I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson MandelaAt a time colonial forces and indigenous South Africans fought over land rights and freedoms, a courageous man spoke up for his people. He was imprisoned for decades but that didn’t deter him. His resilience contributed to a free South Africa. We call him Madiba.
It is pleasant to sit in the green wood,
and to watch the Sun in his chariot of gold,
and the Moon in her chariot of pearl.
Sweet is the scent of the hawthorn,
and sweet are the bluebells that hide in the valleys
and the heather that blows on the hill.
Yet love may be better than life,
I ask can the heart of nature be compared to the heart of man?
Poem: The Happy Wind
Greet the happy wind,
Tell him when I waved
My fingers got him bursted
When morning dew is upon the tree line
The sky is sometimes blue and grass is green
Far up the blue horizon the sun shine
Birds sing from the trees all morning
Yet the happy wind: timid and soft will bring
Her entourage to fly on their backs and wings
I open my curtains and window to feel and behold
The beautiful sight of trees, grass and happy wind
A perfect picture never to be imagined
Explaining the painting
This is the first in my paint-writing attempt. I like to paint and then write about the inspiration behind it. I’ve several imperfect drawings and paintings scattered here and there. Some are on the internet, some in the drawer, some under piles of books and others lost.
This is a painting of three palm trees under the hot sun, cloudy skies and strong wind. It may look like grasses on vases but on closer observation will reveal that it’s a view of the horizon. Initially I thought of featuring the Iroko as its greatness will play a better role on the little poem above. But the Iroko is perceived as a great tree and the king of trees in West Africa and it’s not common to see one. Three Iroko trees standing together will even be a bit of stretched imagination.
The bulk of work fell on determining the best layout for the skies. I’m sure no one can define perfectly any natural colour and infact those of the cloud. It will take more than human ingenuity or imagination to achieve that. So no painting can illustrate natural things exactly. Painters just assume. It might be sunny and the clouds blue, it might be rainy and it won’t. I made the passing clouds look like the skies by mixing two blue-based hues. But this is my own version of what the clouds look like.
What do you think? I’ll be doing more painting this weekend. It’s a beautiful morning here. Have a great weekend. ❤️💚
You’re going to go through tough times – that’s life. But I say, ‘Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.’ Joel Osteen.
A difficult time can be more readily endured if we retain the conviction that our existence holds a purpose. John Maxwell.
I love the light for it shows me the way to go, but I love the darkness more for it shows me the stars. Og Mandino.
We can’t speak about resilience without speaking about hope. Hope is the bedrock of resilience. Reeta Roy
You can stay fours days without food, but the minute you lose hope, you’re dead! Eliud Kipchoge
Always remember that when battles are like a flood there is a standard, a red line it cannot cross. We gain strength by overcoming obstacles.
Ever had to give up? Remember why you started at first. That purpose is the reason why you must persist. Have a great day.
Evening skies – sparkle of gold,
Brewing mills across the clouds,
While it may sail to faraway lands
At times you need to stop everything you are doing to sit by yourself and mend your broken wings.
Cold evening and a To do list
I sit outside. A cold evening out here with me. A community of crickets quizzing through the grassland. A gust of wind upon my face, swinging my helpless lamp back and forth. The crickets, just like myself must be musing over the changes in weather conditions. Before now the noon was hot. Strong wind blew hot air and it has been two weeks since we saw the last rain. So all is dry. The mud on the once flooded road is cracked up, exposing the debris. I overheard an elderly man speak that the harmattan will come a little bit earlier this year. To me it’s too early to predict. Maybe the earth is recovering after all. I think.
The year is far spent and almost over. Memories of New year’s eve still fresh on my mind. I remember my wish to start my graduate education and to support some friends and relatives with their endeavours. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck and had most plans canceled or postponed. In spite of that, I’ve made outstanding success in some areas. But the year is not over yet.
I’ve learned many things about relationships (dating). Sometimes it scares the trees out of my head to even think about those.
