If you fly as often as I do you can sometimes take the pre-flight safety briefing for granted. You often think to yourself, argh!  I have heard this thing so many times and somehow your mind subconsciously just locks out of listening. I was on a flight to Cape Town last week and I just thought, “Bongeka if something were to happen on this flight would you really know what to do in an emergency”. I realised that my survival could hang between what I know or don’t know. So I decided you know what let me just listen to the safety briefing.

As the briefing proceeded I listened attentively, and one of the things they said really really stood out for me. They said “If there is a loss of cabin pressure, the panels above your seat will open, and oxygen masks will drop down. If this happens, place the mask over your nose and mouth, and adjust it as necessary. Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others.”

You know I often hear this over and over but for the first time in my life this sentence was life changing. I began to ask myself, why would the instruction require us to do this? I realised that the answer lies in a very simple principle. You see my friend I often echo that one can never give off what they not full off. The principle here is simple, it’s not about selfishness, but it is about understanding that unless you have something to offer you cannot be of value to anybody.

Let’s use the example of being in a plane; say you travelling with small children or you sitting next to an elderly person and all of a sudden you are required to put your oxygen masks on. Your first reaction could be reaching out and helping the children or the elderly person but as you attempt to do that, you slip into unconsciousness. Imagine how detrimental that would be because then the children and the elderly person could also slip into unconsciousness and if this happens all of you may suffer brain damage.

Right now in Africa we have a serious crisis of leadership. This leadership crisis translates itself in vast inequalities in various factions of our society. In Africa we have a lot of potential and natural resources that could help better the lives of our people, but because our politicians graduated from being freedom fighters to being heads of states we face some serious challenges.

A large majority of them are not “clothed” with the necessary knowledge and expertise. We expect politicians to lead us yet some of them have never even studied political science or law. I have realised that most things stand and fall on leadership. After the US election results today; I express this plea to all those in power- please “put your own mask first”. Leaders need to thoroughly look deep inside them to see if they have the right wisdom; insight; knowledge; passion and most importantly love to lead people the right way.

You simply cannot help someone if you are inadequate, how do you give food if you don’t have any? How do you convince people to live a victorious life in God unless you also live that life? How does a person provide medical care unless they have medical expertise? How do you teach something unless you know it?

My question-is your own mask on?