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“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

~ Voltaire

Over the weekend, I went to the homegoing service for my cousin Bakari Jaward Henderson, who was murdered in Greece on July 7th, 2017.  He was a young, 22-year-old African American male who was very smart and full of life. As I sat in the service, my heart was just touched by those who had so many great things to say about him. Some of the characteristics that were used to describe him were adventurous, fearless, confident, selfless, and ambitious just to name a few. As we all have heard before, life is short. We are only travelers, and aren’t going to be here forever. Even though we don’t know when our journey will end, we can live with purpose and make good use of the life we have been given. So how are you living your life? When your name is called, what legacy will you leave behind? What will people say about you? Will they say you lived a life, or will they say you had a life well lived?


Adventurous – there were two definitions listed for adventurous. The first one was, “inclined or wiling to engage in adventures.” The other one was defined as “full of risk; requiring courage; hazardous.” Are you adventurous? Or do you simply stay within the bounds of what is familiar to you. Life is full of adventure if you dare to seek it. You would be surprise by the things you could accomplish if you step out of your comfort zone. Something is awaiting your presence. I dare you to seek it.

Fearless – was defined as, “without fear; bold or brave; intrepid.” One step to being adventurous is to be fearless. You can’t live in fear. If there is something you’ve wanted to do, then do it. Stop standing on the edge of comfort and jump. Time isn’t going to wait for you. Life is about taking risks, learning and growing from the risk we take. The only way to learn and grow is through trial and error. You never know what may happen, but you first have to try. What do you have to lose?

Confident – was defined as, “sure of oneself; having no uncertainty about one’s own abilities, correctness, successfulness, etc.” Anyone can believe in you, but if you don’t believe in yourself first, then it doesn’t matter. Marcus Garvey stated, “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” How can people even begin to have confidence in you if you don’t have any confidence in yourself? Believe in who you are as a person, and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Where you are strong, use that to aid you in whatever you are trying to accomplish, and where you are weak, lean on others to help build you up.

Selfless – is defined as, “having little or no concern for oneself, especially with regard to fame, position, money, etc.; unselfish.” What is the point of accomplishing something if you’re not going to help others? I believe that you receive a lot of your blessings by helping other people. At some point in everyone’s life, we will all need help with something. With that being said, don’t be stingy, help someone else. When you grow, someone else can grow too. It is one way to help make the world a better place. With all of the evil in the world, a simple act of kindness won’t hurt.

Ambitious – was defined as, “having ambition; eagerly desirous of achieving or obtaining success, power, wealth, a specific goal, etc.” In order to seek something, you must have ambition. In order for you to achieve whatever you want to accomplish, there has to be a fire in you that you will not let burn out. No one can place that fire in you but you. People can give advice, and encourage you, but no one can give you the never-ending flame to go after what you want in life except you.


Although my cousin was young and his life was cut short, he had a life well-lived. He had the opportunity to travel to Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, England, Monaco, Greece, and Columbia. He was also on his way to launching his own luxury clothing line. He was adventurous, fearless, confident, selfless, ambitious, and so much more. Bakari knew what he wanted out of life, and he wasn’t afraid to capture it. We are only given one life, and what you do with it, is solely your decision. So I ask again, do you want to just live a life, or do you want a life well lived?


To my cousin…I am sorry that this happen, but I know you’re in a better place. God makes no mistakes and although many will heavily miss your presence, the impact you left on others will live on forever. Rest in peace cousin.


In loving memory


Bakari Jaward Henderson

April 13th, 1995- July 7th, 2017