Thursday, 28 August 2014

... VERY ANCIENT, BUT STILL HIGHLY POTENT .....




I have a great manual,
which is so effectual.

Many books generally inform,
but this one does more than reform;
It also mightily transforms.

Others are filled with just words,
but this contains swords.
while they are filled with letters,
this is full of wonders.

It is so complete,
that none other can compete.
It is thought provoking,
ans yes, curse revoking. 'cos the words are smoking.




This book is pure perfection,
which is beyond imagination,
also capable of deep penetration.

You think it's so profound,
but its principles are tested and confirmed.

Though very ancient,
but still very potent,
and forever, there can be no replacement.
The words are not expired,
'cos they all God inspired.

It's name is the Bible
and it's overly reliable.

DREAMS COME THROUGH...

...As he glanced through my photo album, he asked

"What secondary school did you attend?"

"Nigerian Navy secondary school, ojo, Lagos." I answered

He exclaimed "wow!!!!" and continued

"What set?"

I told him.

"Ahn ahn, do you know Kemi Akinuliola?"

"Of course, I know her. We were mates naw. How do you know her?" I asked

"Her elder brother and I were mates in secondary school ooo. Nigerian military school, Zaria"

"Haaaaaa, you attended NMS? Choi, I've heard crazy things about the school and can even imagine a bit, 'cos NNSS that i attended sef, was no piece of cake."

"Hmm, babe, best imagined ooh. No be moi moi at all. I suffered ehn..., but as a senior, you'll enjoy too." He laughed.

"Same thing with Ojo too. Na wa ooo, as a senior, I enjoyed sha and those Juniors hear wennnnn for my hand" came my reply.

"Ehn ehn, you dis smally sef." he teased and continued. "I know a lot of people from your school ooo. Do you know Comfort and Funke Aladuge?"

"Weeeeeeeeeeeeeela, Comfort and I were in the same class from SS1to SS3 and Funke, her sister, was two years ahead of us. I think she was one of the food prefects."

We continued chatting as he kept looking at my pictures. Then he saw a pic of my mum on uniform and let out

"Confam! your mum is a naval officer! Respect! It's not easy ooo, no be beans at all, I just love the military and hope to become an officer someday, in fact, I must to wear that uniform .......................

That was how I knew of Tola's love for the military. We were in our first year at the university of Ilorin. I met Tola through my family friend and roommate, Tayo and other friends, Gbenga and Biodun who were in accounting department, same as Tayo and Tola. Initially, I was in economics department, like sheriff, our other friend, but I was later moved to political science department. We were a group of very close friends and I must say that they were all intelligent people. I didn't like Tola at first; The first day I set my eyes on him was at the school auditorium. We were there for one of those faculty courses; BUS 103 I think. I immediately just disliked him, the reason why, I do not really know. Maybe because he always wore headsets then and the way he acted just irritated me, and I even told Tayo. I think Tola and Tayo met at their Ondo state indigenes' meeting and since they were also in the same department, they because acquaintances and soon, he visited our off campus apartment and that was how we started talking.

Tola had tried to gain admission into NDA but had been unsuccessful. However, that did not in anyway wane his passion for the military and even grudgingly accepted his Unilorin admission, even though he passed  the UME and post UME excellently. He was a very intelligent boy, albeit too loud and somewhat arrogant, in my opinion when we started talking.... LOL. Together with the rest of our friends, we did one of two tutorials on the faculty courses, while the others did their accounting thing.

Gaining admission to the NDA is in no way easy, as the competition is always unimaginably stiff. Thousands of people apply and only an infinitesimal number get admitted. Tola, though in 100 level tried again and in our conversations, urged me to pray for him and it was written all over him that he really wanted it; and i did pray earnestly for him.


                                                        Second lieutenant Elegbe G.T.

I saw this picture on Tola's DP today and it brought a big smile to my face. His dream has come through, despite how tough the journey was; He's now an officer of the Nigerian Army. He gained admission into the very prestigious Nigerian defense academy in September 2009, which was just before the rest of us resumed school and even went on to be the best in his set. He is currently in Nepal, on a course. And yes, of course, I'm proud of him. He has done well for himself, as it's no small feat.

