By Denrele Animasaun
“Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won’t cheat, then you know he never will. Integrity is not a search for the rewards of integrity. Maybe all you ever get for it is the largest kick in the ass the world can provide. It is not supposed to be a productive asset.” — John D. MacDonald
There is a saying that goes: if you do not have something good to say about someone, better don’t say anything. On reflection, over the last couple of months, I realised that all I may have come across, was so much negativity that I have been bombarded with so much through social networking sites and telephone calls. So I have made a conscious decision to find some good news.
So I have decided that I cannot afford to be carried away by the likes of Chief Edwin Clark, Boko Haram, IBB, Jonathan Goodluck, Dr. Erastus Bankole Oladipo Akingbola and the likes. So I am digging deeper and deeper to find good news.
So I am starting with the good news first. Nigerians have been doing so well in the Olympics games. Well, not so much – they were not that good although they tried. I am referring to the British Nigerians. There is Christine Ohuruogo – she, got a silver to add to the gold she won at Beijing.
To think she threathened to represent Nigeria at one point! Then there is the boxer Anthony Ogogo – the 20 year old is doing well and guaranteed a medal in the final bout. Another impressive giant of a man is Lawrence Okoye, who has all the physical attributes to be the world’s best discus thrower. He boasts four A’ levels (two A stars and two As) and has a place to read law at Oxford University, which has been deferred.
It was disappointing that Phillips Idowu defend or better the Beijing silver medal and add to the British medal tally.
Margaret Adeoye set a new personal best to qualify for the 200 metres semi-finals at the Olympic Stadium. The 27-year-old dipped under 23 seconds for the first time, looking strong to hold off challengers down the home straight and clock 22.94secs in third place.
Abi Oyepitan was even more impressive as she finished second to American Carmelita Jeter in 22.92s in her heat but failed to get a medal. Anyika Onuora, failed to make it in 100m and finished fourth in her heat in 23.23. Her fellow Briton, Margaret Adeoye, set a new personal best to qualify for the 200 metres semi-finals at the Olympic Stadium. She looked strong to hold off challengers down the home straight and clocked 22.94secs in third place.
Lastly, Andew Osagie, a young man full of promise, made a good showing in the 800m . The whole country has got the feel good factor and flaying the union jack everywhere regardless of your ethnicity. The athletes were quite complementary that they felt the nation was behind them and that it gave them the extra kick to win. I am sure there are many British Nigerians inspired by these athletes.
“What is home? My favourite definition is “a safe place,” a place where one is free from attack, a place where one experiences secure relationships and affirmation. It’s a place where people share and understand each other. Its relationships are nurturing. The people in it do not need to be perfect; instead, they need to be honest, loving, supportive, recognizing a common humanity that makes all of us vulnerable.” — Gladys Hunt
I was at the East End of London, got on a train homeward bound. I settled into what was a long journey with a good book. After a couple of stops, I looked up and just got a glimpse of a middle aged black man taking the empty seat next to me. After a couple of stops , the man apologised for interrupting my reading.
He wanted to know what part of the world I was from. I said, I was African. He asked what part ? I paused and looked at him then I said, I am Nigerian. He said I couldn’t be a Nigerian, as I did not look like one.( No change there then, I often get that reaction).
He said he was not sure because I had a Kente head wrap and East African Jewelry. I assured him that I am Nigerian. He then asked from what part. I told him that I am a Yoruba. He told me that I couldn’t be. Oh yes, I am I said, and I should know where am from.
He then asked, what part of the south I came from, I told him Lagos. He looked at me dubiously. Well, everyone lays claim to Lagos don’t they? I told him that I really am a Lagosian. He paused for a while and then said: Do you ever go home( I assumed by home, he meant Nigeria)?
I told him yes, over 25 years ago. He gasped. You should go home! He said. (I get that a lot).
Why? I asked him. He said you have to go home. I told him that I have never felt the need to go as my family often visits and there was nothing else I wanted to go home for. He looked intently and said but, you should go home! I asked him, what for? He hesitated and could not respond.
So I went on to give him my reasons not to go home. I told him that I never felt the pull of home. That visiting home would be like going to Beirut. I really would like to go on a holiday, to relax and recharge my batteries; but home would not fulfill that; I probably will come back feeling shell shocked.
I could not with my conscience go home and visit only the rich areas with modern facilities and avoid the way the majority of people live. I could not go home knowing that some people are deprived of health facilities, education , health care, recreational facilities, high crime rates, cultism, kidnapping, corrupt officials and politicians – the list goes on, so I did not want to bore him. I told him that Nigeria was not on my priority list of places to visit.
I guess he got the point. He stopped urging me to go home. He told me he was an engineer and had brought his family to the UK. And he wants me to go home!
We exchanged other stories and our names. I told him mine and he told me he is Akin Fashola. He hurriedly got off the train. I have a feeling he missed his stop.
Funny, that name rings a bell. Oh well, am looking out for good news about Nigerians. I will let you know how I get on.