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.

Advertisements

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

Women: are they really weaker vessels?

Gender discrimination and inequality is an inbuilt problem with the culture, tradition and socialization of many people in many different societies. The issue of gender inequality – disrespect of women, neglect of their rights and privileges, not allowing them play leadership roles at the macro and micro level of society – has always troubled me. In fact, I planned the topic of this article about three years ago while as a sophomore undergraduate in the university I studied with keen attention, the gender inequality in my school.

A university which ought to be the bedrock of politics, sanity and everything good in a country. In the student union government of the school, the highest a lady could aspire to was the post of vice president, while the presidential slot was normally reserved for a guy. I noticed even the brightest, most popular and strongest (in terms of personality) ladies on campus never aspired to be President of the union. From the talks I’ve heard with some of them who were my friends, I discovered they never even gave it a thought. Throughout my nearly five years sojourn, no lady ever became President or even contested for the post! While trying to understand this problem, I looked at the macro-level of the Nigeria state and found out the highest position a woman holds these days is deputy governor of a state. In fact, it has been like that for a while.

The last and first ever female governor Nigeria has ever had was the Anambra state former governor, Dame Virgy Etiaba (2nd November 2006 – 13th June 2007). It must be noted that her instatement came not as result of popular election votes but the impeachment of Governor Peter Obi by the state legislature for alleged gross misconduct. She had to transfer power back to Obi three months later when the appeal court nullified the impeachment. She was deputy governor to Obi. The last female speaker of the House of representatives, Patricia Olubunmi Etteh was booted out of office due to embezzlement and mismanagement of funds, a move which has further reduced the chances of a woman leading that lower chamber soonest. That period in 2007 marked one of the most scandalous periods in the National Assembly history in recent years. At the last general elections in March 28, 2015, the only woman who contested for President was Prof. Remi Sonaiya of my alma matar (OAU) and she was snubbed by Nigerians, judging from the number of votes she got. It was unclear whether fellow women even believed in her candidacy. When she declared interest in contesting, I had been expecting cheers and encouragements to come from the women in the country but as it seems, these days most ladies are only interested in ‘being a lady’ and not bothering for those ‘men-like’ vocations like politics and pure sciences.

Since independence in 1960, no woman has ever been Senate President, only one woman has been Speaker of the House of Reps and she was impeached within months! No woman has ever been president or vice president of the country. The 8th National Assembly ushered in by the March 28, 2015 general elections has only 7 female senators elected into the upper chamber, the remaining 102 seats occupied by men! Only Anambra, Oyo and Ondo (maybe one or two others) elected female speakers for their Houses of Assembly between 2011-2015. At the grassroot level, in 774 local governments in Nigeria, I know no female chairman/chairperson.

I must say the idea of ‘weaker vessel’ which I’ve heard for the umpteenth time nauseates me down to my spleen! For how could you call women weaker vessels when 22 women are currently the Presidents and leaders of their countries worldwide. Liberia, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, Lithuania, Bangladesh, Denmark, Jamaica, Kosovo, Trinidad & Tobago, Poland, Chile etc. How then can women be weaker vessels? Dr Joyce Hilda Banda was also President of Malawi while the strong Benazir Bhutto also led Pakistan, a country with an estimated population of over 191 million, making it the world’s sixth-most-populous country. How could I not mention the effervescent Indira Gandhi, a woman who was as gracious as her father and probably gave modern India an even stronger leadership than her father. What of UK’s ‘Iron Lady’, Margaret Thatcher and Israel’s Golda Meir (both prime ministers), not to mention reigning UK monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. In the areas of academics, sociologists Jane Adams and Ida Wells Barnett made magnificent impacts in the lives of people, they’ve made lasting marks that even men cannot erase!

Some women are physically stronger and bigger than their husbands. There has been Customary and High court cases in Nigeria whereby the wife was alleged to have beaten the husband mercilessly in a domestic fight. It’s then clear from the foregoing that woman being a weaker vessel to man is not only a misnomer but a deliberate assault on the sensibilities of right thinking women. The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) made an outline recently of a typical day for a man and woman in a family that grows both food and cash crops.

