Over 13 years ago, I made this declaration, which I will regard as my public vow as a Social Empowerment Advocate. It was published in THISDAY and THE GUARDIAN Newspapers. Years gone by, I feel the inner urge to renew my public vow. The truth is that I have not found better expression for my convictions, hence I reproduce same declaration. Reading it now, it is so fresh in my mind as if I just made the vow. That is something about a genuine vow, once it is made, it never goes stale, It is only renewed in the works it produces. Join me today, Friday, February 1, 2013 as I make these declarations again:
This piece is for a man or woman who is interested in making his or life count in a political and socio-economic disadvantaged society. It is for those who are in the mood for credible changes and new Nigeria and are prepared to match their commitment with selfless and consistent actions. It is for those who know that the well-being of our nation is their responsibility. I do not write for those, who have chosen to stand aloof and unconcerned in the face of burning issues that affect our collective existence as a nation. I do not write for those who believe that there is no hope for Nigeria. I write for those who are strong in the opinion that there is hope for Nigeria.
Except we wear the posture of a crusader, we become wishful thinkers. Experience and research show that nation building, political, social, economic and technological advancement only happen with disciplined, focused, dogged and selfless minds at work. Today, I have come to x-ray the mind of the crusader to enable us wear the right posture for our yearnings, hopes and aspiration. My activities as a students’ leader in my university days afforded me the rare honour of meeting and maintaining close relationships with many crusaders. I have equally had the opportunity of reading about many more.
The crusader is wild, queer, and enigmatic. ‘He is out of his mind,’ so concludes the society. Why does the society arrive at these conclusions? These are raw products of frantic abortive efforts by a frustrated society to understand the crusader and how his mind works. The Jewish people (particularly their political and religious authorities) concluded erroneously, when they could not understand the motivating factors behind Jesus’ earthly ministry that only mid-summer madness could make a man at the expense of his life to maintain stout and unrepentant opposition to long-held religious traditions and proclaim himself the king of the Jews. Only chronic insanity could be adduced by the academic community as the only tenable reason why a man profoundly endowed with uncommon poetic prowess like Christopher Okigbo would abandon the cosy comfort of the university lecture room for the danger of fighting as an untrained soldier during the Nigerian civil war where he ended up paying with his dear life.
The society however cannot be blamed for coming to such conclusions about the crusader because it takes only few people who have meticulously devoted themselves to the tasking job of reading the crusader’s mind to perfectly understand him and his acts.
Is the crusader actually out of his mind? What are the igniting forces behind his weird endeavour? First, who is the crusader? To my mind, the crusader is that man (or woman), who from a burdened heart has developed a razor-sharp hatred for any establishment (political, social, economic, professional or religious) that is designed by men to stop a people from attaining and maximising their God-given potentials. The crusader therefore has separated himself for only one goal in life and this is to help his people to discover whom they are (i.e. their God-given potentials) and empower them to move out of oppressive limitations built around them by any exploitative establishment.
He develops a sight far above his nose. He has no respect for obstacles, no matter how insurmountable they may appear. He says constantly to himself. ”Where there is a will there is a way.” He never sees oppositions as stumbling blocks but as conquerable challenges. He believes whole heartedly that with proper planning and due executions of these plans every mountain of opposition would become a stepping stone.
The source of the crusaders strength is not in his physical muscles and this makes it difficult for him to be easily broken. The fervent believe and profession of the crusader is that “You can kill the body and not the spirit.” The crusader is a vibrant product of a vigorous intercourse between an enlightened mind and inner or personal conviction. When his enlightened mind finds a catalyst in his personal conviction he becomes dangerous to an exploitative status quo and nothing can stop him except death or total eradication of that status quo.
To get himself to this ‘suicidal’ crescendo, where he is ready to pay with his dear life to achieve his mission, the crusader starts by liberating himself from those imaginary limitations which have held others in the society captive, confused and conformed.
The crusader is abundantly equipped with sound answers to every of these limitations. Don’t scare the crusader with tradition, by telling him that he may not succeed in his crusade because it is unprecedented. He is quick to tell you that “there is always a first time for everything. If one does not take the risk of doing what has not been done before the society will remain stagnant. Everything that has been successfully done today was once pioneered, who dared.” You cannot harass him with his unfavourably family background. He responds by saying: “that is not the end of the story because better is the day of death than the day of birth.” He concludes his response to the question of poor family background by pointing his detractors to men with similar backgrounds, who ended up tremendously affecting their generations. When the crusader is confronted with the fear of failure, encourages himself thus: “if failure is not a possibility, then victory will not be celebrated.”
To the question: what if you’re misunderstood? The crusader would answer: “If you wait for everybody to understand your move, you will never move an inch. Only results can vindicate you.” When he is faced with family pressure, he declares to his worried family members: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it (i.e. those who identify with his vision).” The crusader is not scared about paying with his personal possessions for his crusade (no matter how affluent he is). When his personal possessions become the subjects of attack by the status quo, he smiles to himself and says with a deep sense of satisfaction, “we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”
When the establishment begins to threaten his means of sustenance, he remains undaunted and says to those who care to listen: “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me and finish his work.” When his body is barbarically brutalised or his freedom restricted, he says to his confused prosecutor: “You only brutalise or detain the body and not the spirit.” He comes out of the gulag most times to say to the dumbfounding frustration of his tormentors: “I am brutalised, but stronger.”
