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Bill Clinton: A True Leader

This is the cover-page of Donald T. Phillips's The Clinton Charisma: A Legacy of Leadership which I once saw on a bookshop shelf in down-town Nairobi. Unfortunately, I have never had a chance to lay my hands on the book.

As I have written before in this lovely blog of mine, I first read the autobiography of Bill Clinton when I was a first-year student at JKUAT in 2007. Then I re-read it two more times in the next few years that followed. So I can now agree with Donald T. Phillips, the author of The Clinton Charisma: A Legacy of Leadership, that Clinton was a true leader; that is, a person genuinely interested in improving the welfare of people.

And how did Bill Clinton develop the heart of leadership? First, from the stories he heard from his relatives. Here's what he had to say about those stories in his autobiography:
I learned a lot from the stories that my uncles, aunts and grandparents told me ... that everyone has a story - of dreams and nightmares, hope and heartaches, love and loss, courage and fear, sacrifice and selfishness. All my life, I've been interested in other people's stories. I've wanted to know them, understand them, feel them. When I grew up and got into politics, I always felt the main point of my work was to give people a chance to have better stories.[1]
Secondly, Bill Clinton also acquired the heart of a leader from his mother. Here is what he said of his mother in the autobiography:
It was she who taught me to get up every day and keep going; to look for the best in people even when they saw the worst in me; to be grateful for every day and greet it with a smile; to believe I could do or be anything I put my mind to if I were willing to make the requisite effort; to believe that, in the end, love and kindness would prevail over cruelty and selfishness.[2]
Having acquired the heart of leadership from his mother and relatives, Bill Clinton went on to deliver speeches later on in his life that clearly brought him out as a man of the people. Take for instance his benediction speech to his high school class in which he prayed that God would:
leave within us the youthful idealism and moralism which have made our people strong. Sicken us at the sight of apathy, ignorance and rejection so that our generation will remove complacency, poverty and prejudice from the hearts of free men ... Make us care so that we will never know the misery and muddle of life without purpose, and so that when we die, others still have the opportunity to live in a free land.[3]
Then let's look at his 1979 inauguration speech as Arkansas Governor during which he said;
For as long as I can remember, I have believed passionately in the course of equal opportunity, and I will do what I can to advance it.
For as long as I can remember, I have deplored the arbitrary and abusive exercise of power by those in authority, and I will do what I can to prevent it.
For as long as I can remember, I have rued the waste and lack of order and discipline that are often too much in evidence in governmental affairs, and I will do what I can to diminish them.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved the land, air, and water of Arkansas, and I will do what I can to protect them.
For as long as I can remember, I have wished to ease the burdens of those who, through no fault of their own, are old or weak or needy and I will try to help them.
For as long as I can remember, I have been saddened by the sight of so many of our independent, industrious people, working too hard for too little because of inadequate economic opportunities, and I will do what I can to enhance them.[4]
And finally, let's look at the following farewell speech he delivered towards the end of his presidency in the year 2000:
I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Toni Morrison once said I was the first black president this country ever had. And I would rather have that than a Nobel Prize, and I'll tell you why. Because somewhere in the deep and lost threads of my own memory, are the roots of understanding of what you have known. Somewhere, there has been a longing to share the fate of the people who had been left out and left behind, sometimes brutalized, and too often ignored or forgotten.
I don't exactly know who I have to thank for that. But I'm quite sure I don't deserve any credit for it because whatever I did, I really felt I had no other choice.[5]
Those few speeches of Bill Clinton I have quoted adequately testify that Bill Clinton was indeed a true leader - don't you agree? No wonder he presided over unprecedented era of peace and prosperity in America during his presidency.

[1] [2] [3] [4] & [5] I have extracted this passages from My Life by William J. Clinton, published in the United Kingdom in 2005 by Arrow Books.


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Father's Advice to a Son

This is my friend Michael Njeru who seems to be telling the young boy, "My son, stop gazing at me..." I have used the photo here with his permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

I love anything to do with a father's advice to a son. Among the great father-to-son pieces of advice I love are Abraham Lincoln's Letter to His Son's Teacher, the If Poem by Rudyard Kipling, the biblical Book of Proverbs and another short poem I came across eleven years ago in one of Starehe Boys' noticeboards which reads as follows:
My son,
Stop gazing at me
And walk straight ahead.

I know there is no road ahead
But open your eyes
And walk through that fog of reality.

Keep running my son,
Keep running for into the unknown
You may stumble upon your fortune of happiness.

Ignore the mutilated bodies,
My son,
Ignore the easy pleasures
That appear and disappear
Like bubbles in a stormy sea.

Open your ears wide
And hear the message of the whispering voices,
Open your eyes
And avoid the ditches son.
Being alive is no easy task. [1]
That short poem has once again inspired me to continue doing my best with the faith that I will stumble upon my fortune of happiness like meeting Ms. Right. It has also motivated me to restrain my sexual urges by not yielding to them outside the confines of marriage. And not to eat too much especially at this juncture when I am trying to cut down my weight. Because to me, the desire for sex and over-eating are those easy pleasures that appear and disappear like bubbles in a stormy sea. Oh God, please help me to ignore them.

[1] If you know the author of this short poem, please let me know so that I can acknowledge him and link my audience to one of his books.


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