The Human Predicament – A Reflection on the Meaning of Human Life – Part 4
What is man? He is so strong, yet so fragile, so powerful, yet so weak, so great, yet so miserable. He is so curious to know, and knows so much about the physical universe, yet he is so ignorant about himself. He is in fact a problem a problem to himself, a mystery beyond his comprehension. He cannot answer his own questions about himself.
The human person is the most marvelous and most complex being in the universe. The marvels of the human person by far surpass those of the physical universe. The brevity of human life, the vicissitudes of life, man’s power and weakness, his dignity and misery, his joys and sorrows, his finitude, his experience of suffering, sickness, disease, death and decay, his anxieties, fears and worries, are all starting points for reflection and deep thinking. Buddha’s philosophy for instance arose from his reflection on human suffering- old age, disease, death and decay. Reflection on these phenomena of human life gives rise to some fundamental questions about the nature, purpose and meaning of human life on this earth.
What is man? He is so strong, yet so fragile, so powerful, yet so weak, so great, yet so miserable. He is so curious to know, and knows so much about the physical universe, yet he is so ignorant about himself. He is in fact a problem a problem to himself, a mystery beyond his comprehension. He cannot answer his own questions about himself. From time immemorial, man has been preoccupied with questions about his origin, nature and destiny.
What am I? Why do I live? What is the meaning of my life? What, in the final analysis, is the ultimate value of my life? Where do I go from here? Am I heading for nothingness? There are of course many people who do not bother asking themselves such questions about the meaning and purpose of their lives. They just go on from day to day living unexamined lives. They work, eat, drink, struggle for money and wealth, marry and beget children among other desires. They just want to be like ‘others’ and they are submerged in their daily routine, without ever asking themselves what it all means in the final analysis. Man is a being who does not understand himself; and puts his own very being into question.
Man has natural desire for continued existence, his strongest instinct is that of self-preservation and self-perpetuation in existence. Yet his life span is brief and is often terminated contrary to his deepest desire. All his efforts to resist the imposed termination of his life are futile- off he goes whether he likes it or not. He is forced out of this world without even knowing where he is going. He did not choose to come to this world. He simply finds himself in this world without knowing why and sooner or later he will be forced out of it.
What then is the ultimate meaning of man’s existence? What is the ultimate value of man’s life? What is he living for? Has his life any ultimate meaning? We all know that we eat to live, but what do we live to do? Why do we live?
Albert Camus, a renowned French philosopher tells us that there is only one truly serious philosophical question, and that is, is human life meaningful or meaningless? This is also the most serious problem about human life? Albert Camus is quite right. Many people do commit suicide because they find life meaningless. They feel that a meaningless life is not worth living. They therefore terminate it.
Man is great, but at the same time weak and miserable with insatiable desires. Man is the greatest being in the universe, yet he is so fragile that a little thing such as a bullet, for instance can annihilate him. He is wretched but he is great even in his wretchedness because he knows his wretchedness. The fact that he is aware of his wretchedness shows that he knows what he ought to be more than he actually is. He knows that he is not really his true self, that he used to be more than he is at present. In other words, man is conscious of his fallen state. It is only a deposed king that feels happy about his state of not being a king. If he had never being a king at all he will not feel unhappy about he not being a king. Man is a deposed king, a fallen creature, longing to be restored to his former dignity. In a similar way, Jean Paul Sartre describes man as a being who is not what he is and who is what he is not, a being who carries a vacuum, an emptiness within him at the heart of his being. Nothing can satisfy him as long as he carries that vacuum inside him at the heart of his being. No amount of money, no amount of wealth, wine or women can satisfy man’s deepest yearning because nothing can fill that vacuum inside him. This means that all his endeavours in life to acquire wealth are futile. Expressing similar ideas about man’s dissatisfaction and restlessness, Augustine says to God: You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
Augustine, who in his youth, lived a care free life, later learnt from experience that nothing can satisfy the deepest yearning of the human heart.
