I was at Gurara Falls!

​Too much work and no play will eventually make Jack to not only be a dull boy but also, a petty non-entity!

This was the rationale behind how me and few colleagues at the Nigerian Law school, Abuja decided to visit Gurara Falls today for a picnic. Gurara Falls is the foremost tourists’ attraction located in Niger state. 

We had so much fun nobody on this trip would forget in a hurry. It was memorable. I was amazed at the sights. Nigeria is too blessed with natural resources, we don’t even know our own worth. 

Geographically, it is located enroute Suleja and Minna(state capital) road, accommodating a space spanning about 200 meters. Gurara river is a major tributary of the famed River Niger.

Climbing the various mountains and maneuvering through the different rocks is a lot of exercise for the body, and it’s been said to have therapeutic effect.

Such a natural habitat with lots of big trees, leaves, shrubberies, rocks and water is just too pristine and idyllic. It has a special capacity to heal the human body, spirit and soul. I was inspired to write this article while at the Falls, another testament to the kind of special capacity I’m talking about.

However, as perfect as Gurara is, there are still projects the government and corporate bodies could carry out there in order to make the Falls a cynosure of all eyes. 

For example, nothing stops the place from being turned into a full-blown resort. I noticed today that when our provisions finished at a point, we needed to buy water. The sun was much and people were really thirsty but there was no such place designated for such business. 

There should be adequate security within and outside the environment. Anything as good as that deserves to be guarded jealously, especially in this era of terrorist attacks.

Such a major tourist attraction, and in fact, very close to the state capital deserves a 5, if not a 7-star hotel. I sincerely hope the Niger state government would get to work on that.

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The most pious youth ‘on da block.’

The idea of God to me has always been a supreme being who should be known & communed with individually, by every individual. I’ve never really been at home with the idea of putting all my spiritual hopes in a man, such as a pastor, not even a prophet.

Also, the idea of going to church every Sunday in my nicest frocks, looking all prim and proper while obeying every order from the pastor as is usual here in Africa has never been attractive to me. We tend to do convenient things for God and even sometimes oppress our brethren who are poorer than us. While people put up with these calm appearances, a whole lot of politics, schematics and logistics go on behind the scenes of the altar. This also doesn’t appeal to me.

I happened to have attended while growing up, one of these traditional christian churches where the rigid ideals are upheld. So there was this ‘prim gentleman’ in our church back then called Mr Dimeji (surname intentionally withheld to avoid easy identification) who was the youth leader. He would stand on the front porch of the church and call out emphatically (deliberately so the church elders would notice), names of all the youths trying to avoid youth meetings.

My brother and I, immediately after service would have entered the car and be waiting for mum to finish at her own women leaders’ meetings. There were some other youths like us who would be hiding in their parents’ cars after the normal church service. Some would dash home immediately after service.

Now, it wasn’t that we were as stubborn or always uncooperative but these youth meetings were most times too boring and unnecessarily long. To have a long meeting of 1 or 2 hours after a usually long Sunday service is always like eternity to anybody, especially youths. It was torture. Most importantly, some of us had advanced several degrees more academically, morally and even spiritually than this youth leader called Mr Dimeji. Deep down, we were not engaged. He became our head without an election. He was just there naturally, probably because he was among the few oldest bachelors.

This youth leader called Mr Dimeji would most readily run after those youths who were rushing home after service. He didn’t do it in a dignified way. Rather, he would scream their names in front of the whole church, making the parents know their children were avoiding commitments. Sometimes he would spread his assault towards those of us in the cars, even coming to preach to us why we should come to youth meetings. Another bad idea about these meetings was that they were held every week for no tangible reason.

Actually, I attended some of the youth meetings after being talked into it by my mum (who I always respected), but I was soon discouraged as we were not actively engaged. The meetings would drag on for an hour or more and Mr Dimeji would be the only one talking, new sermons that meant nothing to our personal lives. We didn’t need any such schooling. The young man didn’t even have the exposure of most of us present there.