I’m not an expert when it comes to dating. In fact I’m not into one at the moment. I’ve observed my close friends try and it’s crystal clear that managing another person’s emotion(s) can be one huge task. Toxic people and relationships can suck the life out of other people. I’ve seen it happen. Yet I know that many connections can change things for the better.
Be nice to everyone. You never know who your in-laws are going to be.
We won’t know who can be of help tomorrow. Compassion and kindness are great virtues. It can open greater doors!
Ponder on this and have a goodnight. 💕
Of all the magic in the world, none is more powerful than love.
…And that’s if we accept that any other thing qualify as magic.
Love is a driving force. It can change things; perceptions and imaginations. Great achievements are accomplished through it. Great writers wrote about it. It’s something beautiful to love. Imagine what the world will look like when we love genuinely. Show love today.
Sometimes it’s hard to stop a rolling stone, but whenever it may roll, it always seems to find its way back home. Brett Boyett
Dear motherland, I’m proud to call you my home. I’m reminded of sunset; it tells that it ends where it began. From tree branches on the hilly countryside, I see shadows of land retreat with the setting sun. When the sun travels away, the shadows of trees and shrubs fall upon the ground, timid firmament blocked by passing grey clouds and day becomes a shadow of itself. Such a beautiful landscape and sight I’ll give all to behold every day.
Dancing figures of butterflies and fireflies contradict day and light. Light, dark. Sunlight, moonshine. Beautiful wings spread over this damp earth my fathers walked and tilled.
Everything is magical when I think of you, Africa. I genuinely love you.
My beautiful home sits up those ancient majestic hills and spread across fertile green valleys. A land carved by Providence itself, combining both the simplicity of the forest land and sophistication of human civilisation. When cold hands of night descend, the beauty is unmasked and seen through mist and moonshine. If you must know, you will wait for the moon. When the moon appears, she is dressed in white. It lets her light upon the great land and the vast wilderness. Forces of light and darkness may battle. I ponder on what courage that walk the night but queer fireflies that fly in droves and glitter randomly. Their light adds to the night’s beauty, which words cannot describe exactly. Then I ponder further, fearing for the future of this beautiful land and her people.
I wonder oh Africa, how much gold you worth and yet fall to the wicked hands of poverty. I wonder how you love, and in return, you are hated. I wonder why there’s so much but yet little to go around. I wonder if I’ll ever grow out of this love I’ve for you. I wonder if I can retain this loving mindset for man and nature forever. But how long should your children wait to become great again?
1. Nothing makes life sweeter than making people happy.
2. The people you help today become your soldiers in the battle of life tomorrow.
3. To invest in properties is good, but to invest in people is far better.
4. To make money, make people.
5. Your greatest trophies are the tears you wipe away from people’s faces not the things you acquire.
6. Your greatest achievement should be raising achievers.
7. People will defend, stand by you & honour you when they realise you value them.
8. Don’t let other people’s ungratefulness stop you from making others great.
Love can be crazy
Yet I am amused
I try to figure the words
You pelt me with,
When we spoke of love
It was zenith of all, everything
Days and nights
It fell in and out
Maybe this was right,
I look farther away
A pint of love on my breast
And strong hope waiting…
To behold another beginning
So I let this patient heart beat
While it wait for you
Time will surely fade
But I will wait for your return
I heard the Wind tell this story
Storyteller: Gather my friends. It’s time to tell a story. It’s time also to hear a tale. Gather by the fireside, warm yourselves. Bring the little ones to the center. Keep them more hospitable for the night, and her cold hands are nigh. Sit under the branches of the mango tree. From there, everyone can see streaks of moonlight on the grassland. As you watch the fire lick those dry wood, pay attention to this short tale of mine. I’ve heard the wind and sky tell it in different tongues, styles, and climes. Listen, because there may be a lesson or two. If not, it might just be another lullaby waiting to help a good night’s sleep! A good day ends with a good story. Will you like to tell me the lessons you picked? Ifochakpii!!
The Hippo and his seven wives
A long time ago, when things were not as it was today, there lived a proud Hippo chief. He had seven wives, as was the tradition for wealthy animals then. He had a secret name known only to his wives. They learned to keep it unknown to anyone.
