Kudos to the gutsy Sally Jacobs for her incredible biographical research on Barack Obama Snr. The book titled “The other Barack” is about the life of the father of the POTUS (Barack Obama Snr.). After I read “Dreams of a Father” written by POTUS himself, I knew that was just a sneak peek and a beast of curiosity awakened inside me, and the only thing that could put the beast back to slumber was to lay my hands on this book. The book was engaging, prepossessing and unputdownable.
Obama Snr. was brilliant, reckless, impatient, and jocular. He was many things, one cannot run out of adjectives trying to describe the man. He was vociferous, facile, and eccentric. In some chapters, his decorum was admirable, in others, I was chagrined for him.
In chapter 2, the first paragraph says “The tribal prophet Kimnyole arap Turukat foretold it’s coming long before the white man knew of it. It would rear from the vast lake to the east, a lethal iron snake belching smoke and fire and uncoil across tribal lands before at last quenching its thirst in the waters of the west. The beast would bear with it a kind of foreigner never seen before, a stranger who would one day rule the land”.
Sally had me there, I was thrilled reading that paragraph, I thought there had been a prophecy about the coming of POTUS, only for the second paragraph to imply something completely different—the Uganda railway built by the British colonies. I was so upset and disappointed but I garnered strength and character and managed to carry on with the book.
The Luos and the Kikuyus are amongst the major tribes in Kenya; Barack belonged to the former and Jomo Kenyatta who was the first Kenyan President belonged to the latter. After getting help from an American woman called Miss Mooney, Barack got an admission to the University of Hawaii in the United States. It was an amazing feat, as he was the first of his clan to go to college and also the first African to attend Hawaii University. He met Obama Jnr’s mother at the University of Hawaii and he later graduated with a B.A in Economics. They got married after he graduated; beating the odds by defying the popular racial barrier. He was black and she was white.
He proceeded to Harvard for PhD Economics. His dream of getting a PhD in economics came to an abrupt end when the Oyinbos got tired of his womanizing attitude and misdemeanor and sent him back to Kenya even though he had completed all his coursework, but he was yet to defend his thesis.
His love for women was unparalleled as he betrayed a lot of them in his wake. He left no skirt unopened, as long as the skirt waved past him. His oratory prowess was enough to bewitch any woman. Just 3 months after he left the United States, his girlfriend in Boston bought a one way ticket to Kenya to visit Obama Snr., and of course, she did not return.
He was a living ghost to most of his children, he was consumed by his own ambitions and patriotism that he had little or no time for his children.
He got back to Kenya with big expectations for his country that had just gained independence and he certainly wanted to take part in the government, but he never got satisfied with any position he got and he seemed disappointed with the Kenyatta led government. He found solace in alcohol and started drinking heavily. His drinking habit got worse when his longtime mentor, Tom Mboya got assassinated right in front of him. He lost his job the same year due to his lack of discipline and recklessness.
He was an iconoclast, and he spared no word against the Kenyatta led government in the wake of Kenyan independence. He was fearless, and he gingerly challenged the corruption and nepotism openly practiced by the Kenyan government with his voice and his pen. He was later blacklisted by the Kenyatta led government and he couldn’t get any job.
The man was a paradox, it was difficult for me to comprehend why a man of his grandeur, well principled with integrity and bag of talents could lack dignity and humility. He was deluded by his precocity of going to Harvard.
I concluded that his life was cut short by his own hubris and his frustration with the churning state of Kenya. If anyone told him, his own seed would end up being the President of the United States of America, maybe he would have done some things differently.
In June 2015, President Obama visited Kenya and met with its present President—Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the son of Jomo Kenyatta. I remembered this event the night I finished reading the book, and I thought to myself-no one knows tomorrow. I felt inspired, challenged, and disappointed. I felt ambivalent. I turned the book around, placed the book in front of me, and stared at it until I slept off.
I also found out that while Obama Snr. was at Harvard, he had lots of Nigerians as friends and classmates. The only familiar name being Chukwuma Azikiwe, the son of the first Nigerian president. I breezed through lots of Nigerian names in the book and I couldn’t help but wonder where these men are or why I’ve never heard of them. Like our people say, they must have been swallowed by the west.
In case you missed Part 1, (see here).
One of the factors that has contributed to the backwardness of Nigeria is our failure to learn from history. A nation known for her amnesic syndrome. It took Radio Biafra to remind us that the corpse we buried has a leg stuck outside.
Let’s take a stroll into the past of Nigeria. The tribal sentiments exploited by some of our past leaders for their selfish gains has brought us to this point as a nation. The present is the synthesis of the past, most of the things we experience now is the net result of the deeds of our past leaders. Some of our parents have passed on these grudges by telling us Nigeria is a “forced marriage” amongst her tribes, and we should avoid people from different tribes. It’s like telling your daughter to act like an idiot when she gets to her husband’s house or to develop a negative attitude towards her in-laws even though divorce is not an option.
