CNN reported on Saturday, June 4, 2016 as follows: ‘Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer who proclaimed himself “The Greatest” and was among the most famous and beloved athletes on the planet, died Friday in Arizona, a family spokesman said.’
There are so many great thoughts to share about the exceptional life of the legendary Mohammed Ali both in and out of the ring. There is no argument that he dominated the boxing ring and the civil rights movement. He surely made immense contribution to our world from which our world as we know it today will forever remember positively.
The purpose of this very short piece is not to lay out Ali’s life in full details. Methink that this is a task that must be left to biographers and historians, who are more eminently qualified to capture Ali’s life, its essence and undeniably palpable ingredients of his multi-dimensional greatness.
I write today to draw attention to part of the reporting, which matters to me most in my sojourn as a Family Strengthening, Child Protection and Childhood Preservation apologist.
CNN reports, ‘CHAMP’S LAST MOMENTS, SURROUNDED BY FAMILY.’ This is very instructive. Last moments are the most critical and important moments of person’s life. These are moments when nothing else matters and mortals take quick stocks of their lives and delights to be in the presence of those who they love and who love them most. These are moments when every emotion counts, when every word count, when every memory is cherished and weights more than gold in value both to the departing and those he/she leaves behind. These are moments of invaluable farewells and unforgettable memories.
I daresay, they are the most priceless and memorable moments for all mortals, great and lesser. Thus the conscious and unconscious chroniclers of a man’s life lead discussions with his/her last moments: last meal, last place of visit, last words/wishes etc. It is also known across all cultures that you do not joke with the last wish of the departing soul, including where and how he/she will be buried or what should happen to the remains altogether. Above all, these are moments when nothing matters to the departing soul except being in the arms of who they love and those who love them most. As matter of fact, many departing, particularly old people are reported to send for their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and few friends as they experience their last moments. Imagine the pain and regrets, a man or woman carries into eternity, when he/she is not able to enjoy that last moments of being with his/her family, having sacrificed same for his/her other concerns.
I remember how Wikipedia captured the death of Nelson Mandela, ‘on 5 December 2013, Nelson Mandela, the first President of South Africa elected in a fully representative democratic election, died at the age of 95 Johannesburg, South Africa, SURROUNDED BY HIS FAMILY.’
Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the father of the nation of Singapore died and his ‘final hour he was HIS FAMILY, HIS FRIENDS OF A LIFETIME…’ His eldest son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said at his lying in state, ’so much has been said about Pa’s public life in the past few days. His public life is something we share with all of Singapore, with the world. But we were privileged to know him as a father, a grandfather, an elder brother, a friend, a strict but compassionate boss, the head of the family.’
Family is the first and the last. It is with our family we celebrate our first and last moments. That is the divine order, which is today losing its rightful place in our societies. As important as family is to the most precious moments of our existence, it is today relegated to the background. It is as if the family has become the sacrifice for all other attainments. Yet there are no greater attainment than that of leading a meaningful family life, sacrificing every other thing to give our family all the attention, care, affection and love our family needs from us.
It is important to note that as men and women, starting a family is a choice. It is a choice I have found most of us make without really counting the cost. I have wondered in my personal meditation, why many of have great public life hardly have equally great family life. I have asked myself, why are we not able to exert same discipline we exert to build a public life to build a family life? I have thought that it is a matter of priority for us. I have thought that we exert personal discipline to public life because it is our priority. I have also asked, if the public life is our priority, could it be that there is something wrong with our value system as a people? I have also asked, why do we start a family if the public life is our priority? It must be that we either do know what it takes to raise a family, therefore we couldn’t count the cost or we know what it takes but we do not know how to give it. In either of the scenarios, the family becomes the too-costly and irredeemable sacrifice for most of our celebrated efforts in the public space.
It is a trend that has become the order of the day today and the generation of today’s children are being taught to think upside down that it makes sense to start a family and sacrifice it for our public interest, no matter how we define it. The foregoing trend puts our society in grave danger because we fail to understand that the real joy of starting a family or bringing children to this world is not the mere idea of starting or bringing children to this world. The real joy of starting a family or bringing children to this world is how we build our family or raise our children. A child is a gift given to a family and a family prepares and present the child to the world as a gift or a menace.
I think it is high time we began to ask critical questions as it relates to our priority as a people. To ask, the critical question, how do we restore the invaluable glory of the family as the antidote to the lopsidedness of our world today?
I think in journey to the restoration of the invaluable glory of the family institution, I think I should share with us the word of the man, who raised one of the greatest philanthropists our world has ever known. Bill Gates Sr. enlightened us as follows, ‘I have often said that the most rewarding part of my life-by far has been raising children and being part of a family.’
Permit me to conclude this piece with the instructive words of Dr, Nelson Mandela, ‘when your life is the struggle, like mine was, there is little room left for family. That has always been my greatest regret, and most painful aspect of the choice I made. We watched our children grow without our GUIDANCE…TO BE THE FATHER OF A NATION IS A GREAT HONOUR, BUT TO BE THE FATHER OF A FAMILY IS A GREATER JOY. But it was a joy I had far little of.’
I beg to rest my case here, where I think the principle, I try to lay out here has spoken for itself.
Do have an INSPIRED week.
I am Taiwo ‘ODINAKACHUWU’ AKINLAMI, I am The Preacher of the Gospel According to Child Protection and CHILDHOOD PRESERVATION CULTURE in the defense of the precious African child and I remain Sober on my knees TODAY.
C) 2016 by Taiwo AKINLAMI..All Rights Reserved
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