One day the Hippo hosted a party, and when he made his speech, he put out a challenge to his village people. “I’m afraid my people if you can’t reveal my name, you have to go home hungry. The dishes here will only be available to all when you reveal my name!” The whole congregation was left stunned. All those mouth-watering dishes will be left unattended to. Ah! Well, some tried to guess his name but got it all wrong.
The animals dispersed hungry. And they say a hungry person is an angry person. Many weeks passed, and he hosted another feast. No one was able to reveal his name. Many animals guessed and were wrong. Then the Tortoise rose to speak. “Sir,” he started. “Since you have shamed us severally, can I ask what we stand to gain apart from the feast you have here?” The chief replied to him, “Well, I’ll give you my land and retire to live in the river!” It was a tough challenge. He believed that no one could get his name right. The crowd dispersed hungry again.
Now the Hippo and his wives had a favorite bathing stream, just by the foot of the remarkable baobab. It was a luxurious and private bathing spot acquired by the Hippo for his household.
One day the hippos went down to the stream for a dip. The Tortoise, well aware of their movement, dug and hid on the soft sand with his hard shell stuck out but disguised as stone. He waited and waited. At last, the hippos started back to the village. The chief led the way and was followed by the eldest wife. They went in a single file, thereby leaving the youngest wife behind.
When the last wife came to the soft sands, the Tortoise raised his shell a little so that she struck her foot on the hard surface and yelled: “Nnayi ukwu dim oma my husband, come and help me. I stuck my foot on a stone!” When the hippos finally left the scene, Tortoise ran back with joy.
A few weeks later, the hippos hosted another feast. They had fun mocking other animals. When it was time for name revealing, the Hippo marched majestically to the podium to allow animals to guess his name. All the animals tried, but none could get it. The Tortoise was the last to try.
“Your name is Nnayi ukwu dim oma!”
There was complete silence, broken by a round of applause and sudden feasting when the Hippo’s face dropped. Without words, the hippos marched to the river with their belongings. To this day, my friends lived in water. Never to return to land again!
Retold by Oke Iroegbu
Someone is an answer to your prayers as you are to others
Seasons: Things just don’t happen
One beautiful thing about life is: there are seasons for everything so things just don’t happen. Everything happens to serve different purposes. Even in nature there are seasons. There are times for flowers to blossom, time for the night and day and time to eat or rest. In West Africa we have the rainy season and dry season. Each season has a role to play and must fulfil it’s purpose.
Here is a story from ODM that talks about selflessness and compassion. The lessons in this story goes beyond self.
A man was out taking pictures of eagles on a Sunday afternoon in Bellevue, Nebraska in the United States when he witnessed a Sedan (car) containing 3 men which lost control while crossing rail road tracks. The vehicle is a fire hydrant (big container where water is stored to put out fire) and then landed upside down in an ice-cold pond. According to ABC News Omaha affiliate station, KETV the man said “The car just came right in front of me; they hit the fire hydrant and I don’t think they even touched the ground They were airborne”. The man heard the occupants screaming for help and immediately jumped into action. He panicked when he heard the voice of one of them say, “Get me out, it’s filling of water”. But he overcame his initial fear, took a dive into the freezing water and managed to pull one of the car door open. Immediately he did, water started gushing out of the car. The man who screamed for help started making his way out of the car. He pulled him and got him out. He pulled another man and there after pulled another man. Gradually, he got three men out of the overturned and submerged vehicle. The man who was later hailed as the hero for saving the lives of this three men, said he will always look back at the pictures he took that day and be thankful because his timing was right and that he was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
Everyone on earth is here for a purpose. No one is extra human or excess human being. Abhijit Naskar reasoned thus, “Without purpose, we are just good looking animals.” Life is a place of inter connectivity! You were created to be an answer to somebody’s prayer. You are someone’s bundle of joy and someone was made to be your bundle of joy!
