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.

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The People

This write-up was originally meant to be titled “humble beginnings” and was inspired by reminiscence on my university days after writing my final exam (24th April). Now as my colleagues & I await October call-up for the compulsory 1 year Nigerian law school, I’m enjoying an unusual kind of break from school I’ve not had in about 4 years. It feels good to be without the stress of incoming exams again. I also remember those early days in my 1st year when all we wanted was to be seen & acknowledged as important individuals and before final year we achieved just that. We wanted to be like those popular guys on campus but ended up even bigger than those guys we looked up to in those early days.

Tobi Ajibade, my friend of 5 years and an avid reader of my blog posited recently how my write-ups relate and deal with the people in my life on a day to day basis. He opined that its probably why its so hard not to read the posts once published, as “one might just find himself in there and who doesn’t like his name being mentioned?” Everybody loves good compliments and its not sycophancy or ‘ass-kissing’, in so far as the compliments are honest and sincere ones.

I believe experiences are good and we need to go through them everyday to be better people. Therefore I would never deny myself the benefit of any valuable human experience, as there is no other injustice one can do to himself than that. I try as much as possible to relate with everybody as if I’ve known them for a 100 years and that’s one of the secrets of how I enjoy great relationships with people. I love people deeply and genuinely in a way I cannot explain.

I’ve grown a lot through my relationship with the right & wrong people. They all gave me the lessons that made me who I am today. Your life is as bright as the kind of people in it. It’s all about the people, we’re truly the world! Due to my ‘shaky’ background, I started out being aggressive whenever I relate with people. I was always ready for war when dealing with new people, even my family (parents especially). As I grew older, I began to see that one could actually get things easily with a simple smile on the face than with a rough look! My life changed day I discovered that.

Thank you Lord, for you delivered me! That revelation was all the miracle I needed to be who I am truly. People are ready for war, and most people (99.9 %) would deal with you the same way you treat them. I’ve lost count of how many confrontations I’ve seen from a man being rude to another & things could have been entirely different if there was no feeling of disrespect from either party. People cherish respect. We all love to be loved! Even despots do. Idi Amin Dada wanted love deep down in his heart, that’s why he killed whoever betrayed him.

First day I went to The Sun publishing house, the motorcyclist who drove me through that pothole-filled road told me to ensure I appeared on the newspaper following day, as he would look forward to seeing me. From the Mile 2 bridge where he took me down to Coscharis avenue which camps The Sun House, we had an interesting conversation on the political-economic situation of the country. Looking at the man that day, I felt he just gave me a great duty & placed his dreams on my shoulders. I felt in charge of a great responsibility. Although, my write-ups were being published on the tabloid since 2010, I couldn’t fulfill that man’s wish till the year after that fateful acquaintance ( in 2015, this year my picture appeared). I wish I could see the man now to tell him I finally did it, and it was for a good cause!

When a man of the people succeeds, millions of people succeed. When we finally go on to achieve greatness in life and fulfill destiny, a lot of people will automatically tap from that grace and also fulfill their own purposes. If we fail, a lot people have the potential to equally fail. Bill Gates’ story inspired me even though I’ve never met him, and I’m tapping from his grace whether he knows or not. Every individual under the employ of Microsoft today tap from the grace of the visionary who founded the company. That’s an example of a life of substance. Multitudes will benefit from that single source! My studying of Nelson Mandela, Obafemi Awolowo, Martin Luther King has shaped my life & the way I reason forever, even though I can never meet them (not in this world anymore)!

Life.

(To be continued)