Christopher Okigbo – Looking Back at His Short-lived Life and Taking Stock of His Poetic Legacy

Christopher Ifekandu Okigbo one of the earliest Nigerian poets, who within his short lifetime, for he died fighting for the independence of Biafra, established himself as a central figure in the development of modern African poetry,has remained one of the most important African poets to write in English. Generally acknowledged as a master poet in spite of a complexity drawn from obscure allusions and symbolism, he has even been named Africa’s finest poet and one of the major modernist writers of the twentieth century. “For while other poets wrote good poems,” Chinua Achebe observed.”Okigbo conjured up for us an amazing, haunting poetic firmament of a wild and violent beauty..”

His birth and early life

Okigbo was born on August 16, 1932, in the town of Ojolo, about ten miles from the city of Onitsha in Anambra State, to a father who was a teacher in Catholic missionary schools during the height of British colonial rule in Nigeria, Okigbo spent his early years moving from station to station along with his father. Despite the fact that his father was a devout Christian, Okigbo felt a special affinity to his maternal grandfather, Ijejiofor of the Oto family, who has always provided the priesthood to the shrine of the deity Idoto personified in the river Idoto that flowed through his village. Later in life, Okigbo came to believe that his grandfather’s soul was reincarnated in him.

His Educatiiobn at Umuahia and Ibadan

Okigbo graduated from Government College Umuahia two years after the noted Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, having earned himself a reputation as a voracious reader and a versatile athlete. The following year, he entered the University of Ibadan to study Medicine, but switching to Classics in his second year.. He also earned himself a reputation as a gifted pianist, accompanying Wole Soyinka in his first public appearance as a singer. It is believed that he wrote original music at that time, though none has survived.

His initial literary work and art

After graduating in 1956, he held a succession of jobs throughout the country. He worked at the Nigerian Tobacco Company, United Africa Company, the Fiditi Grammar School (where he taught Latin), and was Assistant Librarian at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, where he helped found the African Authors Association.

In 1958 his life came to a turning point as he sought to know himself better.He began publishing his works in various journals, notably Black Orpheus a literary journal that was bringing together the best works of African and African American writers. While his poetry was in part a powerful expression of African nationalism, he was adamantly opposed to Negritude, which he denounced as a romantic pursuit of the “mystique of blackness” for its own sake. He also rejected the conception of a commonality of experience between Africans and black Americans, even though it contravened the editorial policy of Black Orpheus. For Okigbo, poetry was a highly personal endeavor. Even though he embraced African culture he rejected the literary concept of Negritude, for he thinks he was just a poet.” A poet writes poetry and once a work is published it becomes public property. It’s left to whoever reads it to decide whether it’s African poetry or English.” He therefore said that there was not any such thing as a poet trying to express African-ness as such a thing doesn’t exist. A poet just simply expresses himself. On precisely these grounds he rejected the first prize in African poetry awarded to him at the 1965 Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar.

In 1963 he became West African Representative of Cambridge University Press at Ibadan, a position which enabled hiim to travel frequently to the United Kingdom, where he attracted further attention. At Ibadan, he became an active member of the Mbari literary club.For he was among the many young artists who were looking for a platform to exchange their views and share their various talents. He and Soyinka, were also musicians, performing in jazz clubs. Consequently in 1961 the Mbari Writers and Artists Club was born in Ibadan founded by the German writer and critic Ulli Beier. who invited Okigbo to be one of the original Mbari committee members together with: Georgina Beier, Wole Soyinka, J. P.Clark, Chinua Achebe, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Amos Tutuola, D. O. Fagunwa, Dennis Williams, Demas Nwoko, Uche Okeke, Frances Ademola and Janheinz Jahn, the ethnologist. The Mbari Club incooperated various activities as visual arts exhibitions, theatre, creative workshops and a publishing which Okigbo eventually became an editor. It played a decisive role in the birth of modern African literature,. publishing not only the writings of its members and adherents but those of the South African writers Dennis Brutus and Alex La Guma. For the visual arts, it presented the pioneers, such as the painters Uche Okeke and Yusuf Grillo, the sculptor and painter Demas Nwoko, and the silk-screen artist, Bruce Onobrakpeya. The Mbari Club promoted the creation of a true movement of contemporary African artists, who were poised to generate a new artistic culture reconciling the continent’s cultural traditions and the technical language imposition.

Okigbo published his first poems in the student literary journal Horn, edited by J.P. Clark. though his works also appeared in the more significant literary magazine Black Orpheus. In the same year he also published as a pamphlet, Heavensgate, and a long poem in the Ugandan cultural magazine Transition, published in Kampala.. Okigbo’s early poems reflected the divided cultural heritage of his country, although it had influences from Virgil, Ovid, Eliot, and Pound which seem to be stronger than the oral literature of the Igbo.

He completed, and published the works of his mature years, including Limits (1964), Silences (1962-65), Lament of the Masks (commemorating the centenary of the birth of W. B. Yeats in the form of a Yoruba praise poem, 1964), “Dance of the Painted Maidens” (commemorating the 1964 birth of his daughter, Obiageli or Ibrahimat, whom he regarded as a reincarnation of his mother) and his final highly prophetic sequence, “Path of Thunder” (1965-67), which was published posthumously in 1971 with, Labyrinths, which incorporates the poems from the earlier collections.

The Biafran War

The 1960s was a period of great political upheavals in Nigeria with the country becoming an independent republic in 1963 and four years later the eastern Ibo tribal region attempting to secede.In 1966 the Nigerian crisis came to a head following the massacre of thousands of Igbo in the North. Okigbo, living in Ibadan at the time, relocated to eastern Nigeria to await the outcome of the turn of events which culminated in the secession of the predominantly Igbo eastern region which eventually declared itself as an independent Biafra republic on May 30, 1967. .

Although Okigbo followed the social and political events in his country keenly, his early poems moved on a personal and mythical level. Path of Thunder (1968) showed a new direction – its attack on bloodthirsty politicians (“POLITICIANS are back in giant hidden steps of howitzers, / of detonators”) and neocolonial exploitation (“THE ROBBERS descend on us to strip us our laughter, of our / thunder”) reflective of the rise of radical movements in the late 1960s.

At the outbreak of the war Okigbo was working for an Italian business organization, Wartrade. Living in Enugu, he worked together with Achebe to establish a new but small publishing house, Citadel Press. However, the events in his country made him change his plans, and abandon his job. He immediately joined the new state’s military as a volunteer, a field-commissioned major. He became accomplished as a soldier, but was killed in action in September 1967 during a major attack against Nsukka, the university town where he found his voice as a poet, and which he had vowed to defend with his life.refusing safer positions behind the frontline.. Posthumously, he was decorated with the National Order of Merit of Biafra. Earlier, in July, his hilltop house at Enugu, where several of his unpublished writings were was destroyed in a bombing. Also destroyed was Pointed Arches, a poetic autobiography which is as an account of the experiences of life and letters which conspired to sharpen his creative imagination.


Several of his unpublished papers, however, survived the war. His daughter, Obiageli, d his literary heir, established the Christopher Okigbo Foundation in 2005 to perpetuate his legacy. The papers were catalogued in January 2006 by Chukwuma Azuonye, Professor of African Literature at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, who assisted the foundation in nominating them for the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. Azuonye’s preliminary studies of the papers indicate that, apart from new poems in English, including drafts of an Anthem for Biafra, Okigbo’s unpublished papers include poems written in Igbo. The latter are fascinating in opening up new vistas in the study of Okigbo’s poetry, countering the views of, especially Chinweizu, Onwuchekwa Jemie and Ihechukwu Madubuike , that he sacrificed his indigenous African sensibility in pursuit of an obscure euro-modernism.

“Elegy for Alto”, the final poem in Path of Thunder, is today widely read as the poet’s “last testament” embodying a prophecy of his own death as a sacrificial lamb for human freedom’

Earth, unbind me; let me be the prodigal; let this be

the ram’s ultimate prayer to the tether…

AN OLD STAR departs, leaves us here on the shore

Gazing heavenward for a new star approaching;

The new star appears, foreshadows its going

Before a going and coming that goes on forever….

The two collections of verse that appeared during Okigbo’s lifetime established him as an innovative and controversial poet.

Features of Okigbo’s poetry

His difficult but suggestive and prophetic poems show the influence of modernist European and American poetry, African tribal mythology, and Nigerian music and rhythms. “Prophetic, menacing, terrorist, violent, protesting – his poetry was all of these,” S.O. Anozie wrote in Christopher Okigbo: Creative Rhetoric (1972).

In “Distances” (1964) he celebrates his final aesthetic and psychic return to his indigenous religious roots:

I am the sole witness to my homecoming.

