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Patience

This month of November, I led a meeting in which there was a Nigerian man who clocked 60 on one of the days of the meeting. To commemorate his birthday, he published a small book which he gave to everyone around for free. “Being African,” I dived into the book straight away.

One of the key lessons the gentleman has learnt in life is patience. Immediately, I replayed the meetings in my mind. I was the youngest but the leader of the team. Was I patient with him?

Hmm.

I tried to push him a bit and thought out loud once that the man would delay us. Gladly, I wasn’t rude at any point. Sixty certainly is not an age of speed.

The striking thing is that the gentleman reports how he was very impatient as a young man.

Does that mean that I’ll lose my precious speed (or, if you like, hurry) when I get “there?”

I guess that’s the trend in the cycle of life. We start out vivacious and wonder why these old people are so mute. Then as we know more, we speak less.

Since we know that eventually we will all become “patient” in life, it is good to give some leeway to those who are already patient.

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The Cycle of Life

A great man completed his time on earth recently in Ibadan, Nigeria. Painfully, I did not make it to the funeral. Seeing lots of pictures, it feels like a dream. I wonder if many people can feel the void he left behind. Yes, feel!

He stood as a strong pillar in everything he believed in especially church and family. I guess resources never go round, but I saw several faces that I remember how he touched.

Then the pictures reminded me of the years… the years gone by and the years going by. I remember standing by caskets in the Boys’ Brigade uniform in the same space shown in the pictures. I remember a tall, old man who used to drive us out of the main church Hall, assuring us that we would eventually inherit the entire church premises.

The other bit is the effect of time on the faces of the people in the pictures: retired-breadwinners, big-brothers-turned-professionals, contemporaries-now-in-diaspora, little-girls-now-business-moguls, etc. I can’t even figure out which former-little-kids are among the young-and-trendy faces in the pictures.

Summarily, the cycle of life keeps turning and everyone is at “midday” for only a period of time.

We must make the most of this time, measured in impact of our lives on other lives.

Together

A little over a year ago, a friend posted on Facebook that she wanted to start a book club. I think she added that she had books she wanted to read, and she had books she had started but couldn’t get to finish. She believed that together, we could read and make better progress than going it alone.

More than a year after, we have had one book each month on varying personal development topics. Most of us have probably not achieved 100% in reading the books, but everyone of us remains on the path to 12 books a year.

We may have projects/tasks we have been trying to push for a while with little progress. Consider partnering; consider mentoring.

If you want to go fast, go alone;
If you want to go far, go together!… African Proverb.

Pan African

Over the past few years, I have read about the many travails and few triumphs of the leaders of the African Liberation struggles: Nelson Mandela and the South African team, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Felix Moumie, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo, etc.

I’ve got many more to read about. However, they all have something in common other than being of African descent: they moved for liberation in the 1950s/60s. Most killed were killed in the 1960s. Mandela and co were jailed for life in the 1960s. It gave me a different perspective: our fathers, who we claim did not try, were cowered in the 1960s.

Janvier Chando has written a few books about assassinations of African pro-independence activists. He writes about how Cameroon has had only 2 leaders since independence, and neither was the will of the people. Furthermore, Ahmed Sekou Toure was the only lone to successfully defy France. We see the proof in the currency of the country, the Guinean Franc, as against the uniform CFAs which the other Francophone countries spend.

The assassination of Patrice Lumumba of Belgian Congo (now DRC) was so ringing that a Russian University was named after him. He was killed in 1971, 7 months after independence. Other reports say that General Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria took part in the UN’s peacekeeping efforts in DRC in the 1960s. Yet the UN is still trying to keep peace in the same country 60 years after.

Where is exactly is the problem?

The youths of several African nations are angry and likely confused. Could it be a coincidence that notable historical events of our nations are not taught in school? Could it be a purposive effort to keep the future oblivious of the past?

My study continues.

Nelson Mandela wrote that he never despised the black Policemen who were used against the African National Congress because they simply did not understand the visions of the agitators, nor could they see the brightness of the future the agitators desired.

“There is that great proverb that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter” — Chinua Achebe.

Would you suggest a book?

