As a child growing up I was always in love with heroes. But I was a Ugandan kid going to Buganda Road Primary School. I don’t remember much from Mr. Mpenje and Miss Asio Stella or Mr. Mpagi or what they taught me at the time because it was amorphously assimilated into my greater knowledge of the world and life.
But i do remember my heroes back then. Very boldly. Very clearly. Recently I met someone who reminded me so much of who I wanted to become when I was growing up. Talking with her, I realised how far I had come; so many detours, so many many roads. What surprised me though was how easily me and this person got into this conversation, you know? One moment she was playing cagey and hard to get and then the next, the dynamic had shifted and we were like age old buddies. As we talked, I realised how special this person was.
You know the way the brain is triggered by the very slightest of things. How a sound, a smell, a flash of something can unlock a whole era of memories? Yeah she did. She said something about childhood heroes and father Abraham. and I…
just spaced out.
It was too much. My mind delved into how, when I was younger, I used to want to return to school just to talk about e-works, and the Mutant League and Punky Brewster. But none of these was more interesting, educative and obsession-compelling as the green haired, smiley, deep-voiced Captain Planet!
I would have given my world to be him; I think i actually might have. He was cool, non-violent, a new metaphoric champion for the environment and the wave of environmental consciousness that that stood for.
A creation of Ted Turner [yes, the billionaire magnate] to find ways of merging education and Entertainment in the early ’90s the show was a huge success in establishing environmental awareness clubs at high schools in the US. The idea seemed to be that if there was a way to teach children through entertaining them, then the world and the next generation of the planet would be a safer place.
I am much older now, more seasoned, perhaps even slightly jaded but for that instant in her presence I felt that it did not matter, whatever I’d had become; I had failed to be a planeteer.
But after I left her and as I contemplated this I realized that in many ways, I had become the hero I had always dreamt of becoming. In the more subtle features, in the finer points I still had the rough edges [its nearly impossible to be educated and not be crass. Learned is a whole different matter] but I had the bone structure down.
To be a gentle soul, be considerate, be giving of self in time and effort, to constantly adapt and be versatile in order to meet the challenges around us, to be able to accept defeat gracefully [still struggling]. But the true hallmark of any hero always has been and perhaps will always be; to be willing to do the right thing…at any cost.