Looking at people like my parents, though they are just comfortable, and the fact that they come from absolutely nothing, and thousands of others out there, including prominent ones like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc, and now my friend Tola and a bit of myself, I can say, if you have a dream or vision, confess it, believe it, digest it, keep at it, work towards it like there's no miracle ever but blood and sweat, yet pray like it dependent on a miracle.

It's the Grace of God that makes people great and great destinies sometimes have great challenges; but for the diligent and persistent ones, DREAMS COME THROUGH...........

LIFE, LIKE THE GAME OF FOOTBALL...




I find the game of football to be a very beautiful one, not just because it is entertaining. I have observed that it is a game that is unifying; it draws people of different ages, beliefs, ideologies, religions, cultures, political affiliations and even nations together. It makes them play together as a team, converge as spectators in stadiums and audiences worldwide. There are many games, but none pulls as much crowd as football. A country like Nigeria is usually literally on standstill when there are important matches e.g nations cup and the just concluded world cup is an illustration of the power it carries... It kept the whole world buzzing, irrespective of ugly happenings such as insurgencies and what not in different parts of the world . However, even above the a fore mentioned, I love football because it gives me great insight to life.

In football, there are players and there are STAR PLAYERS. The star players are those who have a very large fan base, their names are always on the lips of people and are even known by non football fans. They are the ones who get the very major endorsement deals and just live the very fab life. They are the ones whose absence on the field is noticed.


LESSON: Wherever we are and whatever we find ourselves in, we should ensure never to be redundant or act as nonentities. We must strive, to the best of our ability, to eschew complacency, as the star players are major actors.

Also, football games are watched by spectators or audiences, in stadiums, viewing centers or in their houses. Those fans who watch from home dedicate at least 90 minutes of their time and attention to the game, while those who chose to go to the stadium or viewing centers, in addition to their time, pay to watch games. During the game, spectators, especially those in stadiums, cheer, scream, boo, etc at the players.


Unfortunately, all the screams, criticisms and even praise directed at these players are futile. Majority of them are not even known to the players. Their activities do not affect or contribute to the game.
However, at the end of the day, the spectators and audiences get nothing. They spend their time, money and even energy and get no recognition, accolade, and at best, if lucky, only get an autograph, while the players they watch, criticize, praise, etc, get all the bests.
In addition, the presence or absence of a fan is never noticed, but only that of the players.
THERE'S TOO LITTLE OR NO REWARD AT ALL FOR A SPECTATOR.

The game, just like life, could be rough and tough. The players run from pillar to post, they dribble, fall, get up, hold on to each others shirt, even fight on the field. The players do not really look good on the field, as they are covered in sweat and just stressed up. But when you see them off the pitch, they look good.    
LESSON: In life it might not always be rosy, there might be times to sweat it out, hustle and be stressed, as nothing good comes easily. We will even have disagreements with people at some point. But if we keep at whatever good thing we do with all diligence, irrespective of it all, we will look good later.



Furthermore, as the game could be rough and tough, players get injured on the field. While some recover once attended to by the medics and get back to the game, others have to be taken out and that's the end of the road for them for that particular game, others for the season or tournament and some others, the end of the their football journey. In life too, there are some who suffer very temporary setbacks, some suffer some setbacks that affects them for a while, but later come out of it, and some others, unfortunately have their journeys ended abruptly.

In addition, in football, just like in life sometimes, efforts do not automatically translate to goals. In the game, there are no assurances, what you put in is not always what you'll get out of it. The team least expected to win, might win. That one is a good runner on the field doesn't always matter. It's the goals scored that matter at the end of the game. In life too, the hardest workers aren't always the richest, in fact if riches came by physical work or labor, truck pushers, diggers, bricklayers, etc would be the richest. Just like in life, the power of intellect, in addition to handwork is also applicable on the field.

Again, in life, just like in football, you win some and lose some. Marks are not always met, little setbacks are inevitable. Even the best players in the world, not just in football alone, but other games too, have lost some games. Ask the likes of Michael Jordan and Arsenal players and fans. However, they have the understanding that losing some games doesn't make them a failure, and can in fact serve as motivation for better preparation and desire to win the next.

