Stars not Kettles

Let me tell you a rather personal story about pots, kettles and stars.

I visited the Ikeja City mall recently. Like most days, a particular brand was having an activation to sell its products. They had mascots, models, video games, music and obviously dancers. The dancers I believe drew the most attention and even I was at some point carried away with what they were doing. But as I was about to step into the main complex, I heard the security lady say in vernacular about the dancers something along the line of “after all these, you will need to take Paracetamol for your headache. Better go find a better job for yourself”. Typing it in English makes it look like she gave a rather kind advice. But NO! This was no advice at all. It was a statement said to scorn the dancers who were doing a really good job at their own work.


I remember walking past her thinking to myself, what a classical example of a pot calling a kettle black. To be sure, I did a little research before writing this. The average roadshow activation dancer earns about N5,000 in a day as opposed to a security guard who earns an average of N40,000 every month which scales down to about N2,000 for a day’s job. But the wage difference isn’t really what concerns me, but that a person will look down at another person for doing excellently at a legitimate job is just rather obnoxious.

It leaves me certain questions I’d like you to think through. First, is it really wrong for a pot to call a kettle black? Has the pot that called a kettle black lied? Is there really anything wrong in being black? I am not providing answers to these here but i’d like you to take time to think about them.

So, this article would have had no proper end if not for another incident that happened just the next day. This time, I had just finished visiting my mother at her house and as I approached the bus stop I could hear someone shouting at the top of her voice, “wazo, wazo, fifty naira, wazo; if you love your husband wazo, fifty naira wazo”. As I moved closer to the bus stop, I could see the woman trying to sell her products and it turned out she was someone very familiar. But, as she saw me, she stopped shouting and so we exchanged pleasantries. However, she did not resume until I had left. I saw in her face that she wasn’t proud of the work she was doing and so waited till I left before she continued. That was sad! She should have been proud!! She should have seen that she was a star not kettle!!!

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Where is dignity in labor?

At her arrival in London, Princess Diana of the Hollywood Blockbuster movie wonder woman tasted the goodness of an Icecream for the first time ever. The ice cream was so well made that she turned to the seller and said, “this is really good, you should be proud of yourself”. That for me was very profound. If you are doing legitimate work and you are putting your best effort into it, then you should be proud too. We might not all do great things, but we can all do small things in a great way. And that’s what matters the most.

This is what i would like you to leave with – Don’t let anyone look down on you because of the work you do, and never look down on yourself either. As long as you put your heart into it and do it excellently, then you should be proud of yourself. President John F. Kennedy was visiting NASA headquarters for the first time, in 1961. While touring the facility, he introduced himself to a janitor who was mopping the floor and asked him what he did at NASA.  The Janitor gave the most remarkable answer; “I am helping to put a man on the moon”. Now that’s whatsup! Be like that janitor!! See the bigger picture always and be proud of yourself. Even if you are black, you are a star not a kettle.


PS: Please remember to share this post with other people. I also look forward to your own kettle-to-star stories and feedback in the comment section.

Afolabi Soaga


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