Okigbo’s poetry makes constant and repeated references to mother Idoto. the “water goddess” especially so in Heavensgate (1962) opening with the compelling lines:

Before you, mother Idoto,

naked I stand,

Such a reference seems central to the meaning of the poem. “Idoto” is in reality a river goddess, an essence in African cosmology which Okigbo in fact uses as a personal symbol, elevating it to a saviour thus emerging as a force representing the protection of indigenous cultures and religions from westernization. Heavensgate thus marked his return to the African part of his heritage and self-renewal through the goddess of the earth:

Before you, Mother Idoto, naked I stand before your watery presence a prodigal

leaning on an oilbean lost in your legend…

An invocation to the Idoto spirit essence opens the ritualistic pattern of the poem to which is added the oilbean, the tortoise, the python and the rainbow..This last one could perform prophetic role as Sunday Anozie suggests. It could also be seen as a snake capable of both leading and devouring the poet.

Other god-heads or prophetic essences could be seen in Okigbo’s poetry. In Limits viii the prophetic role is invested on an important symbol – the sunbird representing the mourning conscience of the poet as the cohesive spirit of the people is eventually desecrated by the imperialists. Here too totems of the ritualistic worship ‘A fleet of eagles,/over the oilbeam shadows/ ‘ ‘holding the square under curse of their breath’,’ a blind dog known for power of prophecy, howling’,’ the tortoise and the python who are classed as the twin-gods of the forest,’ ‘shrinehouse bamboo towers’, ‘egg-shells, tiger mask and nude spear.,’dumb-bells’ and ‘oblong -headed lioness’ abound.

The two collections-Heavensgate (1962) and Limits (1964)-reveal a personal, introspective poetry informed by a familiarity with Western myths filled with rich, startling images. Labeled obscure by some critics, his poetry is demanding and allusive drawing as freely from modern poets, such as T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, as it does from the Roman Catholic religion of his family in Ojoto. Okigbo maintained that his poetry should be viewed as an organic whole as it expressed his coming of age as a poet.

Okigbo’s influences are not limited to Africa.going to Gerard Manley Hopkins as well as a mix of European, Asian, and African influences. He borrows from various sources like African religion as well as western religion. Romantic, pastoral and classical Greek and Latin influences like Vigil and Theocritus are much in evidence along with allusions to the Bible in Okigbo’s poetry.

His borrowings, as Dan Izevbaye notes, usually seem limited to the beauty and utility of the phrase itself.with the ‘meaning’ or ‘experience’ of the poem often controlled by its immediate context. When such borrowings or images are thrust into new collocations or associations, his poetry becomes startling and fresh. This might be imputed to the adaptation, summarization and conversion they undergo before being absorbed.

The main source of obscurity in Okigbo’s poetry is that references drawn from a private world through private symbols mainly through allusions to characters who were part of his childhood -oblongs such as Kepkanly, Enki, Flannagan, Haragin, Jadun, Upandru, Anna of the Panel and Eunice and obscure places like Rickland and rockpoint cable. Such references recur all too often. They might no doubt have very personal significance for the poet to have kept referring to them. But such significance is lost on the reader who is totally ignorant of their background.

A similar loss is suffered when the reader has no personal experience of such objects referred to as: ‘advent’, ‘dumb-bells’,’rockpoint of cable’, ‘Rockland’, ‘fucking angels’,’oblong-headed lioness’ and ‘a blind dog’ which all add up to the obscurity.

Since Okigbo is writing of complex and difficult subjects,his expression might of necessity be uncommon and hard to understand. This difficulty is compounded by his either knowingly or unwittingly creating a language of ritual to which the reader has to be initiated, thus fitting perfectly into the ritualistic contents of his work. This effect is reinforced by various aspects of his techniques inclusive of his use of language. Firstly there is the broken syntax and the use of various obscure words and unusual collocations such as ‘orangery solitude’, ‘broken monody’and ‘square yields the moron’. The structure of the work itself adds to this effect by way of a kind of syncretic musical pattern worked towards through distribution of parts to traditional Ibo musical instruments. The incantatory and invocational qualities shown through the rhythmn of the lines is another, a good example of which is in “Elegy for slit-drum.”

In Okigbo’s world the modern and the traditional are thrust into a tense conflict with the profusion of images and symbols akin to western religion and civilization abounding with ‘John the Baptist’,’preaching the gambit’,’crucifix’,’pilgrims bound for shibboleth’ and ‘the censer.’ In some poems Christian rites are so fully developed that they become as dominant rites akin to traditional African religion. The omni-presence and destructive potentials of the western presence is seen through images like: ‘Thunder of tanks of giant ironsteps of detonation,”the distant seven cannons’, ‘cables of the open air’. And ‘magic birds with the miracle of lightning flash on their feathers’.

This conflict soars up to an explosive point as seen in the intensification and repetition of the thunder motif. The resulting debris is captured thus: ‘parliament has gone on leave’, ‘the cabinet has gone to hell’, ‘the voters are lying in wait’, and ‘the blare of sirened afternoons’. The confusion of values and chaotic state could be captured in no better way.

Thundering drums and cannons in palm grove: the spirit is in ascent. (from ‘Sacrifice’)

Often recurring images in Okigbo’s poems are dance (“dance of death”, “iron dance of mortars”), thunder (“thunder of tanks”, “the thunder among the clouds”), and sound of drums (“the drums of curfew”, “lament of the drums”). Gradually Okigbo started to see himself as a singer-musician, who speaks with the ancient, pre-literate language of drums: “I have fed out of the drum / I have drunk out of the cymbal…” In ‘Overture’ (1961) Okigbo was a “watchman for the watchword / at heavensgate” and in ‘Hurrah for Thunder’ a “town-crier, together with my iron bell”

Okigbo shared with T.S.Eliot a vision of a spiritual quest, taking the poet to the realm of ancient myths and to his spiritual self: “Before you, mother Idoto, naked I stand…” often using repetition, with the rhythm of the poetry becoming songlike, and the words flowing melodiously, as if the poet were listening and interpreting distant sounds. From the four elements Okigbo chooses water, the dwelling place of Idoto: “Under my feet float the waters: / tide blows them under.”.

Much of his poetry is of sound, meant to be read aloud (or even sung) — culminating in the Lament of the Drums, and then the Path of Thunder (which begins: “Fanfare of drums, wooden bells”). Again, the mix is both of African and outside influences. When he was working on Heavensgate, Okigbo himself states he was working under the spell of the impressionist composers Debussy, Caesar Franck, Ravel …

The sound and beat always convince; though the meaning can sometimes be obscure. Okigbo’s poetry is full of ellipses, with barely a poem not marked by sentences left to drop off in the three dots:

And there are here

the errors of the rendering …

The pieces of the poems are striking, often jarring. “Gods grow out / Abandoned” in Fragments out of the Deluge, a sequence that ends: “& the cancelling out is complete.”

The poems — cut up, divided, brief in their sections — impress from line to line. Lines are repeated and varied throughout several of the poem-sequences. In Lament of the Silent Sisters, for example, the question of: “How does one say NO in thunder” is central — and the thunder reappears elsewhere too. (The “NO in thunder” is a “dominant motif” in Lament of the Silent Sisters. Here Okigbo also suggests:

Silences are melodies

Heard in retrospect

The final sequence, Paths of Thunder, is a series of Poems prophesying War. and letting the conflict between art and life, and the charged political climate of the day, bubble over. This might be ironical predictions of Okigbo’s later abandoning art to serve the Biafran cause, dying in battle. It wasn’t his words that got him into trouble, but even in Paths of Thunder he makes a rare personal appearance, warning himself:

If I don’t learn to shut my mouth I’ll soon go to hell,

I, Okigbo, town-crier, together with my iron bell.

Okigbo’s poems seem to leap out even from the page.for his poetry did not allow stasis and he did not merely stick to one successful form and style. Though Okigbo sometimes overreaches himself or misses the mark even in those poems whose meaning might elude the reader he still maintains interest. Though with deceptively few words Okigbo offers sometimes daunting complexity, his poetry is certainly worth reading.In spite of his varied influences, he is endowed with a distinctive and interesting voice

Further Reading:

o Sunday Anozie, Christopher Okigbo: Creative Rhetoric. London: Evan Brothers Ltd., and New York: Holmes and Meier, Inc.,1972.

o Uzoma Esonwanne, ed. 2000. Critical Essays on Christopher Okigbo. New York: G. K. Hall & Co.

o Donatus Ibe Nwoga, Critical Perspectives on Christopher Okigbo, Three Continents Press, 1984.

oo Donatus Ibe Nwoga, Critical Perspectives on Christopher Okigbo, Three Continents Press, 1984.

o Dubem Okafor, Dance of Death: Nigerian History and Christopher Okigbo’s Poetry. Trenton, NJ and Asmara, Eritrea: African World Press, 1998.

o Udoeyop, Nyong J., Three Nigerian Poets: A Critical Study of the Poetry of Soyinka, Clark, and Okigbo. Ibadan: Ibadan University Press, 1973.

o James Wieland, The Ensphering Mind: History, Myth and Fictions in the Poetry of Allen Curnow, Nissim Ezekiel. A. D. Hope, A. M. Klein, Christopher Okigbo and Derek Walcott. Washington, DC: Three Continents Press, 1988.