A typical woman’s day:
“Rise first
Kindle fire
Breast feeds the baby
Fixes breakfast
Washes and dresses the children
Walks one kilometer home
Feed livestocks
Washes cooking utensils
Washes clothing
Breast feeds the baby
Walk a kilometer to the field with food for husband
Walks a kilometer back home
Walks a kilometer to her field
Waters field
Breast feeds baby
Gathers firewood on way home
Walks a kilometer to fetch water
Walks a kilometer home
Kindles fire
Prepares meal
Breast feeds baby
Puts house in order
Goes to bed last”

A typical man’s day:
“Rises when breakfast is ready
Walks a kilometer to field
Works in field
Walks a kilometer home
Eats when wife arrives with food
Works in the field
Walks one kilometer home
Rests, eats, walks to the village to visit other men
Goes to bed
Summons wife to comfort him”

Personally I believe this outline to be a little over-blown in terms of the works women do, because in most families it is actually the other way round. In this modern era and with economic stress everywhere, the husbands practically break their backs to provide for the family while some wives shop and hang out with friends. Some housewives take at least two naps before the end of the day and still sleep at night. This being clear, we still can’t afford to undermine or belittle the impact of women in every home. A friend of mine once remarked that “women are the reasons why the world is enjoyable, without them there’s nothing to live for.”

According to Professor Ademola Popoola, ”gender refers to the socially and historically constructed relations between men and women, as opposed to their biological differences. The social relations of gender are dynamic and change over time, being shaped by cultural, social, political and economic relations of power that affect males and females in different ways of all societies.” The Beijing declaration which was made during the 4th world conference of September 1995 was majorly to “advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of humanity.”

The divine purpose for which God created woman (as seen in Genesis 2: 18-24) was to serve as companion and certainly not as a slave or subordinate to man. Also, she (a woman) is to serve as instrument of ensuring the continued survival of the human race through procreation. Thus, in the Epistles of St. Paul though, man is described as head of the family, same man is enjoined to love his wife “just as Christ loved the church and sacrificed Himself for her to make her Holy” (see Ephesians 5:20-21)

If there would be a change in gender inequality, there has to be a change in the way women view themselves too. I’ve met some very young women whose self-esteem and pride are so terribly low that they believe they must always be with a man and do degrading things to maintain the man before their lives can be ‘glorious.’ A lot of ladies are like the lady in Eddie Murphy’s 1988 award-winning comedy film “Coming to America” where the prince met his betrothed wife for the first time on his 21st birthday. While getting to know her, he asked her a few questions which the poor lady simply replied in a way that shows how many women have been taught to think (a sad reality). Eddie Murphy acted the character named Hakeem, the sole heir to the throne of a wealthy African kingdom named Zamunda, in West Africa. The conversation goes thus:

Hakeem: What do you like to do?
Lady: Whatever you like!

Hakeem: What kind of music do you like ?
Lady: Whatever kind of music you like?

Hakeem: Do you have a favorite food?
Lady: Yes

Hakeem: Ok, what’s your favorite food?
Lady: Whatever food you like? (is anyone laughing yet?)

Hakeem: Are you saying you’d do anything I say you should do?
Lady: Yes, your highness!

Hakeem: Ok, bark like a dog!
Lady: (she starts barking)

I remember the speech of legendary American female rapper, MC Lyte in 2013 when she was given the ”I am Hip Hop” at the BET awards. She finished off her acceptance speech by saying, “women if you want to be treated like a queen, act like one!” That’s perhaps the most important instruction to women that I’ve ever heard in my life. So cogent and apt that statement is, I’ve ceased to forget it in two years. For how can a woman rightfully hope to be treated with respect if she doesn’t respect herself first? How can a woman hope to be seen for her intelligence and not as a sexual object if she keeps dressing provocatively? How can a woman hope to win a public election if she allows herself to be compromised? How can a woman hope to become President of a nation if she doesn’t herself aspire and determine to break the jinx and go against the odds? Women, the ball is in your court.

