TODAY is my birthday! I thank God for His mercy.
From the seeming endless valleys of travails; to the promising heights of triumphs, 24th December affords me a rare opportunity to reflect on how far the past has fared. It is also an avenue to picture into the fortunes, hopes and desires of a future which best is yet to come. It is no doubt a period to ponder, especially, the physical thistles and the psychological hardness, not hardship, of a journey of life which, in many instances, has attempted to dilute my faith; and to speak into the time to come with some certitude of fun and cheer. Most importantly, it is always a period to, with a grateful mind, appreciate those who have in one way or the other added value to my life as well as tender unreserved apologies to those I have truly, or inadvertently, even, falsely, offended.
As always, I remember my late grandmother, Ajiweda Ola Komolafe, for her strength, skill and toilsome efforts at seeing me come this far in life. Without doubt, grandma did her best for me and I will remain eternally grateful to her for letting our paths cross. And, to my treasured parents and siblings, my lovely wife, my two little kids, and, indeed, all those who, despite the winding and the wearisome nature of the journey, have continued to unquestioningly assure me that the One who made me would never leave me helpless, I say: the end is not now!
Apart from my articles, like ‘Oladele Olasore at 70’ ( ThisDay , February 18, 2005); and ‘ Afenifere: Once Upon An Identity’ ( Daily Sun , January 6, 2009) which have, to an understandable extent, captured some important aspects of my journey through life, if it pleases the Lord to tarry in His second coming, other yet-to-be-addressed issues will be appropriately dealt with at an opportune time.
Yes! Some may be wondering why abiodun KOMOLAFE is writing this somewhat ‘self-praise’ piece on his birthday. The riddle of the present age in Nigeria where people don’t remember to honour perceptively small men, no matter how gifted or endowed, is a sad reality which we just have to continue to live with. Nonetheless, it is indeed with a heart full of praise that this piece is written, essentially, to celebrate God, not myself. In truth, it is meant to give a practical exhibition of me as a happy man, irrespective of what has; even what may, come my way.
ALSO READ: Merry Christmas To You All!
Lou Erickson describes life as “a taxi” which “meter just keeps a-ticking whether you are getting somewhere or just standing still.” If this is true, then, “what is man that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visiteth him?” Indeed, what is in this sad, sick and insane world that mortals remember their dates of birth with so much pomp and pageantry? As a matter of fact, is life worth its struggles?
In her book, ‘Empress’, Shan Sa describes life as “a transparent pearl, a star revolving slowly on its own axis.” To Thomas Carlyle, life is “not really a mutual helpfulness” but a “fair competition cloaked under due laws of war.” In Jarod Kintz’s view, the year of one’s birth marks only his “entry into the world” while other years where he proves his worth “are the ones worth celebrating.” To Sholom Aleichem, this “mutual hostility” is “a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.”
In 1890, Crowfoot on his deathbed famously referred to life as the “flash of a firefly in the night”; “the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime”; and “the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Henry Longfellow believes that age is “opportunity no less than youth itself, though in another dress.” According to him, “as the evening twilight fades away, the sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.” Little wonder the Psalmist prayed God to “teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Forty-something years ago, this man was born into this fated part of the wide, wild world. As I was later in life told, Nigeria’s morning as an independent nation was safe, healthy and functional. It was indeed a garden where all kinds of flowers could glow and grow; far better than what has now become her defining characteristic. No thanks to her formerly-shoeless-now-clueless handlers. Unlike our accidental leaders who have unwittingly debased governance into disgust, the Obafemi Awolowo, the Nnamdi Azikiwe and the Ahmadu Bello were first-rate leaders who perfectly understood the culture, context and the contents of a multiracial and multicultural ‘mere geographical expression’ like Nigeria and were as such selfless in their choices and unconditional in their service to fatherland. Though I did not know how Nigeria’s ‘no victor, no vanquished’ unCivil War was fought and won, I grew up to learn that the roles played by these foremost nationalists helped a great deal in keeping us together as a nation and cementing our relationship as a people bound together by common faith.
On this anniversary of my birth, I remember Nigeria, the land of my birth and I ask: what went wrong that the Father Christmas of those thrilling days has suddenly lost the essence of his gifts and why has Nigeria become one big racket where people opportunistically search for charades that only stagger their imagination? Why has integrity become a casualty of entrenched deceit in the land that once flowed with milk, honey, growth and civility? Why is the leadership failing woefully in its responsibilities and why is the followership only gnashing its teeth in questionable submission to the caprices of the “nerve grating cacophony of sycophantic hangers-on who have made a growth industry of the business of decking the president in ill-fitting superlative attire”? And, with the way the country is being crudely run, any hope for glorious days in sight?
Without mincing words, we are where we are because, unlike the Awolowo of our enviable past, we now have vampires in power; those who, for obvious reasons, are deficient in the sacred characteristic of distinguishing between the theory of their credo and the actuality of their praxis. Briers and scorpions; men with poor dignity have turned Nigeria into a darkroom where negatives are developed and good governance has practically taken flight. Like Siamese twins on Christmas picnic, impudent and stiff-hearted politicians are not only controlling the affairs of our country, we as a people have also continued to watch in bewildered amusement as dear fatherland hemorrhages from failure of structure and scattered organogram.
