I find this a rather unusual translation for a proverb from Sierra Leone where the tallest mountain is more like a tall hill. Freetown, the capital, is hilly like San Francisco and sits on a huge, beautiful bay. For many people who have only pathways to their houses they do a lot of climbing, going to and from their homes. So they know what it is to be fit and able to climb. We lived in a Freetown neighborhood called Hill Station and had a wonderful view of the ocean and the houses below when we were in S.L in 2008-09. We didn't have a car so we, too, did a lot of up and down walking whenever we wanted to go somewhere.
Despite this I really find this proverb very special. There are so many people who start life at a tremendous disadvantage and who have to face steep climbs if they want to get anywhere in life. A lot of them don't and are not equipped to handle these challenges. All the more reason why I believe people need a helping hand. This help can come from another person, the community or even the government. "Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" is not always possible for many people. Here in the South, as we remember Black History this month, I think we also need to really understand the depths from which Blacks have had to climb up after centuries of slavery and slave-like conditions. And it is amazing what they have been able to achieve. But neither should we think that it is easy for them. They are still climbing up and it is all right to give them a helping hand so they can become healthy, productive, citizens. On a recent MPB (Mississippi Public Broadcasting) radio program people were interviewed about how far the South has come in Race Relations since the 60's. The white person didn't see any problem now as all that bad stuff was in the past and behind us and the black person who felt there still was a long way to go to achieve any real sense of equality.
WABG 960 AM, located in an empty field just outside Greenwood and on the way to Money, Mississippi, has been keeping the local African American community informed since the civil rights days. As we drove past the station they were playing a song by Randy Weeks. "Emmet Till, Emmet Till, does your soul wander still 'ore the flatlands of the Delta?"