BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: BOOKS VS. REALITY

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
– Reinhold Niebuhr
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The title of today’s post seems to give it away as a contest, not a bad idea if we set books against reality, after all it is boxing day.

In 2006, I set lofty goals for myself. It was the year I clocked 20, so I thought it nice to grow my mind and spirit. To grow my mind, I set a target of reading at least 12 books in the year. One thing about goals is, you almost never hit the bull’s eye, so I ended reading about 36 books that year alone! I also went through the whole of the Bible. And you know what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, – “the mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions,” I have never been able to recover from the reading habit. Since that time till now, at every point in time I have at least a book I’m reading and right now, they are three – a fiction, an inspirational text and a christian text!

Just around that period I got attached to books by John C. Maxwell (I refer to myself as his disciple). I love his take on leadership. Just an aside, he gave me a follow back on twitter. The bulk of what I enjoy reading can be divided into three heads – success, leadership and relationship.

I love building relationships. As an individual, I am an outgoing introvert. Don’t be deceived, the keyword is introvert. The outgoing part doesn’t mean I enjoy partying or hanging out, it means I’m not the sulking, (entirely) boring and depressed introvert. If I find your company good enough, I could chat from morning till night. I know that relationships are essential. Humans are relational beings, we were meant to be interdependent. While building relationships come quite easy for sanguines, it isn’t that easy for phlegmatics. It is something we have to consciously work at. So, almost naturally, a brother had to read Dale Carnegie’s popular How to win friends and influence people .

No doubt, the book is a great self-help tool and it sure helps in penetrating through hard people. However, if you are an avid reader and not one who stops at just reading but goes further to practise the things you read you would have realised that there’s a great gulf between what you read and the way it plays out in real life. For starters, we know the difference in laws in pure science and laws in social science. To borrow the words of a great man, humans are not a subject of mathematical precision. We react differently to the same situations, so no singular approach is a one-size-fits-all for human beings.

In my opinion, I think there are three sets of people –
1. People who will like you regardless of what you do;
2. People who will like/dislike you based on what you do; and
3. People who will not like you regardless of what you do.
And here is where books come to play. For the first set of people, you don’t need any book knowledge to get along with them. They are jolly good fellows and they take life easy. The second set of people are the reasons why relationship books are written, book knowledge will help you know how to handle them. You need to be careful around them, read their moods, find out what they like and dislike. This set of people need to be studied for you to get along with them and once you unlock their secret codes, voila, you see them in a different light!

And for the last set of people, no amount of book knowledge will help you out in relating with them. Unlike what books will have you believe, you will never be able to break the hard code of some people. These people are hard, they decide who to like and who not to like. You have no part to play in the category you fall in with them. No matter what you do, they will always resist and make you believe you killed them in their former life and they are here to get back their pound of flesh. This is where Reinhold Niebuhr’s words come in – serenity to accept (who) you cannot change.

Don’t get me wrong, books are good but reality sometimes comes in shades not painted by books. This is my honest thought. You may disagree and I would love to hear your comments. Once again, compliments of the season.

I am @seunalade on twitter.

Posted in 1001 TALKS | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

IS IT MERRY CHRISTMAS IN CHIBOK?

Amidst the wining and dining that characterises the mood of today, a friend spares some thoughts for the over 200 girls that were kidnapped in Chibok. Enjoy this selfless piece sent in by Opeyemi Tegbe.

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All over the world people desire to be part of the joy and fun that is always associated with the celebration of Christmas. As the world celebrates the Christmas today, in fact, in a more narrow sovereign definition, as Nigeria celebrates Christmas today, it’s unfortunate that the Chibok community is celebrating Christmas without their 216 daughters. The girls, who were kidnapped by the Boko haram sect (meaning ‘western education is evil’) from their school on the 14th day of April, 2014, were reportedly 219 in number as at the moment they were kidnapped but reduced to 216 after 3 of the girls miraculously escaped from the camp of the Islamic sect. 