The high point was when we discovered soon enough that this Mr Dimeji impregnated a lady he was yet to marry. The craziest thing was that the lady was alleged to not even be of christian faith. The lady was said to be a muslim. Mr Dimeji stopped attending the church after that saga. Probably, he was too ashamed or he didn’t want to face the people. I noticed everyone had a question or two they wanted to clarify from the horse’s mouth. Everyone was dazed. Oh, what a cracker!

This was a gentleman who taught in the bible school, gave the church sermons on special Sundays, even at the annual youth anniversaries. This was a youth leader who the whole church (the elders I mean, not majority of youths) looked up to. This was the young man who represented the youth movement, even those of us who didn’t fancy the meetings.

After he stopped attending church, I never met or saw him, for several years to come. Till late last year (Dec. 4th, 2015) at my mum’s burial when someone tapped my back. I looked back and it turned out to be Mr Dimeji. Oh, what a cracker again! How he heard about my mum’s incidence, I don’t know for sure. Haven’t seen him again ever since to clarify the question(s).

Many people are like Mr Dimeji. They hide under the cloak of religion albeit, filled with iniquity deep down. The worst part is the amount of people they drag down with themselves. The number of those who wrongly hold them as role models. The innocent ones who sheepishly follow these dirty lots. One or two incidents of youths impregnating each other quickly followed that Mr Dimeji incidence. It was the prototype of a bad example.

What’s worst, people like Mr Dimeji are experts at making better folks feel inferior to them. They talk about hell as if it was made & designed for the listeners/congregation. They make you miserable, make you think you’re so bad, even dangerous to yourself. They’re always quick to remind you of your inadequacies. Watch out for people like Mr Dimeji, they’re everywhere. With their self-righteous mentality, they can drive you to an edge, the edge of extinction, never to be heard or seen again.

Life Is War

Life is war

Life is war. I’m fighting for my life.
So when you call my phone and I don’t answer,
Don’t be vexed because I might be fighting for my life.

When I need your help and you disappoint me,
I quickly understand because just like me,
You’re simply fighting for your life.

We have different wars and battles to fight,
I don’t know what war you’re fighting, you don’t know mine,
But we’re united in the fact that we’re simply fighting for our lives.

Some people live their lives smiling most times, while some cry most times,
Life’s an unbalanced scale, it treats people differently.
When sadness comes, reminisce on the good times.

It is folly for a man to laugh all the time, even when happy,
For how could you know if your neighbour is mourning?
For life is war and we’re all fighting for our lives.

A brush with death (part 2)

It is not life itself that’s so important. It’s about living rightly!
-Anonymous

Today is my anniversary. An unusual anniversary. Today marks one year since I had that life-threatening car accident on the morning of August 13, 2015. It was a bright Thursday morning.

I had a bad feeling that day when I woke up. Even though I had planned since the previous week to travel and drive myself the to school, I woke up & suddenly didn’t feel like making the journey again.

I went back into the house to call my dad’s attention to what I thought was a bad sound from the car engine. He played down my worries & reassured me nothing was wrong with the car. With that in mind, I zoomed off.

I got into the middle of Iwo road and a lot of people looking for free ride to Osun state beckoned me to stop. I carried nobody. I still can’t fathom whether that was the best or worst decision I ever made. For if I had stopped to give a lift, perhaps the danger would pass me by. Or perhaps, by the time I started speeding the passenger would have cautioned me.

On the other hand, if I stopped to pick someone and the accident happened same way, what if I survive and the passenger dies? If I were to decide, I’d want to believe the second option. Going by the suddenness of the accident (it all happened under a slit second), the vehicle motion and impact on the rock inside the roadside bush, it was likely any passenger would have died or broken a leg at least.

