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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.

Go Home!

“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.

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