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A Look in the Mirror: I am a Warrior

Updated on September 23, 2014
My great-grandfather after he was caught by the British. By Lieutenant Arthur Greer ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
My great-grandfather after he was caught by the British. By Lieutenant Arthur Greer ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Recently, I found out some interesting news about my family history from one of my relatives. We were related to a very notable figure in Sierra Leone by the name of Bai Bureh. His name was awfully familiar because he always came up among research material I did on the country, but I never made any type of connection to him. Apparently, he is my great grandfather on my father’s side. Long story short, someone had an affair, this and that and boom – we’re related. I know, it’s shocking…people were having affairs back then!

I knew Bai Bureh was a prominent figure because he played a major role in the country’s attempt to stay independent from British colonization, which was very common and lead to many African countries being under British rule over the years. As soon as I got a chance I decided to look him up and this is what I found:

  • He was extremely rebellious. He was totally against British rule and did everything he could to fight against it. He had his reasons though; why pay a “hut tax” to people who aren’t even from the area? That sounds reasonable to me!
  • He was sarcastic as hell. When the British-elected governor tried to end the fighting and offered 100 pounds for the capture of Bureh, he put out his own offer of 500 pounds for the capture of the governor. I had to laugh to myself when I read that.
  • His stubbornness started a war. The Hut Tax War of 1898 was initiated to enforce everyone in Sierra Leone to pay a tax, which Bureh refused to do.
  • He was a warrior. Not just any warrior, but one who’s tactics were and still widely used by armies (guerrilla armies) across the world. He was known for his sound military tactics that gave the British army a serious headache when they tried to enforce new rules.

Well finding these things out made a whole lot of sense to me. I can be stubborn, sarcastic and go against the norm because I want to. But what really pulled at me was reading about the warrior traits. I was already aware of the warrior background in my family, since my family consists of the Temne tribe, a group in West Africa known for their warrior roles. But to see that someone was well known for it – to the fact that he could be googled! It was quite mind boggling. Not only is he well known in the history books, Bureh is also on Sierra Leone currency and even has a statue dedicated to his legacy in the nation’s capital, Freetown. I had to ponder on this for a moment and apply it to this journey we call life.

“Open up your eyes and look within.” – Bob Marley

Learning this type of information brings so much understanding. But I really had to look at myself and reflect on how I am in times of adversity, how resilient I get when a response is “no” or “impossible”. Then I couldn’t help but wonder about the warrior blood I apparently have in me. To me that stubbornness and rebellion also equated to resilience at some point and standing up for what you believe in. Even though he was eventually caught, Bureh definitely got his point across and his name ended up being in the books. I have a tendency to be very hard on myself so seeing information like this really put things in perspective for me.

Do you know your roots?
Do you know your roots?

A Warrior Mindset

It takes a lot of skill and discipline to operate like a warrior. With the little bit of military experience I have, it’s no walk in the park. There is no comfort zone, you have to do everything you hate to do because you’re instructed and you have to stay mission oriented. It’s no easy task and it’s constantly challenging. The benefits though are you create a form of self-discipline and mission that will get you through many obstacles. Training never ends and there’s never a dull moment.

Simply put, you have to skilled and you have to be disciplined.

Of course, it’s not an overnight process. Changing the mindset is one of the hardest things a human can do in their lifetime. People are stubborn and stuck in their ways. Most of all they operate out of fear and are afraid of change. A warrior learns how to get past all of that, one step at a time.

Blood doesn't lie - a warrior's great-granddaughter! Source: New3Creation photos (c) 2014
Blood doesn't lie - a warrior's great-granddaughter! Source: New3Creation photos (c) 2014

Where do I go from here?

I am definitely embracing this aspect of myself. I am a fighter and I persevere until something happens. Like many of you, life brings all kinds of things my way, but I can’t let them hold me down. There are things I want to accomplish and will work towards those things until they finally happen. Do things happen to discourage me? Of course. Do I have down days? Yep! But it doesn’t define who I am and where I’m trying to go, it’s a test or a drill for my betterment.

Likewise, you too can be warrior-minded and make changes with whatever you’re unhappy with. I’m a living testimony of that. Take that step and work towards improving the mindset. It will really take you places that you never would’ve imagined.

Trust me, there was a time when I looked in the mirror and couldn’t stand what I saw. It even got to a point where I didn’t even recognize who was looking back at me! But prayer, perseverance and great social support got me through that period. It wasn’t easy, but like a warrior, I had to get strategic. I had to plan my way out of the capture and overcome. The battles still continue, but I’m still winning the war.


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