During an interview, the chairman of Chibok community in Abuja, Mutah Nkeki said: “We are saddened. Our girls are not back with us. It is devastating that we can’t celebrate this day with them. In a community, 219 girls are abducted. How many of us are remaining then? These girls are in their productive stage. Their absence is affecting on the community and it is like an entire tribe has been wiped out.” He also made it known that the community had lost hope in the government of the day – “ We have lost hope in the government. The way the abduction of our girls is being handled has shown us that we are not regarded as important people in the country. Compare how our Chibok girls’ abduction was handled to how Pakistan handled the case of 141 people including 132 children who were killed by the Taliban at an army-run school in Peshawar. Its response was immediate. If our government had responded immediately, our girls would have been back with us by now.”

Going by his utterances, Nkeki, like many other Nigerians, is disappointed in the government for failing in its responsibility of securing lives and properties of its citizens. There is no doubt, the Nigerian government has not only failed to rescue the Chibok girls, it has also failed in putting a stop to series of life-claiming attacks launched by the Islamic sect.

Honestly, it is about time we approached any issue that has to do with ‘the state of our nation’ in a more philosophical manner. By blaming insecurity on government, we also blame it on ourselves because we elected the people in government. Insecurity and any other contemporary matter facing our great nation emanated from fundamental and foundational errors which we have committed prior to this period. The problem is not just surfacing, it has only grown worse over the years. I believe the first step to extinguishing our smoke pipes as a country is by taking collective responsibility for the cause of the flames. President Obama said: “the #bringbackourgirls project is a global issue and not a Nigerian issue,” if non-Nigerians are willing to take responsibility, why should we Nigerians blame it on the government alone? Apart from using ballot papers to reposition our leadership structure in the country, we must take full responsibility for the current state of our nation and also put up the mindset that the solution to our problems can only come from us. Do not forget that elections come up once in 4 years but our contribution to the well-being of the nation as citizens is a recurrent activity.

A lot of questions are hanging in the air, questions like – are the Chibok girls not entitled to celebrate Christmas with their respective families? For how long will Nigerians suffer from the untraceable attacks of the Boko Haram sect? Don’t we have security agencies that can tackle the forbidden dominance of the Islamist sect in Nigeria? On a frank note, we are all responsible for providing answers to these questions.

Finally, please permit me to expand the scope of this article by altering its topic thus: IS IT A MERRY CHRISTMAS IN NIGERIA? Considering the pathetic situation of the Chibok girls, I am sure the answer that will come from every selfless Nigerian is “NO.” Therefore, as we celebrate the season, let us pray, meditate and also take selfless decisions for the sake of our beloved country. Merry Christmas and happy new year in advance.

Posted in FRIENDS | Leave a comment

LEARNING TO FOLLOW

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If you are a regular reader of this blog you might be wondering why the first post for this month is coming this late. I obviously have no excuse, but truth is – I am in the middle of so many things. Life is happening to me. Its been a time of learning to follow and trust God’s leading. So, in today’s post I will try show you what I have been learning.

There’s this saying among Christians that you don’t need to know the way when you’re following “The Way,” i.e Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Pretty true! Christ demands our complete trust in His ability to lead us right. But you see, sometimes we have difficulty following after Jesus because His Ways don’t always make “sense” to us. You feel like stoning me for blasphemy, right? Hold it. If God’s ways always aligned with our senses man would never have a problem following his leadings and obeying His commandments wholeheartedly but we sometimes do!

Sometimes we question God’s ways, sometimes we refuse to yield because they don’t just make “sense.” Isn’t that why He says in Isaiah 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways…”

In following God’s leading, we come to these two junctures:
1. Where His leading doesn’t make “sense” to us, and
2. Where we feel He has left us alone.

Let me illustrate the first juncture. I am a car owner on a journey I have never embarked upon before. Midway, I come across a man who knows the way very well, Let’s call his name J. I decide to give him a ride so he can show me the way. Funny thing is – this man prefers to sit at the owner’s corner and I don’t have a problem with that, after all he’s older and more knowledgeable.

Along the way we encounter a gridlock and I see everyone use a different route which seems like a short cut, I peep and see that the short cut is free of traffic and I try to follow suit because that’s what obviously makes sense to do. As I try to take the short cut, I hear J tell me that I shouldn’t. I heed his advice. We continue in the traffic jam for another harrowing one hour and then I see another route being taken by many others, it seems like another short cut. This time my mind is made up and I try to join the route, again J says no, continue driving in this hold up. Ol’boy! Feels like I have had enough. I do a quick thinking and conclude, this is my car and this is my journey, why listen to this man and continue in this mess? At that moment I tell J to come down from my car. I can make do with road signs, help from passers by and co-travellers.

