Evangelists everywhere

Mohamedarif Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

Public speakers and speech trainers very well recognise the profound impact that speaking to express has. In fact, to the extent that this expression forms a vital part of any kind of communication that creates and nurtures a relationship of any nature, one simply cannot ignore the potent nature of this skill. Indeed it is this very power of speech that stands to mesmerise an audience, win an election or teach a child. The stronger this ability, the better and more longer lasting the impact can potentially be. Having said that, it would seem that the modern society views speech in a very ubiquitous if not twisted context. Speech has now been embraced as a tool for advancing one’s own agendas – whether social, political, economical, or what you may. We now have prophesing advisory speakers everywhere you turn to.

Ironically, the inexperienced young, armed by the basic information available courtesy of Wikipedia, have also taken to stage, admonishing about one trait or another. For those, who yearn fame, speech in today’s world is your greatest ally because the demand for listening is growing at an alarming stage as well. Many of these speakers, use an unknown, microscopical part of their own lives to carve out a supposed inspirational speech based on how they handled their life crises. If discerning minds were listening, they would be put off by the speaker’s ego-centricity rendering the speech, pretty devoid of any outcome of preference. But guised under the gracious umbrella of a TED Talk or a Speech Club, many a deplorable speakers have managed to gain traction. The audience, either innocent or a stark reflection of our education systems, and in any case completely charmed by the glamour of the event, applaud in unison while harvesting an ill conceived, experience-devoid idea or culture.

Apart from the rot of speakers whose only knowledge is about themselves and about which they can go to any limits to stretch their imaginations, we also have the big talkers, who are full of ideas and suggestions, but who have no drive themselves to do as they say. Raise children like this, invest only like that, this should be done, the things you must never do and so on are the tunes these evangelists harp over and over, while relying completely on knowledge scratched on the web surface, and having no illuminated basis to support their talk. In a world that rewards and looks up to self adoring 200-word-a-minute, confident expressers of views, credentials not withstanding, you really would not expect anything less. But the real world – family, business and society, cannot bring success on words alone. Maybe to a certain level, one can get get away with his or her charms, but soon the truth of hollowness will be revealed.

The last frontier must therefore be social media, a tool that audaciously favours those who can present their best case forward. Here again, advisors are aplenty, many of them of the copy-paste and forward/share tribe, who themselves have no clue but upon getting enamoured by someone else’s thoughts, end up in a frenzy to share first. And then this messenger sharing grows overtime until they start sharing information about themselves, and in self-admiration they stack up a barrage of sagacious hymn to a loyal fan following, who perhaps are at that moment craving for their own speech lift off. ‘Loose lips sinks the ship’ is a popular adage. The difficulty of our time is that not only are we giving rise to talkers, but also those talkers who are themselves not qualified to advise and muse, qualified not academically but experientially. And because their manner is authoritative and not discussive, the consequences of inducing half truths to others is ever-so-present.

The point is not to be absent from the quadrant of conversation nor to discriminate who should and who should not talk, but to endeavour a scenario of informed discussions where learning is preferred over promotion, where self is insubordinated to issue. To know when to talk, whether to talk and what to talk about, is the hallmark of a refined, maverick and lustrous speaker. To invariably comment on everything and to pretend authority over topics outside of our range of knowledge is to misguide others and to herald a vicious cycle of self promotion at any cost, if not for income in any way.


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About the author

Mohamedarif is a marketing professional and educationalist with a penchant for writing as a hobby since childhood. As he experimented writing about sporting events at first and then current affairs, he quickly developed a skill for observation of his environment and began to write on reform topics, especially in connection with the community. To further feed his pursuit of writing, he founded several newsletters and bulletins at his school and at the Husayni Madrasah in the 1980's, all the time learning from others already in the field not just about writing, but also about pre-press and production processes. He was also the editor-in-chief of the Knowledge Magazine in 1995–1996. A decade later, importing a flurry of ideas into his new home, Nairobi, he first founded a two page community newspaper then became a regular writer of the Friday Faculty before establishing the Community on Friday, a fully fledged Madrasah magazine in 1996. And while his writing at the community continued, he simultaneously started writing for a business weekly, pairing in with his newfound role as a marketing professional. During his time in Nairobi, he wrote several speeches for sitting chairmen and presidents while also giving some himself, developing his concurrent role as a public speaker and trainer.

With changing times and a decrease in advertising sponsorship, as well as a fall in overall readership, Mohamedarif transformed this publication into an electronic blog. Thus was born the Community on Friday in its present format.

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