At this stage in the life of the crusader the number one thing conspicuously placed on his scale of preference is his vision and not his life unlike the other members of the society. Here his vision becomes dearer to him than his life. Boldly ingrained on his conscience is this loud inscription “what is not worth dying for is not worth living for.”
Above all the crusader is a man or woman of unimpeachable character and integrity. He practices what he preaches. He walks the walk and talks the talk. He is real and he keeps things real. He develops character. He does not make image. He detests hypocrisy. The English Dictionary defines hypocrisy as “the practice of misrepresenting one’s real character, opinions etc. especially by pretending to be more virtuous than one really is; insincerity.’ To the crusader hypocrisy is evil. He understands that when a man is plagued with evil of hypocrisy, he carries as his trademark every where he finds himself a sharp binoculars with which he detects the specks in the eyes of his neighbour while he pays no attention to the log in his own eye. The crusader says, ‘a hypocrite is a man or woman, who speaks about the need to urgently do something positive about societal ills, but remains blind to the worse ills in his own life.’ To him the man under the captivity of hypocrisy is tightly masked. He is super and careful actor in a meticulously self-written soap opera and his motivating energy is the ovation and acceptability from a deceived audience. The crusader has his eyes on his God, his conscience, history and posterity thus he clings to the enduring fibre of character as the measuring rod of his actions even when no man is present to judge him or her.
It is my humble submission here that the crusader is not out of his mind. As a matter of truth the crusader is the sanest individual in the society. The crusader has an undiluted understanding of the whole essence of life which is, ask not what your society can do for you but what you can do for your society; to improve it and make it a better place for everybody to live in. That was the understanding that made Socrates to accept to drink hemlock for the ideals he believed in. That same understanding was the one active in Ken Saro-Wiwa when he decided in the defence of the right of his people to choose the hangman’s noose instead of a ministerial appointment under the defunct Abacha military administration. That was the same understanding that provoked Walter Rodney to wage a relentless war against the evils of imperialism.
In summation, I make bold to say that the world as it is today owes its civilisation and advancement in all fields to those men who had dared to say not to the status quo. Without them the story of our world would have been that of pathetic retrogression and excruciating stagnation. Imagine what would been the lots of the blacks in the United States of America today if individuals like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King (Jr.) had not said no to a racial status quo. For Bill Gates to become the icon of the computer world where he has today made indelible and unprecedented contributions, he had to say no to his professors in Harvard. What would have happened to the democratisation of the legal practice in Nigeria, if Gani Fawehinmi had allowed himself to be intimidated by an establishment that had sworn to make the legal practice in Nigeria strictly an aristocratic affair? The history of our struggle for political emancipation would not be complete without mentioning the contributions of strong women like Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Gambo Sawaba. Consider what the world of the physically challenged would have been without the prodigious contribution of Mother Theresa and Helen Keller. The legendary Lord Denning had to say no to long-held legal traditions to pioneer what is today known as judicial activism on the British Bench, by which he contributed immensely to the development of the British and Commonwealth legal system. But for the dogged commitment of the likes of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Steve Biko, Chris Hani, Patrick Chimuso, to mention just a few, the blood-curdling evil of white domination of blacks in their own land, South Africa would have continued till today. But for the selfless contribution of Franz Fanon, the struggle of their Algerian people for political independence would have been prolonged. It was the crusader in Winston Churchill that made him stood against the holocaust, known as the Second World War, doggedly and mindlessly pursued by Adolph Hitler.
Space would fail me to mention the likes who Mahatma Ghandi, who single-handedly birthed the nation of India; Otunba Sunday Adegeye Adeniyi, who revolutionised the Nigerian music scene; Mercedes Sosa, known as ‘voice of Latin America,’ who through her lyrics said no to fascist military rule in her country; Pastor Bimbo Odukoya, who commits her life to the noble campaign targeted at restoring family values and virtues to a decadent world; Nobel Prize Winner, Elie Wiesel, the living legend, who had dedicated the whole of his life to telling the story of the holocaust with one focus in mind: that such pogrom of huge proportion may not befall our world again and Nkosi Johnson, who was born with HIV/AIDS and abandoned by his parents but found unusual courage to wage a world-acclaimed campaign against HIV/AIDS before he honourably bowed out at the age of 12.
Where do I stand reading these stories? A fire is ignited in the innermost part of my bone and conscience to think out of the box and make my life count. I have unrepentantly made up my mind to doggedly follow the rough and tough ways of the crusader because I believe that is where life lies. My unflinching conclusion is that I am not here to live for myself but for my generation, beginning with serving my family and my immediate areas of influence. I strongly believe that I must help my generation attain and maximise their God-given potentials and empower them to liberate themselves from the oppressive limitations woven around them by any exploitative status quo. This is a task that must be done. I invite you today to join the crusader’s world. It is the world to be. You are the change our nation is waiting for. ‘Nigeria has a great future,’ as my number one coach and mentor, Taiwo Odukoya has taught us to confidently say.
Think the Child! Think Today! Think the Future!
Have an INSPIRED weekend.
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