Izevbaye Dan S. “The State of Criticism in African Literature”. African Literature Today. Ed. Eldred Durosimi Jones. Vol. 7. London: Heinemann, 1979. 1-19.

Expat Life in Sri Lanka, Colombo

I recently visited the wonderful island of Sri Lanka, and found a country full of surprises.

Sri Lanka is situated just south of India, in the Indian Ocean. Once known as the Dominium of Ceylon and often referred to as the tea country, tea plantations abundantly thrive across the island, with spice gardens, banana and coconut palms growing randomly to create a jungle of natural resources.

People, animals and transport seem to co-exist side by side with no animosity towards each other. Dogs wonder aimlessly across or bask in the sun at the side of roads, cows and goats roam around everywhere, even on the beaches (which I found rather amusing) and people are everywhere, whether walking, cycling, using a tuc-tuc, motorbike with 5 astride, in a taxi, bus, car or truck, each takes up a space of the not too wide road. But co-exist they do, there is no anger at being stuck behind a truck, merely a short hooting of the horn to say I am here and would like to pass, politeness abounds and the expression and sounds are all of friendliness, within a country that sorely needs help at redeveloping itself since the tsunami. People are poor and yet happiness is everywhere…. Not just for the child on the hip or the person at their side, but for expats and tourists as well.

Tourists fluctuate towards the resorts and some chance the areas slightly outside of these areas, to experience a quieter less harassed holiday. Small pockets of expats can be found, dotted all over the country. When you bump into these people and chat about life on the island, there is not much to complain about. Yes, sometimes the water gets turned off or the electricity, yes the internet is not as fast as they would like it to be. Isn’t that how most people feel in developed countries anyway: The faster it gets the faster we want it. In this little piece of paradise, expats are not too concerned that it takes a little longer to do things here, the people are prepared to wait, not too hasty to move forward too quickly. There was a lot of talk and concern about the elections and safety within the country and there are still road blockades and police / army personnel with guns wandering around keeping peace if necessary. However, with 70% of the population being Buddhists, the lifestyle is peaceful and life simplistic.

From an expat perspective, I could not fault the lifestyle. As said above, yes there are definite things missing, things are slower, it takes a good 4 – 6 hours to get from Colombo to Galle and similarly to anywhere about 200km’s apart. I cannot say that the roads are particularly in good condition, but in the 10 days that I visited, I did not see one accident. Hardships could include the lack of being able to get from one part of the island to another quickly, the lack of fast internet connection, perhaps the human waste / refuse, which allows for the influx of flies, the dirt which is left to lie around and lastly the lack of funds to rebuild the country to what it was before the Tsunami.

Having said that, I have to look at all the good things that you find there, the beauty of the natural resources, how the nationals and expats are trying to rebuild the country, the beaches, game parks and mountains. This is truly a beautiful part of the world.

Expat Cost of living summary

The currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee LKR

The Exchange rate as at 15 January 2010 was $1 = 114.217 Rupees

I am going to break the Cost of living down according to some of the basket items:

Alcohol and Tobacco: Alcohol at Bar, Beer, Cigarettes, Locally Produced Spirit, Whiskey, Wine

Cigarettes (20s) – $3.14 to $9

Domestic Beer(500ml) – $2.50

Imported Beer (330ml) – $5.80

Wine at a bar – $6 a glass

Wine at a shop – $15 (750ml bottle)

Hotels tend to increase the prices of alcohol as it is the one way that they can make a profit. There are many small hotels and restaurants which create a competitive edge to where you can stay.

Clothing: Business Suits, Casual Clothing, Children’s Clothing and footwear, Coats and hats, Evening Wear, Shoe Repairs, Underwear

Casual Long Sleeved Shirt (Men) – $12

Casual Long Sleeved Trousers (Men) – $20

Shorts (Men) – $11

T-Shirt (Men) – $6

Casual Blouse (Women) – $7

Casual Skirt (Women) – $12

Children’s Jeans (Boys) – $5

Children’s Jeans (Girls) – $3.50

Children’s Shirt(Boys) – $5

Children’s Shirt(Girls) – $4

Clothes are extremely cheap, in Colombo a person can get most of the name branded clothing at fairly reasonable prices in Factory shops.

Communication: Home Telephone Rental and Call Charges, Internet Connection and service provider fees, Mobile / Cellular Phone Contract and Calls

Monthly phone rental – $4.36

Phone call rate – $0.05 for a local call

Internet line connection fee – $104 (buy all equipment with installation)

Internet service provider fee – $17 (1 geg free thereafter)

Monthly mobile contract fee – $2.18 (for the year)

Mobile / cellular call rate – 90% of phones are prepaid,

Mobile Phone 100 Minutes Call – $38

– $0.012 – $0.05 sms peak times

Due to so many of the nationals working overseas to send money home, the communication costs are extremely low and there are often special deals or no cost is involved in the actual call.

Education: Creche / Pre-School Fees, High School / College Fees, Primary School Fees, Tertiary Study Fees

Annual Creche fee – $4.36 per month

Annual Primary school fee – $260 – $436 per month

Annual High School fee – $260 – $436 per month

Annual 1st Year Tertiary / University fee – $260 to $436 per month (dependent on which

private school they go to)

Private schooling is the most expensive on the island for expat children to attend, however the rates in comparison to other countries are reasonable. Expats that I came across spoke highly of the education system in the country and were happy with the private education that their children were receiving.

Furniture and Appliances: DVD Player, Fridge Freezer, Iron, Kettle, Toaster, microwave, Light Bulbs, Television, Vacuum Cleaner, Washing Machine

DVD Player – $87

Fridge / Freezer – $489 (LG / Whirlpool – 4 year guarantee)

Iron – $12 cheap to $35 top of the range

Kettle – $20 cheap to $37 top of the range

Microwave – $191

TV 21 inch – $244 (2 year guarantee)

Washing Machine LG – $570

Discounts can be negotiated with stores on all items

Groceries bought in a grocery store: Baby Consumables, Baked Goods, Baking, Canned Foods, Cheese, Cleaning Products, Dairy, Fresh Fruits, Fresh Vegetables, Fruit Juices, Frozen, Meat, Oil & Vinegars, Pet Food, Pre-Prepared Meals, Sauces, Seafood, Snacks, Soft Drinks, Spices & Herbs

Powdered baby formula (400g) – $7

Plain biscuits (100g) – $0.20

Loaf white bread (200g) – $0.70

Cake Flour (1kg) – $2.80

Baked Beans (415g) – $1.92

Tuna (185g) – $2.75

Cheese: Cheddar (250g) – $6.63

Crisps: Pringles (139g) – $2.50

Autowash clothing powder (750g) – $1.57

Dishwash liquid (500g) – $0.87

Clothing Softener (2l) – $5.40

Breakfast Cereal (250g) – $2.45

Butter (227g) – $2.18

Milk (1l) – $1.40

Eggs (12) – $1.80

Orange Juice (1l) – $2.80

Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1kg) – $6.20

Cooking oil (1l) – $3.22

Olive oil (500ml) – $8.28

Can of cola (355ml) – $1.00

Local Fizzy Soft Drink (1l) – $1.30

Local Natural Mineral Water (5l) – $1.08

Tea Bags (200g) – $1.85

Instant Coffee (100g) – $6.75

Local Ground Coffee (200g) – $3.66

Salt (400g) – $0.26

Pepper (400g) – $0.35

Prices were obtained from local grocery stores, there are no big department stores to shop in.

Healthcare: General Practitioner Consultation rates, Hospital Private Ward Daily, Rate, Non-Prescription Medicine, Private Medical Insurance / Medical Aid Contributions

GP Private rate visit with meds – $3.50

Hospital Private ward rates – $28 per day

Dentistry – Tooth extraction – $4.35

Most expats use Bupa or the Sri Lankan Equivalent

Household: House / Flat Mortgage, House / Flat Rental, Household Electricity Consumption, Household Gas / Fuel Consumption, Household Water Consumption, Local Property Rates / Taxes / Levies

Rent 2 bed Apartment City Centre – $700

Rent 2 bed Apartment outside of City Centre – $600

Electricity, Gas, Water, Garbage per – $80 to $90 per month for an average

household, this is expensive when taking household

air conditioning into account

Gas / Fuel – 12 ½ kg bottle – $14

Local property Rates – 8 to 10% of value of property

Expats cannot buy a property directly, this has to be done via a Lawyer who owns the property. Mortgage for locals is 4/5%. This is where most expats find the costs creep in, running the air conditioners is extremely expensive as well as the cost of water.

