There is no sweet without sweat is a common phrase that people use to motivate somebody to work hard, persevere, and endure. Endurance, perseverance, and determination are important aspects of life that one has to exhibit in order to be successful. Maxwell Sichilongo exhibited these three things for him to find comfort in life. This paper asserts some qualities that Maxwell exhibited to show endurance and determination in his book “Thorns and Stones: Beauty in the struggle.” It will later elaborate how the qualities he exhibited could be a source of inspiration to people who may read his book.
According to Wikitionary, endurance is the measure of somebody’s or one’s persistence, it defines endurance as one’s ability to go through hardships or a measure of somebody’s stamina. Perseverance defines as the ability to continue in a course of action without regard to discouragement, opposition, or previous failure. Furthermore, perseverance can also define as a determination to adhere to a course of action. Maxwell according to his narration exhibited both endurance and perseverance from the time his father died until he completed school.
It all began after his father’s demise in Lusaka. Following his father’s death, his grandmother Nakaponda took Maxwell to his home village in Mkushi. In the village, nothing excited him and he started missing his mother and the whole family. He developed a strong desire to go back to Lusaka.
According to Maxwell, nothing was to stop him from going back, he was enthusiastically determined (Sichilongo, P: 35). Determination had shown when he rekindled his hope through which courage and strength were born to chart the way forward for his life. According to Maxwell the life he previously lived, steps and actions he took gave birth to his destiny and glimpse of who he is today. The determination he made to leave the village was somehow a bitter pill to shallow, as he had to leave secretly without a bus fare, clothes, as well as food. In his mind, he thought of travelling from Mkushi to Lusaka on foot: covering a distance of about two hundred and ninety kilometers (290km). He encountered endurance and perseverance by travelling a distance of about twenty-five kilometers (25km) from Nkolonga village to Mkushi Boma. He displayed his courage by travelling through a dangerous bush without fear of wild animals as well as people who could have killed him. It was fortunate that somebody who knew Maxwell’s family offered to travel with him to Lusaka and that is how he miraculously found himself with the family.
When he was about to enter Grade one (1), he faced many challenges, but this would not discourage him from continuing to pursue his ambition of becoming somebody in life. He made several attempts to begin Grade one (1), but whenever he attends interviews, he could not be selected or accepted until he at one time cheated by sneaking secretly among those that had been selected. Because of his enthusiasm, desire, and determination he had to violate the school’s rules. Challenges went on even as he began Grade one (1), he faced challenges of travelling a long distance of about eight kilometers (8km) on foot and on the way, they would meet savages and some children who were unfortunate were even manhandled or killed. This could not affect his determination to become someone in life. Furthermore, in his narration, there was a small incomplete house where some people were carrying out their killing activities but this could still not stop Maxwell from continuing school. His uniform as well was most of the time not in good form, and he would sometimes get to school bare-footed. All these challenges seemed encouraging to him.
At one time, his brother Harold promised to be buying Maxwell school requirements and bought a pair of shoes for him, which Maxwell termed to be decent because they were from Bata stores and they make good quality products. Sadly, when his hope came through, Harold his brother went mad and died. This was an enormous blow to Maxwell such that his life became more bitter and uncooperative to yield again. Despite all the inevitable events, Maxwell still had a strong determination to continue going to school.
Moreover, Maxwell and the family to survive, they had to sell vegetables around the compound. Maxwell was not an exemption, he also humbly allowed himself to help his mother to sell vegetables during the weekends, and holidays. Through his determination, he learnt to bargain, convince and cross-sell with customers. He was prepared to shout and call for customers without feeling timid. He was also able to sell biscuits and sweets and all these were done out of endurance and determination. He at one time involved himself in scrap metal, a business considered illegal to a young person, his determination to become somebody drove him to do that in order to use the money for his school necessities.
When he wrote Grade seven (7) he failed due to his involvement in some school activities and missed the cut-off point by a few marks. Luckily, he was allowed to iterate his education at the same school he attended. Maxwell would attend school and at the same time equivalently sell scrap metals, play soccer under the National Provident Fund (NPF) so that he could earn some income for school requirements. He wrote Grade seven (7) exams for the second time and managed to make it this time around to Grade eight (8). Because of the difficulties at home, he at one time got a temporal job at a company where scrap metal exchange happened. While at that company, Maxwell involved himself in the silent movement of metal with his workmates. With this, he did not feel comfortable and he later sacrificed by letting go of all the activities that brought him income in order to concentrate fully on his education.
Unfortunately, another tragedy happened, this time his mother was involved in an accident. This according to Maxwell was his worst moment; he developed what he termed as “immunity against challenges” (Sichilongo in Thorns and Stones). The mother was under care in the hospital for a long time and his young sister had to take the place of the mother in the house. She even stopped school so that she could take care of the family. This made Maxwell more determined, he looked at these problems with one goal, ‘to complete school and to get a division one.’ Maxwell’s belief that he would one day be somebody that life would change was one thing that strengthened him to continue. According to him, it was only this belief and hope of becoming somebody that kept him going and pushing until life for him changed positively.
Maxwell’s endurance and perseverance as narrated in his book has a lot of teaching. Many a time’s people who fail to achieve their dreams give many excuses. Maxwell had many excuses to give but he never at any time capitalized on them. People should learn that good things do not come on a silver plate, one has to work hard, as Kenneth Kaunda former president of Zambia put it in his speech ‘The Dignity of Labour’ (1972), he said, “No action can exist without labour (work), all growth depends on activity. There can be no development, no progress, physical or intellectual without effect.” In addition, a more educative statement that says ‘The greatest asset of any nation is the spirit of its people’ this can as well be interpreted as the spirit of hard work, endurance, and perseverance.