I was told of a funeral which happened recently somewhere in Accra. Hell broke loose when it was time to read the biography of the deceased. According to his biography supposedly orchestrated by his wife, he had only one child. His family, on the other hand, insisted he had adopted two more children; making three of them in all.
When you don’t tell the world who you are and what you ever had, others will do so.
When you die, others will tell your story (and may obviously not tell it well) so when alive, you need to tell your own story. When you’re no more, others will speak for you, hence, as long as you’ve breath, you ought to speak for yourself!
In our part of the world, it’s seemingly rare to have our autobiographies on the shelves of libraries or bookshops. We have been brought up to be selfish, thus, hardly think about making our experiences available for posterity. Little wonder a chunk of our history is either lost or contaminated because it was oral.
We live our lives without having posterity in mind. We live and die without exposing our children to our failures and achievements. They, thus, start their lives fighting the same battles we fought instead of fighting their own battles. They start life all over again instead of continuing from where the earlier generation left off. That’s how important autobiographies are!
A well-documented autobiography (or biography) is like a will. It becomes a sacred legacy for every generation. It becomes an invaluable asset to many. Tell you what, the autobiographies of great business men in history (like Virgin’s Richard Branson) have become a must-read for many who aspire to be like them because such books hand over to their readers within minutes decades of experience.
If writing is one of the easiest ways to transfer knowledge, then reading is one of the easiest ways to receive it, too. Your autobiography is like a will that guides every other person and hands over assets of wisdom to them so they can be someone greater than you ever were.
Like a mirror, an autobiography makes you come in contact with the image of the writer. It gives you the rare opportunity to take a stroll down their private life.
When you don’t script your life down into a piece of collection, that life’s legacy just goes waste in the grave. If people with similar aspirations can never benefit from your failures and successes, your experiences would have been of no essence, in the first place. If others would need to fail the same way you did, your failure was of no benefit to society.
Our failures, especially, should be of benefit to society. Get that autobiography of yours written!
Aside an autobiography raking in fortunes for the writer, it is the only avenue they can take readers on an excursion in their mind. The reader is able to travel along with the writer inasmuch as they learn a skill or two from his/her experience.
I have come across many clients who pitch one excuse or the other as to why they haven’t written their autobiography yet and I am not the least surprised this part of our world always seems to be behind others. An excuse why you can’t hand over your experience to posterity is a pretty bad excuse!
Our nation keeps running in circles because there’s no smooth transfer of experience from the old generation to the new. We are always starting life all over again when others are continuing from where their previous generation left off in others parts of the world. Of a truth, we can’t ever catch up with them.
Decades of experience are buried every weekend. Countless packages of lessons are kept six feet away from humanity every Saturday. The success of this nation, trust me, is only an autobiography away.
At all cost, get to tell your life’s story to the world before others do. Africa, for instance, is almost always painted a dark continent by the Western world because they tell us our own stories. When you leave your story to be told by others, they’d mistaken your blackness for darkness. Get your autobiography!
Tell the world of your failures and how you surmounted them. Tell of your successes, too. An autobiography is an asset. Own one. To your mansions and automobiles, add your autobiography!
Experience can never be bought. However, we can give posterity an opportunity to learn from our weaknesses and strengths by handing over to them a record of our lives. We can create a legacy that would outlive us— and it begins with our autobiography. We can be mentors to generations to come even long after we are gone. That’s the magic of an autobiography.
Your experience in this life will be a priceless property for others who are yet to come. Don’t let it go waste. You need an autobiography… and this is why!
By Kobina Ansah
The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of an Accra-based writing company, Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), which provides all writing services.