Sources:

Popoola, Ademola (Professor) (2015) Of Women, Law and gender justice: The rhetorics, the realities, and the African perspectives, University of Ilorin annual public lecture 2015

Rulers.org

WorldStatesmen.org

Regnal Chronologies

http://www.jjmccullough.com/charts_rest_female-leaders.php

http://news2.onlinenigeria.com/nigeria-article/404112-list-of-nigerian-senate-presidents-and-house-speakers.html

Kindly follow me on twitter @tom_olas

Africa, it is time!

The Rwandan genocide, South African apartheid, Nigerian Biafran war, Sierra Leone blood diamonds, Kikuyu vs Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, Obote vs Idi Amin in Uganda…there has been way too much bloodshed in Africa. Sometimes I’m moved to tears when I remember our brothers whose bloods have been unnecessarily sacrificed. The peace we now enjoy ( those African countries in relative peace, asides Somalia, Burundi, Libya, Sudan etc) is because some people laid down their lives for our emancipation. But what have we done with the freedom from slavery and imperialism? A staggering 17 African countries got independence in 1960, including my country, Nigeria. Out of the 17, at least 10 would later have civil wars, coup d’ etats, election violence and so on. Most African countries still find it hard to rule its own people and direct the nation in the right path. For those practicing a democratic system of governance, whenever election period comes close, the citizens panic, knowing it means bloodshed. For those still being ruled by the military and or a despotic ruler, human rights regulations means nothing in those countries. Those laws are trampled upon daily.

Bob Marley sang and preached love and freedom till he died. So was Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Nigerian-born world afro beat originator. So was Lucky Dube, the South African raggae king who was brutally murdered (nobody has been on trial for the murder so far, for over 5 years! ). Jesus Christ always preached love as the only key and most important commandment. Prophet Muhammed always preached love. Martin Luther King Jnr and his role model, Mahatma Gandhi both lived and died preaching love and freedom for all mankind. Tata Madiba himself, Mandela lived all his life seeking freedom for his people. He preached love and also showed it in his lifestyle until his death. Is it not the same South Africa that just displayed xenophobia recently, murdering and brutalizing their own African brothers and sisters? When the Afrikaans tortured, murdered and made original South Africans work the mines during the Madiba days, we all condemned the act and named it apartheid. Now, what do we call Africans doing the same to their own kind?

The Biafra war in Nigeria, despite all the reasons given, should never have happened because it was a dead end. Even today, the man who spearheaded that war in the Eastern part of Nigeria, the late General Christopher Dim Odumegwu Chukwuemeka Ojukwu (rtd), is still being celebrated throughout the Eastern region and Nigeria. But in as much as I respect this man as a man of great courage and personality, I seriously feel it is irresponsible to lead your own people to a war you know you may not win. He couldn’t have been sure Biafra was going to secede easily. It was a dead end, a war instituted for some people’s mere egoistic and selfish economic gains. The result was over two million corpses, fathers, mothers and children. The Rwandan civil war also created over one million dead people.

What about 6th January, 1999, the day the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels set Sierra Leone on fire. The bloody day which heralded the year-long bloodshed and man’s inhumanity to man where hands and legs were chopped off and lives were cut short. Children were separated from their parents, drugged and made to shoot or maim other citizens in broad daylight. Ordinary citizens were made to pay for the crimes they didn’t commit. Everybody was a criminal, innocence was no more found in the land. People suffered as a result of the diamond 95% of them had never even seen before! It was a gory sight to see some of the documentaries on the saga. How can God still smile on Africa for all these brutality we’ve caused ourselves? Definitely, God isn’t a human but a spirit because if human were God, Africa would have been erased from the world map by now.