St Kizito

Saint Kizito (1872 – June 3, 1886) was one of the Martyrs of Uganda. The youngest Martyr slain by the King Mwanga II of Buganda. He was baptized on 25/26 May 1886, by Charles Lwanga (the leader of Uganda’s Christian community) at Munyonyo, burned alive on 3 June 1886 in Namugongo. He was canonized on 18 October 1964 by Pope Paul VI at Rome. His feast day is on June 3. (Wikipedia)

In Lagos Nigeria, there is a Catholic hospital named after him. It is primarily a children’s hospital but “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

The hospital is located in an obscure corner of Lekki. The access road is really bad and under water for about half of the year.

This hospital is an epitome of community service and care for mankind.

First, they do not consider religion. Whoever is welcome.

Second, they do not consider social status or wealth. Their services are as per your pocket. For example, you can choose to consult with a nurse practitioner (₦x), a Nigerian doctor (₦y), or an expatriate doctor (₦z). You can take your prescription elsewhere or buy your drugs here. You can choose to be admitted or to come from home, etc.

Third, they serve free breakfast for all children present at the time. Although it is just corn pap, we know that’ll be the best meal some child will have that day. The pap is nutritious as it is augmented with proteins from groundnuts and soya. They have a signature recipe for the proteins that you can buy.

Now, cheap service doesn’t mean poor service. The heavy cars that park outside Kizito will testify to this. Several people come, despite the crowd, because of the humaneness of the staff. The medical practitioners seem to know the simple solutions to complex problems. They certainly have the help of God.

Do they receive support from the public? Yes, through the website of the Catholic Church in Lagos (lagosarchdiocese.org).

Google says that there are St Kizito clinics in several African nations… quietly solving a problem most of us discuss loudly..

Kudos to the Catholic Church

As bad as…

Ebola vs Government

As bad as…
Part A

I saw the movie Facing Darkness about the fight against Ebola in Liberia around the year 2014. It is difficult to watch it without dropping some tears. Then I saw 93 days about how Nigeria conquered Ebola in 93 days. I took a few lessons from the latter:

  1. Nigerians are resilient
  2. Nigerians are usually not prepared
  3. Nigerians when united can conquer anything.

Part B

I remember in 2014. I had a movie date which I wanted to cancel because of Ebola. There was no one willing to comply with the rule to use handrails on the stairs because of Ebola. My church distributed hand sanitizers. Several things had to be cancelled. I met an old friend at a local airport, a medical doctor. She wouldn’t sit or touch anything at the airport. In fact, to be patted down, she provided her own gloves. Those days, I began to feel feverish. I called my doctor, and she was locked up under observation having been in a hospital where a suspected Ebola case was treated.

In all of these, one thing was clear: United, we can win!
Part C

Nigeria (and more or less all Africa) is like a culture medium for poor governance. We seem oblivious of what even blind men can see.

Libya’s beauty was an aberration; it had to be ploughed. DRC has the “conflict mineral”–COLTAN–found nowhere else in the world. Instead of this being a plus, it has proved to be a lone minus for the nation. The francophones are grappling with national poverty bestowed by “former” lords. South Africa seems to have been battling deliberate degradation. Zimbabwe supposedly broke free in 2017, the first project they embarked on was the expansion of the Robert Mugabe International Aiport?? Quite timely and strategic?? Nigeria is drowning in the waters of paper-perfect policies which have kept the light bulbs off and the train whistles silent!

What then?
Part D

When Ebola visited Nigeria for 3 months, we came together to fight our common enemy (the enemy of my enemy is my friend). We forgot political alliances; we joined hands and words. We were so determined, even people who were not infected died fighting!

Now, what if we view poor governance as it really is: a silent, audacious killer?

What if we get desperate and fight this enemy like marked men?

We looked Ebola in the face and conquered it. So can we conquer poor governance!

Power in Pain

A gentleman lived with his family in Connecticut. He left them to do a quick painting job in Washington, a four-day journey away. His wife wrote him, he wrote back; but he got no response. While expecting a letter from her, he got one from his father announcing the demise of his wife. He left his work and ran home but she had already been buried by the time he got there. He was so sad.

