The 2016 Rio Olympics have come and gone, but like any other sporting event or tournament it has left us with memories. The good, and the not-so-good. There were surprise marriage proposals beamed around the world, an athlete who had a bad case of diarrhoea while he ran his race, a medal winning swimmer who quickly went from hero to zero after he was found to have told a disgraceful lie, and another long distance runner who burst into limelight after making a gesture in protest of the treatment meted out to his ethnic group back home. Records were set. Records were broken. Individuals and teams defied the odds to excel beyond their limitations. For an event that kicked off amidst controversies and plenty of difficulties, the 2016 Summer Olympics sure wasn’t shy of happenings. Happenings, heroes and villains. But, villains are hardly worth dedicating time and space to, so I’ll be highlighting my top five heroes of the just concluded Summer Games in Rio.
“Wherever the crowd goes, run in the other direction”- Charles Bukowski
When an undeniably important voice makes controversial comments on any subject or issue, there’s bound to be plenty of conversation and argument for and against their opinion. And the case was no different when renowned writer and author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie stated her dislike for the term “baby bump”- a colloquial term for a woman’s obvious pregnant state. She had made the comment in an interview with the UK’s channel 4 News sometime last week. In her words “I wanted my pregnancy to be something I shared with the people I love, with the people who know me. There is a kind of pregnancy as a trendy thing that I find very uncomfortable and I deeply dislike expressions like ‘baby bump.’ I find it very irritating…”
The third and fourth lines of the Nigerian National Anthem read “The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain.” It’s supposed to be a profound declaration of assurance. An unequivocal guarantee that come what may, our country will be there for anyone who has made an unforgettable contribution to the Nigerian State, but has succumbed to the cold hands of death in one way or the other. It’s a statement of promise from a nation to her citizens. If anyone ever doubted the veracity of that promise, their skepticism must have evolved into full blown disbelief with the events surrounding the burial of former Super Eagles Skipper and Manager, Stephen Keshi last Friday.
The lowly security guard of a foremost bank in Nigeria stumbled upon a wad of cash. $10,000 to be precise, in the premises of his company. It was there for the taking. He chose not to take it for himself. Instead he returned the cash that amounts to about N3m in Nigeria to the management of his branch. A huge sum that had the potential to change his life forever. But, the 29 year old who reportedly earns a paltry N30,000 monthly literally passed up the opportunity to be a millionaire overnight. It is mind blowing and challenging at the same time.
Typical conversation between a Journalist/Interviewer and a Successful Person
Interviewer: Please tell us how you were able to achieve so much success in your career.
What many would like to know is how you were able to rise to prominence and wealth in spite of your humble background.
Successful person: In 1998, I left my small town to seek greener pastures in Lagos. I had only one shirt with me, which was what I had on that fateful day. I was poor, but I struggled and worked hard. I paid my way through school with the little money I was able to make from the odd jobs I was doing until I left school and met Mr John…and the rest as they say is history.
It’s been God all the way, God has been very faithful to me and I give him all the glory.
Someone may be wondering if this title isn’t quite behind time, given that many already believe the world has been in a whirlwind romance with chaos for a while now. But like we say in some parts of Nigeria, there are levels of madness. There’s the infantile stage where the presumed mad one has only just begun to manifest the symptoms of possessing a few “loose nuts” by way of acting strange, saying things that are off topic or laughing for no reason…you get the drift. There’s the stage where they have been certified crazy, but are still deemed manageable by family and friends. Each time their condition gets a little out of hand, their relatives are quick to get them to the psychiatric hospital to see a doctor, who manages them until all is well again. At least for a while. And there is the stage, where they are undoubtedly mentally deranged. In local parlance. we say “they have “entered market.” Dear reader, the world has entered market.
One of the concerns expressed by family, friends and even acquaintances since I began to write actively is that I would write about them, especially if they did something wrong or out of character. I have had it said to me as a joke and sometimes in a more serious tone. And many times, I would laugh it off and simply tell them to relax and not be afraid to be themselves around me. A couple of times, I have written stuff about my general observations of happenings around me only to be subtly accused of referring to a particular person who coincidentally bears some form of resemblance to a character or issue I addressed.
He sped past us on that cold rainy Saturday night. He couldn’t have been going at less than 160km/hr. And just as I was still wondering why anyone would endanger their life and those of others, especially when weather conditions were less than ideal for the semblance of a Michael Schumacher spin, my worst fears came to pass. Less than 100 metres down the highway lay what was left of what had been a beautiful Volkswagen Jetta. Burst airbags, mangled aluminium and a car that had spun to a precarious halt. A ghastly crash, a drunk driver, passengers scrambling to get out of the wreck. A senseless accident.
In the socio-economic landscape of present day Nigeria, there’s hardly any other issue as pertinent and crucial as the sudden increase in the pump price of premium motor spirit popularly called petrol. The plethora of negative effects of the new pump price of N145 per litre has been the song on everyone’s lips. Vehicle owners, commuters, artisans, white and blue collar job holders, market women…you name it seem to be in a battle of who-can-lament-the-most. And who can blame anyone complaining? The N58.50k difference (especially with no palliative measures in place to cushion the effect) between what used to obtain and what we have now came as a shock to many.
As a writer and social commentator, some subjects take more out of you than others. Some topics drain you of emotion and makes you both reluctant and eager to discuss them. You are reluctant because you are afraid you just might let your emotions get the better of you, and end up not passing your message across the way you had planned to. It’s like writing about rape. I dare say there’s no way to discuss the proliferation of rape incidents without being angry. The mere thought has me scowling as I write this. On the other hand, you are eager to lend your voice in the midst of the cacophony of voices addressing the same subject because you feel you owe it to at least one person out there to speak your truth concerning the matter. Some issues are just naturally touchy and domestic violence is one of them.