Besides, a careless passenger would not have used the seat-belt. I wouldn’t have told my passenger to use the belt. Back then, I merely used it because I was fresh from driving school & my teachers harped on it. It was a thing of instincts, not because I ever thought the safety belts could ever save my life. It was more of following a norm than of careful thought.

I drove with speed. One of my cool friends who was the President of Prima Strata- an educational club in my Faculty, was putting up an induction party that night for inductees. I was a club member so he had called to invite me and asked to use my car for dropping ladies going home late. With all that in mind, I thought more about the late-night party as I drove and less about handling the car in my charge.

I had planned being in school till the next day even though I told my parents I’d be back home same day. (I knew they’d persuade me to be home that day so I simply said what I knew they wanted to hear.)

As I said earlier, I was speeding & had carelessly exceeded the speed limits. Normally I shouldn’t even travel alone or drive such long distance journey being barely 6 months out of a 3-week driving school program. I hope young people who would be opportuned to read this would learn from me & not be as suicidal as I was.

I enjoyed (well, I still do) driving, especially when music from the CD player is blazing through the bass speaker. So for the duration of time which I drove before the accident, I was fixated on a particular song (Takoto) from 9ice’s sophomore album. Ever since, I’ve dreaded the mere sound of that song. The song still sends shivers down my spine anytime I hear it being played, bringing memories I’d rather forget, my brush with death.

Midway through my journey, I was going to overtake an articulated lorry when I suddenly bumped into a pothole. I panicked & hit the brake suddenly with force. Within that split second I had lost control of my car, my vision was blurry due to flames emitting from the engine, the car was somersaulting e.t.c. The experience is indescribable, I wish I could explain every detail but I can’t.

Luckily for me, a Police checkpoint was nearby on the other side of the highway. Those men rushed to my side. I was already climbing out of the car when they got to me. By then I still thought the car would explode so I was rushing to be out.

One of the Police eyewitnesses said my car was practically floating in the air. How I survived such landing, I do not know. But I do know a large rock situated in the bush nearby stopped the car, permanently condemning the rear bumper. The car got damaged beyond recognition.

My use of the seat belt also helped, including the airbags. Perhaps I would have flown out of the car while it tumbled. When I see commuters hiding from the road safety officials, I just pity their ignorance. The Road Safety Corps are basically ‘begging’ you to save your own lives! Fastening the seat belts and having an airbag-enabled car could make a difference in any accident.

Please tell somebody you know to tell somebody they know!!!

12 world leaders who grew from nothing into prominence

Today, I decided to compile a list of inspiring leaders, some were Presidents of their countries, others simply excelled in their chosen fields.

When I think of world leaders who share a common trait of humble background, these great men come to mind. They all rose from the bottom to the apogee height of their fields.

This goes to show that the odds actually do favor children of commoners to go on and achieve greatness. The list is released to inspire children and youths especially. Whatever your present condition, you can overcome as Martin Luther King jr. did!

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1. Nelson Mandela grew up in a hut in Transkei village. Struggled for everything from his education to life under apartheid & jail time.
Known worldwide today as the greatest African of the 20th century!

2. Abraham Lincoln grew up in a farmhouse, raised by an unpredictable mother battled from one failure to another.
He’s arguably the most popular/influential American President ever.

3. James Garfield grew up in a log cabin From log cabin to the White House! His life and death bares similarities with Lincoln’s.

4. Goodluck Jonathan grew up in Otuoke village (with no shoes, don’t forget). Rising from a series of miraculous events, he became Nigeria’s President at a very critical time.

5. Barack Obama grew up in Kenya and Indonesia. He became the first American President of African descent.
From Africa to the world!

6. Obafemi Awolowo grew up in a farm. His father insisted he must go to school, ‘Awo’ simply loved farm life.
He later became one of the founding fathers of Nigeria, one of our greatest political leaders.
Originator of free education in old western region, politician par excellence, a sage of huge mental acumen. He’s my personal hero.

