Thursday, 24 May 2012

From Jungle to Palace

Last week I mentioned to my father that I had been invited to lunch with the Queen at Westminster Palace on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee (along with a few other people, I should add!).

Mr Ilube Senior is a serious and thoughtful fellow and is very precise with his words. He would be very unlikely, for example, to casually say "Good morning to you" if in fact it was raining and windy. He would probably say "Rainy and windy morning to you" because that would be a far more precise description of the actual state of affairs.

So, I was quite interested to hear what he would have to say about this Royal invitation. He paused, considered the news and then said in a sombre voice as if addressing the hushed ranks of the UN General Assembly "my father grew up in a village (in West Africa) and never stepped inside the four walls of a classroom in his life. My son is dining with Royalty. From jungle to Palace in two generations. Wonderful".

It is rather wonderful actually. There are many strands of the story that come together to make up my journey but this is definitely one of them. And I feel that I am only halfway through my journey, so who knows where I will end up? Perhaps I have peaked and it's all downhill from here. If so, I am quite content with where I have got to. Perhaps there is more to come. I certainly have a few exciting plans and big ambitions up my sleeve and I feel as if I am just getting in to my stride now.

When I am talking to the young African students from across the continent who come to our African Gifted Foundation Academies I say to them that whatever their background, whatever their parents circumstances, if they use the incredible brainpower and drive that they have been blessed with they could be dining with royalty and presidents in years to come. I don't have anything like the natural intellectual ability of these kids and I have managed to struggle this far. Just imagine what they will achieve!

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