Beginning and end
Light after dark
Dark before light
With dancing fireflies
And glittering stars
A shepherd’s lore
Down the country
Sheep and goats,
Green and gold,
Patches of life,
Water and fire,
Dust and wind,
Heaven and earth
All in fine contrast
But happy unison
Shallow roots shoot
Of life or death,
Again beginning and end
Beautiful Beirut and AUB
I’m writing about this lovely Mediterranean city because of my connection and attachment to it. I’ve seen several YouTube videos of it’s beautiful landscape and neighborhood. Beirut combines the tranquil setting of ancient history with the thrill of a modern city. I followed some Beirut based vlog channels and it’s always exciting to see another video made in this fine ancient city. Honestly I fell in love with Beirut.
The city lay on the foot of swift flowing and tumbling waters of the Mediterranean sea. AUB videos showed white beaches under the mild romance of sunshine. Date palms and coconuts, typical of such climate stand here and there. Perfect weather for outdoor reflection and relaxation, one unique only to Beirut’s position and location. Tall buildings block away the sun when the day was far spent. And just behind those skyscrapers you will find the view of spectacular mountains. I also saw restaurants preparing mouth watering dishes and surely this appealed to me. I love good food and admire places known for it. Paris and Beirut are my favourite good food cities in Europe and Asia respectively.
What actually brought my attention to the city at first was my application to the American University of Beirut (AUB). During this online application process I met compassionate and kind people who turned out to become friends. One in particular helped to keep me informed of school activities. Fortunately my application to the Master of Finance (MFIN) was accepted at the Olayan Business School (OSB). But for financial reasons I deferred this offer.
Few months ago Lebanon suffered from economic depression. The national currency lost its value and inflation went hyper. Food was scarce and cases of suicide was reported. At the background, reports of human rights abuses were rampant. Domestic maids who came from Africa and Asia were abused and many left unpaid for months long. Echoes of modern slavery rang out through this beautiful hilly country.
Early August, an explosion devastated the port and surrounding neighborhood. Hundreds died and more went missing. The wounded was in thousands. Hospitals and medical centres were overwhelmed. It was horrific. The video I saw captured the fumes as it enveloped the port, sending shattered glasses and debris across it. Cars and buildings were overturned and damaged. The cost of lives and property destroyed in this blast was in millions of USD.
Pray for Beirut
I read some heartwarming news. Several countries sent aid to Beirut. Greece, France and others contributed to this aid. Even the French President visited Beirut. This shows that the world stood with the people of Lebanon at this trying time. I also read promises made by other nations and corporate individuals.
No matter what led to the explosion or what really happened on that fateful day; the reaction and aid from the international community proved that Lebanon is truly loved. I only hope that the cruel treatment of domestic workers are stopped and that the radiant beauty of this city shine forth upon her residents. I’ll always remember Beirut in my prayers.
I watch pretty stars glitter
From this fine little window,
When night a perfect picture
Hung across the wide horizon
Fireflies dance around light bulbs
Mighty shadows cast upon my paper
Distracting a work full of life and art
Yet I stare out to behold stars glitter
Wasn’t my love enough for you?
In my mind I had concluded that you loved only me,
I thought you were cut from a different cloth,
Like you were not the same like everyone I’ve met.
But clearly, I was lying to myself,
You loved everybody like a campaigning candidate.
I could tell from my basic instincts that the universe loved you also.
You were a loaded gun and I was just a boy,
Because of lust and envy,
They took you for granted, like you were a cheap toy.
Only if I had the courage of pulling the trigger,
I’d had shot you on your head just to blow out your weak brain.
With my mind and heart filled with only love,
I hadn’t imagined my head searching for love lost,
As the absence of love was playing on your mind.
You preferred games over love,
I had promised myself to love you eternally,
I had a feeling that you were exceptional,
Like you were totally different from the rest.
I discovered that I was bluffing,
Only lying to myself, feeding my mind with toxic waste.
You proved me that my love was not enough for you,
I never imagined that you were promiscuous.
You had me believing that I mattered the most,
Of course you were buying my heart.