It is a statement of fact that true leaders don’t lead by boastful claims but by compassionate and inspiring examples. Strangely, ours is now a mysterious country, comprising men with no fixed identity; wolves in whose eyes traveling on a straight course amounts to sin. In our fated clime, cake-sharing camp followers are generously rewarded for wallowing in fatal paradoxes while statesmen are labeled alarmists and secessionists for daring to denounce cluelessness in governance. And, with a history of evidential backwardness, enveloped in guerrilla governance and hereditary fantasies, nothing works any longer. Today, if it’s not about one comic hero sweatingly alleging the purchase of ‘two beds with N100 million’, it is about another reluctant hero elsewhere devising dubious means of making the Hallowed Chambers uninhabitable for those constitutionally empowered to do the business of lawmaking in it. It is this sad and melancholy prospects of decay that have thrown up desperate politicians (like Iyiola Omisore), rapacious chameleons (like Dieppriye Alameseigha), troublers of our Israel (like Musliu Obanikoro), unstable-as-water creatures (like Orji Uzor Kalu) and crafty characters (like Buruji Kashamu). In any case; and, as I wrote elsewhere, since the ‘Good People’ are having at the helm of affairs of this ‘Great Nation’ a zoologist whose professional destiny is tied to the kingdom of pests and rodents, we must bear in mind that dealing with human beings and their consciousness, especially, under “very sad and unusual circumstances”, may not be as easy and as straightforward as we think. It’s therefore in our best interest to understand!
Charles Swindoll was right: “anything under God’s control is never out of control.” So, Eternal Rock of Ages, as I take yet another bold step into the journey of my life, teach me to live with You, not without You. Prince of Peace, my times are in Your hands, let me not come into this world in vain. Protect me and protect Your interest in my life; and let the remaining part of my years on earth be filled with unstoppable testimonies.
Jehovah El-Shaddai, I read in Your Book that Methuselah lived a total of 969 years and that it was recorded for him as being the only man to have lived the longest while King David who spent only 70 years on earth ended up being one of the most important figures in Jewish history, the greatest ruler of Israel and ancestor of the Lord. Moses and Joshua lived for 120 and 110 years respectively and left indelible marks in the sand of time. On the other hand, John the Baptist and Stephen lived for only 30 years each but the impact of their lives continues to be felt by successive generations, including mine. Therefore, my Lord and my God, teach me how not to live like Methuselah whose only known accomplishment was longevity but grant me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live an impactful life like William Marconi who ended up being the inventor of Wireless Telegraphy. The Fourth Man in the Furnace, create in me the spirit of love and make my life as exciting as lives and times of Maximilien de Robespierre, Raoul Wallenberg, Lech Walesa, Nelson Mandela, Bab Ruth, William Stephenson and, of course, our own Awolowo who have variously demonstrated that age could never be an impediment to making the world a better place to live in.
Offspring of David, I am not oblivious to the fact that dear country is at present immersed in the messy and murky waters of self-inflicted intrigues and bellicose narratives. But, Our Help in Ages Past, Your miraculous intervention in the situation of Samaria is a ready assurance that all hope is not lost on Nigeria. Therefore, even if a whole destiny at present seems broken as a result of our rulers’ inactive approach to issues of governance, give us hope of a greater Nigeria; of a country that will neither wear out nor rust out; and of a country gloriously conquering, not miserably failing! Even, if Nigeria now ranks, not only as one of the world’s least prosperous countries but also one of Africa’s poorest nations, in Your infinite mercies, give us a leadership that works and a country that will bang-up, not hang-up. Even, if our president nauseatingly disobeys the rule of law and his subordinates ridicule humanity with brazen artificiality, O Lord God of Elijah, teach these ‘current champions’ to learn from the tragic and fatal mistakes of rulers like Kings Nebukkadenezzar, Ahab and Saul, and what they can do to chart courses that will end up glorifying Your Holy Name. Jehovah Elohim, let our rulers encounter You like Saul, that “zealous” Pharisee who “intensely persecuted” the followers of Jesus, on his way to Damascus. The Helper of the Helpless, as we enter another defining moment in the life of this nation, take away from us all ‘while men slept’ challenges and give us God-fearing leaders; leaders who have honour and leaders who will not lie!
Consolation of Israel, I have had cause to weep in the past. But I do not want to weep anymore! So, Balm of Gilead, the only One that makes the wounded whole, into Your able hands I commend my family and my future: as I continue on this divinely-ordained path of valuable worth and perennial validity, teach me to sculpt my existence into something bright, beautiful, wonderful and interesting to the extent that, peradventure, this “uncharted territory” is flashed before my eyes, it will be worth watching.
And, because He lives, powers, assigned to ridicule me before men, I am not your candidate. BACKFIRE!
*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (email@example.com)
Published in Daily Independent, Jan. 8, 2015.