In his Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus illustrates in a dramatic way the futility of human endeavours and the absurdity of human existence. He compares human existence to the life of Sisyphus who spent all his life rolling a heavy stone up a hill. He would start early in the morning rolling the stone up the hill and spend the whole day rolling it, exerting all his energy and perspiring profusely all over his body. When at last he succeeded in rolling it to the top of the hill, the stone will roll down the hill, and Sisyphus would come down and start all over rolling the stone up the hill again, exerting all his energy as before. And when again he succeeded in reaching the top of the hill with the stone, it would again roll down the hill. Sisyphus kept doing this every day of his life until he died. He worked very hard, but what did he achieve in the end? What was the meaning of what he spent his whole life doing? What was the purpose? It had no meaning, no purpose. It was totally absurd exercise. He lived a meaningless life. Is human life on earth less absurd than the life of Sisyphus?
We wake up in the morning, brush our teeth, take our bath, take our breakfast, dress up and go out struggling for one thing or another- money, food, wealth etc. We struggle the whole day and come back home in the evening to sleep. The following morning, we wake up to go through the routine again, brush our teeth, take our bath, take our breakfast, dress up and we are out again, struggling till evening. This goes on till we die and it is all over. What have we achieved in the end? What in the final analysis are we going to do with all the money, all the wealth we spend our life struggling to acquire? We shall leave them behind when we die and go to the grave?
The Problem of Evil
The most disturbing problem that makes human life appear meaningless is the problem of evil. This is the problem that has plagued human life from its very beginning and has disturbed the human mind from time immemorial. It has become an insoluble problem, a puzzle and in fact, a mystery to the human mind. It is natural evil for instance that leads one to ask whether human life has any meaning at all, or any purpose. A visit for example to a home for mentally retarded children or physically handicapped children, disabled people, paralytics, terminally sick people in great pain, or a mortuary, prompts one to ask whether human life has any meaning at all. This was what led Job to curse the day he was born. He wished he had died as soon as he was born.
The absurdity of human existence and the futility of all human struggles dawns on one also at funerals or interment. As the coffin is lowered into the grave it dawns on one that it is all over for the deceased, that this is the final end of all his struggles, all his endeavours, all his wealth, and that the very same fate awaits us all.
Death is the worst evil that happens to man, an evil that makes human life appear purposeless and meaningless. Sartre concludes that ‘If we have to die, then our life has no meaning’ the strongest instinct in both in both men and animals is the instinct of self-preservation or self-perpetuation. It is the instinct to avoid death, the instinct to continue living. Yet death is the surest thing that will happen to us. If there is only one thing that is unmistakably certain, which no skeptic has ever doubted or can ever doubt, is that death is inevitable. It is certain that we shall all die because we were all condemned to death even before we were born. ‘As soon as a man is born,’ says Heidegger, ‘he is old enough to die’. Some people are not even born before they die, they die in the womb before they are born. Some die just as they as born, some die a few minutes after they are born, some a few hours, others a few days, some are few months, others a few years. Some live to ripe old age. Death can come and does come at any time in a person’s life, at any age, from ante-natal state, to infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood to old age.
Inusah Awuni – MPhil, MA, BA
( Lecturer – AUCC & DUC )
TRENDS RUNWAY HELD IN TAMALE
Trends Runway show was held in Tamale at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium in November 2021.
The maiden edition of the Trends Runway show was held in Tamale at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium in November 2021. The night brought some delight to the city of Tamale. Generally, the organizers were impressed with the number of audiences who turned out for the program and the patience they exercise and stayed till the show was over.
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One of the Accra-based designers, expressed his joy and delightfulness at seeing the audience still glued to their seats as late as 12 midnight when people would begin to leave at about 9 pm in Accra when the show has not ended. The atmosphere and reception of the people of Tamale were a new experience for him and this overwhelming. According to him, this was an indication that they were really welcomed in Tamale with their fashion.