I don’t know if you saw yourself in that illustration but that’s the way it really feels when you’re being led not to take the popular route, it just doesn’t make any sense. But we know that, “…as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are (God’s) ways higher than (our) ways, and (God’s) thoughts than (our) thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9). In the short run, our plans/ideas can turn out superb but ultimately, God is always right. He sees the end from the beginning.

The second juncture is also common, at the height of our fears, desperation and storms we feel abandoned. This juncture can be illustrated with a beautiful story popularly called “Footprints in the sand.” I’m unable to locate the original owner of the story but I have reproduced it here as seen in a picture frame.

“One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.

“When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.

“This really bothered him and he
questioned the LORD about it: ‘LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me.’

“The LORD replied: ‘My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

In moments when we feel lonely, we should be reminded of the Lord’s saying to us in Matthew 28:20, “…lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

I have tried to share some of the things I have been learning and I hope it helps you on your way.

You can reach me on twitter @seunalade

Posted in LIFE LESSONS | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

MY FIRST GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN IKIRUN

There was something unique about Monday and Friday mornings in Ikirun, they were the days we had our general assemblies. Today as we continue in this series, I will share my first general assembly experience of November 3, 1997 with you.

There are schools with grounds specially marked out for holding general assemblies, but not FGC Ikirun, remember that the school was still at its early days thus most facilities were makeshift and often serving more than one purpose. Did I tell you that our chapel services held in the dining hall? We also had an hostel we called lab-hostel because it was originally built to be a laboratory but at a time we used it as a hostel despite the laboratory fittings. Our general assemblies were held in the open space between the block housing the staff room and the SSS 1 block then.

Allow me to take you on a minor tour of these two blocks that enclosed our assembly ground. Almost all the blocks in Ikirun had four rooms each. So our staff room was not the only room in the block referred to as the staff room block, the block also accommodated the school library, the store and fine art studio. I’m tempted to give you gist about the library but I won’t yield, we will get to talk about that later.

Every class in Ikirun for the first five years of its existence had five arms designated with alphabets A-E. For the junior classes, you were simply placed in any of the arms and you maintain the same class all through JSS. Unlike schools like Mayflower College, Okene you were not assigned to a class based on your performance or any other criteria for that matter. However, for senior classes, arms A and B were for science students, arm C was the Technical class, arm D was commercial class and arm E was the arts class. The block we referred to as our SSS 1 block did not house all the arms of the SSS 1 class, the block only accommodated SSS 1 A-D, SSS 1 E shared a block with JSS 3 A-C.

So, after the sumptuous meal that Monday morning we all returned to our various rooms. We had some seniors in our room, chief of which was Farouk Sheji. He it must have been, or one of the other seniors around, that told us the siren would soon be heard again and when it sounded we should proceed to the assembly ground. Few minutes passed between when we had our breakfast and when the siren sounded, the little time was accorded us to allow our food digest a little. At the sound of the siren, chaos descended. Our block being the first hostel block was no fun, every teacher and prefect found it easy to barge into our room and chase us out for the assembly and so we all scrambled out of the room in fear of canes from different angles and persons. Many of those chases were needless.

As the newcomers, we were the first on the assembly ground. Slowly, the bigger boys and girls surfaced afterwards. Then the teachers showed up next. We waited a little while and then noticed a man in agbada come in from the direction of the admin block. He was accompanied by the Vice Principal, Mr. Oderinwale and some other senior staff. You didn’t need to be told, he was the boss, our Principal, Elder T.A. Oyebode. I don’t remember ever seeing our principal, Elder Timothy Oyebode in anything other than agbada.

At this period in Ikirun, we had just one Vice Principal, it was later that we had two – Vice Principal in charge of Administration (VP admin) and Vice Principal in charge of Academics (VP Acad). I remember clearly that the VP, Mr. Oderinwale lived in the staff quarters, he shared a block with Mr. Adewunmi (of sports). It is hard to forget because their block was in front of the stream. The Principal however did not live within the school premises.

