“If you succeed, it is your fault; if you fail, it is your fault. In a race, nothing counts but making a mark. To make a mark you must stay current and relevant. Occupying a position without a mark is like a drama in a theater.” –Pst John Ugwu
Two days from today, the world, which of course, includes our nation, will again be celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ popularly known as Christmas. And as had always been the case, we have witnessed huge preparations involving expenditures of all kinds. Side by side with this had been travels involving, in some instances, whole families. The atmosphere is both thick and electrifying.
In Christendom, the Churches are already full of preparation, too. Churches are repainted and new decorations made. Carol sessions are part of the bargain, just as the sermons run on similar themes. For millions across the world, the event has become an annual ritual. It is just about that event that must be celebrated, nothing more, nothing less. Many just take a plunge into it, just to end up paving their way from richness back to poverty or even to catch diseases, which may end up terminating useful lives at prime. Celebrating Christmas this way negates the entire essence of the whole event.
Let me say this: not many who celebrate in the name of Christmas know that spiritual events are not made to satisfy physical longings and it ends there, no, there are more fundamental things attached to them than many know. In Christianity, for instance, when we mourn with those who mourn, it is partly to give physical emotional support, but much more to call forth long life and divine health, which is the original heritage of the saints.
The same conviction guides birthdays, you count your years so that you can apply your heart to wisdom. Wisdom is the practical application of godly rules for the highest wellbeing of man. So, celebrating the birthday of Christ is essentially to recall the example God Himself has shown, that He would require men and women of right standing and disposition to realize an earth where life is a song worth singing.
There was a time, going by Christian theology (for over 400 years), that God turned His back on the earth, the story was that of man’s inhumanity to man. Emphasis on carnality led men to hate, despise, covet, and to fight wars that ought not to be in the first place. Negative spiritualism took hold every where, to the point that even fathers loving themselves more than anything saw nothing wrong in offering their children for sacrifices of various kinds; some even killed and ate their loved ones.
Ambition drove service and the consequences were impositions and slavery. When God sought to reverse things, He introduced the joker in Christ, who came in a peculiar manner and had distinct character. The first philosophy we see in the emergence of Christ is that the family, clan, local government, states and nations are waiting for just One Man with the great vision and accompanying disposition to make the big sacrifice. For us in the black world, that is what is lacking.
Finding men of great vision and passion is difficult to come by. Like Christ, the leader that would make impact, would not be a product of accidental discharge. He will be a leader that knows the concerns of His people and society and who from birth was prepared for the great task. The life of Christ has aspects to do with training. Today, many of those who celebrate him have no skill, yet the talk of a good life never leaves their mouth. Many hold on to vain talk until maturity comes with all the attendant frustrations and they become nuisance to their environments.
The life of Christ shows that the prepared mind cannot be stagnated. He will always find his way amidst obstacles and challenges. This is a vital point that even the leadership miss. The unfortunate outcome of this is that we have more prisons than we have skill acquisition centres. Even our educational curricula reflect lack of understanding of the example Christ left behind. In schools, our approach is to train the young ones to internalize other peoples thought, whereas true education should seek to liberate the potentials already implanted in man by God. Is anybody still wondering why unemployment and its effects want to kill all of us? Christmas reminds us that everyday should be our Xmas. It is a reminder that life and living is more than sleeping and waking up to eat good food and drink choice wines.
That is not life; it’s not acquisition rated, but distribution based. The birth of Christ teaches us that the nation we want would not be possible except like God, we are willing to expend efforts to recreate things in the image we want them. Much more is the fact that Christmas admonishes us individually to carry noble values. Our societies from the village level to the national stage are waiting for those brilliant ideas. The space is waiting for men who can make sacrifices. How many of us like Christ, spare a thought for the orphans, the less privileged, the sick, the oppressed and the forgotten? How many of us are bothered by our penchant to subvert laid down rules, tell lies, doublespeak and even eliminate others just to have our needs met.
