“Why do bats fly at night?” my grandfather asked.
“I don’t know,” I replied.
“A long time ago, the birds and mammals were at war with each other,” he said. “This war went on for thousands of years. When it looked like the birds were winning, the bat would fly and call itself a bird. And when it looked like the mammals were winning, it would walk on the ground, say, ‘Look at my fur and hair, I’m one of you.’ But one day, the birds and mammals decided to have a truce and work towards peace. It was during this coming together that they realized the bat had been fighting on both sides. Enraged, these creatures began to search for the bat to punish him. Afraid of getting caught, the bat flew away and hid in a cave. From that day on, because of shame and fear, the bat only comes out at night, because he is afraid of getting caught.”
My grandfather told me this story, because I was the kid who always avoided confrontation. If I was asked to state an opinion, I would try my best to avoid it. If I was asked to pick a side or be the tie breaker in an argument, I would stay neutral and tiptoe around the conversation. By telling this story, he hoped I would change. By telling this story, he hoped I would understand that I come from a culture in which neutrality is frowned upon, and regardless of my good intentions, I’d always be the bat—indecisive and spineless. In telling this story, he hoped I would become more assertive.
In telling this story, he helped me become more expressive and assertive, characteristics that have served me well, both in my personal and professional dealings. Be it through my interactions with friends and family or my professional adventures as an activist and social commentator, I have learned to express my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs with a humble, but unambiguous conviction.
Sincerely, Kwapi Vengesayi
Kwapi Vengesayi is an Amazon bestselling author whose books explore captivating musings and thought-provoking conversations about love, relationships, life and our human experience. You can find his book on Amazon. You can also follow him on Twitter @kwapiv or subscribe to his blog at kwapiv.com