He couldn’t understand why communication had to be so slow. One day he got into some discussion about electromagnetism. Later on, he got a job at New York University and decided to attend lectures on electricity.

Afterward, he, Samuel Morse invented the Morse code and the telegraph, sending his first message on the 24th May 1844. That’s the beginning of text messaging, emails, money transfers, etc. In fact, when he clocked 80, Western Union employees honoured him for creating the industry that employed them.

One’d just want to imagine what the world would have been like if Samuel Morse did not look back to solve the problem that caused him so much pain.

Billy Graham — A head taller than everyone else!

It took extra effort to listen to Billy Graham. He was not a speaker to my generation. But his TED talk in 1998 on Technology, Faith and Human shortcomings was phenomenal! And with his books, he remains in circulation! So many lessons to take from a simple life. My dad said that he came to Ibadan in 1960 going even to the villages on the fringes of the city.

Such a tall man, physically and in many other ramifications.
Lessons

1. Gluttony (Overeating).

I never knew that overeating was a sin till I read Billy Graham’s book The Seven Deadly Sins. While the whole world knows the sin of Sodom called Sodomy, little is said of the sin of overeating in Sodom. And I used to overeat!

Ezekiel 16:49 — Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

We don’t hear much about overeating anymore.

2. Even great men of God sometimes question their faith.

In the book God’s Generals: The Revivalists, Roberts Liairdon discussed the life of Billy Graham. At a time in his young life, Billy Graham had a preacher friend who began to question the authority of the Bible. He eventually sowed his seeds of doubt in the heart of Billy Graham. However, Graham did not fault the Bible; he only asked God to prove to him that the Bible is the final authority. For months, his relationship with God went down.

Then one day, he got tired of his position especially because God did not respond. Finally, he took a walk into the woods and sat on a log. He spoke to God and explained how things have gone down between the two of them since he started asking questions. He had reached a breaking point and decided to accept the finality of the Word of God by faith. He was ready to move on without proof. At that moment, he said that he felt the presence of God again like he had not felt in months!

3. Divorce

Someone interviewed Mrs Ruth Graham with a focus on her marriage. She pointed out that Billy Graham was just a man like any other after all. Finally, the interviewer asked if she had ever considered divorce What an answer she gave: “Divorce, No; Murder, Yes!” What does this teach?

They were married for almost 64 years.

4. Though you are not at a disadvantage, help those who are!

Billy Graham marched with Martin Luther King Jr for the emancipation of the American blacks. In fact, once MLK was jailed, it was Billy Graham who bailed him out. Graham stood by what he believed.

5. We are collaborators, not competitors.

In God’s Generals: The Healing Evangelists, Liairdon discussed the life of Oral Roberts. Oral Roberts was a healing evangelist, quite a controversial one. Billy Graham was a conservative preacher who wouldn’t pray for any sick. He would say, “That’s Oral Roberts’ gift.” The day he invited Oral Roberts to speak at his crusade, Roberts declined. He did not want to “soil” Graham’s conservativism with his controversial personality. But Graham insisted. And all went well.

6. Prepare for temptation

Steve Farrar’s book FINISHING STRONG reports that Billy Graham had a team that went ahead of him to inspect his hotel rooms. And?
Once, they found a naked lady and cameras hiding, waiting to implicate the reverend gentleman.

7. Learn!

It is reported that Billy Graham was the father to several American Presidents. It was not always like that. The first time that Billy Graham was invited to the White House, he came outside and like a “Christian who must not lie,” he reeled out everything they discussed behind closed doors. The President was so mad that he described Graham as an opportunist who was only looking for popularity. I don’t think he ever met that President again, but certainly, he never told the press everything he discussed behind closed doors again. I can’t remember which of his books I read that from!

8. Update!

Billy Graham wrote Storm Warnings in 1992. He said that once a journalist told him to stop scaring people with messages from the Bible and about the end of the world. Graham told the journalist to check the headlines and see who was scaring the people. Storm Warnings is about the gathering clouds about the end of the age.

Then living a few years more, he concluded that the clouds were getting darker, so he updated the book and published a new edition!

