FLAKES: Liquid mentor


I am writing this week’s article from a big women’s conference where we are being repeatedly urged to find ‘sponsors’ and ‘mentors’ to help us to develop our careers.

A sponsor is a senior manager who believes in you enough to push you up and through the organisation while a mentor is anyone who is willing to take a little time to give you good advice and build your capacity.

With the late arrival of the short rains, and the challenge of finding a human being upon whom I can pin my hopes, I have decided to adopt a substance, namely water, as my mentor.

Clean water is a clear and transparent liquid. You can see right through it and plants and animals can live in water because they can still get light there. There is nothing hidden in pure water, and transparency is a quality that I would like to emulate. Water is a liquid that most of us comfortably enjoy without any fear of ill effects.


In fact it acts like medicine, cleaning our bodies of the things that are clogging them up. Every time I swallow a cool drink of water, it will help remind me to be a purifying and cleansing agent on everything I encounter, leaving it spick and span and revealing its true beauty.

Water is so meek that a child can cup it in her hands. At the same time water is so powerful that it can plough through a mountain.

In the last decade we have witnessed the power of the tsunami over entire continents, yet devastation caused by water is the exception rather than the rule. Every day we all depend on water for energy, food and hygiene, and water serves without complaint and with very little fanfare.

Water is a true picture of humility, power tempered with compassion. Water is essential to the life and comfort of every human being and yet it is the most humble and accessible of substances.

Water exists on earth as a liquid, a solid and a gas, and it is useful in all its forms. Ice is important for maintaining an excellent climate for the survival of the world.

It cools us down, heals our aches and bruises, and makes it possible to make delicious food and drinks. Water in its liquid form has no nutrients or calories yet it is essential for life, sport, travel, cleaning, and enjoyment. Without liquid water, life on earth would come to a quick end.

Water in its gaseous form is a powerful source of energy and can be used for anything from cooking food to driving engines. I would like to be as flexible, multipurpose and useful as water – providing just what is needed regardless of my mood or temperature!


Water renews itself. No matter where it falls, it eventually finds its way downhill to a river, lake or sea. Water finds more water and builds a water body. I must remind myself that there is a limit to what I can achieve by myself and try to find other like-minded individuals to build an effective coalition.

Water cleanses itself by evaporating into the air and condensing again to fall as dew and rain and I must also learn to regularly rid myself of the things that contaminate my character. Water can dissolve many things and I should be a person who can absorb and transform difficulties.

Lastly, I’ll end with an anecdote. One day little Juma’s granny sent him to the river to fetch some water for cooking. As Juma tried to lower his debe into the water he noticed two beady eyes looking up at him through the water. The terrified child ran all the way back home, arriving without a drop of water.

Granny listened to Juma’s explanation about what had happened and tried to reassure him that the eyes belonged to a crocodile that had been living in the river for a long time and that had never harmed anyone.

She finished by telling him, “That crocodile is probably more frightened of you than you are of him.”

“Well in that case,” replied Juma in disgust, “the water in that river is not fit for drinking!”

Appreciate your water this weekend!