Five Life Lessons from my Hero Erico: “The So called Fool” in Wum

All the above pictures were taken on the same day, in the space of 6/8 hours. Is anyone else excited at the transformation like myself? I forgot something insignificant in wum, but I am threatening to do 20 hours on the road to go get it… wish I could afford that now, just so I see my hero again and give him the pictures he asked me to develop, and thank him from the bottom of my heart from making my short stay so fulfilling. Also would have loved to get him a pair of snickers or take him one of mine.

Dear world, to wrap up this week, I share 5 lessons I learnt from my interraction with Erico:

  1. There is so much to people than meet the eye… how many times do we need to read or hear this I wonder. Anyway, people are different and some take prejudice seriously and go with the general consensus that ‘a fool will always be a fool’. I am so happy I courted Erico and that he warmed up to me so much and agreed to go bathe and come back so we could go around. He talked about so many things and such wisdom from his mouth oh my God;
  2. Erico for example told me that now when people laugh at him he says to himself ‘they are laughing at their own stupidity’. Those were his words, I didn’t want to ask him if he goes or went to school. I don’t think he does but the bottom  line also is you don’t need to go to school to acquire wisdom. Erico told me when he just got to the village he was always angry and fighting especially when he felt or saw children and adults alike mocking him. The fights landed him into so much trouble because he was often beaten by the numbers or stones thrown at him and he had to run and hide home and not want to go out again. Gradually, his mentality changed and he keeps to himself but doesn’t fight back if laughed at;
  3. The ‘fool’ may know something or somewhere you don’t and that could be your saving grace. I could have asked around for the direction to say the lake or the shoe mender, and I could have been ‘scamed’ or taken to a bush and assaulted… these are extreme examples but am sure you can imagine. Now it costs me next to nothing to court Erico and there I was with a warm friend, a guardian and so much information;
  4. Accept your limitations in life and spare yourself head and heartaches. Erico told me that he knew what was expected of him by his grandmum everyday, and he knew that those were his responsibilities because he could not do much more. He couldn’t go to ‘big school’ (I marvelled at his expression), nor work any money. So grandma expected him to wash the dishes, clean the house and compound and go fetch water. He loved doing those and in return he was very grateful for the food he ate everyday;
  5. Don’t take things for granted, it could have been worse. I mean when you see the man who doesn’t have his four limbs, or you see some picture like that of the famine ravished child who was been ‘eyed for a meal’ by a nearby vulture, how can you take anything for granted? Now, some will laugh at Erico and call him a ‘fool’ (probably thinking to themselves they are lucky neither them nor theirs are ‘fools’). Erico told me he was happy to be living with his grandma and able to eat everyday – even he didn’t take things for granted. He was maybe luckier than Tangatapan who lived in the market or motor park or wherever night met him, and carried his luggage on him. And then we want to whine at the weather?

Dear all, I learnt so much and was so touched by my friend and Hero Erico. Such incidents keep me grounded, more humble, modest and simply so grateful for life.

Please, you wanna share any insight?

Wishing us all a splendid weekend and lots of such in life.


8 thoughts on “Five Life Lessons from my Hero Erico: “The So called Fool” in Wum”

  1. Such great life lessons to take away from what must have been a beautiful experience. I wish I had met Erico in person, but your posts are giving me a glimpse into his life and spirit ❤

  2. Dear Marie

    I read your Erico stories absolutely rapt and overjoyed that you had found a way to do this — it is amazing what lies just beneath the surface of those society deems “trash ” or “throwaway” , just not worth bothering with ! So many jewels !!! Thank you so much for writing for three blog posts about this wonderful hero In Wum. You have made him a hero for all your readers now. This was a lovely post and series of posts and I hope you will do others like them. I see Erico as a stand in for your brother — sort of. Am I wrong? Your brother may not have always been a “fool” but you wrote that his epilepsy or mental health treatments made him out to be one– and maybe killed him. But Erico lives so you can still enjoy his company as you cannot your poor brother’s. And how lovely for both of you– in my opinion.



    1. Pammy you nail it. When I go some place and see any of “such people”, I befriend them. None and I mean none even before my brother got I’ll, none has ever shunned me. Yes I wish to one day go back there and visit Erico and bring him snickers and just make his day again. Frankly, society is the ‘bigger fool’ as I have come to conclude. You yourself are so awesome. But if I learnt of your diagnosis and got scared, or even heard nay sayers even from my family telling me not to visit you, see how much I would have lost? Thanks for loving the series and am sure the lessons I learnt from my stay with Erico also resonate. I also conclude about the power of genuine love and friendship. See how it transformed Erico in just one interaction.

      1. Dearest Marie

        That is why I gave you that poem if you wanted it for your book of poems –about the “drunk” man who accosted me as I walked up the hill alone one evening in “Poem for Reginald”– he was another outcast of society and people would have shunned him just for being chronically intoxicated… but there is always so much more to a person than their label or their “fool” or “schizophrenia ” reputation! As you know so well for having the courage to look beyond these things and trust your own feelings… this is what I love about you. You see the truth and the genuine human being inside everyone . You don’t accept the stigma or the label as saying anything that means truth. You allow the person herself or himself to reveal their truth by being who they really are, and you give them the beautiful gift of seeing them, really seeing them.

        This is a wonderful wonderful thing you do, Marie.



      2. And that poem is so lovely, I never knew Reginald was ‘intoxicated’. Yes Pammy, am so humbled and grateful for this gift of magnetic personality especially with those society classifies as ‘nuts’

      3. Ah, well I hope reginald is clearer on another reading? ” a drunk, not yet dead on his feet ” to me meant someone staggering from drinking too much. I e. Intoxicated!

        Otoh, the language in every poem suggests different pictures for different people and we are not even from the same continent let alone country so the expressions I use probably mean different things to you — which can definitely be a problem in poetry!!!

        ❤ ❤ ❤


      4. Pammy, I will do another reading and maybe try not to think of reading behind the words. Sort of stuffs we artists sometimes do unconsciously. Remember you reading my poem ‘bad boys’ and getting it from several angles? The beauty of art, seeing a painting even differently than the painter did. Loads of love

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