Anonymous pilot veered off course

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On November 17 2015 your newspaper carried a story titled “Soini’s plane will fall like a rock – pilot”. The title appears to be a verbatim quote of the anonymous pilot.

While the pilot is perfectly within his rights to voice an opinion, an opinion he may have been asked to give, I beg for a chance to offer a different point of view. In my opinion the pilot’s take on Soini’s project reeks of familiar negative rhetoric and plots a route to nowhere for Afrikan potential. I could not let it stand unchallenged; hence the subsequent submissions.

The myth of formal education/training as the silver bullet

Let me start off by mentioning that I am aware of the difference between education and training and that I am not bundling them together ignorantly. I use them here, not to discuss their definitive premises but to discuss the all too apparent inhibition born out of blindly requiring them as proof of ability.

The anonymous pilot mentions in the report that he would “raise funds for him [Soini] to go study, instead of raising funds for him to buy material”. In other places the report abounds with technical jargon that, although probably well-intentioned, quite glaringly mocks Soini’s assumed educational poverty. The metals are too heavy; the fuel is not right; the brother is just putting things together without weighing them … his plane “will fall out of the sky like a rock”!

By this unfortunate over-emphasis on education/training the anonymous pilot misses an opportunity to stoke the fire that burns inside Soini. I actually hope Soini’s educational poverty prevents him from reading that article lest his passion be smothered altogether. You see, life is full of testimonies of people who made it without formal education/training. People who were innately inspired to bring forth that which is inside them. They are the ones who discovered the knowledge that forms the basis for education/training today. The Wright brothers are among those. Soini is no different from them, he could rewrite the aviation books. The world actually needs a different kind of plane right now.

The shackles of legalism – putting law above the Gospel

The anonymous pilot also points to a compliance issue; the requirement of a “Clearance Certificate” issued by the “Directorate of Civil Aviation”. Soini would have to get this certificate before he can fly his plane. That requirement, in a sense, is like judge Damaseb’s gavel coming down to punctuate the end of vain pursuit. In my opinion, the pilot’s mention of law, while again it may be well-intentioned, is out of place. It magnifies problems instead of hope. It’s a dream killer.

Let me scope this point by submitting that such legalism shackles Afrikan progress. Our dynamism appears to be groaning under a legal and regulatory framework that is out of context. Instead of organically evolving with our socio-political and economic contexts our laws feel like someone else’s oversized pair of jeans that distorts our true shape and inhibits our agility. We just can’t move that well in them!

Soini does not need this; not while he is labouring to bring forth his gift. What he needs is for the anonymous pilot to rather echo the promise of his humanity. He needs to hear the good news of a life of possibility rather than an enumeration of laws he dare not transgress.

In conclusion, while it is true that education/training greatly aids progress, Soini’s lack thereof should not be used to construct a mountain in his path. His passion should be used as the runway from which his flight to possibilities can take off and his dream can become a destination within reach. Likewise our laws, while essential for cohesion and order, should not be used to discourage people like Soini. They should rather aid our ingenuity.
I believe the anonymous pilot was off course in this regard.
• Elton Witbooi
eltonwitbooi@gmail.com

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