7. Mahatma Gandhi grew up in Porbandar, India. Married at 13 and extremely poor, his brother & family contributed to his trip to England for education.
He became India’s greatest ever leader and inspired Martin Luther King’s movement in USA several years later.

8. Nnamdi Azikwe grew up in Zungeru, Northern Nigeria. His father sent him to USA with all his life-savings & pension.
Nnamdi Azikwe became a god among men, probably the greatest intellectual leader Nigeria has ever had.
He flouted the first modern newspaper in Africa!

9. Martin Luther King Jr., raised in Atlanta in a conservative christian home, during America’s Great Depression.
Struggled through segregation in an unjust system, he became one of the greatest world leaders, leading African-Americans to attaining freedom and equal rights in USA.

10. Ben Carson, raised by an illiterate single mom in the Baltimore projects. He overcame failures and anger to become the greatest neuro-surgeon the world has ever seen.

11. Frederick Douglas used to be a slave but he became an abolitionist, writer or repute, prominent politician and statesman.
He taught himself how to read and became a famous orator. The first African American (several years before Jesse Jackson or Obama) to be nominated for Vice-President of USA.
The most influential African-American of the 19th century.

12. Booker T. Washington was born into slavery, extremely poor & struggled to attend school.
His life and leadership has inspired people all over the world.
He was a voice for the voiceless when African-Americans were segregated in America.

*You too can succeed like these great men. Keep doing what you do.

It’s a personal thing. Do you have a name you feel should make the list? You’re free to drop your own additions in the comment box. I’d probably draw another list in the future.

Of Human nature, Christianity and other religions

For the essence of religion is morality.
—Mahatma M.K. Gandhi

There is no gain-saying the fact that there are powers and mysteries in this world, the world itself being a mystery. There is a God. What I can’t say assuredly is whether God is a christian, Muhammedan, Buddhist, naturalist, Taoist and what have you. But the fact that God exists is not in doubt, there is a metaphysical supreme entity.

I was outside last night and saw the variation of stars in the sky. Some appeared smaller while some looked bigger and shined more brightly. There was the moon, beaming through the whole world from its location, sometimes you see it in the West sometimes in the East. There is the sun, only one but shines at the same time in many countries. It was once sunny in Nigeria and I tuned my television to a football match being played in the United Kingdom. There it was, the same sun shining on their pitch without prejudice in a country several square kilometers to mine. You look around and see green plants, different trees and plantations. All I see is abundance, greatness and wealth.

Only God could have done things like these. No man could have been so impartial while deciding where rain would fall and where sun would shine. Rain falls and sun shines even on gangsters, rapists, liars and killers. When nature happens, there’s no prejudice to profession, status or character. The good news is that nature happens every time and everywhere. Everything is nature. Religion is one of the most important aspects of life of human beings and man is by nature religious.

Fellow christians, ours is a universal God who does not discriminate with His grace and goodness, so why should we? Gotthold Ephraim Lessing made a profound submission when he said;
“There are good men in every land. The tree of life has many branches and roots. Let not the topmost twig presume to think that it alone has sprung from mother earth…We did not choose our races for ourselves. Jews, muslims, christians – all alike are men. Let me hope I have found in you – a man.”
In my dealings with all men and women, before our religion comes into discussion I always look out for good human character. For there is no solid foundation for even religious thoughts to lean on if the character is bad or wounded.

On Page 172 of Gandhi’s ‘My Experiments With Truth’, he narrated how on a trip from India to South Africa their ship was in a violent storm amidst the southern sea. He was amazed how the sight of common danger or imminent death could unite people of diverse backgrounds and religions.
“All became one in face of the common danger. They forgot their differences and began to think of the one and only God -Musalmans, Hindus, Christians and all. Some took various vows…His Will be done was the only cry on every lip.”
Gandhi wrote further, of how after trembling for about 24 hours, the storm calmed and people’s faces beamed with gladness. With the disappearance of danger came the disappearance of God from their lips, eating, drinking, singing & merry-making again.