Our love withered so fast, before the flowers I had on my hands.
It only lasted for just a moment and nothing was left for me,
It was clear that the light was about to reach the night.
My tender love lasted for just a moment,
A moment that cost me,
Had me doubting a lot around me,
I had lost trust on everything, everyone.
Nothing was left on me,
Nothing was left for me.
Admitting imperfections are great ways to becoming a better person, people and leaders.
City of Talents and Resilient people
I was born and raised in Ogbor hill, a suburb of Aba, a city in Southern Nigeria. Aba is known for its industry and export of labour to many Nigerian cities and overseas. The city is full of talents and all manner of craftsmen and women live in it. As a manufacturing town, traders and private businesses such as leather works, pottery, brick, electronics, food processing, plastics, metal, cosmetics, distilleries, and fabric call the city home. Most of these factories are owned by private residents. Many foreigners also trade in the city’s large markets and the enterprising spirit in Aba can be likened to none in Nigeria. The city itself is a big market. Aba youth is highly skilled. It’s common to see graduates turn to business as means of livelihood. This enterprising spirit led many to pick up different skills and develop talents to fit in with Aba’s resilient business environment.
Little is done to encourage the budding enterprise which has been in the city for decades. Yet Aba can contribute to Nigeria’s economic growth if her potentials are well harnessed.
Sadly I remember dead startups and factories and even more on their way to moribundity.
Like most African cities, government neglect is common. Lack of proper economic planning and public infrastructure kept the city running in circles. With no visible economic plan on ground, Aba records low growth and decline in economic activities each year. In civilized economies, a city that shows promising private ventures involved in wealth creation and industrialization is aided by the government. When government steps in, it should be to create an enabling business environment. But this is not always so. There are key areas to focus on should the government decide to fix Aba’s unique economic landscape. First and foremost, good road network and stable electricity should be in place. Sadly, Aba’s road and drainage systems are in a state of limbo and contributes to road accidents recorded each year. In Aba electricity distribution is epileptic, or let me put it in milder words: not consistent. This push away investors and increases cost of production as businesses resort to generators for power.
The Way forward?
The two best ways to start government intervention is by bringing uninterrupted power supply and building good roads in Aba. This two can go a long way in encouraging businesses and startups. Providing clean water, markets, tax incentives and holidays, patronising local content will help too.
Not only will good road networks encourage inter state trading, it will enable access and more businesses to thrive in rural places where electricity is cheaper. If steady electricity is achieved, government can work to reduce the electricity rates paid by startups and businesses.
Despite years of government neglect, the city’s people had grown thick skin to negligence and the saying that life must find a way vividly applies to the city’s hustle and bustle. Aba will continue to live because it is a city made resilient and popular by her own people.
Sometimes those who crown kings don’t look like kings and may never become kings but they can help one wear the crown.
A short story
There was a poor man who wrote a book at the age of 40 and decided to launch it on his birthday. He had no money to fund the launching and so he decided to seek help from a millionaire in his community.
He made a visit to the millionaire’s home and after they exchanged pleasantries, he told his host what brought him. The millionaire told him to take out a piece of paper and pen. He said, “I’ll give you a test. If you pass it, I’ll give you the money you need and if you fail, I’ll still give you the money”. He then told him to write down the names of 10 people who could give him 10k each for his book during the launch. Surprisingly, the man could not write even 3 names.
Relationship is a currency
It’s not enough to have talent and skills. But there is much gain in building valuable relationships. A wise man once said, your network is directly proportional to your net worth.
Relationship is a stream of income.
Everything in life actually reproduces on the basis of relationship. Men are lifted through men. Many are talented but lack the right direction and person to announce them.
Who one knows matters a lot in life. There are heights and opportunities one will never attain if one don’t understand the power of keeping valuable relationships. Classmates and colleagues at work may be the ones that will lead one to his/her destiny helper because you have no idea who they know.
It takes just a recommendation to change a story. Don’t despise anyone. They might be needed one day.
