I can imagine how Ahmed Mohamed felt that morning. And you can imagine it, too. The high school teenager had built a clock with pencil cases. Ahmed wanted to be an engineer. And that morning, he was going to show his innovation to his teacher. He was happy. He expected to be praised.
But his teacher and the school authorities did not praise him. They arrested him. They thought the clock was a bomb. The photograph of 14-year old Ahmed in handcuffs went viral on social media and mainstream media. It generated outrage. The outcome was, however, overwhelmingly spectacular.
Almost all people whose words hold sway in the affairs of the world noticed Ahmed. President Obama took to Twitter to praise the boy and invite him to the White House.
“Cool clock, Ahmed,” President Obama tweeted. “Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”
Ahmed finally visited the White House and hugged President Obama.
“It was amazing, and a honour meeting President Obama,” Ahmed said on Twitter.
Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and other great entrepreneurs in America also invited Ahmed. Scholarship offers and other opportunities that came to Ahmed in torrents. Ahmed’s family decided to choose an offer that came from the oil rich Qatar. There, they thought, their son would have the best of education he needed and an environment that would not be suspicious of his invention because he carries a Muslim name.
Another touching story in 2015, which is very much like that of Ahmed, is the story of the tripping Syrian refugee and his son. Mr. Osama Alghadab was among the desperate Syrian refugees who were running across the Hungarian-Serbian border to escape the war at home. While they were running in order to escape immigration authorities, a Hungarian camerawoman, Petra Laszlo, kicked Osama as he carried his terrified son, Zaid, across the border. The two fell badly. The heartbreaking photographs of their tragedy greeted the world – on television, internet and in newspapers and magazines.
That unfortunate incident, however, was the golden sunshine behind the dark skies of the heart-wrenching fall.
The Alghadabs story touched many hearts across the world. They got offers. The family was invited to Spain. The man was offered an opportunity to train in a coaching school. He was offered accommodation and money to rebuild his family. His son Zaid was the boy who held Christiano Ronaldo’s hand as the Real Madrid players appeared in the stadium for their game against Granada on September 19, 2015. Zaid’s father and elder brother were among the VIPs in the stadium that day.
You may be wondering why I spent the whole year writing about hard-hitting stories and decided to end it with irrelevant tales from distant nations.
I want to remind you to give thanks to God as we end this year even if your expectations were not met. Even if things were bad, you still have a good reason to thank God. I just want to remind you that the story of Joseph is still relevant today. It is happening in different ways. God is using people and situations to re-enact His lesson-laden and inspirational stories, the stories captured in the Holy Bible.
Joseph’s brothers wanted to destroy him so they sold him into slavery. Their action ended up catapulting Joseph into kingship, making him the Prime Minister of Egypt.
The lesson in the stories of Joseph, Ahmed the clockmaker and Osama the Syrian refugee should teach us to look beyond the doom and gloom that sometimes punctuate our lives. The camerawoman who kicked Osama and his son was fired. But what she did worked for the good of the family. The refugees who did not tip and fall may never have reached their destinations. Those who reached their destinations could only dream about the comfort Osama and his family had in Spain. Some may still be battling with cold in open tents in refugee camps as we end the year.
The police who arrested Ahmed have apologised and the school has been disgraced. But their action threw him into international limelight and his life has changed forever.
In 2005, when I failed to gain admission to the University of Cape Coast to do the course I wanted to pursue, I was so downhearted. While I waited to apply the following year, someone suggested that I go and study journalism because he thought I could write so well. My failure to gain admission to UCC has turned out to be the best thing that has happened to me. I might have become an obscure accounts clerk somewhere, and you may never have heard that Manasseh Azure Awuni from Bongo ever crawled on the surface of this anonymous planet called earth.
The late Komla Dumor was dismissed from a medical school for poor performance. He later became Ghana (and perhaps Africa’s) biggest broadcasting export to the world.
I don’t know you. I don’t know your story. I don’t know the bad incidents or situations that have made your world appear so hopeless. But I just want to remind you that the God of Joseph is alive. The God of Ahmed Mohamed is alive. The God of Osama and his son, Zaid, is alive. YOUR God is alive.
Trust Him. And wait upon him. Your night of troubles and worries will soon be a bright noonday of blessing and testimonies if you trust in God and work hard.
Sometimes the only way you can rise is to first fall. And you will not understand it when you are down. Sometimes your predicaments will always remain inexplicable until you rise, look back and try to connect the dots of your life’s journey to greatness.
The woes you endured in 2015 may just be bracing you up for a glorious 2016 because “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”—Romans 8:28.
Don’t let any bitterness against those who hurt you this year cross over with you into 2016. I don’t think Ahmed will still be bitter towards the school that caused his arrest. I don’t think Mr. Osama Alghadab and his family will still be bitter towards the camerawoman who sent them tumbling onto the ground. They may be saying in their own words what Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Thank you very much for reading Manasseh’s Folder in 2015. I look forward to writing more and better in 2016. I wish you a joyous and inspirational 2016 as we work together to make Ghana and the world a better place to live.
God bless you.
The writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni, is a senior broadcast journalist with Joy 99.7FM. His email address is email@example.com To read more of his writings visit his website at www.manassehazure.com