Miscellaneous: Domestic Help, Dry Cleaning, Linen, Office Supplies, Newspapers and Magazines, Postage Stamps

Domestic Rates – full time per person – $80 average

1 Black inkjet printer cartridge – $14

1 Color inkjet printer cartridge – $21

500 sheets printer paper – $5.23

Local Daily Newspaper – $0.17

International Daily Newspaper – $0.45

International Magazine – $20

International Airmail Stamps – $0.22

Domestic Stamps – $0.12

Domestic help is cheap and most employees either live on the property or close by. Office supplies are reasonable, with CD’s and DVD’s freely available on the street where most locals buy them.

Personal Care: Cosmetics, Haircare, Moisturiser / Sun Block, Nappies, Pain Relief Tablets, Toilet Paper, Toothpaste, Soap / Shampoo / Conditioner

Body lotion (400ml) Vaseline Intensive car – $4.53

Toilet paper 1 ply per roll – $0.50

Toothpaste (200g) – $1.92

Shampoo (200ml) – $2.40

Some of the items that can be purchased can be expensive, like creams, sunblocks and cosmetic creams. Name brand products are the most expensive.

Recreation and Culture: Books, Camera Film, Cinema Ticket, DVD and CD’s, Sports goods, Theatre Ticket

Books paper back – $10

Cinema ticket – $0.50

DVD / CD Imported – $2

Cricket ticket – $0.50 to $8

Theatre Ticket – only in Colombo – $30

Hard cover books are expensive in the country, but paper back books are of a similar cost to the US and UK. Cinema tickets are cheap due to the availability of cheap DVD replicas which can be bought on street corners. International cricket tickets are also kept cheap for the local population.

Restaurants / Meals out / Hotels: Business Dinner, Dinner at Restaurant (non fast food), Hotel Rates, Take Away Drinks & Snacks (fast Food)

Business Dinner excl Alcohol – $22 per person

Dinner / lunch at local restaurant – $8 per person

McDonalds Big Mac – $4.10

Hotel Rates 3* – $8 to $50 pppn

Hotel Rates 4* – $80 to $120 pppn

Hotel Rates 5* – $140 pppn upwards

Take away – Can of cola x 1 – $0.70

Medium pizza – $3.50

Hamburger – $2.00

Coffee – pot x 3 cups – $1.40

As in most countries how much you pay for a meal is dependent on where you go, the local restaurants have great local meals, as well as international flavours, we found a fabulous vegetarian restaurant in Galle, well worth a visit and all prices were fairly cheap. Some restaurants do take advantage of the tourist population and serve sub standard meals. However, most restaurants were good with their portions and meal plans.

Transport: Hire Purchase / Lease of Vehicle, Petrol / Diesel, Public Transport, Service Maintenance, Tyres, Vehicle Insurance, Vehicle Purchase

Hire / Lease car – Sedan Toyota Corolla – $37.14 per day for 1 week

Hire / Lease car – Toyota RAV4 – $46.71 per day for 1 week

Petrol unleaded per litre – $1.23

Diesel per litre – $0.64

Bus Ticket (one way) – $1.00

Taxi Ride – per km – $0.50

Tuc Tuc – 10 km ride – $6.00

Train Ticket 2nd class – $1.57

If you are visiting I would suggest you use the local taxis and tuc-tucs, driving can be a head-ache and unpleasant experience if you are not used to the local norms. However, speeds do not go over 80km on the bigger roads and overall a safe place to drive.

The above detail are some of the items form the basis of the cost of living indexes for each basket group in the Xpatulator calculators, these costs are then used with their indexes and exchange rates to calculate the cost of living in different locations.

For more information on Sri Lanka

Mt Pleasant – High Life in the Low Country

Just East of Charleston is a beautiful stretch of land bounded by Charleston Harbor, Shem Creek and Cove Inlet. English settlers in 1680 named the area Mt. Pleasant. Today it is still a treasure to behold, but is easy to miss among the modern sprawl of Hwy 17.

As visitors walk the docks of Shem Creek and the streets of Old Town, they connect with the natural beauty of the area that drew settlers here. The marsh spreads out from Shem Creek, opening glistening green and gold arms out to Charleston harbor. In Old Town along Pitt Street, massive live oaks spread moss-laden limbs over narrow streets.

The historic charm hides the underlying battle between the descendants of the early settlers and modern day developers. Locals wish to remember and conserve the area, while developers dream up ways to profit on the ambiance. The fight against progress is ancient, its roots running deep along the shorelines. Low Country residents have a history of fighting for their beliefs, keeping time honored traditions intact. Balanced compromise is called for to accommodate industry and preserve the way of life.

“The Creek” as locals affectionately call it, runs out of the marsh and into Charleston Harbor, beckoning travelers to explore the natural beauty and architectural nooks and crannies. While dolphins cavort in the creek, pelicans and gulls perch on shrimp boats, inviting visitors to pause and enjoy the view. As the sun sets, rays of golden light reach through thunder heads above, bounce off the surface of the water and flash silvery radiance that lights up the marsh grass.

Boats of all sizes and shapes line the docks on each side of the creek. This community has provided much of the shrimp supplied to the Charleston area for 30+ years. Shrimp season opens in late April with the Blessing of the Fleet festival, held at historic Alahambra Hall. Deep sea fishing charter vessels also dock here, as do kayak outfitters. Sail and power vessels tie up to the dock, their passengers encouraged to dine along the quay. The ‘no wake’ zone makes it easy to pause here for an experience of freshly caught local seafood at restaurants lining “the Creek”.

For longer term stays, dock your vessel at Patriot’s Point Marina. Located just outside the mouth of Shem Creek toward Charleston Harbor, Patriot’s Point is the largest marina in the area, with 459 slips. A majestic view of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown offers an opportunity to explore and connect with naval history. An entire day could be devoted to exploring the Yorktown, the Coast Guard Cutter and the Medal of Honor Museum. Tour boats to Ft. Sumpter leave from the Yorktown daily.

Patriot’s Point Resort and Hotel is also located here. Nautical themed guest rooms decorated in bright yellows and blues, comfy bedding and spectacular views of the harbor keep guests close to the water with all the comforts of home. The resort also offers an 18-hole championship golf course overlooking Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter and Shem Creek. Known for its challenging waterfront finishing holes, the course is within minutes of the beaches at the Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island.

Patriots Point Resort is well acquainted with water lovers. Charleston Race Week is held here in the Spring, and sport fishing tournaments are throughout the season. Black and White photographs of previous tournament winners line the walls in the Reel Bar. A quick bike ride or shuttle from East Cooper Shuttle will transport you over to Shem Creek. For guests preferring to go into Charleston the Water Taxi leaves from Dock A hourly, dropping passengers at the Charleston Maritime Center, within walking distance of the Aquarium. Bikes and pets are welcome on the water taxi. Bring the camera for unique close ups of the hull of the U.S.S. Yorktown and the Arthur Ravenel Bridge.

For accommodations overlooking Shem Creek, check into The Shem Creek Inn. The Inn offers a 10% discount for fishing charters booked with Captain Rick Hiott’s Inshore Fishing Charters. Guests booking a fishing charter with Captain Rick Hiott’s Inshore Fishing Charters receive a 10% discount on room rates. Captain Hiott’s fishing expertise for Red Drum is widely known, both with locals and worldwide. Featured on the Discovery Channel – Europe and in Saltwater Sportsman Magazine, Captain Hiott is highly recommended for finding the best inshore fishing hot spots, and also for his genuine interest in teaching others about the inshore waters around Charleston.

The abundance and experience of local fishermen here provides for the ultimate in fresh seafood. Mt. Pleasant Seafood operates a retail store here at the Creek and has a booth at the Mt. Pleasant Farmer’s Market. For fining out, patrons at the Water’s Edge Cabana Bar delight at the antics of the playful goodwill ambassadors of the Creek. Arriving daily at 4 pm, the male dolphin makes his appearance, followed by the rest of the pod. Look closely and you will see the baby swimming along with his mother. It’s as if these creatures have come to just to welcome guests to the area. It would be difficult not to be infused with wonder as one watches these beautiful beings fish for their supper. Working in conjunction with brown pelicans and seagulls, they dive for fish remains from the charter boats.

Sunsets are an event here. Several restaurants offer outdoor and creekside dining, allowing guests to experience the wonder of a brilliant Charleston sunset with the ubiquitous charm of a small fishing village. Enjoy the view from the outdoor bar and dining area at Vickery’s. Watch as the suns rays cast over the marsh as it spreads toward the mouth of the creek. Feel the gentle breezes from Charleston Harbor waft through the palmettos. Even during a storm, the view from the indoor bar is a magnificent way to watch the drama without dampening the spirit. From the indoor bar, one can see the shrimp boats, wings spread out and up as if they were water angels ready to fly.