An old man once told me the story of how as a young man, his mother used to ask him: “What is the most important part of your body?” Through the years, he would take a guess at what he thought was the correct answer. First time, his answer was: “The ears.” The mother replied: “No, many people are deaf. But you keep it and I’ll ask you soon again.” Several years passed before she asked him again. His second answer was: “My eyes”. The mother told him: “You are learning fast, but the answer is not correct, there are many people who are blind.”
Then a year later, his father died. Everybody was hurt. Everybody was crying. Then the mother looked at the graveside and when it was their turn to say their final goodbye to their father, she asked him, “Do you know the most important body part yet, my son? He was shocked when she asked him by the graveside. The mother said to him: “Don’t be confused or shocked. This question is very important now and it shows you have really lived in your life. For every body part you gave me in the past, I have told you that you were wrong and I have given you an example why. But today is the day you need to learn this important lesson.” Then the mother looked down at him and threw her head to his shoulder and hugged him. With tears in her eyes, she said “My son, the most important part of your body is your shoulder.”
Wow! This young man was forced to ask: “Mum, it is because it holds up my head?” She replied, “No, it is because it can hold the head of a friend or a loved one when they cry. Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on sometimes in life. I only hope that you have enough love and friends that you will always have a shoulder to cry on when you need it.” There and then this young man knew the most important body part is not a selfish one. It is made for others and not for yourself. It is sympathetic to the pain of others.
People will forget what you said and did. But people will never forget how you made them feel in their crises times. Good friends are like stars, you don’t always see them, but you always know them when they around you. No wonder a wise man said “If you want to be wisely selfish, care for others.” Yes! It will come back for you. Be someone’s shoulder today.
Culled and editted from the ODM.
Dark clouds slowly grow and gather,
The fast wind starts her grim asunder,
Along her path, she flung away things; rooftops and paper
So that unhappy owners may come looking for them later
When spiders unite they can tie down a lion – Ethiopian Proverb.
None of us is as smart as all of us – Ken Blanchard.
Mechanics of Savings and Financial Intermediation
Savings as described by financial analysts are the portion of income which are not used for consumption expenditures. They are referred to as investments, because huge portions of such savings in financial institutions constitute the capital extended to businesses, governments, individuals and other entities as loans. This is done through the process of financial intermediation. Financial intermediation involves three key parties, the Surplus Economic units, the Deficit Economic Units and the Financial Institutions. The SU’s are the economic units that their current income exceed their current consumption expenditure thereby leaving them with more funds. The DU’s are the economic units that their current consumption expenditure exceeds their current income thereby arousing their desire to borrow to supplement their income. The SU’s and the DU’s do not have direct contact, rather a medium or some kind of intercession is provided by financial institutions. Both SU’s and DU’s can be governments, private individuals, businesses or firms etc. Savings is an important factor in any economy and as such its role can not be overemphasized.
What the Bible says about Savings
The Bible teaches that saving money is a wise practice for many different reasons. God is our source and provider for everything we need.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). One of the main ways God provides for us is through money, and it is our job to steward that money well (Matthew 25:14– 27). We are accountable to God for how we use everything He gives us in this life, including money. Saving money demonstrates good stewardship of the resources God gives us. Saving money allows us to be prepared for the future, and being prepared for the future is good. Proverbs 6:6–8 shows us that this principle is lived out even in nature: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and its food at harvest.”
Planning ahead and saving money makes it easier to accomplish goals and allows us to be more effective in ministry (see 1 Corinthians 16:2). When we don’t plan ahead and save money, we are more prone to go into debt, which the Bible tells us is unwise (Proverbs 22:7). Of course, there are plenty of wrong motives for saving money. If we’re saving money out of
fear of the future, it shows we’re not really trusting God to provide (see Luke 12:7; 2 Timothy 1:7). Miserliness is sin, and it’s foolish and arrogant to make money our security. “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.” (Proverbs 18:11), yet riches “will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” ( Proverbs 23:5). 1 Timothy 6:10 warns against greed, saying, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” To fully understand the value of saving money,
we must remember what the Bible says about giving. God desires His people to be cheerful givers (2 Corinthians 9:7). It’s impossible to out- give God! “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). Sometimes when God gives us things, be it money or something else, it’s intended for us to give away. Other times, He gives us things that are meant for us to keep for ourselves and use in His service and for His glory. It’s wise to hold everything God gives us loosely so that we can give it away if He asks us to.