Penultimately, no matter how great a footballer is and how valuable and famous he is, he cant be in the spotlight forever. There was a time when Pele of Brazil was the star boy, then there was the turn of Maradona  of Argentina, then Ronaldo and Ronaldinho of Brazil, now it's Messi, Christiano Ronaldo and definitely some other people in future. In the real world too, the spot light may shine on a person or group for a short while, long while but definitely not forever, as it is not static; it moves around and will shine on someone else. With each day we grow older and younger ones emerge.

Finally, something that awes me about the game is the fact that until the final whistle is blown, anything can still happen. No wonder the loosing and winning teams alike never give up. While the loosing team strives to score goals, probably they could equalize and even win, the winning team always wants to score more calls. And a few times, i have seen games change in a matter of two and even a minute before the ends. LESSON: it is never over until we take the final bow, as long as we are alike, we must keep striving and hoping, because anything can happen as long as we NEVER GIVE UP!!!

IN RETROSPECT: MY ENDURANCE TREK & LESSONS LEARNED!

So, it was the set day; the day for the so much talked about, highly anticipated and somewhat exaggerated endurance trek. it was on Thursday, 22nd November, 2012.
The atmosphere was buzzing, different comings and goings. The mammy market was swarmed with people so early in the morning. People were girding themselves with instrument of war... LOL. Food i mean. Back pack sellers made very good sales penultimate that day and even that morning. They were being stocked with all sorts, from snacks, to water and whatever else corpers deemed necessary for the trek.

There was so much excitement in the air that it could almost be seen and grasped. Picture how the Israelites must have felt when they were finally leaving Egypt? Yea, that's it. The only differences were that ours wasn't a captivity of 430 years but just 21 days and we were on day 17, meaning we were returning to the captivity that self same day.

Apparently, we the corpers were not the only ones having a swell time; the ever stalking photographers were having fun, as they were making even more sales on such memorable day. The mammy market traders were equally hyper active, up and doing. Many of them even went on the journey with us.

What made it particularly exciting for me was the realization that I was actually going on the endurance trek which I had heard so much about from a young age. I was fascinated by the fact that  I was actually at that stage of my life, finally. What seemed so far was suddenly playing out and the age at which I was privileged to embark on that journey, compared to majority, was humbling.
To add some more flavor to the already delicious pudding, we were going to no other place than the very famous Awolowo house, located at ikenne, Ogun state.
 
So, the normal morning assembly was held, just that it was on that occasion later than the normal 6am time. Devotion was done, anthems were sang and announcements were made. Those who had medical conditions or who didn't feel up to the task ahead, were advised to remain in the camp. Then it was time to set out and we were asked to form up in lines for orderly movements. We marched out of the gate and there was this psychological feeling of release, albeit temporal.


                              
                         So, that was how these two naughty boys from our platoon jumped in uninvited.

                                The fantastic three of platoon 5 (Me, Remi and Josephine, my bunky)


As we marched through the town, the occupants were thrilled to see the sea of corpers. many of them starred at us, some hailed us. Minutes passed slowly. About 45 minutes into it, the trek began to take its toll on people. The excitement dwindled, paces became slower and slower. The scorching sun only made it harder. We began to see medics attend to people, some became extremely weak, some even fainted, I heard.

About 1 hour, 30 minutes later, we arrived at the historic Awolowo house. The aged wife of the late icon received us warmly and was even kind enough to distribute biscuits and sachet water to those interested. Outside the compound had been transformed to a temporal market place, as food and drink sellers went about their businesses, seeing to the needs of army of famished and faint youths. on the other hand, people were busy taking pictures of the house

                                                              
                                                                The Awolowo house


                                                                 Late chief Awolowo's car


                                                            
                                                       A sculpture of Late chief Awolowo

An hour later, or a little over, it was time to make the trip back to camp. The mere thought of a trek that lasted an hour and half, saddled many, including me. Few minutes into the return journey, we came across a building with a hilarious inscription "THIS 'HORSE' IS NOT FOR SALE" instead of "THIS HOUSE IS NOT FOR SALE." Unfortunately, i lost the picture last year due to a corrupt memory card.

We continued the trek and I must confess that the return journey was really more physically exerting. In fact, some corpers have to get on bikes to get to the camp, though it wasn't allowed. I was really tired, the camp just seemed to get farther with each step I took and I only psyched myself that each step drew me closer to camp, and with that, I braced up and walked faster, leaving my friends behind, as they preferred to go slower than i wanted. All i kept seeing was heads of over hundreds of corpers ahead of me. I kept at it and just shut the whole world out... and behold, I finally saw the camp gate ahead! Who would have thought I could feel such excitement on seeing the gate of captivity?
I couldn't even shower on getting to the hostel; I went straight to my bed.

