Daring to be different
AN account was once given of a teenager who boasted with his peers that he could touch Obafemi Awolowo, the then Premier of Western Region (of Nigeria) in the 1950s who was billed for an official visit to an Ekiti hinterland of defunct Ondo Province and his folks aptly dared him if he would ever survive it. Shortly afterwards, not only did he daringly break through the security column around Awolowo, but he was said to have pulled the visiting premier’s flowing garments amidst hard baton-knocks on his head/body by his security details. Obviously basking in this melodramatic move, the lad later told his doubting Thomases’ friends that though beaten by a barrage of baton-charges, he achieved his aim, regardless!
Another never-give-up instance was that of what the world now embraces as the 7Up drink. Before its standardisation, a fellow interested in manufacturing it with the use of a soda product he called 3Up was said to have severally toiled but failed in his bid. Having tried up to the 6Up (i.e. 6th) attempt and met with woeful disappointments, he then gave up on his effort. After awhile came another fellow – Charles Leiper Grigg in October 1929 with a keener eye on the soda business and on another trial with another soda product, this time, the seventh attempt at least counting from the last one; he birthed the 7Up drink!
It was this similar feat of conquering the unknown, further afield, that made America’s Jesse Owen during the 1936 Munich Olympics to win four gold medals in various events and the then German Chancellor, Herr Adolf Hitler, was said to have so disgustingly railed against a ‘mere Blackman’ on such feats that he walked off the dais without the simple courtesy of a victor’s honour – handshake.
Or, take the now established case of Nigeria’s elected fourth President of its 4th Republic, Muhammadu Buhari, who ultimately hit the bull’s eye after the fourth attempt at his nation’s presidential slot. Pointless would it be to recall the multiple slurs of death wishes, campaign of calumny, personality assaults as well as the better-be-forgotten vitriolics against the personage of this individual who dispassionately persevered…all the way until he triumphantly breasted the tape of victory. That he was accordingly rewarded was neither mere fluke nor a child’s play as it was indeed a battlefield where even ‘angels dreaded to venture’.
How-be-it, it might quite amount to sheer indiscretion and in fact standing appreciatory logic on its head if one fails to acknowledge the saving, therapeutic role played by the President-in-power, Goodluck Jonathan, who was also a fellow contestant of Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election. That he humbled himself as a selfless sportsman and altruistic peace-maker by conceding victory even before the results were conclusively collated was a feat of sorts.
Because if Jonathan had acted contrary as widely speculated earlier, a lot of resources (human and otherwise) might have avoidably been wasted considering the narrow-mindedness, sharp ethnic divisiveness and gladiatorial disorientation of Nigeria’s unwieldy political terrain. For this Jonathan’s last moment sacrificial option, so rare in this part of the world, has made his name to be indelibly etched in the hallmark of eclectic honour. As for his performance as the President and Commander-in-chief at large during his tenure, that can be validated or invalidated at the historical laboratory long after his exit.
Albert Einstein was a once-in-a-generation-fellow, who at age six, was written off as a-would-never-do-well individual by his apparently myopic pre-school tutor simply because he was a late developer. However, later in life, Einstein went ahead to spring forth as one of the 20th Century’s best brains. In fact, he was so sought after that he barely managed to get off Hitler’s dragnet in the heat of the second European War of 1939-45 because of his rare knowledge on nuclear power mechanism which Hitler would have gladly used in his pure Aryan-Race bid.
Though both have now gone the way of all flesh, the pair of deceased Nelson Mandela and Lee Kuan Yew would continue to occupy a memorable space in their respective nations’ history because of the inter-connecting role they played at their nations’ underlain foundations. Though whatsoever was to be would ultimately have been, nonetheless, if these inspirational individuals had not been so strategically positioned in the prime of their nations’ setting moments, their nations might have had different, perhaps, bitter stories to tell by now.
Uniquely noteworthy was Mikhail Gorbachev- induced Glasnost and Perestroika change dynamics in the early 1990s which effectively assisted in piloting the course of world history during the stifling era of the ideological warfare between the Western and Eastern bloc powers. So fundamental was this momentary gale that the entire humanity was put on edge as to which way the Gorbachev change experiments would end. This was because part of the strident charges against him was that he was a planted Western lackey…a basic reason he was said to have boldly gone the whole hog to be such a structural change agent.
On the other side of sanity fearsomely and condemnably stood the evil tribe of killer-rulers of old like Hitler, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot (i. e. Saloth Sar), Idi Amin Dada, Jean-Bedel Bokassa and related murderous tyrants who seemingly drew ‘fulfillment and solace’ from the sheer sadism and miseries of other people’s suffering. At the height of their power tenacity, none could manly withstand nor challenge them because they despotically played with their nations’ corporate destinies and existence. For instance, Stalin was so power-drunk during the era of the defunct Soviet Union that he defiantly boasted thus: “We have deposed the czars of this world and we were set to overthrow the Lord of Hosts. Neither could any force, human nor otherwise; East, West, North, South stop us!” That was indeed the negative extent such beastly creatures dared to be irredeemably different.
Even in the lowly estate of four-legged animals, the peculiar instance of the bishop of the forest, the lion, is a well-known fact of caution. Without entertaining any ounce of fear from anyone or anything, this rare breed of virtual strength needfully offers one singular prayer to the Father of all creatures: “Lord, just show me my preys and enemies and let me be with what happens afterwards!” The power of its agility and fierceness is awesome. Consider the tiny ant which is so skilled in wits and craft to the instructive extent that even the Good Book admonishes man, despite its so-called might and all, to draw some cues from the ant.
No less exemplary is the high-ranking league of the eagle. At a quick recall, this bird is on a parallel line to the ageless cliché of the birds of the feathers flocking in agreement as the eagle is daringly, astoundingly and outstandingly distinct from the rest of the bird species. One unique feature of this bird of resilience can be noted in the midst of a prevailing turbulence because when other creatures are scampering for safety, it is just the time the eagle’s persevering and daring ability comes to the fore as it soars straight up to the direction of the turbulence.
During the Biblical days of normative Israel, two individuals (Joshua and Caleb) chose to be different while on an espionage mission to the then Israel’s futuristic Promised Land. Consequently, not only were both commensurately rewarded, but also Joshua went ahead to be God’s elected leader and aside all odds, Joshua’s life course ultimately manifested because he purposely travailed to the endpoint.
Daring to be different particularly in the application of this uncommon, but inevitable fact-of-life, truth has to do with one’s degree of good character and impeccable integrity. Ironical enough, while it requires just one way of sincerity to be truthful; it takes five odd ways to cover one falsehood: the what, when, why, where and how of the insincerity!
Whereas, truth operates on a one-way-dimensional route, for, once the truth is told, there is, therefore, no need for shame nor is there any hiding place for deceits or its associated ploys.
• Omolade lives in Akure.firstname.lastname@example.org