Human beings aren’t so different from one another after all, no matter how much we like to hide under religious canopies, calling ourselves christians, muslims, Jews etc for effect. I’m a strong exponent of Irving Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis, the study of human interaction in terms of theatrical arts. In Nigeria, you see muslim politicians go to mosque during Eid-el Kabir, meanwhile, they also go to church for their friend’s wedding anniversary, all amidst heavy media coverages. Religion has been politicized for votes and fan-friendly appearances, not to really please God. People don’t practice a religion for the sake of religion, it is because of what they stand to gain!

In our bid to quickly outdo each other’s religion we forget the common foe of mankind which is SATAN. Churches are not meant to compete with each other. Christians are not meant to compete with their muslim neighbors. We have a common goal to resist evil. Anybody who truly believes in the existence of God will equally recognize the presence of the devil as the opposite faction. There is no other faction, you either stand for God or for evil, good versus bad, dark versus white, truth versus lie, pleasure versus reason, right versus wrong, cause versus consequence and so on.

Many christian leaders are quick to identify who will make heaven & who will not, they always seem ready to point out the dichotomy in people. But my Bible tells me it is a sin to prejudge fellow humans (Matthew 7:1-3 ). Also posited by Dr. Johnson, “God himself does not propose to judge man until the end of his days.” Why do we then judge each other unnecessarily? I don’t suppose God would wipe off the Dalai Lama and all the Tibetans in Asia in His apocalypse. I don’t believe Malcolm X will burn in hell for having unstable beliefs in religions. I can’t agree with any school of thought that Gandhi will burn in hell for being Hindu and not christian, a man who had the God-nature and godly inspiration. I read his autobiography and sometimes confuse his insights for some angelic revelations, for his points of view showed extremely-deep introspective reflections.

Who says Mahatma Gandhi won’t get to heaven for not being christian? A man who rejected gifts of gold chains and diamond rings because he felt this ran against his own teaching of a simplified life. He had been exhorting people to conquer their infatuation for jewelry & he just couldn’t break his own rules. Now, that’s a honorable being! That’s a pious man. A man who in an act of true faith refused to apply eggs and chicken to treat his ailing son, contrary to the doctor’s prescription and only because the application went against his Hindu religion of preservation of all life, including animals. Doesn’t that remind you of how Abraham wanted to sacrifice Isaac under God’s command in the Bible? Gandhi knew well, that refusal to follow the doctor’s prescription might kill his son, but he was willing to let the boy die rather than go against his belief!

How many christian clerics today reject expensive gifts? Rather, they receive gifts from armed-robbers, corrupt politicians, thieves, prostitutes and fraudsters. They even encourage their congregation to be idle by coming to church everyday of the week, when obviously this is wrong even according to the practice of the early christians. Everyday was not synagogue day, that’s why Sabbath was really special. Now, what we have is a church full of ‘beggars and paupers’ but mega-rich pastors. Christian leaders now have fleet of cars and private jets, even though Jesus Christ didn’t own a donkey in his time! Materialism has taken over spiritualism in the church. I go to church at times and all I hear is money, money, money! Is money the new pathway to salvation? I don’t believe these set of people will make heaven before Gandhi.

Where do we place religious leaders who endorse politicians, even corrupt ones? Before the March 28, 2015 presidential elections in Nigeria, several popular clergymen allied with the incumbent, when he didn’t win they changed camps by supporting the winner. A particular famous Reverend was raining curses on the candidate he didn’t like, publicly on the altar and it’s on record. I’m sure that pastor has fleet of cars too, while his followers are impoverished! How many christians follow the truths in the Holy Bible? How many muslims follow the profound words in the Holy Quran? According to Gandhi, “truth is like a vast tree, which yields more and more fruit, the more you nurture it.”
The truth is there to see for anybody who picks up those sacred books.