Before I get shredded into pieces by historians, e-warriors et al; I also believe I probably don’t know enough just like most of us, to start pointing fingers or dishing out blames at the perpetrators of the Nigerian civil war. After all, history has been wiped off from our educational curriculum and all we have are half-truths and fragments of the event. With the little knowledge I have, the civil war which was an epoch in our history could have been avoided. Our leaders from various tribes were busy fighting each other for superiority instead of focusing on unity after independence. It was a war amongst egos and we are yet to recover from it. How do we move on or burgeon as a nation when most of us don’t understand the events and processes that formed our present society? Since the past and present governments have failed us in this regard, we can educate ourselves so we don’t fail the coming generations like they did us. We must educate ourselves about the historical happenings, and we must make sure the errors in the past are not repeated when nature presents us the chance to make a difference. Of course, it is a popular belief that the prosperity of a nation or individual solely depends on political and social reconstruction but what about the individual responsibilities of the inhabitants of the nation?
Dear readers, leaders, and parents; It’s high time we started repairing Nigeria from our abode. We need to stop passing hates and grudges down to subsequent generations by adding to the misery of this nation. The only thing that should matter is we are all Nigerians. We need to get rid of prejudice and dogmatism. Love, kindness, true judgement, and sympathy cannot exist with prejudice, all they bring is cruelty which is lucid in our nation today.
We cannot continue to ignore history or allow it fade into obscurity, and make the same mistakes our national folklores have made.
For anyone who is interested, (here) are some of the books written on the Biafra war. Also, I would recommend “There was a country by Chinua Achebe” and “Half of a yellow sun by Adichie Chimamanda”.
The Shame in your fears and failures will try to muzzle you into silence, but you must not allow it, you must tell those you love about them ~ Segun Tinubu
The secret to a promising future lies in unlocking the wisdom and insight the portals of the past hold. In essence, an adequate understanding of where you’re coming from is key to having a proper perspective of where you’re going.
Lately, I’ve come to a realization of the fact that a lot of us are totally ignorant of our background, culture and general history. We have turned our backs on the past. A sizable number of us having little or no idea about how we gained independence, the idiosyncrasies of the good and bad past leaders we’ve had, the events that shaped the leadership of our nation from inception till now, the names of those who fought for our independence, and a couple of other interesting bits of information. We have become spectacularly naive, shamefully ignorant of many of the things that shaped the country to what it is today.
The easy way out is to blame our parents and guardians for their failure to consciously hand these tales down to us, but who are we kidding? In the end, we owe it to ourselves to educate ourselves deliberately on our foundational stories, historical happenings along the corridors of time, as well as the standout ‘actors’ in the screenplay that our country’s formation can be regarded as. Some of our parents have told us about these histories, others have failed to, and that’s why some of us lack identity. Whether we like it or not, at some point in our lives, nature will give us a chance to effect a change; in our neighborhood or even the nation at large. Our decisions and choices in those moments would have an effect on the nation— minute or massive. The best decisions can only be made when one knows what worked or failed in the past and puts such knowledge into consideration when faced with decisions. Records are kept so that they can be referred to and learnt from, thus, it becomes imperative to calculatively pass necessary bits of our history to the forthcoming generations in order to prepare them for challenges ahead. Parents need to tell their children about their pasts; the good and bad decisions they made and the consequences. Sadly, we see today that all some parents tell their kids is how they blazed the trail in all places they found themselves, conveniently failing to cite instances of their inadequacies and failures. That approach to educating people is counterproductive as it has the tendency of making them fail to take risks, see mistakes as a necessary part of their making, and positions them to live too cautiously which reduces their chances of being truly productive and efficient at the things they do.
I am going to use the POTUS~ Barack Obama as a case study in this article. I read his book titled “Dreams from my Father” last week.
In my humble opinion, what Barack had to do – his purpose, became clearer after his first trip to Kenya to visit his known and unknown relatives.
When he was running about in Chicago as an activist, trying to “organize” the black community, his sister had visited him and brought news about their father, she was the first person who told him all he didn’t know about his father and after that visit, his perception of his father changed. He wrote: I wasn’t satisfied (with what had been achieved in Chicago), maybe it was connected to Auma’s (his sister) visit and the news she had brought of the old man (his father). Where once, I had felt the need to live up to his expectations, I now felt as if I had to make up for his mistakes. Only the nature of these mistakes still wasn’t clear in my mind; I still couldn’t read the signpost that might warn me away from the wrong turns he’d taken. That was one of the moments that fueled his desire to visit Kenya before leaving for law school. The conundrum of a curious man yearning to know about his roots, a man who knew he had to understand and make peace with a past he is willingly or unwillingly connected to, a past he had no control over, a past that was lived by his ancestors. He understood the importance of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of his harbingers, and the mistakes that must not be repeated. He knew he had to ferret this past to have a clearer vision of who he is and where he is going to.
