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FROM RAGS TO ROBES: A STORY THE WORLD DESERVES TO HEAR

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The 9th of November, 2019 was a memorable day, graduating with a Master of Science degree at one of the world’s most prestigious universities (Oxford). It was historic being part of the over 800 years tradition. The day began with an addresses at the St Anne’s College by the Principal and Dean taking us through what exactly goes on at the Sheldonian theatre, the graduation ceremony which is conducted about 98% in Latin (except the names of graduands…lol). We were told to only remember the Latin phrase “DO FIDEM” (I swear).

It was a great moment going through the graduation sessions, listening to deans of various colleges present their students to the Vice Chancellor and Proctors. Graduands had to strictly be in their traditional Oxford’s sub fusc (special dressing for such occasions; with men in black suits, trousers, socks and shoes, and white shirt with either white or black bow tie; and ladies in black skirts, shoes, socks and white shirts).

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Master of Science graduands had to be in their graduation gowns, with their blue hoods ( and trust me, there are strict rules concerning these dressings and students are not allowed to be part of the ceremony if they are wrongly dressed)
As I sat in my gown at the Sheldonian theatre, my mind went back over a decade ago, when I remembered that I had not always been in nice ROBES.

Just over a decade ago, around the same month of November, as I was walking innocently from the washroom to my class at Junior High School, one teacher just called me and told me to kneel down on the gravels in the scorching sun, and said “LOOK AT THE RAGS YOU ARE WEARING! DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE THE DIRTIEST BOY IN THIS SCHOOL?”. For no reason he started throwing the cane all over my body. I couldn’t control my tears as other students passed by and some mocked at me. I had not done anything to this teacher. My only wrong was that I bore the same surname as his. He invited two other teachers who also hurled insults at me and finally allowed me go to my class.

I couldn’t do anything for the rest of the day until we closed. I wept on the inside as I walked down to my house in those tattered uniforms (what my family could afford). When I got home, I went straight to where my mat was, knelt down, removed my shorts (shown in the picture), lifted it up towards the heavens and said “GOD, I AM GOING TO KEEP THESE RAGS, BUT I AM GOING TO RISE SO HIGH IN LIFE TO SHOW THESE RAGS TO THE WORLD”

For more than 10 years, I have kept these rags (and they followed me to the UK) and whenever I look at them today, they tell me how gracious the Lord has been to me. They tell me how far I have come if there’s the temptation to give up… ‘Our backs were against the wall and it looked as if it was over, but God made a way”

I tell this story today not because all is well. In fact there are still giants to conquer on the journey to destiny. However, I want to tell everyone reading this that difficulties in life should rather motivate you to become an overcomer.
The truth is that “No challenge in life is worth giving up on your dreams”. In this life, you will meet people who will maltreat you (forgive and ignore them), you will meet situations that will overwhelm you and sometimes cause you to fall (But rise up again). You will get 1001 reasons to give up but find some 2 reasons why you must keep moving. Rise so high that your adversaries bow before you someday.

I PRAY THE WHOLE WORLD HEARS THIS STORY!

I pray this story reaches THAT YOUNG AFRICAN BOY OR GIRL WHO WANTS TO GIVE UP!

I don’t know what your rags are but you can wear robes one day.

KEEP YOUR RAGS, AND STRIVE FOR THE ROBES (It will all make sense one day)

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As written by Samuel Asare

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