History abounds with stories of people who weren’t even ‘religious’ but were highly humane and moral. Obafemi Awolowo, a free-thinker whose footprints & fingerprints are forever entrenched in the development of Nigeria! Tai Solarin, an atheist but his blueprint for mass education is what we still use today in Nigeria and some parts in Africa! Bertrand Russell, the agnostic scholar who showed us the beauty of thinking outside the box, even if we have our reservations! Stephen Hawking, the atheist who has proffered more critical and realistic solutions to our daily problems than a lot of religious leaders!

Some christian friends have walked into my library before and questioned why I keep books on other religions or spiritual knowledge such as the Holy Quran & The Grail Message. I always let my friends know that the rationale behind my study of other religions is simply to have a proper understanding of as many religions as possible. No seeker of knowledge can afford to discriminate. In fact, human beings can better co-exist if we’re willing to really understand each other’s beliefs. Here, I’m not talking about politicizing religion and how some crooks identify with other religions just to get sympathetic following from such groups. I’m interested in the genuine accommodation of each other’s beliefs.

Human beings are social animals and no man lives successfully in isolation. It would be an exercise in futility if I should imagine that I’d not deal with muslims in my public works or talk to agnostics or even voodoo practitioners. Besides, how many people really chose to be muslims or christians? If I were to be born in the middle-east, wouldn’t I be muslim automatically? If I were to be born in Jerusalem, wouldn’t I be Jew from birth? So if nobody chose where to fall in, why do people still judge others? Why are there so much fanatics these days? I think I’d blame some clerics for that.

One of the greatest prophets of the 20th century, A. W. Tozer once said,
“Yet we must confess that the evangelical church today is bogged down with moral boredom and life-weariness.”
I’ve read some Hadiths of the prophet, listened to some Waasi (sermon) and found them more morally profound than some christian preachers. I see a lot of hypocrisy in our faith. We’re probably the most hypocritical people in the world, we say a lot of things we don’t want to practice. Our leaders mislead us many times. If a study is conducted, Nigeria would definitely be most religious nation in the world yet, corruption & immorality are institutionalized. We have the most number of mosques and churches in the world, some shenanigans are just cashing-in from the ‘business’ of religion.

Today’s christians have forgotten that people don’t listen much to what we preach or say, but they note our behaviors, especially when it’s towards them. We christians can win more to our course if and only if we let go our self-righteousness and sense of sole-entitlement to God. We must embrace those who worship God in ways different from ours. We must demonstrate the love of Christ and his holiness. According to Tozer,
“It is not enough for preachers in their
pulpits to try to define love. The love
that God has promised must be
demonstrated in the lives of the believers in the pews. It must be
practiced as well by the man who
occupies the pulpit.”

Christianity is not really a religion, it’s a lifestyle. The disciples were first called christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26) due to their way of life. Christianity is more than attending church. Unfortunately today, people visit churches just to receive miracles. It’s dangerous when you receive a miracle without actually receiving into your life the giver of those miracles. God is the miracle worker & all men must know Him. That’s exactly what Jesus Christ came to do, reconcile man with God (John 3:16).

Human beings! That road which leads to destruction is the one we take, no matter all the dangerous signs we see on that route. Humans have always coveted danger & death since the beginning of time, it’s written all over the history books. The Greeks with their arenas, the Spartans, the Romans (even with all their ‘civility’), Egyptians, self-imposed havocs are everywhere. The Israelites in the time of Moses, despite seeing God face-to-face and hearing directly from His prophets, they still went back to their sinful ways. They still molded for themselves golden & bronze images. Men are like filthy pigs sometimes, it’s useless to try to make them clean! But God never loses hope in man.

According to A.W. Tozer, “You should look upon your faith as a miracle. It is the ability God gives lost men and women to trust and obey our Savior and Lord.” Faith is a gift from God, it is a rare privilege.

Make God proud, from today, endeavor to start living a life of love with no prejudice.

…To be continued