After getting to the table and chair that had been arranged for him and the other staff, the principal spoke into the amplifier, “let’s sing the national anthem.” To the left of the principal on that raised platform was the drummer and his set of drums. In between the drummer and the principal was our conductor, Patrick Obafemi. He was in yellow house and was the social prefect. His act in conducting when singing the anthem was a spectacle to behold, just for the fun of it though. Who understood the movements he made with his hands? There was another spectacular thing we did while singing the national anthem. For comic effect we ended every line of the national anthem with the words “f’agolo mu gari.” Its hard to explain but it was fun, as long as we reduced our voices when including our addendum to the national anthem. The words arose from the sound the drum made.

The national anthem was usually followed with prayers. After which news will be read to us by a member of the Press club, the club was headed by Mr. Amusan. We had several newscasters, but for me Ngozi Ezekafor stood out because we attended same primary school, I’m not sure she was the one that read the news that first day. After the news, the principal addressed us, particularly welcoming us the new students. His address to us that day didn’t end until he admonished the seniors on our behalf. The principal never ended any address without telling us “no bullying, no fagging.” Many of us didn’t know what that meant because he never explained to us, nevertheless, the words soon became a part of our vocabulary – bullying and fagging.

After the address by the principal, next on the agenda was a rendition of the school anthem. We were encouraged to learn the school anthem. The anthem was composed by Mr Oke, his house was on the path to the stream and he shared a block with Mr. Amusan. He was our music teacher and I must confess that he was a good composer. That day, we were introduced to the school anthem that went thus:
“O God of creation,
We have come together, from so many states to search for knowledge that we may all be blessings to the whole nation,
From FGCI our alma mater.

We pray to God,
To be our guide,
Teach us to live with love and peace,
FGC Ikirun our alma mater.

Great Great Great fellow students,
Great Great Great our teachers,
Great Great Great our college,
Great Great Great our alma mater.”
Many of us loved our school anthem from that day we first heard it and still do, it is one of the sweet memories of FGC Ikirun.

After the anthem, we said the pledge to signal the end of the assembly. While the older students marched to their various classes, we waited behind for further directions.

I am @seunalade

Posted in THE IKIRUN CHRONICLES | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

28 YEARS AND COUNTING

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“The best life was not handed to me, but this one life I have got I will make it count.”
-‘Seun Alade

Since I started this blog, every year I try to come up with a birthday post. And today’s post is dedicated to all my friends too numerous to count or mention.

When it comes to birthdays I tend to take a somewhat Jehovah Witness approach to it. My birthday is a solemn day for me. It’s a day to reflect on the decisions I have taken in the course of the past year(s) and also try to peep into the coming year(s). A time to look at how strong I have fared and how weak I have been. A day to consider what boy I was and the man I am becoming. A time to look at where I have failed and where I have succeeded. A day to consider how firm I have stood and how badly I had fallen.

In the short time I have spent on earth I have felt deep pain and great joy. I have known the depth of sorrow and I have known the height of gladness. I have cried and I have laughed. Believe you me, this is not a practice in antonyms. I have felt things I may never be able to say, let’s say – I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death.

As an introvert, I try to hide my pains. If you are an introvert, you know that your mind is your best friend and your privacy is your biggest party. So, I may strike you like a happy-going fella with no issues, don’t be deceived, maybe I’m just good at concealing my feelings with a smile. Some friends say – if you’re ever looking for Seun go find him on twitter and so you might think that’s where you find me, wrong. You’ll need to pierce through this heart to find me.

I have been at points where I tried to share my pains and it seemed no one understood. What do I do? Go back to try fix it myself. You see, only God can feel and touch some pains. And through it all, God has been faithful. While in the university, for about two years I had an hand-written copy of the hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus” in my wallet and I carried it everywhere I went and looked up at it when I needed to.

Its been a great experience, thank God for Jesus, the ever present friend. And also, the wonderful human friends I have got. There are days when it seems like Jesus is far away and the ones who can help you through are the friends around. And boy ol boy, I have been blessed with friends. And they are so many that I won’t bother to mention any name. You know yourselves. They are the ones who make this day worth celebrating. The ones who will make me feel like I can defeat Jonathan in the 2015 elections. The ones who give me reasons to smile. The ones who fix the rainbow in the sky. The ones who commend me now and then. On this birthday, my shout outs go to you my friends. When I count my blessings, I always thank God for blessing me with so many friends.