Looking across the creek offers an opportunity to check out the architectural nooks and crannies lining the docks. Magwoods Seafood still provides shrimp and fish to much of Charleston after 30 years in business. “Live long, Love long, Eat Seafood” is their motto, painted on the walls in red and blue. At The Wreck, Low Country culinary favorites are dished up informally on huge paper plates. The price is well worth the spectacular sunset view from the screened in porch dining room. This is one place the no-see-ums can’t reach during dinner.

Looking toward the bridge, R.B.’s and Red’s Ice House offer more choices for outdoor dining. RB’s is more upscale, and quite serious about proper patron parking, sometimes towing their own customers by mistake. Bright yellow signs warn fines for booting and towing. RB’s owns the Shem Creek Towing Company, and keeps a tow truck is parked in view on the lot.

Red’s is the casual local hangout with something going on at Happy Hour daily. Offering free parking in a huge gravel lot adjacent to the restaurant, they are more concerned with customers having a great time. Red’s is also the local “Yappy Hour” hotspot, so bring your canine buddies to meet and greet the locals. Ice cold buckets of water and doggie biscuits are favorites with the four-legged furry crowd. Upstairs, the view of the sunset is unparalleled. Cushions line the upstairs bar, which can be reserved for private parties. On holidays, this is a prime spot to view fireworks shot from the U.S.S. Yorktown.

Happy hours are special at Red’s Ice House. On Sundays, listen to local acoustic/rock/folk singers playing downstairs. On Thursdays, taste the freshly steamed shrimp served up at the bar for free. Best of all, Wednesday evenings feature a sunset cruise on the Palmetto Breeze, a 50′ sailing catamaran. This is a great way to watch the CORA (Charleston Ocean Racing Assoc.) races in the harbor, with plenty of photo ops on the trip. Ticket prices include adult beverages and a spread of hors du vours. Captain Ping is always cheerful, ready to take guests out on the water. He will even let you steer the boat, if you ask nicely.

A few blocks away from Red’s is the Old Town of Mount Pleasant. Listed on the National Register of Historic places, Old Town is home to quaint churches, colonial and antebellum homes and also the majestic Alhambra Hall, the original site of the Mount Pleasant Ferry Company. Built in 1847 by Charles Jugnot and Oliver Hilliard as a summer retreat and dance hall, Alhambra Hall sits nestled in a grove of massive live oaks. Rebuilt in 1937, it is a popular spot for community events. Located on a waterfront park lined with live oaks, and equipped with a fabulous community playground, this is a quiet peaceful place for an afternoon picnic. Wander over to the Confederate Cemetery, and don’t miss the tiny Post Office building on the way back over Pitt Street. Many streets end with a view of Charleston harbor, making it easy to see why the town founders named it Mt. Pleasant. Although there is no mountain per say, it is certainly a pleasant place to be.

A short distance away is the Old Town, where visitors can tap into nostalgia with an old fashioned ice cream soda from the Pitt Street Pharmacy. Down the block, the Old Post House Restaurant and Tavern operates in the building that served as a grocery store. Originally built by German immigrants in 1888, the Post House serves light lunch and dinner, with dining downstairs and a meeting room upstairs for private parties. She Crab soup, tuna, lamb shank, steaks, sauteed sea bass, and shrimp & grits await hungry diners here. The streets of Old Town point toward Charleston

If you’re in Mount Pleasant on a Tuesday afternoon, stop by the Farmer’s Market, held at the Old Moultrie Middle School on West Coleman Blvd. An abundance of fresh flowers, herbs, local produce, and seafood is found in this tiny market. Local Bluegrass or acoustic musicians perform while you shop. Snow Cones and face painting are available for kids of all ages and a barbeque stand ensures that you won’t go hungry before you get back to your floating home. The Market runs through the end of October, with a special Holiday Market and Craft Show scheduled on December 8 from 10 – 3 pm.

Shopping in this area offers a variety of delightful wares both in Old Town and on the Creek, and in some cases, a generous helping of local history. In the village, Utonga Gallery offers a unique collection of Shona (Zimbabwe) sculpture. Next door, Out of Hand Gallery is a feast for the eyes of cards, gifts and treasures to remember your visit. At the Charleston Candle Cottage on West Coleman Blvd., customers can chat with Rachel, the proprietress. A post office is located in the back for mailing art cards to folks back home. The candle selection here is vast as well. Behind the Candle Cottage, watch local artist Steven Jordan as he paints watercolors and oils of favorite Low Country scenery.

Across the way on Mill Street, a variety of shops are located in the Commons. For the right stationery and post cards, check out The Scratch Pad. Sue Tanis offers an appealing selection of quirky, fun locally oriented gifts, stationery and invitations for the right occasion. At the end of Mill Street, proprietress and local history expert Lou Edens offers a collection of select gifts, home furnishings and a generous helping of local history about the area at The Fifth Season. Lou owned and operated the Maritime Museum next door for years, and also owns Rice Hope Plantation Bed & Breakfast on the Cooper River.

Shem Creek Marina is across from The Fifth Season on Mill Street. Sailing vessels can’t navigate under the bridge, the marina specializes in long term dry dock storage for smaller power boats. The old Maritime Museum building is next door, now the recent home of Coastal Expeditions kayak tours. Coastal Expeditions offers kayak tours of Shem Creek, and passenger ferry tours to Bull Island year round.

Two more restaurants are on this side of Shem Creek. Shem Creek Bar & Grill has a spectacular view of the marsh from the outdoor dock bar and the indoor back porch. Inside the main restaurant, the bow shaped bar is unique, reminding all who enter that boating is a first love here. With a great selection of seafood and Low Country favorites, this family oriented restaurant has it all. Next door the new Creekside Bar & Grill offers lower priced favorites and outdoor roof seating overlooking the creek.

One could easily spend a week discovering the historic places in this area. Watching a sunset through the shrimp boat wings, strolling along the docks of the creek after dinner, and taking time to explore local shops will endear visitors to this charming spot so close to Charleston. A kayak tour will shed light on conservation efforts on the Creek, and a conversation with locals at Red’s will further enhance your visit here. Check out the many wonders of Shem Creek and Old Town Mt. Pleasant soon, before it’s too late to remember the way things were.



Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina

20 Patriots Point Road

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina 29464


Toll Free: 888-856- 8333


Toll free – (888) 856-0028

Shem Creek Inn

1401 Shrimp Boat Ln,

Mt Pleasant, SC

(843) 881-1000


Charleston Harbor Marina

24 Patriot’s Point Rd.

Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina 29464

Office: (843) 284-7062

Mobile: (843) 297-2949 or (843) 297-2948

Fax: (843)856-8540

Patriots Point Links on Charleston Harbor

One Patriots Point Road

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

Phone: 843.881.0042

Fax: 843.881.0044

Toll Free: 877.709.5053


Water’s Edge

1407 Shrimp Boat Lane

Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina 29464

Reservations 843.884.4074

Vickery’s Bar & Grill

1313 Shrimp Boat Ln

Mt Pleasant, SC 29464


Reds Icehouse

98 Church Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464


Shem Creek Bar & Grill

508 Mill St

Mt Pleasant, SC 29464


Creekside Grill

508 B Mill Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464


Old Village Post House

101 Pitt Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464


Tours and Sightseeing

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

40 Patriots Point Road

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina 29464

866-831-1720 toll free


Angie Bennett, Group Business/ Visitor Services

866-831-1720 toll free

Aqua Safaris, Inc. (Palmetto Breeze)

24 Patriot’s Point Rd.

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

800-524-3444, 843-886-8133

Coastal Expeditions

514 B Mill Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464


Fishing Charters

Aqua Adventures

Capain Chuck Griffin



Captain Rick Hiott’s Inshore Fishing Charters

(843) 412-6776 cell

or (843) 554-9386 home


East Cooper Shuttle

Elaine: 843-343-0484

John: 843-327-4700

Water Taxi

Charleston Water Taxi

843) 330-CWTX (2989),

One way $5

Round Trip: $8

All day Pass: $12.


Steven Jordan Gallery

409 W. Coleman Blvd and

423 W. Coleman Blvd in the Peach Orchard Plaza


Utonga Gallery

113 Pitt Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

800 732 4306

(843) 216 7686


Out of Hand

113C Pitt Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464


The Fifth Season

510 Mill Street

Mt. Pleasant SC 29464


The Scratch Pad

409 Mill Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464


Craftsmanship: the Meaning of Life

“Manage more, supervise less.”

– Bryce’s Law

When I got into the work force back in the mid-1970’s it seemed

everyone dressed in a suit and tie, drank black coffee, smoked

their brains out, and worked their butts off. Today, golf shirts

have replaced suits, herbal tea and bottled water have replaced

coffee, nobody is allowed to smoke, and rarely does anyone work

beyond 5:00pm. More importantly, we used to care about the work we

produced; there was a sense of craftsmanship, regardless of the job.

