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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Photographer Tarawalie & the ĎCommon Touchí
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden (Special Executive Assistant to the President)
Apr 4, 2013, 17:00
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It was Rudyard Kipling in his famous poem ďIFĒ who stated of that rare gift borne by few humans which makes them able to talk with crowds but keep virtue; and walk with Kings but yet maintain the common touch. That rare gift was on display at the White House on Thursday 28 March 2013 when powerful President Obama showed he can walk with Kings but maintain the common touch.

 

All beautiful photographs of the visit to the White House Oval Office and Cabinet Room were taken by ace State House photographer, Mr. Tarawalie who accompanied President Koromaís delegation to the White House.


Tarawalie: Shook Hands with Obama

After Tarawalie finished taking the photos, he was asked out of the Oval Office by White House protocol officers. As he was preparing to step out of the room, no less a person than President Obama interrupted his protocol officers and said to Tarawalie from Sierra Leone, ďCome, come come!Ē

 

An amazed Tarawalie walked over to Obama and received a warm handshake from the most powerful man in the world who said to him quite simply, ďThank you for taking our photographsĒ. Tarawalie walked out of the Oval Office in a daze. I suspect he is still walking around savouring the precise moment when President Obama shook his hands.

 

That ability of President Obama to maintain the common touch is what I see everyday in President Ernest Koromaís dealings here in Sierra Leone. Our President has exemplary ability to make everyone feel appreciated; no matter if it is a common man or a powerful traditional authority (local King).

 

I have a messenger whom I once sent with an urgent note to H.E. President Koroma. After reading the note, the President asked his ADC to invite my messenger into his office. President Koroma then warmly shook my messengerís hands whilst saying a personal thanks for taking the note to him.

 

My messenger not only returned in total awe of being able to enter President Koromaís office but he actually refused to wash his hands for several days after!

 

That ďcommon touchĒ which makes Obama consider to shake the hand of a photographer from Sierra Leone and which makes Koroma to consider to shake the hands of a lowly messenger is what poet Rudyard Kipling is describing in his poem, ďIFĒ. It is the rare trait seen in only a very few humans; the ones who were born to be leaders amongst us.


IF - by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, donít deal in lies,

Or being hated, donít give way to hating,

And yet donít look too good, nor talk too wise:

 

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;

If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat these two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth youíve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build Ďem up with worn-out tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ĎHold on!í

 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty secondsí worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything thatís in it,

And - which is more - youíll be a Man, my son!

- Rudyard Kipling    .


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