The missing vibe in the organization’s structure was the conspicuous absence of women. In an interview with Abdul Raafi Mohammed on Sanatu Zambang Hotspot Live, the organizers bemoaned the difficulty of getting women involved in working with them but they hope to improve upon representation in the subsequent editions.
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They also expressed some difficulties in training the models. They had to run shifts for the trainees because most of them were not regular and kept missing days in training. This made their work very difficult.
Talking of the sponsorship, the organizers admitted that, they had a tough time getting people and organizations to sponsor the program. They reiterated that most cooperate bodies would ask for sponsorship letters but when the letters are given out to them, they would decline to grant any sponsorship.
In organizing this fashion show, they noted that most of their sponsorships came from friends and family members, which was totally unacceptable and discouraging for the growth and success of the program.
One of the points that were also highlighted in the interview was the fact that designers are being limited by clients says Abdul Raafi. Fashion designers are not being challenged by clients to be creative and come out with their own designs. Clients come to seek services demanding replicas of dresses they see on the internet. But the panelist was of a different view. They said it was the duty of these fashion designers to educate their clients about the fashion business and the work they actually do.
Source: Cynthia Kuyoli | Sanatu Zambang
A Legend That Inspires – Abu Sadiq
Hailed as one of the most respected musicians with amazing vocal strength from the savanna, his message-filled music will always stay in the heart of a listener.
Music from the savanna regions of Ghana is always refreshing, especially when it employs traditional and cultural elements; the sound of indigenous rhythms fused with reggae and the sweet melodious voices that accompany these perfectly synchronized rhythms is one reason I don’t hesitate to buy an album by Abu Sadiq.
Hailed as one of the most respected musicians with amazing vocal strength from the savanna, his message-filled music will always stay in the heart of a listener. If you are a music enthusiast like myself, with a constant crave for savanna rhythms you will definitely know Abu Sadiq the artiste that ensures every listener can find a song to relate to on his albums.
Often referred to as the “Policeman”, the Tamale native born in Salamba had his basic education at the Sakasaka Primary & JSS also in Tamale, and later proceeded to the Northern School of Business in 1995 where he studied accounting.
Young and ambitious Abu Sadiq realized his gift of singing at a very tender age, however the choice to fully explore it arose from his desire to affect the many youth who were psychologically affected by the Kokomba-Nunumba conflict of 1995. This influenced the positivity behind all his lyrics as an artiste and led to seven successful album releases from 1996, and several impactful singles.
Growing up around the story-oriented nature of traditional music in the Northern Region, and the positive vibes associated with reggae music, Abu Sadiq’s entrance into the music scene was what he describes as,
“A perfect opportunity for a young person to have immeasurable influence on society, in the most positive of ways by simply doing what came to him naturally and with ease i.e. Music.”
He therefore sought to bring a unique sound that fuses elements of his culture and reggae, whilst maintaining the positive vibes of reggae music. This lead him to deliberately write music that won’t just get feet tapping, but will take listeners on a journey of mental rejuvenation.
Even though today’s music scene in the savanna is a bit unlike before, Abu Sadiq’s relevance has never waned as he continues to tirelessly churn out amazing music like Fara Kurli, Azindo, Dikuyuui and several others whilst featuring on countless songs belonging to other artistes.
One would assume that after 15years Abu Sadiq would be looking to retire soon but according to him;
“There is too much to be shared by way of positive lyrics, and I doubt if I can quit knowing how much my music impacts Dagbon”.
In a short conversation with www.thesavannaonline.com, Abu Sadiq revealed his desire to get back into school to pursue higher education.
He believes doing so will further set him apart from his contemporaries and the new generation of musicians who basically think the dance aspect of music, relegating the positive impact of music by way of lyrics to the background. He also expressed disappointments in the myriad of award schemes that adorn the savanna yet don’t fully represent the different genres of music that has given the entertainment scene its budding status. He believes recognizing all genres will actually bring the less popular genres to the fore thereby increasing the economic potential of alternative music exports.