Let history be taught in our Colleges, High school and elementary schools, young people must know and not forget these mistakes their parents made in the past. It must serve as lessons for a better future. We cannot afford to let go of our heritage and those things left which still makes us original. To do otherwise is to be culturally alienated, forgotten in history and cast away from the rest of the world. The famous historian and scholar, Hugh Trevor Roper delivered a speech at the University of Sussex in October 1963, where he made these derogatory comments about Africa; “Perhaps, in the future, there will be some African history to teach. But at present there is none, or very little: there is only the history of the Europeans in Africa. The rest is largely darkness, like the history of pre-European, pre-Columbian America. And darkness is not a subject for history.” He proclaimed that Africa never had any history until the British and other imperialists came to settle and deal in slaves. Mr Trevor Roper forgot that the fact that, he was too short-sighted to see our history doesn’t mean history isn’t there! The scholar confused himself for some omnipresent who sees everything. Well, if we as. Africans would prove assumptions like that to be wrong, something urgent must be done.

Kindly follow me on twitter @tom_olas

The People (part 2)

When Mr Tom Joyner mounted the stage to give his acceptance speech at the 2015 BET awards held recently, he made a point that touched me and affirmed everything I’ve ever really stood for. He said, “our purpose on earth is to help others.” What a statement! What a point! That, coming from a man who just won a highly distinguished award as the Humanitarian award is something to really hold dearly. It is also a clarion call and challenge to everybody who has led a selfish life until date.

The purpose of life is love. How can we show love? To whom do we show love? When do we show love? The answers are found in Christ Jesus (see John 21:15-17). Our actions reflect love. You can’t claim to love someone inside and all that comes out is strife. Love is a seed that germinates, if you love people they’d know! Love is to be shown to everyone, every man you come across in life. Imagine the results on the world order when love germinates from the tiny seed sowed by every individual. There would be no more wars! There’s no time-frame on being kind to others. Let love flow ceaselessly like waters from the river. Let’s show love all the time.

As a realist, I don’t blame people who show selfish tendencies towards others. I even try to encourage my friends who I noticed aren’t selfless. The reason is that I noticed humans are naturally selfish. Most people, if trapped in a burning house alongside a friend, would first struggle to save themselves and escape before remembering that someone else is still on fire! It’s not so wrong, just normal life actually. Everybody is born with a strong sense of self-defense mechanism that makes you run instantly when you hear a big boom like a bomb, without being told. I’ve noticed that even those people who complain that life is not fair and enjoy no luxury still want to stay alive! They don’t want to die.

We all love life, even with all the injustices to our persons! Now, that simply shows something. Man is naturally self-centred and it takes the extraordinary man to be selfless. Now, shouldn’t we all strive to be extraordinary? Is that not the higher call? To surpass the ordinary flesh!

The African continent is home to some of the most religious nations in the world. In my own country, Nigeria, there are congregation as much as 50,000 people on a regular Sunday service in some churches. The reason for this mammoth turnout is not because most of these people love God. Most people go for the miracles. The poverty in the continent has made many turn to God out of necessity, not willfully! Most people will join another religion if that offers them bigger hope of good life. I’m very sure, being a practical Christian, that many of the Christian faithfuls worship God so as to gain His kingdom of heaven. Probably if there was no promise of heaven or paradise, maybe many Christians wouldn’t be Christians! A lot of people, though religious, don’t really have the true understanding of God. God is love and He created man to love and worship Him, a part which man should & must play whether there is a promise of ‘goodies’ or not. Serving God for poverty alleviation, in my opinion, is really selfish, parochial & utilitarian in form. But God is the one true judge of us all.