I have always wanted to do a post to appreciate all you my friends and today I get an excuse to do that.

What does it feel like to be 28? Let me find out.

I am @seunalade

Posted in BIRTHDAY NOTE, QUICK PRESS | 4 Comments

NOVEMBER 3, 1997

NB: This is the continuation of a series, in case you’re just joining, please take out time to read all the earlier pieces on “The Ikirun Chronicles” to make sense of today’s piece. Enjoy.

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Finally, Monday was here and there was joy in our hearts, we were eager to experience the main reason why we left our families and travelled miles to a place we didn’t know existed until some few days ago – classes. We were really excited about starting classes, we wanted to have a feel of new subjects of Junior Secondary School and especially those with long names – Integrated Science and Introductory Technology.

Many of us woke up pretty early so we could beat the rush at the stream and also because we wanted to have our bath outside, in front of the hostel. It wasn’t like we didn’t have a bathroom, but really, did we have any? There was a passage between the room that housed us (yellow and blue house boys) and that of the green and red house boys and that was what served as our bathroom. You would recall that I said each room had about fifty occupants apiece, that means the passage was bathroom to about a hundred boys, whew! We had to look for options, but there was a little problem with our option.

Our hostel was located along a major pathway used by the whole school community. Our hostel stood on the way to the dining hall, it was behind the admin(istration) block, beside the lab(oratory) and adjacent to the staff room. Did you see that? We were strategically located and that set-up meant you had to be fast about bathing in the open. You see, junior girls swept the dining hall daily and it was those ones we dodged the most. And we heard stories that some girls actually chose to come very early so they could see our ‘thing’ and you really wouldn’t want your ‘thing’ to be the subject of discussion among the girls in your class.

Having had our bath that early, we dressed up in our second piece of house wear and went back to the hostel, waiting for the day to break. We didn’t have school uniforms yet. Tailors contracted by the school would later come to take our measurement and sew our ‘white and green,’ that’s what we called our school uniform. At daybreak, we found our way to the dining hall and realised that it wasn’t just us, the JSS 1 students, that didn’t have school uniforms yet, some of the SS 1 students didn’t too, and that was because the uniform for the senior classes was different from that of the junior classes.

Boys in junior classes wore white short sleeves on green trousers while those in senior classes wore white long sleeves on green trousers. Junior girls on the other hand wore green pinafores over their white shirts and their seniors wore white shirts over green skirts. However, there was nothing to differentiate students in junior classes from those in senior classes when on house wear. While all the boys wore short sleeves checkered shirts over brown trousers as house wears, all the girls wore checkered gowns as house wears. But some senior boys still went ahead to sew long sleeve house wears to show off. Still on our differentiation by uniform. While the boys didn’t refer to themselves by their wears, the girls did, they called their juniors pinafore. So, you would hear things like – “one pinafore there” and the junior girl would respond, “yes skirt.” Girls sha.

Our dress code was later changed in year 2000. Junior boys were then required to wear shorts both as house wear and school uniform, while the seniors wore trousers but the use of long sleeve shirt was eradicated. The change took place as my set was moving to senior class. So it was a mixed feeling, it was painful as it meant that I never wore long sleeve shirt in Ikirun and that was an experience every junior looked forward to. The good side was that, I never wore shorts, the last set to wear trousers all through Ikirun. It should be pointed out that the change was as a result of senior boys who were in the habit of folding their sleeves, the school authority reasoned that it was better to cut the sleeve rather than roll it up.

We waited in our room till we heard the siren. We were summoned for everything with the siren. Our siren was not like the siren blared by the police on the road, ours was like an alarm that went – weeeuunn, weeeuunn, weeeuunn. The siren sounded far to almost all the nooks and crannies of the school, because you could hear at the stream. We all had an idea of what was next in the agenda for the day, the siren said the exact time. After the siren, we still had the bell that would be rung by a student around the dormitories and class rooms, just in case you missed the siren. After hearing the siren, we went for our plates and the cacophony began. It was like a rite, once it was time for food, there must be noise, the clanging of spoon on stainless steel plates in hundred places. If we were not drumming with our plates, we were spinning them in the air. We were boys and we lived every bit of that role.