How many of us are worried by the massive miscarriage of justice that pervades the land? As we live our lives, what is it that we count the most important? This is the big question the birth of Christ posses to those who care to ponder. By now the lesson should sink in that a man’s life is not measured by his possessions. Those who hold tight to this world sooner or later find out that vanity upon vanity, all is vanity.
What outlives us are those genuine efforts we made to make our environment better than we found them and those extra miles we went through to put smiles on the faces of the downtrodden. This is what makes life meaningful and that is the main lesson of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. To all my ardent readers this is wishing you all a merry Christmas, and may this season bring you unquenchable joy and a brighter future. Merry Christmas!
A shoulder for Oronto Douglas, condolences to the Yakowas and Azazis
Pity, looking for money to keep the family going is not an easy task. It is specially a daunting task in our kind of environment where nearly every economic activity revolves round the government. Getting a penny consumes all your attention and time. It tasks your brain and keeps you moving from one point to another in frenzy. So, taking a chance to see what the news is about appears a little difficult. Mind you, I said “seeing what the news is saying” not hearing, because you can hear, and if your mind is miles away, then it is possible the substance of what has been heard could be lost.
I never heard that Oronto Douglas, Special Adviser to the President on Research and Documentation, lost his father, let alone going about the burial. It was my wife who ran into the bedroom, where I was reading last Saturday night, screaming, “Nigeria is in trouble again, Nigeria is in trouble again; another plane crash!” That made me forget I have a television in the room, to run to the parlour to share the grievous moment with the rest already gathered in the parlour. They all looked lost, never mind that none of them ever met Azazi or Yakowa.
They wailed and shouted, “Oh Yakowa, what an unlucky man; they have at last killed him! Who were the “they”, I never heard them mention any name. On Azazi, I heard them repeatedly cry, “Oh good man!” And then ask “why is it that good men die early? They cried for the departed souls and asked themselves the questions. If they had asked me, I would have probably referred them to the Holy Bible – precisely in Psalm 116:15, which says the Lord loves the death of the precious one, or Isaiah 57:1, which says why do you cry and trouble yourself when the good man dies, don’t you know the Lord orders the return home of the good so that future events won’t destroy his standing with God?
Azazi and Yakowa I have never met, but from close public watch, I found them great men of honour. Both men were not typical Nigerian politicians. They were intelligent, forthright, visionary and extremely humane and humble. Those who have these qualities hardly can make it for long in our kind of atmosphere, where by collective guilt we have chosen to make Satan the undisputed chairman. Yakowa mounted the throne against “tradition” and that alone meant so much. Yet, he maintained calm only good men could put on display. I was touched deeply when I learnt his deputy is virtually the “son of those that put him there”. This knowledge set me wondering what kind of democracy we have in our nation. Can a true democracy throw up such scenarios almost always?
Azazi in national service showed honesty and naivety only associated with Godly souls. He approached his duties humanely and with wisdom, but more than these, he did not know how to tell lies, doublespeak or cover up inadequacies. He called a spade a spade. Such characters are not from planet earth, they are from heaven. Like Christ, they go back early.
Oronto Douglas, I don’t know what to say. A committed patriot, a man who lives the life of Christ; he can sacrifice for the health of others. His contributions outside government to the development of Nigeria can’t be quantified. I knew him when he was commissioner for Information in Bayelsa State and I, his counterpart for Abia. He loved to interact and make friends. When he invited the whole of Nigeria for his father’s burial, his desire was to use the occasion to send a strong message on friendship irrespective of tribe, creed or culture. He wanted to cement brotherhood. You see, man proposes, Satan disposes.
Satan interfered and turned an occasion that has already ended very well on a joyous note to huge ashes. Oronto must take heart. At times like these, it seems God is nowhere and that the world is coming to an end. God’s promise is that He is present. Sadness may endure for the night, but joy shall certainly return to Oronto Douglas and his family in the morning. He does not deserve what came his way. Temptations, if well-handled, don’t kill; this one will not kill or destroy Douglas. He will come out stronger and better for the benefit of our nation. To all families affected, God has not forsaken you. A new season of great joy will return. May God grant you all fortitude to bear this great loss!