In retrospect, however, I saw the endurance trek like the journey of life and got one or two lessons from it. To start with, I saw the vanity in material possession. To think that the late Awolowo's car, pictured above, was one of the bests in his life time, but now has very little of no value. It is not what we amass in possessions that speak in future and even when we are departed, but the impact we had in the lives of people and the roles we play in society; This is evident from the likes of not just Awolowo, but M.K.O Abiola, Mandela, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, etc. Though they are dead, their works and impacts are on record and live on. As much as prosperity is important, posterity is more important.

I also got a pictorial representation of the fact that the beginning of a journey, phase, project, etc, might be filled with excitements, certain expectations, etc, but what lies ahead will sometimes not be entertaining. We will not always know how demanding, exerting or difficult it will be, till we are in it.

Again, I saw that even though we go through the same or similar paths in life, experiences, perceptions and level of endurance vary for everyone in life. While some have it easy, others have it tough. Some give up early, some later, others cut corners and seek shortcuts and others keep pushing an pressing.

Furthermore, each step i took in my tired state made me more weary, but i encouraged myself that each step also took me closer and no time should be wasted brooding over my tiredness.

And lastly, I saw that because we start a journey with a person or group doesn't necessarily mean we have to go all the way together or complete the journey together. There might be separation at some point because a party is going too fast, too slow or they just grow apart.

Now, this is where real winners emerge; Irrespective of the pain, disappointments, exertion, etc, they never quit. When they feel like giving up, they look at the journey so far and tell themselves they can't quit haven gotten so far, nor throw those to the wind and let all that be in vain, and then they look forward at their destination or goal and keep moving. No matter how fast or slow, just no quitting. If they cant fly, they'd sprint, if they cant sprint, they'd run, or jog or walk or crawl... just no quitting.

Many people have given up just few steps to their breakthrough, destination or mark. As for me, I pray for the strength to carry on, no matter how difficult, and the grace to finish gallantly...




Friday, 22 August 2014

BEFITTING BURIAL

I have known, for some time now, that I see some things differently from the way majority see them. I question a lot of things and reason on why certain things, which others see as important, should be a norm.
There are also some practices that seem normal or necessary but are highly unimportant in my opinion. One of them is the concept of a befitting burial. I have heard the words "befitting burial" from movies, people and even read about them.

In my little mind, I'm of the opinion that resources should not be lavished on certain things, including a burial ceremony, in the manner that i see in the Nigerian society. This is because I believe no matter how old someone lived, they'd still be missed by very close relatives, and there'd still be a little pain, even though we are grateful they lived to a full age.
Besides, the dead is dead and gone and knows nothing, why not bury them decently and use such resources to do very meaningful things in the society or to better the lives of the living? This is my humble opinion though.

However, it is really surprising that on the demise of a person, resources that were hitherto not available, are pulled from all nooks and crannies by the deceased's family, to "honor" the departed soul by giving them a befitting burial. If this practice was restricted to the rich or wealthy in the society, it won't even be a topic on this blog, but the fact that people who lived very ordinary lives, some even lived and died in deprivation and penury, get to be given "befitting burials" daunts me.

The idea of a befitting burial has been portrayed in a particular light, as a necessity, like it is the passport that automatically grants one entry into paradise. In fact, many people seek loans for burials, like it's an investment.The irony of it all is that the resources that are used for many befitting burials could have saved the lives of many people, but as a result of unavailability of funds, many died.

 



Now, on the occasion of the burial, a great party is thrown, all sorts of uniform attires are worn, varieties of dishes are served, people dance heartily to music and all forms of show off are aired. This injudicious use of scarce resources and the fact that so many people do not care about the living, saddens me as a person. What a grave misplacement of priorities.

In conclusion,. this brings a lesson or two to mind. While we have the opportunity, we should live life to the fullest, albeit positively. Live, laugh, love, have fun, meet people, dwell on the good, let go of the bad and above all, give yourself a very befitting life, because you alone can give yourself that. And when you take the final bow, your befitting burial will be taken care of, free of charge...