In recent years, there was a short video message from Billy Graham that circulated on the internet; he was still trying to reach the modern world from his wheelchair.

9. Father! (verb)

Until Barack Obama, Billy Graham prayed at “all” the inaugurations of US Presidents. But in 2009, he was already 91. Obama invited Rick Warren to pray. Inaugurations are in January, in winter. Rick Warren discovered a few days to the inauguration, that his winter hat was missing! That day or so, he received a box in the mail. Curiously, he opened it. It was a winter hat with a note from Billy Graham, “I wore this for all the inaugurations.

That still brings tears to my eyes! Won’t you like to serve after such a man?

10. Trust the next generation

Gradually, age crept up with Rev Graham. He handed his ministry over to his son. Then gradually, he could not move about much again. But Joel Osteen reported on how he takes time to visit Billy Graham. Guess what? Billy Graham used to watch Joel Osteen on TV! He told Joel Osteen one day, “I would have loved to visit your church, but you have such a crowd, I don’t think I’d get a seat!

Numbers 23:10

Let me die the death of the righteous, and may my final end be like theirs!

KPIs

It’s a new year again.

At the beginning of each year, many of us set out to achieve some goals: several goals. From another point, having seen many years and set many goals, some of us have set goals repeatedly and repeatedly, have seen them not come to pass.

A mentor helped us to classify our goals into about 7 categories:
– Physical/health goals,
– Financial goals,
– Career goals,
– Intellectual goals,
– Family goals,
– Charity goals,
– Spiritual goals.
It makes it quite simple.

However, while we set routine growth goals, we should also give attention to 1 or 2 “Project” goals which may be like everything to us: a few unique goals.

For example, if you’d set out to become the President of your country this year, that’s a project kind of goal. You probably will not set out to become the President of your country and become the CEO of your organisation in the same year!
However, in the year you plan to become the President, you will still hope to be a better parent and a better spouse! In that same year, if the roof of your house is leaking, you will still plan to fix it. If your house is invaded by mice, you will still fumigate the house.

The point:
In this year 2018, apart from the regular goals that we have been achieving and growing in year after year, let’s dig deep to find the 1 or 2 Key Performances Indicators which if we could only achieve, we would declare the year a success!

I look to You!

Whitney Houston was a child of promise taught to sing in the Baptist church choir by her choir mistress mother. And she was good.

She grew up on the disadvantaged side of life, the African American side of those days. As a teenager, she was introduced to drugs by her brothers, not Bobby Brown. In fact, the story says that she had the drugs, he had the liquor; they introduced each other to something.

Drugs did her much harm as she overdosed repeatedly till she died of it. Drugs probably chose her closest friends and relationships.

Her closest pals, however, believe that she died of a broken heart; a broken heart. She was heartbroken because she did not take good care of the body which God gave to her and that she had generally disappointed God. She was also broken by the fact that her octogenarian father filed a suit against her to claim $100m from her. He was her Manager. Hmm. Her career employed/supported everyone in her family.

There are videos of Whitney leading her husband and crew to pray before shows. And her crew members tell of singing sessions that were supernatural as she sang to God; they all felt it.

Have you heard her last song? I look to You!



As I lay me down,
Heaven hear me now.
I’m lost without a cause
After giving it my all.

Winter storms have come
And darkened my sun.
After all that I’ve been through
Who on earth can I turn to?

I look to you.
I look to you.
After all my strength is gone,
In you I can be strong
I look to you.
I look to you.
And when melodies are gone,
In you I hear a song.
I look to you.

About to lose my breath,
There’s no more fighting left,
Sinking to rise no more,
Searching for that open door.
And every road that I’ve taken
Led to my regret.
And I don’t know if I’m going to make it.
Nothing to do but lift my head
I look to you.

Her words suggest a life of promise culminating in unfulfillment.

The story in the movie “Can I be me” leaves no room for blame. Maybe if she’d grown up on our side of town, she’d have been a different person.

My lessons from her life:

1. Things are not always the way they appear; drop the blame and judgment.

2. You can’t really live your life for others.

3. You have to take responsibility for your life.

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