Usually, you were assigned a table in the dining hall, and we were fourteen per table. Fourteen people shared food in a bowl. As at this point, we had just one dining hall in Ikirun, an archaic building that looked like it was rescued from the stone age. You could immediately tell that it was not built for our generation, with cobwebs flying across the whole building and ceiling fans that showed rust of many decades and stopped working many years ago. The first time I saw the dining hall I was scared, it looked like a building from a nightmare or a horror movie.

The structures used for FGC Ikirun were originally used by a defunct Teachers training college and upon the creation of Osun state in 1991, the vacant premise were cited as a possible location for the state’s unity school. According to the rule, all states of the federation should have two unity schools – one unisex college and one girls’ only college. The unisex unity school for Osun state was located in Ikirun, while the girls’ only college was located in Ipetumodu. Both were established in 1995.

At this point, we the JSS 1 students didn’t have tables,  so we were served straight from the giant cooking pots, oh my. That’s was a harrowing experience. You queued for food just the way you do at NYSC camps. That Monday morning, we were served rice and stew. That was another sweet delicacy that I looked forward to in Ikirun and when they would decide to starve me, the school authority changed our Monday breakfast to bread and stew.

I am @seunalade

Posted in THE IKIRUN CHRONICLES | 6 Comments

SEEDS OF KINDNESS

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“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
-Maya Angelou

You’ve often heard that – people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. We often talk of our desire to see the world a changed place but we do nothing about it. A lot can change if we treat people well, if we show kindness to the people we come across daily, if we aim to plant smiles on people’s faces, if we treat people nicely irrespective of class, race or faith. Every human has intrinsic value. No one is entirely useless. The fact that someone doesn’t meet up to your expectation in a particular area doesn’t mean you treat them as garbage. Every human is a gold mine and ought to be treated with value. Be kind.

In our part of the world, we don’t value one another, hence our governments don’t care to give us good roads, fund schools or equip hospitals. And it cascades down to the society, it shows in how we treat one another in the neighbourhood, workplace etc.

It’s a hurting world no doubt. You already have your own list of worries to attend to. But you can still be the soothing balm for someone. There are people who already have a thousand and one reasons to jump off the cliff, don’t be the one to add another thousand reasons, rather be the one to offer a thousand and one reasons to keep going. Touch a life positively, do good, be kind.

You may not see the reason why you should lift others up, but let me show you why. It’s because everyone is an extension of God, everyone you see deserves to be treated like God. It’s perplexing to realize that kind acts are rare in such a religious country like Nigeria. We will go any length to make people know we are believers but stop short at doing good deeds. Kindness is mainly in doing, not just in saying. We build houses with tall fences and barbed wire to keep the hungry away from our abode. We are quick to tell needy people “it is well” when we can do something about their situation.

When there is a discourse on kind acts, it is not unusual to share the story I am about to share. It is highly probable that you’ve read or heard about it, however let me reproduce it here for the sake of those who are yet to come across it. I did a little research on the story and found out that it is actually a true life story but the popular version has been modified to make it more “interesting,” but I have modified this version to make it look real. Enjoy it:

“One day, a hungry boy decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so she brought him a glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, ‘How much do I owe you?’.’You don’t owe me anything,’ she replied.’Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.’

“Years later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes.

“Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case. After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room.

“She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words….. ‘Paid in full with one glass of milk.”

In closing, let me state that kind acts don’t die, they go ahead of us into the future, that’s why I call them seeds of kindness. You may not get them back from those you offered them to but you will reap them. Remember karma, its the outcome of what you do, just give it time.

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PS: Dr. Howard Kelly was one of the four founding doctors of Johns Hopkins, the first medical research university in the United States. You can read up all the versions of the story by searching with ‘paid in full with one glass of milk’ on google.

I am seunalade

Posted in 1001 TALKS | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

MORE FROM MY FIRST SUNDAY IN IKIRUN

Its still November 2, 1997

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One would have thought that we have had enough for one day, considering what we had already gone through, but not yet. We still had the whole Sunday ahead of us. After our toilet chores what was paramount in our minds was on how to have our bath so we could freshen up. So, we wanted to know where to get water.