They say ‘life is a teacher’, but how can we claim to have ‘lived’ if we don’t learn lessons from the master itself? Life is the master/teacher, thus, when we face troubles and tribulations we should absorb and try to overcome them so as to be better persons. Back in the days I used to struggle with God. Whenever I had a poor or average result in school, I ponder and think for a very long time. When I lost my step brother in 2009, I was depressed for the next 1 year. The result was dark write-ups that I don’t even open anymore due to the contents. In 2012, I had a long fruitful discussion in my room with my influential friend, Ibikunle Isaac ( former OAU Student Union president). That was the eye-opener. I told him my opinions on life and how I struggled with failure. Then he said to me, “Look, I used to feel like that too but I discovered that my life isn’t really mine but God’s. He knows what he wants for me and I’ve decided to lay down my dreams to Him. If and when I fail, it isn’t me that failed but God!”. I would never forget those words for I’ve been living by that code ever since and I don’t bother when bad things happen to me anymore.

God has given me a gift which, even more importantly, I’ve been privileged to discover. I do well with people. I’m a people person. People like me find it easy to make new friends whether we try or not. Even the people want to come to us and it’s just like magnetic force. In my final year in college, a friend of mine once commented when on the road leading to my hostel, I was greeting (or were they greeting?) people with every step we took from the main road. The young man was wondering when I moved to the area to know so much people and I told him it was just one year. This is a rare feat because I’m an introvert and most of the people greeting me don’t even know my name, just my face. In high school, popularity came for me without stress. My brilliance, composure and special skills endeared me to students and teachers’ hearts. Where others hustled to be seen, I was seen without hustle.

When I met my musician friend, Eazy +( sometimes written as ‘Plus’) in September last year, it was without stress. I was in my friend Tobi’s room when I saw the young man in his ‘Area’ music video on Soundcity. I instantly got impressed by the music and told my friend, ‘I’d bring this guy to school come October.’ I picked up my phone and called the artiste’s manager, didn’t really like him so I chatted Eazy Plus up through twitter. We instantly became friends and he performed at Alpha club’s charity week following month through my recommendation and he came for free. Till today, that still amazes the young man I was watching the music video with.

In 2008, I began writing articles when I discovered I could, through my knack for reading. My dad loves reading newspapers a lot, something I’ve got from him. I became a big fan and avid reader of a weekly Friday column on Daily Sun by Femi Adesina (title same as the writer’s name). The man was just the daily editor of the tabloid then and I started doing my research on him. I got the information I could, part of which is that we were from the same state (Osun), just different towns. Influenced by my love & study of several autobiographies, biographies & memoirs in those formative years 2008-2010, I wrote to my idol one day. I can’t remember the title but I asked him to write his autobiography & encourage people. His writings were inspirations to my soul every week and I thought it would be better if he wrote about himself.

It was a surprise to see him send a reply to that letter and we became friends, as he gave me an offer I just couldn’t turn down. He said, “Tomiwa, anytime you want to publish anything on our daily titles, don’t hesitate to send it to me.” That was opportunity for me to have my political views heard by people that time. My first published article in March 2010 was very long, I wrote on my idol, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. It was rightfully titled, ‘Awo at 101’. My mum entered my room then and was scared as I read from so many sources to write a single article! Books were scattered everywhere, my bed, floor, tables etc. I felt I owed my idol a duty of care to write well about him years after his physical death. When it was finally in print, my dad said his colleagues at work commented that the writer must be a lawyer due to the ‘knowledge’ in the write-up. Meanwhile, I was yet to get university admission!

My girlfriend that time got inspired by me, started writing and was even more passionate about it than I was, typical of women. She was opportuned to be offered a slot as a columnist for Nigerian Tribune. She got almost half of a page and was writing on marital issues because that was what she loved to do then. People at times don’t realise after getting what they want, never to let go of those who contributed to their success. It boils down to the earlier point that love must be renewed every time and not just sometimes. Sadly, she lost touch with her inspiration along the line and no more writes.

My journalist friend, Mr Femi Adesina later rose to be the Managing director/editor-in-chief of The Sun and we remained in contact, our relationship getting more robust over the years. He became the president, Nigerian Guild of Editors during the time. Last month, he was named the special adviser on media to the newly elected Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari. He was the only man from the south west among all the appointees, an even more special feat.

