primary Colors (RED, YELLOW and BLUE) we are referring to are the Certificates.
Listen to the analogy of life from the artistic perspective. On this day everyone will have a certificate for whatever class one will graduate with. With this certificate, it sets everyone on the same stage and now you have to flip the pages and not be caged by it. What most people do is they complain of the colors on their pallet and never paint, but rather stain their lives and their world.
Note this down; that the certificate and education you have had in this illustrious institution does not define you; it is a tool that you must use to define yourself.
This is the point where you have to work with your colors. RED, YELLOW and BLUE
The RED: signifies your skills, what you gain by learning and constant practice.
The YELLOW: signifies the golden opportunities life offers to us daily, the ability to identify the opportunities in life, and reorient ourselves to make the most of it.
The BLUE: signifies your natural talents and abilities. What you are naturally good at.This is where the real artist comes to play. The wisdom and the ability to mix these colors to plan your life and your world will cause you to succeed and excel. If you identify your natural talents and abilities (BLUE) and sharpen them, working on your talents daily, to be skilled at it (REDS) and then looking out for the golden opportunities in life (YELLOWS), and if you don't find them you create them. I will repeat this point; if you do not find them CREATE THEM. If one endeavors to mix these three constantly, success will be inevitable.
The real artist will be mixing the colors and creating new worlds, better worlds, making the world a better place with their skill, passions and abilities. This is what the world is crying out for, and you have all that it takes to be, do, and have, what you want. Don't let fears of the unknown stop you. Remember this - “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ― Mark Twain
One key vehicle to transfer the Artist creation to the world is the internet – the use of social media networks. The question you need to be asking yourself is how can I use Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and the like to promote my creative works?
The artist in this age does not see the advancement in technology as a hindrance but rather as tool to expand the unlimited possibilities available. It's about time to embrace the internet age and make the most of it; Taking the Rural to Global. The time has come for us to rise up and build. Use the tools and resources we have to build our dreams, to build the nation and the African continent we seek. The time is now to excuse our excuses and be committed to the task at hand.
Thirdly I want to share this story with you about life and living it to the fullest.
“Life is Like a cup of coffee”.
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee. When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other's cups.
Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee. Savor the coffee, not the cups! The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
In reference to this story, as you step out to live your dream life you will find out that shortly after school some of your colleagues will marry, others will travel, sign contracts with big companies, build multi-national firms, be famous,…. and some will be sitting at home. You will be forced to compare and complain, especially if things are not working out in your favor. The point is this, we are each responsible for the choices we make or refuse to make. We have the choice from this day to design the kind of life that we want with the resources, skills and talents that we have. Decide this day to make the best of choices and work relentlessly towards it. Don't let anyone talk you out of your dreams. It's your life and your dream. Above all enjoy life.
In conclusion: I will say in the words of the Chinese Proverb 'The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now'. Whatever you desire to achieve and dream of becoming begin today; Now is the time to set off and live that dream, the African dream. I say let the sleeping dogs lie, but rise up you sleeping giants, rise up Africa! You have what it takes, rise up and make it happen!
God bless the college of Art and Social Sciences, God bless our homeland Ghana, and God bless Africa!
Commencement Speech delivered by Bernard Kelvin Clive at the 46th Congregation at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology(KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana.
Bernard Kelvin Clive
Author/ Motivational Speaker