More Study Texts:
1st Corinthians 16:2
Birthdays are rare
They come once in a year
Unique Birthday: A set of Eights!
Ah, it’s today. 8th day of 8th month of the year 2020. I usually write poems or stories to celebrate but this year’s birthday is unique. So instead of a poem I’ll muse about the actual numbers that made my birthdate special. My birth certificate reads that I was born on 8.24 AM in the year 198*. Even the minutes are multiples of 8, haha! If I had to scribble out my birthdate it will read thus: 8.24 AM, 8/8/8*. One princess from the United Kingdom share exactly this day with me.
How do I feel?
‘So how does it feel to be a year older?’ a close friend had asked me over the phone. I knew it was a rhetorical question meant to reflect on what I’ve done with my time and self since the last birthday. Normally I would have said I feel nothing since the question focused on my self. Personal achievements are not a yardstick to measure overall success.
‘I feel special. I feel alive. I feel fulfilled and I hope for better things to come, not just for me but for every good person.’ To be honest this is what I feel, at least for these past few months. The year 2020 had been a tough one. It brought death, disease, drought, and man-made disaster. Poverty is still at large. Many lost loved ones. I lost a sister, an uncle and some relatives and friends. The lessons I picked broke the mirror called self. I started engaging in humanitarian work and volunteering online for charities, foundations and organizations. This threw me out of my introvert shell. I met great people who had become a strong network. The opportunities I sought before the pandemic came calling and I grabbed them with both hands. I’m glad to be helping other people with my talents, no matter how little. That’s what I count as real achievement.
So I won’t dwell or reflect on my personal success. If I do, I’ll say I achieved very little this past year.
What do you wish for? This is the big birthday question. No one can give an appropriate answer in one response. At the moment, it’s futile to wish for some things. Nevertheless, I’m just happy to see others happy and successful.
So I make this wish for myself today; for longlife to continue in service to my faith, my nation and humanity, for prosperity to help the impoverished, destitute and be the voice of the voiceless, and for success to inspire children and other youth around the world. Finally, I wish that the world may know tolerance, peace and love. I wish myself a happy birthday.
When you call, your sound rent through the wind
Whispers, songs of the wild, emissary of mother Nature
You send birds, they ‘caw-caw‘, they fly the blue clouds
Making the skies their tuft, and you: their leisure
Green trees, red flowers, purple feathers, all in perfect unison
You call to your own, you Baobab, Bee and Flamboyant, you Cheetah,
We listen, we write, we dream of the call, we listen and write again
The days run out, they run fast into the current of the river
From wild palms, monkeys dance and display their weird talents
In your joyful reverie you laugh at their circus and happy lust
Each day they play, each day they lived and so each day went
You engage all, blue clouds, buzzing bees and seeds that will burst
Down below, beautiful, fine and awesome things exist
Crickets and hoppers play about, worms crawl on the clay
In the quiet mornings the sun must rise to take off the mist
All day and night, there is your song, one we can not say
In summer, the hot sun shimmer and shine all day
The blue skies are unperturbed, alligators lay lazy
And mid day, snakes beat the traffic, they make hay
All and all, at the end, you make your lively circus busy
The African Storytelling Tradition
When I, the storyteller, say: Ifochakpii! You, the audience, will reply, Waa!! (Pronounced as ‘War!’) This is the Igbo people’s storytelling tradition. There are different ways of introducing a story to the audience. To the Igbo people, it starts with a chant-like ranting that tries to capture all present attention. So the storyteller greets his audience in that manner as they reply to him in excitement. The storytelling mood is a lively one, and such introit may play a role in keeping the spirit so.