My Brother-in-law in Cincinnati conducted me on a tour of his company’s

machine-tool shop years ago and showed me how he could take a block of

aluminum and convert it into a high-precision machine tool. It was a

pleasure to watch him work, as it is to watch anyone who knows

what they are doing, be it a waitress, a programmer, a laborer or

a clerk.

Quality and service used to be considered paramount in this

country. If it wasn’t just right, you were expected to do it over

again until you got it right. We cared about what we produced

because it was a reflection of our personal character and

integrity. But somewhere along the line we lost our way and

craftsmanship has fallen by the wayside. Why? Probably because

we no longer care.

In today’s litigious society, employees are acutely aware that it is

difficult to be fired due to poor performance. They know they will

still get paid and receive benefits, regardless of the amount of effort

they put forth. Consequently, there is little to encourage people

to perform better. Money isn’t a motivating factor anymore. People

now expect bonuses, raises and other perks to be paid out regardless

of how well they perform during the year.

We’ve also become a nation content with doing small things. America

used to be known as a powerhouse that could tackle large projects,

such as building skyscrapers, designing innovative bridges and tunnels

spanning substantial bodies of water, engineering transcontinental

railroads and highway systems, conquering air and space travel, and

defending freedom not just once but in two world wars. If you really

wanted something done, you talked to the Americans and no one else. Now

we get excited over iPods, cell phones, and other electronic trinkets.

Many believe Craftsmanship is in decline due to the general apathy found

in today’s society. Maybe. I tend to believe it is due to an erosion

of our moral values. Let me give you an example. Having a child in college,

my interest was piqued recently by an article describing the pervasiveness of

cheating and plagiarism in our schools. It is not my intent to make a

political statement here but many of the students mentioned in the article

rationalized their cheating on the fact that one of our past Presidents

cheated and lied under oath, and got away with it. They figured if it is

okay for the Commander-in-Chief to act this way, it was an acceptable form

of behavior.

Arnold Toynbee, the famed English historian, observed, “Civilizations

die from suicide, not by murder.”
If the moral fabric of our society

dies, our story is told as evidenced by other great civilizations that

long preceded us. Our perspective needs to be realigned: Our personal

and professional lives must be viewed as one. As Toynbee remarked,

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” By

doing so, we identify more closely with our work and assume a greater

pride in workmanship. We do not need to hear this from our boss, but

rather from within. As strange as it may sound, I see Craftsmanship as

being patriotic in nature; doing a good quality job is part of leading

a good and honorable life and builds on the individual’s esteem, the

company he works for, and the country he lives in.

The biggest problem though is that we have forgotten how to manage

people. The manager’s primary goal is to create the proper work

environment for employees to produce the desired work products. This

is different than a supervisory capacity that directs how each person

performs the various tasks of a job. In fact, I encourage managers to

manage more and supervise less. I cringe when I see a manager try to

“micromanage” either a Fortune 500 company or a non-profit organization.

Yes, people need to be trained in order to properly

perform their work but following this, employees should be mature

enough to supervise themselves. In the old days, management stressed

discipline, accountability, and structure; three ugly words in today’s


Understanding Craftsmanship

Some might say craftsmanship is a simple concept that we should

intuitively know. Not true; most people today have no comprehension as

to what makes up a good craftsman; they have either forgotten or it has

simply passed them by. Craftsmanship can be found in any field of endeavor

imaginable, be it in the product sector or service industry. Craftsmanship,

therefore, is universally applicable to any line of work.

Craftsmanship is not “workmanship”, nor is it synonymous with quality,

although the three concepts are closely related. Let’s begin by

giving “Craftsmanship” a definition: “The production and delivery

of quality goods or services from highly skilled workmen.”

Quality relates to the absence of errors or defects in the finished

product or service. In other words, finished goods operate

according to their specifications (customers get precisely what

they ordered). Such products are normally durable and require minimal

maintenance. Craftsmanship produces quality products. In the absence

of craftsmen, a rigorous methodology or assembly line process is

required to produce quality goods using workers without the expertise

of craftsmen. Such processes detail “Who” is to perform “What” work,

“When”, “Where”, “Why” and “How” (5W+H), thereby assuring a quality

product or service is produced. Such is the underlying rationale of

the ISO 9000 certification as used by many companies today. The point

is, quality is not the exclusive domain of the craftsman.

Craftsmanship is also a human trait. Some might argue a computer or

industrial robot can produce quality products and are, therefore,

craftsmen. However, we must remember these devices are programmed by

human beings in accordance with the rules of the craftsman. As such,

they are an extension or tool of the craftsman.

Craftsmanship can be found in either the overall work process or

a section of it. For example, there are craftsmen who are intimate

with all facets of building furniture, such as a table, a chair or

desk, and can implement the product from start to finish. However,

as products grow in complexity, it becomes difficult to find people

suitably qualified to build them from the womb to the tomb. Consider

military weapons alone, such as the complicated ships, tanks, and

airplanes we now use, with thousands or millions of parts to

assemble. Such complexity makes it impossible for a single person

to have the expertise to build the whole product. The same is true

in the service sector where different types of expertise and

capabilities may be required. In other words, craftsmen have a

specific scope of work. The scope of work may relate to other

types of craftsmen through a chain of work dependencies, e.g.,

Craftsmen A, B and C concentrate on separate sub-assemblies which

are eventually joined into a single product.


So, what are the attributes of a craftsman? What makes a craftsman a

craftsman? There are three basic attributes described herein:

1. Possesses the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the work.

The craftsman is an expert in his field of endeavor; so much so that

he could easily serve as an instructor in the subject matter. But the

craftsman is also smart enough to know that education is not a one

time thing, that his world and field evolve as new tools and techniques

are introduced. As such, the craftsman is a student of his profession

and is constantly looking to improve himself. This is exercised through

such things as continued education, routine certification, studying books

and trade publications, and industrial groups. The craftsman willingly

participates in trade groups, often at his own expense, in order to network

with his peers.

It is Important to note that the craftsman does not need to be told

he needs periodic training to sharpen his skills. Instead, he takes the

personal initiative to stay on top of his game. Further, the craftsman

has no problem with a periodic job review; in fact, he welcomes it for

it might bring out a weakness in a skill he needs to sharpen.

2. Attention to detail.

The craftsman understands and respects the process of building/delivering

a product or service and is acutely aware of the penalties for cutting

corners. Earlier we discussed the need for a methodology that specifies

5W+H. The craftsman is intimate with all details of his scope of work,

so much so, he could probably write the methodology himself. Further,

his intimacy of the work process means he can produce a reliable estimate

of time and costs to perform the work.

Although many of the craftsman’s tasks may be repetitive, it doesn’t

mean he easily falls into a rut. Instead, he is constantly looking

for new tools and techniques to improve the work process. As such,

he plays the role of Industrial Engineer who is normally charged

with such a task.

The craftsman’s attention to detail also means that he demonstrates

patience in his work effort. Again, wary of cutting corners, the

craftsman must possess such patience in order to produce the product

the right way.

3. Views professional life as an extension of his personal life.

The craftsman identifies with the end product which is where

pride in workmanship comes from. In his mind, the craftsman has

been charged with the responsibility of producing something, and

wanting to satisfy the customer, puts forth his best effort to

produce it. In other words, craftsmen take their work

personally. This is a difficult trait to teach particularly in

today’s society where the focus is more on financial compensation

than on the work product itself. It may sound naive, but the

craftsman believes he will be suitably compensated for

producing superior results.

Years ago, Dick Butkus of the Chicago Bears (NFL) confounded sports

writers who could never understand why Butkus played as hard as he

did year after year for a losing football team. True, Dick loved the

game, but beyond that, the sports writers didn’t understand one thing

about the seven time All-Pro linebacker: Butkus took his job

personally. It was important to him that his opponents know that

they had been tackled by the best player; as he said, “When they

get up from the ground I want them to say ‘it must have been Butkus

that got me’.”
Dick Butkus was a craftsman.

The craftsman has a burning desire to produce a superior product/service

because he sees it as a reflection of himself. As such, the lines delineating

their personal life and professional life are blurred. This is a significant

characteristic that clearly separates a craftsman from the average worker. The

craftsman’s work is his life. He does not shirk responsibility, but rather

embraces it with confidence and embosses his name on the finished product.

Conversely, making a work related mistake of any kind pains a true craftsman.

Job titles are normally inconsequential to the craftsman who is more

interested in delivering a quality product/service enjoyed by the

customer. Instead, the craftsman takes pleasure in being touted as

the best in his craft. He appreciates recognition; when someone

makes a compliment about a product, the craftsman views it as a

personal compliment. This too runs contrary to today’s corporate

world where people desperately seek recognition through simple

job titles. Want someone with an inflated ego? Give them a title.