Shortly before Barack left Kenya, having listened to every bit of history about his root, here is what he wrote: I felt a calmness wash over me, I felt the circle finally close. I realized that who I was, what I cared about, was no longer just a matter of intellect or obligation, no longer a construct of words. I saw that my life in America—the black life, the white life, the sense of abandonment I felt as a boy, the frustration and hope I’d witnessed in Chicago—all of it was connected to this small plot of earth on ocean away, connected by more than the accident of a name or the color of my skin. The pain I felt was my father’s pain. My questions were my brothers’ questions. Their struggle, my birthright.
He must have figured he wasn’t alone in the struggle; his identity became as clear as day.
I would take a few steps into the past of Nigeria in the second part of this article which would be posted in the next few days.
In years gone past, the question of the entity that controls our thoughts has troubled my mind consistently; this is probably because for as long as I can recall, I’ve been convinced that I don’t have absolute domination over my own thoughts. I’ve always believed there’s some kind of spiritual power behind my innermost thoughts until I stumbled on a book titled “as a man thinketh” by James Allen and it put to rest many of my long unanswered questions.
The only one who can control your thoughts is you. The skill of mastering dominance over your thoughts is worth learning. While in the university, my good friend Ikoli asked us (me and a couple of friends in our circle) how often we thought about sex. Sampling answers from everyone in the group, we came to a conclusion of an average of every 3 minutes. A mere 3 minutes! In retrospect, I can’t categorically accurately estimate the number of hours we spent discussing matters that had to do with sexual escapades daily. It was as intense as that.
Who we are and who the world sees is forged out of our thoughts; so, wouldn’t you rather have control over your own thoughts? Wouldn’t you rather channel your energy and thoughts into the things that matter and things that are of a good report?
The only reasonable chance of changing who we are is by having a deliberate change to how we think. What we think about often ends up becoming a habit. No one was born with certain habits, whether good or bad, no, not one! It thus goes to say that our habits are forged from our day to day activities, be they physical or mental activities.
Man as a being is always thinking about something; and since a good percentage of the said ‘somethings’ are done consciously, it behooves on every man to strife steadfastly in ensuring his mind is trained for deliberately effective thoughts. The mind should have a sieve that separates the chaff from right thinking, since the bulk of thinking is translated to action.
On some days, I find myself playing computer games for hours, promising myself to do the important things later at night. Then night comes and I can only do only little, sometimes nothing of the ‘important things’ I’d planned to do. I’d have expended useful energy on things of little significance in the grand scheme of things and as such will be unable to function optimally in the more important things. One of the laws of thermodynamics states that “energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but can only be transferred from one form to another.” It implies that everyone has a certain amount of energy, and it can be used or misused, just like thoughts can be directed or misdirected. We can decide to direct our thoughts towards things that matter or we can use them for our vain and mundane fancies.
I have a friend who frequently says: “It is easy not to be stupid, just think of something stupid and don’t do it.” I wonder though, why think of something stupid in the first place? Why not think of something good and act on it? Once you think about something evil, it takes twice or even more than twice the energy wasted on that thought to resist carrying out that action. A man who can control his thoughts has perfected the art of self-control and discipline, he knows he’s responsible for his own actions, he cannot blame his neighbor or his friends or even the government for his circumstances. The mind consists of both good and evil, and the one that gets more attention outgrows the other. Would you not rather water the seeds of good than water the seeds of evil that brings out ignoble and bestial characters? Are we really what we are by virtue of outside conditions or due to our innermost thoughts? Ever wondered why men/women cheat even though they claim they are in love? It is because they do not know they can master of their own thoughts, hence they lack self-control. Be the master of your own thoughts, and even if you fail sometimes, stand up and move on again; for every time you fail/fall and rise up would mean a positive development to your character.
Let’s face it, change or transformation is challenging and stressful. Dark times and confusion are inevitable during transition, so you need to be mentally strong and persistent. At the end, you become the master of your own thoughts and permanent dominance over your thoughts is achieved.
Meditation is an act of being alone; where there is no distraction or noise, reaching your innermost thoughts as you ponder on them, reflecting on your actions and problems and doing self-analysis. However, religiously, it could be an act of quiet conversations between you and your maker. Personally, I do this a lot and it has helped me grow spiritually in wisdom, knowledge and understanding. At some point in life; I was disturbed, overwhelmed with fear, trembled at every challenge that came my way, worried ceaselessly about things I couldn’t control, deprived myself of peace, and many other things. I was able to find solace in the act of meditation as soon as my eye opened to the power it possesses. I came to understand that for every problem, there is a solution or even a ton of solutions but we waste our time and energy crying, worrying, and wallowing in fear rather than meditate and find solutions to our problems.