I have always had a fascination with Greek mythology.
Of course for most the pantheon of Olympian deities hold sway, yet for me the primordial Titan, Prometheus held an unwavering respect in my mind. Here was a being who sided against his kind, chose to fight on the side of Zeus and then went on to defy the orders of the mighty thunderbolt fiend by giving fire to mankind.
This is not a piece on Greek myths, I would love to go give my take on all the other many colourful beings that adorn the pages of Hellenistic literature, but that should be reserved for another time and in a different post.
Prometheus was the first progressive thinker who rooted for the underdog and gave them tools for self-improvement. The other unique trait he possessed was his altruism as opposed to other beings who held a manipulative marionette-esque relationship with their inferiors. He never asked for anything in return, all he wanted was the enlightenment of those he assisted.
It is easy for one to cast away or discard the character of Prometheus as an ancient story or a mere representation of mankind’s persistence on the quest for progress.
The truth is Prometheus was an unsung hero who did a lot behind the scenes but was hardly ever acknowledged during his existence by those he did it for. Whether it was due to the fact he was always in the background, non-assuming yet aiding, he was hardly ever hailed.
Growing up in Sierra Leone, I had a Prometheus in the form of my maternal Grandpa. I think I began the process of receiving my proverbial fire of enlightenment when I was between the ages of 5-6. I was playing in his library, flipping the pages of a rather thick book. Of course to a young lad, a book without pictures was not worth my time, so naturally I must have asked him for one with images. He peered at me through his thick lens, and remarked with a chuckle that the words were filled with images and adventures to last me multiple lifetimes, thus commenced my delving into the world of books.
Overtime my grandpa would gift me with books which I would read at home and then discuss with him later. He was never imposing as these sessions were quite interactive.
Grandpa always strived to create a platform for me to be confident to state my opinions. He would then state his position clearly whilst treading and touching on the areas I missed with a masterful stroke. My young mind imbibed it all.
He had a wry sense of humour and loud echoing laughter.
Naturally, I had an advantage when I started grade school. I hail from a side of the world where rote learning is the norm and even though I attended a top class private school that had relatively much higher standards than most in the country, my intelligence bloomed through the nurturing of my Grandpa. It was obvious from the get go that non interactive teachers bore me. I adapted to the reality of the limiting nature of the school system.
I was gifted by my grandpa with a 16 volume Harver’s Junior World Encyclopedia in November, 2000 after my first report card came through with exceptionally good grades. This become a tradition between me and my grandpa throughout his life.
As we get older, it is arguable to some that it is easy to somehow forget or ignore the contributions certain people make to our lives from behind the scenes.
We replace these people with the rich, popular and successful as role models.
There is a certain novelty to the allure of fame but we should never let go of the fire bringers, the Geppettos’ in our lives who spark the flames within us. In a world that sets more store on material gain over honest meaningful contribution, there is a duty on us all to acknowledge these heroes who contribute to us from behind the scenes.
‘Inspiring and never taking credit’ as Drake put it.
My grandfather passed away on the 12th of December, 2009.
To this day, I still get the ‘human Wikipedia’ jokes because of my penchant in knowing things. With age comes experience and maturity coupled with the realization that the legacy of my grandpa should be passed on.
It is necessity to be mentors to those that require it without imposing.
To aid without manipulating.
I end with a poem.
Behind the scenes, forging.
Individuals polished from bronze to gold.
Molds shaped from clay to breathing figures.
In the dark, unseen like the abyss but higher and brighter than Helios’s chariot.
The unsung heroes.
Who give all and ask for naught.
And remain silent in the hopes to see,
Phoenix reborn from ash
Caterpillars transforming to iridescent butterflies
Coals to polished diamonds
Seeding the star ways with future constellations to evade black holes
Titular guardians and not marionettes.
To the Geppettos’ over the Strombolis’.
We don’t say thank you enough.
RIP Morlai B. Alhassan Kamara.