Want something done right? Call a craftsman.


“Dependable”, “professional”, and “resourceful” are adjectives that

aptly describe the craftsman. He is not one who fabricates excuses but,

rather, always finds a way to get the job done. The craftsman is typically

your most productive employee. He is mindful of the concept of productivity

that we have touted for years:

Productivity = Effectiveness X Efficiency

Most people fallaciously equate productivity with efficiency, which simply

gauges how fast we can perform a given task. Effectiveness, on the other hand,

validates the necessity of the task itself. There is nothing more unproductive

than to do something efficiently that should not have been done at all. An

industrial robot, for example, can efficiently perform such tasks as welding. But

if you are welding the wrong thing, then it is counterproductive. Going back to

our description of a methodology, effectiveness defines “Who/What/When/Where/Why”,

efficiency defines “How.” The craftsman is well aware of the difference

between the two and knows how to apply both. As such, the craftsman is in tune

with his work environment and corporate culture.

So how do we make craftsmen?

Not easily. Because of the human dynamics involved with the craftsman,

you will need to be a pretty intuitive manager or industrial

psychologist to make it happen. Selecting suitable candidates is the

logical first step. Devise an aptitude test to determine the candidate’s

suitability to become a craftsman. After all, “you cannot make a silk

purse from a sow’s ear.” Aside from specific knowledge and experience

in a given field (e.g., programming, woodworking, construction, accounting,

etc.), here are some other important traits to look for:

  • Fertility of mind – judge his ability to learn, to adapt to changing
    conditions, and to look beyond his scope of work. Evaluate his
    professional curiosity.
  • Confidence – judge how well the candidate knows himself,
    particularly how well he knows his own limitations. He
    should admit his deficiencies and not fabricate excuses.
  • Dedication – judge his loyalty and determination to
    accomplish something. What is his attendance record?
    What outside clubs and organizations does he belong
    to and how active is he in them?
  • Entrepreneurial spirit – judge his personal initiative.
    Is he driven to succeed (but not to the point of reckless
    abandon)? Does he have a problem with accountability?
    This says a lot about assuming responsibility.
  • Attention to detail – judge his ability to focus on a subject.
    Does he have a problem with discipline or organization? A person’s
    dress, mannerisms, and speech says a lot about a person.
  • Reliability – judge his ability to assume responsibility and
    carry a task through to completion.
  • Resourcefulness – judge his ability to adapt to changing
    conditions and persevere to see a task through to completion.
    The candidate cannot be inflexible; he must be able to find
    solutions to solve problems.
  • Socialization skills – does he work better alone or as a team
    player? His position may depend on his answer.

When you have selected suitable candidates, here are three areas to

concentrate on:

  1. Develop their skills and knowledge by allowing such things as:
    participation in trade groups, outside certification and on-going
    training, subscriptions to trade journals, continued education,
    etc. Some companies even go as far as to develop an in-house
    school to teach the company’s way of doing things. If the in-house
    school is good, it will promote confidence through consistency. Even
    if people leave the company, they will recommend your company because
    they know the quality of the work produced. Supporting the education
    needs of our workers is not only smart, it is good business.
  2. Teach them the need for producing quality work; they should
    become intimate with all aspects of their work process (5W+H).
    Further, instill discipline and patience in their work effort.
  3. Change their attitude towards development so they become more
    focused on delivering a quality end-product. This is perhaps
    the most difficult element to teach. However, it can be realized
    by having them become intimate with the needs of the customer
    (have them visit or work with a customer for awhile – “let them
    walk in the customer’s shoes”). It may also be necessary to
    change their form of remuneration by going to a reward system
    for work produced (as opposed to guaranteed income regardless
    of what is produced). Changing the mode of financial compensation
    is highly controversial in today’s business world. But, as an
    example, can you imagine the change of attitude of today’s professional
    athletes if they were paid based on their accomplishments (e.g., runs
    or points scored, hits, rebounds, etc.) rather than having a
    guaranteed income? Their motivation and attitude towards
    their profession and team would change radically.

    Candidates must learn to respect their institution, the process
    by which they work, fellow human beings, and themselves. They must
    also learn not to be afraid to TRY; that they must put their best
    foot forward, win or lose. Bottom-line: they must learn that their
    work has meaning and worth. If they don’t enjoy their work, they
    shouldn’t be doing it.

“There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first,

that you are going to have a good time as long as you live – I have no

use for the sour-faced man – and next, that you are going to do

something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the

things you set out to do.”

– President Theodore Roosevelt

Talk to schoolchildren in Oyster Bay, Christmas-time 1898


Teaching the elements listed above probably cannot be done in one

fell swoop. Further, companies simply don’t have the time or money to

wait for the craftsman to be produced. Instead, they must understand

the human spirit needs to be cultivated and be allowed to grow over

time. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that an in-house

certification program be devised specifying what the candidate should

know and what skills and talents he should demonstrate. This should be

divided into classes of progressive expertise; e.g., apprentice, intermediary,

and craftsman. The ancient builders in Egypt, Rome, and Greece understood

this concept and devised such classes of workmen. Other disciplines and

schools follow similar tactics (the various degrees or belts in martial

arts for example). Each degree is based on specific prerequisites to

master before moving on to the next level.

An in-house certification program has the added nuance of making

people feel special which greatly enhances their self esteem. If

they are made to feel like a vital part of the company, regardless if

their work of a large magnitude or trivial, they will strive to do

what is best for the company overall, not just themselves. Consequently,

their work adds meaning to their life.

There is one pitfall to all of this; today’s “go-go” management

style fails to see how craftsmanship adds value to the company. In

fact, there were companies back in the 1980’s that shut down such

programs simply to reduce costs. As a result, quality suffered,

repeat business was lost, products were more in need of repair,

absenteeism on the job escalated, etc. Want value? How does

a loyal customer base who has confidence in your products or

services sound? And what effect would employee harmony have,

particularly if they believed in the work they were producing? It

would be mind-boggling, all because we had faith in the human

spirit to produce superior results.

A final note: craftsmanship is not a one time thing. After it has

been instilled in people, it has to be cultivated and perpetuated. If

a manager slips even for a moment, it will go right out the window and

it will take time to bring it back to life. As for me, I like to post

motivational reminders kind of like the one recently spotted in the

Hickey Freeman manufacturing facility in New York,

“Excellence is Tolerated.”

No Debt Is Good: Aiming For A Debt-Free Life

Did you know that you’re being deceived? Right now, everywhere. On TV. In the newspaper. On the radio. In magazines. You’re getting the same message over and over again: “buy now, pay later”; “consolidate your debt into one easy monthly payment”; “get a secure line of credit”. Or the perennial favorite, “don’t worry, it’s good debt”.

The truth is, there is no such thing as good debt. Debt is debt. It’s money you owe someone, money that needs to be paid back at some point in the future. “Good debt” is a misnomer. There’s better debt, sure, because there’s also really bad debt. But debt is never good. Not really.

We live in a debt-ridden society. We’re encouraged to buy things on credit all the time. Why? Because it’s a profitable business for lenders. They’re not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. They’re in it to make money, and their target is you.

Of course, it’s hard to live entirely without debt. To buy a home these days you almost always need some kind of mortgage, this is true — few people can afford a house outright, especially at the beginning of their careers and families. But you don’t have to be in debt for the rest of your life. A mortgage is meant to be a temporary debt, one backed by the (normally) stable value of the property you purchased with it. It should be for a reasonable, affordable amount that can be paid back within 10 to 20 years of the purchase. And you should have some of your own equity in the house right from the start. But that’s not what people do anymore. They get mortgages for 100% of the appraised value of the house. Worse yet, they get interest-only mortgages that leave the principal — the amount you borrowed — untouched. Is it no wonder that these people eventually find themselves drowning in debt?

But it goes beyond mortgages. A debt mentality pervades our society. Once you have equity in your home, for example, the banks urge you to “free up” the money with home equity loans and secured credit lines. Use the money to better your life, they say, by renovating the house, taking that big vacation you’ve always wanted, or — here it comes — consolidating your other debt.

Your other debt? Sure. You think the only debt people have is mortgage debt? No, they have plenty of other debt. It’s a banker’s wet dream out there today… Credit lines. Cash advances. Overdraft coverage. Automatic credit card limit increases. Pay nothing now. If you’re not careful, you can build up a lot of debt very quickly.

And that’s the problem: those debts have to be repaid sometime. Rack up too much debt and soon you’ll be worrying about the monthly payments. Your peace of mind will suffer, and possibly other things like your marriage and your job. Is that the kind of price you’re willing to pay in order to have things you couldn’t otherwise afford?