I’ve seen and met very good family men who belief in taking good care of their wife and children but think it unnecessary to be nice to their neighbour. A lot of Christians do that today. This is totally wrong. It only demonstrates our selfishness and weakness as individuals. A selfish individual is spiritually weak and God loves the strong. The love of our fellow men is the beginning of obedience to God’s commandments. When we do good to others, we’re actually do good to ourselves. Reason being that, whatever happens in the neighborhood that we care so less about will eventually reflect on the family that we care so much about. Everybody will bear the brunt of hatred if we refuse to sow love. God is love.

Look at the golden rule propounded by Jesus Christ, the most righteous man who ever lived. He said, ‘do unto others as you would love others do unto you!’ That’s very simple and straightforward. If we want love, let’s give love. We want peace, let’s make peace. Living by the golden rule alone leads to fair havens, a halcyon shore and a state of serenity.

My life (Volume 2.0)

The story of my life actually cannot be fully contained in just two articles. Being in my early stage of adulthood, it would be impossible to write a memoir of even my childhood experience alone in just a few lines. For this reason, I promise to keep my promise of delivering an autobiography ( yes, I think my life story is that interesting!) in due time. In the next few years I hope to have accomplished my dreams in full and by then it would be auspicious enough to write a full inspiring story.

Meanwhile, my best friend & course mate, Mr Tobi Ajibade read the first write-up on “My Life” and wondered why I would want to commit suicide. He ended by saying he had felt that way too before anyway (I wonder why he then questioned me). He also said jokingly that if eventually I had committed suicide he would have killed himself, come to meet me in whatever after-world I was & ‘beat’ me back to life! Extremely funny innit?

I noticed that the majority of those who read the first write-up picked out just the suicidal part of the story, probably due to our society’s deep frown on that theme & the sacrosanct idea of death. I find that appalling though, as I was trying to bring out other themes in that short piece. I wrote about the idea of parental care, love, knowledge, research, belief in God and religion. So I was expecting critical assessments on those other themes, especially the paragraph on what my mum’s love did to change the story of my life forever. My elder sister read it & immediately pinged me on BBM to talk about the suicide thing.

Nobody has tried to talk about those other themes which to me, are much more important than even death! At least, one writer said the greatest tragedy is not in dying young but in living too large & not for any eternal significance. So, what if I die early but I leave behind some great and important legacies that continue to influence the world even after I’ve gone? I think that’s reasonable enough. I’ve seen septuagenarians who beg for alms in Nigeria! What is the need of such miserable long life? Life is not the most important thing but what you eventually make of it!

Most people have never wondered why God gave man brain and the ability to rationalise, which sets us apart from lower animals. It is so that we can make some decisions without even needing to disturb Him with our ways. Imagine the estimated 7 billion human beings in the world calling on God at the same time, that may be an excruciating task, even for a supernatural being! God wanted us to do some things on our own while he watches. I can liken it to the way a good mother teaches her child to walk & then sit back and watch with pleasure as the child practice what he’s/she’s been taught.

Human life is serious business. Every man has to take charge of his life whether he likes it or not. Even the Gods favour the strong & bold as rightfully posited by King Agamemnon of Mycenae, a kingdom of legendary Greece. Even the Angel in the Old testament book of Genesis 32:22-32 didn’t bless Jacob until he had defeated the Angel who has been pointed out to be God Himself. Therefore, I strongly believe everyone needs to prove themselves to even be worthy of luck! Normally, luck is something you shouldn’t deserve but just fortunate to get but then even to be lucky in so many instances, you must make effort. For instance, to give birth to a boy-child, a woman must at least get pregnant.

Some few years ago, I was present at a large congregation church with my mother & sister. We had attended a monthly all-night prayer meeting and it was the wee hours of the next morning and people were preparing to leave for their homes. Suddenly, armed robbers came with sophisticated guns and people bolted. Obviously, they came for the money as they meant business & threatened to shoot people who try to look them in the eyes. It was a gory sight to behold in a church as those people ransacked the altar of God to check for money. Later, they left & we heard the robbers didn’t get any money. How factual that is I still don’t know as my mum & I had gone to hide behind the toilet.