Some, the early birds among us, had made enquiries the day before; some others who had a certain privilege, the privilege of having an older sibling, had been shown around the school. The rest of us who take things slowly and didn’t have that privilege would just be introduced to the school’s source of water – the stream.

Having an older sibling in Ikirun was a luxury, bigger if s/he was in the first set, it meant you were untouchable. If you were a boy, it was good if you had an elder brother, and an elder sister if you were a girl. However, the equation could still be balanced if what you had as a boy was a sister but one who had male friends, or vice versa. Still, if you didn’t have that natural advantage, it could be created if you had a school father or school mother. Yours sincerely didn’t have the natural advantage of having an older sibling and every means to create the advantage artificially was frustrated. I ran far from those who wanted to be my school fathers. I have always had this “funny” sense of independence.

Usually, if one wanted to fetch water at the stream, you went with your pail and keg. As new students, we still had our sparkling Hoesch aluminium pail and one of those brightly coloured 10-litres keg. I’m not sure if I set out with my pail and keg on that first trip. Experience would have to teach me that. The reason for carrying a pail and a keg was because the stream was far from the hostels, it was a walk of about twenty minutes from where my hostel was. I really can’t tell why it was referred to as “stream” because what I met when I resumed in the school was a well. However, one could see signs that the well was probably sited on a spot where a stream once was. If you consider the fact that the stream was the only place that serviced the school’s population of about two thousand it would be easier for you to understand the difficulties we encountered with water. Fetching water at the stream was a war.

Having emerged victorious at the war for water, I had my bath and was eager for breakfast. The time for breakfast came and it was another disappointment when I realised that it was porridge. We didn’t eat porridge back at home and I wasn’t ready to learn to eat a new staple. As a matter of fact I still haven’t learnt how to eat porridge. The day didn’t want to show any good sign.

Its better to wrap this day up and move to a better day. If nothing else, that day’s lunch was good news. Our lunch in Ikirun on Sundays was a delicacy, it was jollof rice and egg. Oh, what a meal! No one who passed through Ikirun can forget “jollof rice and egg” stories.

I am @seunalade

Posted in THE IKIRUN CHRONICLES | 5 Comments

THE POWER OF TOGETHERNESS

I’m tempted to say happy new month because this is our first post this month, but I can’t, we are already in the second half of the month. Today, a great friend of the blog, Douglas Oyakhire returns with something very instructive.

I have never hidden the fact that I’m a student of John C. Maxwell and today’s post reminds me of Maxwell’s word that “one is too small a number to achieve greatness,” anything that will be great must have the input of more than one person. The Yoruba people have a saying that supports that line of thought, they say –  “one hand isn’t enough to lift a load,” if you can lift it with one hand, check what you have, it isn’t a load. I hope you’d enjoy this as much as I did.

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The power of togetherness – Douglas Oyakhire.

A few days ago I was watching a documentary on spiders. Yes, spiders! I know they are creepy, but I love documentaries a lot, most especially when it has to do with the animal kingdom. Spiders are naturally known to be lone hunters and scavengers, working as a team is not their thing. Spiders are solitary and are even aggressive toward other members of their own species, this I had known before.

However, there was something that arrested my attention during the course of this particular documentary, it was the fact that despite the life of struggle and survival tactics of the spiders, some species still live and work together as a community. Wise ones I call them. You see, an average spider’s web spans up to about about 0.75 square inches (4.84 square) and gets on the average one catch a day as a loner. On the other hand, the great guys – the tropical orb-weavers of the genus Nephila, spin webs measuring up to 25 feet, 9 inches (six meters) in circumference. Tell me, who gets the most meal on the table? Do the mathematics yourself.

I give as much respect to great leaders who believe in unity as I have given to these set of spiders. I did a little survey on married couples and I discovered that things work out best when they both combine efforts. It might not be equal though but it works just fine. Bosses, team leaders, fathers, mothers, friends should equally learn from this simple and subtle illustration of the power of togetherness. We gain more when we synergize than we can ever achieve when we go solo.