According to him, the situation where profane and vulgar lyrics, as well as insults in the name of publicity stunts will in the long run cause irreparable damage to listeners who look up to musicians as role models, and thus attempt to model their lives after their favorite artistes.
Abu Sadiq is currently in the studio working on an album, which he believes is the best he’s ever put out.
GHANAIANS LIVE IN PERPETUAL FEAR
Harboring fear leads to some form of stress, which can cause depletion of the immune system, errors in judgement and can even prevent one form making reasonable decisions. Fear leads to the loss of confidence, fatigue, anger explosions and sometimes stomach upsets.
The Ghanaian populace will soon be bedridden with what seem a national canker which has gradually eaten into the minds of people. Every Ghanaian in one way or the other has been affected by this canker-FEAR, from students to workers, traders, politicians, mad men, the aged, the young, sick, down to the little child.
Fear which is known to kill champions before their time, has spread its malicious tentacles across the breadth of the country. Harboring fear leads to some form of stress, which can cause depletion of the immune system, errors in judgement and can even prevent one form making reasonable decisions. Fear leads to the loss of confidence, fatigue, anger explosions and sometimes stomach upsets.
Students studying in schools to become the leaders of our motherland harbor in them the fear of failing their examinations. Right from the word go, students have been raised to fear exams and hate the very word with all their might and with all their hearts. Beginning for their “first world war”-Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E) to the so called the almighty West African Senior Secondary Examination (WASSCE) to the End of Semester Examinations in the Tertiary level, students face these requisite exams with fear, ample enough to kill a giant, in their hearts. Little wonder yearly results of students’ exams come with many surprises.
Children in their development stage become very curious and tend to ask a host of rhetorical questions, some answerable, others simply unthinkable. In bid to escape the barrage of questions and non-existing answers children expect their parents, teachers and guardians to conjure for them after each round of their “curious endeavours” parents, teachers and guardians tend to formulate weird superstitious tales, to scare the little ones rather than educate them. Among these many tales are stories of Ghosts appearing in the night to catch children who refused to sleep early enough, stop talking or refuse to bath, Stories of dwarfs, witchcraft and wizardry.
The amazing thing is that these children grow with the fear of these non-existing phenomena glued to their thoughts and transfer it, like a contagious disease, to the next generation.
The doctrines of the two populous religions in Ghana-Christianity and Islam, imbibe in their members the belief in a final day of Judgement, where the Almighty God will replay to mankind all of his activities on earth. The Judgement per the indoctrination of the religions of Islam and Christianity, will see some men taken to Heaven and others cast into hell, an abode of ever burning fire and perpetual suffering.
The fear of being cast into hell or Janam’ah (as described referred to by Muslims) appears be a sort of headache for some religious folks as it has been described to be the worst ever place ever imagined. Residents of hell will be plagued with thirst and unimaginable diseases, as narrated in one bible story.
This stories when rehearsed creates fear in the hearts of the theist.
The fear of being sacked and losing one’s job is an ingrowth that has eaten deep into the minds of Ghanaian workers. Daily, under the guise of pleasing their bosses and a lukewarm way of securing their jobs, workers join long winding queues in lorry stations or join the struggle for bus to their destination. A minute’s lateness would find one smiling on the wrong side of his or her mouth. With the current state monetary affairs in the country you better not lose your job.
It’s a different story, however, when it comes to output of production.
Accidents have become rampant in the few months in this New Year. The latest one claiming about 6lives on the Takoradi-Winneba road.
Travelers now fear for their lives, as they have little control of happenings on their way as they travel.
It is election year and one of the common seasonal fears is one notable among political figures. The fear of losing election. I bet you don’t want to experience this sort of fear. It capable of killing a fully matured lion and making one’s hair turn grey in a twinkle of an eye.
The latest fear of all is the fear of terrorist attack.
Written by Edwin Abanga – 0249475585 (Student Journalist)
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