What continues to baffle me ever since then is why God didn’t do anything in that instance to those armed robbers. At least a church is supposed to be God’s own sanctuary, and a Holy place. I don’t care if something happened to the robbers later, probably got arrested by Police or they got killed. I’m concerned about why they desecrated God’s altar & left scot-free. I’m sad about why they even had the courage & effrontery to even come rob a church in the first place. The whole idea nauseates & makes me boil with anger.

What I’ve been able to take out of that life experience is just that God would not do for man what man can do for himself! God will not come down from heaven to defend even his own property, therefore you see even some pastors perpetrating evil in churches, bedding choir members, siphoning funds & God allows all these to pass. I see the New testament God as a very liberal one.

…to be continued…

THE ALPHA CLUB’S CHARITY WEEK 2014

BRIEF INTRODUCTION AND PROFILE OF THE ALPHA CLUB
The Alpha Club is a socio-cultural, philanthropic and charitable organisation founded in 1968 in the then University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife with aims and objectives which encompass the breeding of young men into responsible and respectable citizens, acquainting them with charitable works and other activities, which foster peace in our immediate and larger world. Because of her socio-cultural and philanthropic outlook, the club organizes programmes that bring youths together in constructive activities.

OUR PEDIGREE – We pride ourselves as having the best of gentlemen as our Graduate Alphites, patrons and Fellows. Amongst great men that have been rolled out of the stables of Alpha club are: Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, the current president/CEO Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc., who was the Lord Mayor of the club in 1975; Prince Oluseyi Lufadeju, the MD Shelter Initiatives who was social scribe in 1968; Senator Mike Ajeigbo, the MD/CEO Minaj Group of Companies and former Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary; Mr. Adewale Adeniyi, the former Auditor General of Ondo State, who was the Exchequer of the club in 1971; Mayor (Professor) Dibu Ojerinde, the current Registrar of Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) who was the Lord Mayor in 1973; Prof. Olu Adediran, Dean, Faculty of Law, OAU who was the scribe in 1974; Mayor Araba Oladokun a former Registrar of LAUTECH, Ogbomoso who was the Lord Mayor in 1971; Mayor George Irechukwu, Commissioner of Finance, Imo State who was the Lord Mayor in 1984. Mr. Seye Kehinde, Publisher City People Magazine; Mr. Dele Oduwale, CEO Desh Petroleum and Chicken Lovers Restaurants; other eminent great men make the row call of fellows and patrons- Chief Gabriel Igbienidion (Esama of Benin Kingdom), Chief The Hon. Sir Alex Akinyele (Elder Stateman, former Chairman National Sports Commmission), King Sunny Ade – An Ace musician, Major David Ejoor, former Chief of Army Staff and former Governor of Mid-Western Region. Fellow Ben Omonua, MD BankPHB Asset Management Chief R.A. Williams, Mr. Ademola Adeyinka, Engr. Obi Anadu – G.M. Land and Waters, Muritala Mohammed International Airport- the list goes on. All these eminent personalities are still in contact with the Club. This list is in-exhaustive and as you traverse the country and indeed the world, you will find Alphites in all facets of life, helping to make the society better than they found it.
We are “gentlemen of distinction” with an unyielding belief in the time tested saying that “Some are born great, some achieve greatness while some have greatness thrust upon them” and in humble pursuit of greatness in honour, our philosophy and outlook, the club organizes programmes that bring youths together in constructive activities. As such, one of her programmes is “The Annual Charity Week”.

THE ALPHA CLUB’S CHARITY WEEK

The Charity Week is an entire week of activities organized by the Alpha Club and dedicated to charitable endeavours, the idea is to create awareness, promote and encourage charitable works amongst the staff, students, residents and visitors in the OAU community and its environs.
The programme is also intended to launch the community project series that the club will be embarking upon which is aimed at improving the state of the OAU community through works of Arts, Technology and encouraging research.