Storytelling is a unique culture in Africa. Storytellers are revered across the land. We may compare them to the present day actors because they act. I can compare storytelling to modern-day stage drama. Storytelling is respected because it passes ancient knowledge and wisdom from one generation to another. It’s a time when everybody, young and old, gathers to listen and learn about the tradition of a place and life’s virtues through stories told by their ancestors. Though much of these stories have been lost or modified with time, the morals, which is the crux, remain intact. Sometimes they act as bedtime stories meant to aid or lull people to sleep. All over the world, storytelling precedes reading.
Tortoise: Main Villain & Hero
Growing up in West Africa, I learned that the Tortoise is the dominant character in most stories. He is called Mbo or Mbe in Igbo. Some clans gave him, his wife, and children other names. His wife is called Alibo in Ovim. I can’t remember his son’s name, but it may not matter for now. The Tortoise plays funny and shrewd roles. He is generally perceived as a cheat who goes about causing mischief for others. Sometimes he gets to win; other times, he is a loser and a lesson for the little ones. The Tortoise has been featured in many stories, few I can remember myself. He has duped the Boar in one account, deceived the host of birds that lent him a feather each, cursed the spider that saved him from the ghost town, and dealt with spirits. Hee is a star in the African folklore scenario.
Yet why he was chosen for these excellent roles is what I have not been able to understand. We have bigger, faster, smarter, and funnier animals, but the Tortoise was picked to play lead roles in most of West Africa’s traditional folklore. Thee Tortoise is a slow, lazy, and seemingly dumb animal, but in tales, he is a kingmaker, a genius, or the wise one. Looks are truly deceptive in African folklore.
Why should we preserve stories?
Apart from the Tortoise that fell from the birds’ firmament party, no one in reality and fiction had the privilege of falling from the skies. What I mean is that nothing happens. Every story serves a purpose, be it fact or fiction. And no society is complete without a history, a story. So stories are careful documentation, written or oral. We have records and traditions to discuss today because people had kept accounts and details of them. I’ll write more on this topic in a separate blog post.
For now, can you tell me which African story is your favorite?
When shadows are seen around
It shows gathering or dispersing,
Dancing or wrestling, singing or talking.
Shadows clone for good or evil
As a hefty hoe till the soft soil
Her shadow strikes things dead
Under the moon’s watchful eyes on this land,
Shadows of branches on the ground
Were green trees during the noon
Timid skies tower over all, they shine on fair nuns
But they become darkest of witches in the night
Fruits on trees seem round like metal pots,
Suspended from tree branches
Its shadows draw teen pregnancies
Yet life is magnified under the shadow;
A reality or farce, made of a shadow’s sorrow
– Friends are family we chose for ourselves.
I didn’t forget about the World Friends Day. I do write about friendship because it’s dear to me. I was extremely busy with personal and family errands. I also volunteer online for a company based in North America, and so had little time to pen my stories, thoughts and poems. At the end of each day, I’m left weak and tired. So I sleep earlier nowadays.
Friends are Family…
I’ve so many friends. Strangely, my friends are not limited to street, school, church pals or any human acquaintance made. I’ve adorable friends too: babies and little children, dogs, birds, ants, even plants and trees. To me, friendship goes beyond the physical. It’s a mutual thing ordained with understanding, respect and loyalty. It falls in-between trust and love. Real friends can give up anything, even their life for one another. Take, for instance, the story of Antonio and Bassanio in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.
Everybody is capable of friendship
Someone, somewhere look up to you. It might be a person or a pet. It might be the old milkman walking by your window to see you smile and say good morning. It might be a pair of rose flowers dangling in a vase waiting for its daily dose of water and care. It could be anyone.
I ask that you check on your friends. Times are tough. A simple call or chat can bring back hope to the heartbroken or depressed. Hope is a strong force. Remain a loyal and trustworthy friend to someone. You might be the reason someone looks forward to another day.
Here is to wish you, my friends and family, what I should have these past few days: Happy belated Friendship Day. And I love you so much. Stay safe.
August is a beautiful month and my month of birth. In seven days time I’ll be a year older. Have a beautiful month!