In closing, meditate on these words – “Those who walk alone move fast  while those that walk together go far.” Which would you rather choose. I choose the latter, for there is strength in unity.

The author is @douglas_ola on twitter.

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NOVEMBER 2, 1997

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Writing about November 1, 1997, you’d recall that I said I didn’t see anything spectacular about that day more than the fact that it was my first day in FGC Ikirun; however, the activities of my second day in Ikirun were remarkable, I knew it was a day I would remember for a while. The activities of that day opened up my eyes to what my stay in the school would look like.

In my mind, I was going to a Federal school where I would be under the tutelage of highly qualified teachers, and I got that. I also got what I didn’t bargain for, in Ikirun our lives were made miserable. Living in Ikirun was almost like what Thomas Hobbes described as living in the state of nature. As new students, we had to queue like Oliver Twists to get food and we ate standing; we also had makeshift classrooms. In short, there was no structure on ground to receive us.

We were told that our hostel was actually a girls’ hostel the year before. Yes, girls’ hostel the year before and now a boys’ hostel, that was the nature of FGC Ikirun, the purposes of buildings kept changing. Sometimes, class rooms were converted into hostels, laboratories converted to hostels etc. You could never tell what your hostel this year would be used for next year.

Let’s begin from the morning of 2nd November. I can’t remember how early the day started but I know it started pretty early. It was a Sunday, so we had to do our dirty chores before we appeared before God in our white outfits. It was a day we were about to be introduced to some of the eminent dramatis personae of our sojourn in Ikirun.

I’m not sure we were summoned with the “last boy” call, it was our first morning in the school, we would learn that in the coming days. But I remember we stood in front of our hostel and we were addressed by Farouk Sheji. Now, that’s a name! And that was one helluva senior. Let’s make this look real, we called him senior Farouk. He was dark in complexion and, I think, from the north. He was in blue house, a member of the first set meaning that he was in S.S 1. I’m not sure whether to say he was tall. We were very small then and many of the seniors looked tall to us. If his height was contentious, his reputation was not. He was tough, one of the toughest in Ikirun; mind you, I’m trying to avoid the use of the word wicked. He was in charge of our room, the hostel where the yellow and blue house boys were.

That same morning, we were introduced to Mr. Kolade, the Senior Boarding House Master (SBHM), at that time. He thought chemistry and doubled as the head of the science department. He was in charge of the laboratory which was adjacent to the JSS 1 hostel. That meant we were under the watchful eyes of Mr. Kolade. Mr. Kolade was feared by all the students (and teachers). If you ever ran into him, you would be scared even if you did no wrong. That was how much we feared him. And the legend about him was that if you ever made him angry, he would take you through the whole course of madness, while shouting at you he would say – “are you mad? I think you are mad. You must be mad. In fact, you are mad.”

That Sunday morning, under the supervision of Mr. Kolade and senior Farouk we were made to do an unforgettable task – we were made to clean out the latrine toilet behind our hostel and that’s the reason I never forgot that day. It was unbelievable that our resumption was delayed by two months because the school was making arrangements to accommodate us, but that the arrangement did not include cleaning the toilet behind our hostel. And to think that we had to carry out such a task just a day after our resumption! Fresh boys from the cities. It was a pointer to the kind of life we would have in Ikirun.

You see, the kind of sanitation we did that day is better left to imagination. The sight was horrible. The toilet was a gallery of pit latrines. I wasn’t new to pit latrines because the first six years of my life was spent outside Lagos, but my Lagos life had made me think the whole world had done away with pit latrines.  My sympathy was with those who were seeing what a pit latrine looked like for the first time in their lives. Worse still, this wasn’t a well maintained toilet, it was one used by students who abhorred the sight of it, students who preferred to litter the open space that surrounded the toilet rooms. And the faeces we cleaned out had been under the rain and sun for a while.

As nauseating as the sight was, we were made to do a thorough job with our cutlasses and hoes under the watchful eyes and threatening strikes of Mr. Kolade and senior Farouk. After we were done with our sanitation work, we went back to our hostel to prepare for the day. In my mind, I just wished the day was over, but it wasn’t. We still had more shocking surprises ahead of us.

I am @seunalade

Posted in THE IKIRUN CHRONICLES | 8 Comments