The next edition of this customary event tagged “GOODWILL” will be held in October 2014. It will span a whole week as highlighted above and will include free health services, a social event, material / monetary donation, drug donation and a blood donation exercise that will feature the officials of the National Blood Transfusion Service, Ibadan; Family Health International (FHI), and Global HIV/AIDS Initiative Nigeria (GHAIN), one percent, Voluntary Blood Donation initiative (VOBDI) among several others. The event promises to be very exiting and to create an atmosphere where love is shared and the message of charity is sung as morning hymns in the hearts of the citizens.

The events aligned for the charity week are as follows:
Monday- “GOODWILL” talent hunt and raffle draw
Tuesday- Free Bus Ride
Wednesday & Thursday- Blood Donation Exercise
Friday- Jumat service and Visit to a motherless Babies’ Home
Saturday- Alpha Fellowship
Sunday- Thanksgiving at Our lady’s of perpetual light

DETAILS OF EVENTS

MONDAY
“GOODWILL” Talent Hunt and Raffle Draw

The First day of the week is set aside in this year’s charity week for a social event “Talent Hunt and Raffle Draw”. This event is strategically placed so as to publicise the forthcoming blood donation. It is focused on creating a high level of interaction amongst students thereby creating a lasting and enduring awareness in the minds of people for the Blood Donation.
The event will feature a talent hunt whereby registered participants will be allowed to showcase their talents and entertain audience and 3 winners will be picked to given a cash prize of 20,000naira, 15,000naira and 10,000naira for 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions respectively.
Furthermore, along the line, a raffle draw exercise will take place as interludes at specific times. Participants in the raffle draw would ave purchased a raffle tickets at 100naira only. Lots of prizes like Fridges, microwaves, home theatre systems, goody bags, standing fans will be won during the exercise.

TUESDAY
FREE BUS RIDE
Due to the usual rush which occurs in the early hours of the morning and often after lectures in the afternoon, students often miss out or go late for lectures or end the day in frustration.
During the week, the club would seek to alleviate this problem by providing buses at strategic locations (school gate or halls of residence) to convey students free of charge to and from the school premises for the periods which the rush shall prevail. This also serves publicity purposes for the Charity week as a whole and the blood donation more importantly.

WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY
BLOOD DONATION EXERCISE
This is the hallmark of events of the week because of importance of blood in saving lives as many have come to give testimonies. The Alpha Club has, for over 3 decades been organising blood donation to the O.A.U.T.H.C. Ile-Ife and the National Blood Transfusion Service, with 490 pints donated in the last edition and over 2500 pints of blood donated till date. This year the event would be organised by the Alpha Club in conjunction with experts from the National Blood Transfusion Service. Blood donors are given packages which include haematinics to help replenish the donated blood and other complimentary gifts.
BLOOD DONOR PACKAGE
Haematinics – blood capsules, multivitamins,
Glucose
Beverage
Milk
Eggs
T-shirts
Stickers
Other items to be included by your organization & other sponsors.

FRIDAY
JUMAT SERVICE AND VISIT TO THE MOTHERLESS BABIES’ HOME

We conventionally visit the mosque every friday of the charity week to give thanks to Almighty God for a successful week. After this, we set out for a chosen motherless babies’ home in Osun state to give out materials, food stuffs, clothings, etc, some of which would have been gathered before and during the course of the charity week.

SATURDAY
ALPHA FELLOWSHIP

We believe that after a week long of selfless service to humanity, members of the Alpha Club “Alphites” should also relax at some point. So we organize a mini event with our spouses, where we relax and also rejoice with ourselves on the success we have achieved during the week. We also sometimes involve the public in this, a few of our blood donors might be invited during thid event to celebrate with us.

SUNDAY
THANKSGIVING SERVICE AT THE CHURCH
We also after visiting the mosque, visit the Church to praise and thank God for making our charity week a complete success.

twitter.com/tom_olas

facebook.com/tomiwaolasiyan