The solution isn’t debt relief or debt consolidation. It’s debt avoidance. You should do everything in your power to avoid debt. Because too much debt will tear you down, physically and mentally.

What if you already have a lot of debt? There are things you can do. Yes, you can consider consolidating the debt, but that will only work if you’re able to stop accumulating more debt once your current payments are lowered. Otherwise, you need to attack your debt using a step-by-step plan that involves paying off the highest-interest debt as quickly as possible, then using the money you free from that debt payment to pay the next-highest debt, and so on. It’s the snowball debt reduction method, and it works.

The key to all of this is willpower. Make the commitment today to be debt free as soon as possible. The peace of mind it gives you will make it all worthwhile in the end.

How to Apply Think and Grow Rich to Change Your Life!

Napolean Hill is a very intelligent man who dedicated 20 years of his life to study multi-millionaires and see with his own eyes how they become successful. Not only did he become very successful at accomplishing his goal, he also applied what he learned into his life and became extremely wealthy himself.

I have read Think and Grow Rich over five times and I have to say five is nothing compared to those who have read this book over sixty times. The power this book contains can change your life forever and I want you to get started today without any confusion and have a clear mind to where you are headed.

If you have read this book only one time, I suggest you to read it more than once in order to get a better understanding. When reading it the second time, keep a highlighter next to you and underline the best parts in the book.

For those who have already read this book more than once, I want you to take a pen and paper and draw a line on the paper. On the beginning of your line, put the year we are in. Below or above that line write how much money you want to make and put a deadline at the end of the line so you will know when that goal is going to be achieved.

Add what you will give in return to you accomplishing the goal. For example, I will imagine and believe myself already being in possession of the money, and I will take action every day until my goal becomes a reality.

Once you got your goal written down, take the paper and tape it somewhere in your bedroom, so when you go to sleep and wake up every morning, the written goal will be in front of you. Read your goal outloud to yourself three times every day with a very strong and positive feeling.

Next, take another piece of paper, and write down why you want to earn that much money. This will create a burning desire in you so you will burn the bridges behind you so there will be no going back.

Like Napolean Hill said, it is not just about hard-work. Of course, hard-work is a big part of being successful. But, there is vision, burning desire, faith/belief, and than the will to take action will come along.

Balancing Your Home Business and Home Life

It is clear that juggling your home business and your personal life can prove to be a tall order if you are not organized and well prepared. One may say that catering to your family’s needs a few feet away from conducting your own business sums up to working two full-time jobs with the extra edge of having to perform in both – most of the time, on a simultaneous basis. Since the home business trend is increasing by the day, for many people, home is no longer where only the family is but it is also where the business is. The best solution, therefore, is to work on making your family duties help your home business either by incorporating your family members in your business operations or by creating solid boundaries to enable you to focus on your venture and respect the flexibility a home-run business gives you.

A home-business owner, however, should never overlook the advantages a home business offers. Of course, it is not just about reducing your expenses and capitalizing on already-owned property or furniture, but it is also about bridging the family gaps experienced when / if you worked in a company 10 miles away from home, for example.

To accomplish that perfect balance between the two afore-mentioned extremes (running your home business and carrying out your everyday family tasks), I have included some priceless tips for you to peep into in order to make your business experience both a memorable and profitable one:

1- Set goals and stay motivated: Clearly define milestones and work towards fulfilling your goals taking into consideration all the advantages a home business offers. One of your initial goals should be to constantly project a professional image (logo, business card….). This image will give you credibility upon which you could accomplish many of your goals. Many hardships will arise, stay motivated and focused and reward yourself for achieving your weekly goals.

2- Create an off limits space: Whether it’s an office fit for a Fortune 500 executive or just a small desk in the corner of your living room, your family should know that it is your personal space and nothing should be touched. You would not want your three-year old answering a phone call worth thousands of Dollars. It is advised you do not use this space of yours for your professional meetings when you can plan for a meeting elsewhere, like in a restaurant.

3- Follow a time management program: Planning and scheduling are the best ways not only to approach a business but also your life. Working from home does not mean that you are available to your clients 24/7. Make sure you evenly allocate time for your loved ones, your business and do not forget to leave some time off for yourself. Many people actually overlook this last piece of the puzzle as they usually shed their focus on the business and the family. Do not make any compromises on your set times even if your time will either start at the break of dawn when everybody is still asleep or after 10:00 pm – again when everybody has gone to sleep.

4- Vacation: During the start-up phase of your home business, along with your family duties, you will be spending a large amount of time in your house. The monotony could indeed impact your creative faculties and also your personal life. You should know when to stop before you reach a certain stress level so as not to impact your loved ones. To avoid this altogether, you should schedule frequent short stint get-aways to give you that ever-so precious second wind.

According to national statistics, the majority of home businesses have been started by women who have lately chosen to market and exercise their skills from under their own roofs. Instead of telling your children not to bother you, a very good tip is to mimic small business environments for them, with a desk, pen and paper, and make them believe that they are helping you. This should instill entrepreneurial skills in your children and also teach them a sense of commitment – something they will definitely need in their lives.

For most people, working from home is like music to the ear. Waking up, reaching for your computer, getting back to emails and phone calls while dressed in your pajamas and CASHING IN ON MONEY has now become a dream come true. However, freeing yourself from the banter of your colleagues and your enclosed cubicle could have its consequences if you do not put strict boundaries between your love for business and your love for your family.

"The Day That Turns Your Life Around" by Jim Rohn – A Program Review

The Day That Turns Your Life Around. “Remarkable Success Ideas that Can Change Your Life in an Instant.”

In this six CD, 12 lesson program, motivational master Jim Rohn shares the story of his life changing day with you, and shows you how to consciously create the conditions that make dramatic lasting personal transformation not only possible, but inevitable. Jim’s life changing day involved an incident with a Girl Scout. That incident led him on a journey to heights of fame and fortune that few of us will ever achieve. Have you had that life changing day yet, or are you still waiting?

Some people waste years, and even their entire lives waiting for that magic moment that will change their lives for the better. But those people whose lives really do change in dramatic ways, can almost always trace the change back to something much simpler than magic. One moment, one realization, one action, one step that put them on a completely different path – and ultimately led them to their dreams.

The good news is that once you understand the four emotional states that can change your life, you can generate them within yourself at will, rather than waiting for external circumstances to activate them.

Let’s look at the 6 CD’s of this great program. Each CD is divided into two sessions, making 12 sessions in all. Here are some tidbits from the sessions:

Session One – “Today is a New Day” – Jim shares with you the day that turned his life around, and talks about life’s adventures – the little devil on one shoulder and the little angel on the other – both giving advice. What voice do you listen to? He ends the session with a story about “making something out of nothing.”

Session Two – “The Major Ingredients of Life Change” – Jim talks about emotions that can change your life, and shares some philosophies to live by including; “Profits are better than wages – Wages make you a living, profits can make you a fortune”, and one of my favorites “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.”

Session Three and Session Four – “How to Make a Life, Not Just a Living” – Jim’s short list on the good life, and words of wisdom including “Beware of what and who you become, in pursuit of what you want.”

Session Five – “The Pro vs. The Amateur; Keys to Thriving in Tough Times” – Jim shares his greatest setbacks and what he did to bounce back – and, by showing the difference between the professional and the amateur response to problems – shows how you can do it too.

Session Six – “Financial Strategies for a New Age” – Jim’s philosophical foundation for financial independence, and his suggestions for achieving wealth along with giving and sharing. Stuff they don’t teach in school, and good advice parents should pass along to their kids.

Session Seven – “How to Protect Your Time” – Time management essentials to help you reach your goals. How to avoid “Being online but off-track”.

Session Eight – “Where the True Wealth Lies” – Identifying your core values, nurturing your “inner circle” and the challenge of balancing work and family life and becoming a World-class” parent and grandparent.

Session Nine – “The Goal Setting Workshop” – Great session. Jim actually takes you through a personal goal setting workshop from one of his weekend seminars.

Session Ten – “Success Can Be Simple” – Jim’s simple approach to life learned from “Things my mama taught me” and how he uses hard and fast decisions to simplify his life.

Session Eleven – “The Magic of a Mentor” – Although I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Jim personally, through his books and programs he has been one of my mentors for many years, and I can attest to the “Magic of a Mentor” he discusses in this session. He goes on to show how you too can be a mentor, and make a difference in the lives of others.

Session Twelve – “Leadership Skills for the 21st Century” – The skills of leadership wisdom presented with witty sayings like “Don’t expect a pear tree to bear apples” and ending with the story of the frog and the scorpion (“that’s what scorpions do”).

In summary, if you are you are dissatisfied or unhappy with your life, and would like to change it, “The Day That Turns Your Life Around” will give you the tools to make any change you want to. And, as Jim says, you will be astonished by how quickly and easily it happens. I highly recommend this program. It can turn your life around!

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