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©Simon Chilembo, 2013

Whether or not my body will be draped in the finest Armani Suit material, crematorium flames will consume my flesh just like that of another person dying in an inferno somewhere. Lying dead six feet underground, decomposition breaks down, and the worms consume of, our flesh all in the same manner. A Tsunami will take you if you are in its way, regardless of who you are. In the event of a global nuclear war, we all gonna go. Tastes and preferences considered, pieces of compelling music move us all one way or another. In a perfect world, the long arm of the law grabs us all when we commit criminal offences. In His/ Her non-bastardized form, whether He/ She really exist or not, God is there for us all. We are all equal, like bedfellows, in the face of forces and powers beyond the realm of our direct control and/ influence, these be natural phenomena, or man-made systems of checks and controls of human behaviour.

Given that from the outset the earth is a given as a unique, closed eco-system with all its attributes of abundance and relative scarcity of resources, we are at birth all equal no matter where and when on earth we are born. This is as far as it goes. Period. Beyond this, life-long differentiation characterizes human existence, and determines how human beings will interact with one another, thereby establishing often very specific social relations, as the world goes round and around.

What lies at the core of this differentiation is how, primarily, people as individuals and, secondarily, as collectives of all sorts and kinds, organize their thoughts and behaviours in relation to how they choose to deal with nature and its given attributes, as well as challenges. Some may give in to the might of nature and God; letting these dictate how they’ll live and lead their own lives. Losers. Others will strive to understand the workings of nature with the intention and purpose of finding out how to harness some of the forces of nature towards improving both the quality and potential of life and living. The latter will often be pioneers, resourceful visionaries; they will be leaders of others, influencing thoughts and behaviour through various social engineering tools and mechanisms. It may be good, it may be bad; that’s how we roll. Good-bye equality!

©Vika Karateklubb, 2013

When, a total stranger from far, far away across the world, like Professor Stephen Chan, comes into my life and allows me to grow up under his guidance and tutelage as my Karate teacher, he does so from a position of age advantage, more and higher knowledge and understanding of the ways of the world. He comes with greater skills, as well as greater and wider appreciation of the Martial Arts, their principles, and history. Through his intellectual and academic might he has inspired me to want to read, write, and think more about my life and how I fit in the wider game of living as a decent member of society wherever I am at any one time. Through his human relations and communication skills he has inspired me to like to test and push what I may consider to be my limits at some points as I roll on with my life. Many things Stephen Chan has taught me directly in formal Karate training settings. I have learnt a lot also from our informal one-on-one social interactions, as well as in company of others in various settings and circumstances. There is a lot more I have learnt, and continue to learn, privately through observing him doing all the things he does in his wide, wide world of Service to Humanity in various capacities all over the world.

Thessaloniki, Greece, 1985

I unsolicitedly speak for myself, in my private capacity here. Doing this with profound respect and utmost admiration for Professor Stephen Chan, based on a special Teacher-Student relationship spanning more than 30 years. When I classify Stephen, together with scores others of his students and colleagues whose values I share, as family, this is in metaphoric terms. And this remains valid and true to the extent that our co-existence is continually harmonious and mutually supportive and uplifting, mostly at the emotional and spiritual levels for me. Stephen and all these others live and lead lives of inspiring professional/ academic excellence, they have big hearts touching the lives of, and giving hope to, many, many people all over the world. Whether Stephen and the others consider me as family is inconsequential to me, what is important for me is that they ever inspire me to work to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

©Vika Karateklubb, 2013

 In many ways like my own father, my grandparents, my uncles/ aunts, my cousins, my closest friend-brothers/ sisters would be there for me both in times of glory and misery, Stephen has been there for me at some of the most crucial times in my life. Much like a family member in a perfect world. On my part I’ll always be there for Stephen whenever needed, and I’m able to assist in any way. Absolutely everyone who means anything to me, especially family, knows about Stephen Chan. My parents, my younger brother, and my younger sister have met Stephen Chan; they recognize and acknowledge him as my family. They ask about him and his wellbeing all the time. But to the extent that Stephen is not their teacher, and does not touch their lives in the manner he touches mine, he is their friend, not family.

Man-to-man, caught up in personal ego trips of the profane world, Professor Stephen Chan, OBE, and I are not, and cannot be equals. He is my teacher. He is my mentor, my motivator, my Coach. He is someone I look up to. He is my Godfather. Family. This is as I see it. Stephen does not have to agree with me. But from my point of view, this defines and structures the nature of how I (will) relate to him at any one time. And this will hold true and valid only to the extent that he continues being all that I’ve already described above, and also, he continues to show mutual respect for the good, mad man I daily strive to be. Professor Stephen Chan, OBE, is not God . I am not Jesus Christ. We are just family, in my eyes.

©Vika Karateklubb, 2013

Blood relation or not, you are my family, for I decide, spontaneously or not, as a free, independent, informed man of the world. Some of my family members we have spoken together about the nature of our relationship. My newest family invited me into their lives. It is your prerogative to decide how to deal with how I have chosen to relate to you. Use me, abuse me as you wish, and live up to the consequences of your choice. Simple. Really. In my life so far, I have been abused and betrayed by others than family. In my world of the free and brave, family is a real, and symbolic metaphor of love, devotion, loyalty, support, mutual respect, and care, among other values. Family is, and implies, many things. Use, relate to it as you please. Just don’t kill it.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 2001
©Simon Chilembo, 2013

Simon Chilembo
South Africa
Tel: +27 717 454 115
August 24, 2013 


1 Comment

  1. […] to be just a kind and generous Sensei. Although he can never be a relative in the real sense, he is as close to family as can be. I am inclined to believe that many others, at least those of African extract and cultural […]

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