This is the story of the first conference where I was the MC, the event organiser, the host and everything else.
“Yes!!! I did it.” I, Yusuf Moses, pulled it off…
I overcame my fear of speaking on a stage. When I got on that stage I felt that I had the power to change the world just with the words that I conveyed and that was frightening. That’s the one thing that made me tremble with fear and made me stutter; however, I knew if I didn’t get onto that stage at that moment I would disappoint all the people and most of all I would disappoint my mother, Halimah Moses, and Mrs Elizabeth Muller. Moreover, I would surely not want to disappoint Ramon Thomas and make him lose trust and confidence that he had in me. I believed I had a message, and it was an important one: I wanted to inspire Uitenhage, I wanted to educate them.
That is why I had to get onto that stage. The morning of Saturday, 9th August 2008, I was nervous and in a moment of near panic I felt like running away but deep down inside of me I knew that it would haunt me for the rest of my life. Running would become much easier next time … I would never achieve my dream of standing in front on people and changing their lives.
I am happy that I went through with it because I learned some valuable lessons:
It is possible for an individual to change the world like Thomas Edison, Mother Teresa and Florence Nightingale. I read and heard such stories about these great people in history, changing the world, but that was “history” to me. It seemed unreal; even Nelson Mandela too far fetched because I had never before experienced that power of speaking to the world. I did not realize that when I stepped onto that stage but…. when I got down after my last words I realized that one person can change the world.
People want to help you succeed. There were people that I met not long before my big women’s inspirational day who went out of their way to help me succeed. Every time that I had to ask someone something, I reflected on whether I would be willing to do that for someone else? Then I would answer, “Yes, but that is not me.” That’s when I started to doubt them. Yet that’s when I learned to put my trust in what people say and to believe that they would follow through. (I learned to trust people again.)
I learned to appreciate everyone I knew. For the first time I really appreciated the people that came and I could help them to help themselves even more. But the greatest reward was seeing the faces in the crowd wanting to hear more of what I had to say. It was people like Mr Antony Larter, telling Ramon, “It will help Yusuf if we clapped a bit.” It was Mrs Muller nodding her head when I said, “Never let anyone take away your dignity”. Women are dream builders.
It was Mrs Olwen Carson running around at the very last minute for me, Yusuf Moses, whom she had met just a few days ago; she had known nothing about me, yet there she was helping me find a “tea pot” for the event. I can still feel the lump in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes but I kept them back because I felt that I would still need to approach a thousand more people and I had to be strong when I met them.
There was Mrs Gretal Olivier who came all the way from Alexandria telling me that it was not my fault that this public speaking was a fear to me; at her school it was part of the curriculum and if it had been a part of my curriculum a few years back it would not have been a fear. It was people like Mrs Karen telling me, ”You did a great job organizing this much needed yet so neglected event”. I could see the pride in my mother’s eyes. Only a few days earlier I had told her that I was resigning and I could see her dream of me working at a factory for 10,20 or even 40 years being shattered.
Now she proudly told me, “Yusuf, my son, you are now an adult and I can no longer choose for you. But remember I will stand behind you in whatever you choose to do with your life, because you have never let me down before”. I will never ever forget these timeless words that she said. It was for Mrs Lizy of the friends of the Uitenhage Library just smiling with appreciation. It was for Gareth whom I work with for telling me, “Hey, bro, just relax”