By Muhammed Adamu
“Since I came to the White House I got two hearing aids, a colon operation, skin cancer, a prostate operation and I was shot. The damn thing is, I never felt better in my life.” –Ronald Reagan
INFORMATION Minister Lai Mohammed, was the one who said that President Buhari was ‘hale and hearty’ notwithstanding Mr. President himself had said that he was in London to spend some part of his leave to attend to his health. And the questions arose: ‘what does it mean to be ‘hale and hearty’? Who is supposed to be ‘hale and hearty’? Is a person ‘hale and hearty’ merely because he is not bed ridden on account of ill-health, or is a person ‘hale and hearty’ only because he is able to be ‘up and about’ in spite of ill-health? Maybe.
But there are even more questions to be asked; like: ‘will a person be ‘hale and hearty’ for the reason only that he ‘thinks’ himself ‘hale and hearty’, or will a person be ‘hale and hearty’ merely because he actually ‘feels’ hale and hearty? Or better still, ‘is a man ‘hale and hearty’ because everyone believes he is ‘hale and hearty’ or is a man ‘hale and hearty’ because physicians, after diagnoses, have certified that he is ‘hale and hearty’?
I am not done with the questions yet; and perhaps even more auspiciously it should be asked: ‘why must any, because they seem physically ‘well’ –as in not pathologically sick- be deemed therefore to be ‘hale and hearty’?
Or why must any, because they are pathologically ‘unwell’, be deemed therefore to be ‘diseased and dying’? It is logically non sequitur and it amounts to arriving at clearly unwarranted conclusions to believe that whoever is ‘unwell’ has to be dying; or that whoever is not ‘hale and hearty’ has to be ‘unwell’. Anyone can be ‘well’ without necessarily being ‘hale and hearty’; and anyone can be ‘unwell’ without necessarily being ‘diseased’ and ‘dying’.
Lai’s laborious prove
Someone should tell Lai Mohammed, that although Buhari can actually be ‘well’ –as his embattled handlers are insisting- he does not have to be proved ‘hale and hearty’ as Lai Mohammed was labouriously trying so hard to do; in much the same way that Buhari can also be ‘unwell’ –as his traducers insist- but again does not have to be ‘diseased and dying’ -as many are wickedly trying so hard show. A former American president, Ronald Reagan once said of himself: “Since I came to the White House I got two hearing aids, a colon operation, skin cancer, a prostate operation and I was shot. The damn thing is, I never felt better in my life.”
“Life”, said “Stephen Vincent Benet is not lost by dying; it is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.” And maybe it is the reason the Spanish-born U.S. philosopher and poet George Santayana once said: “The diseases which destroy a man are no less natural than the instincts which preserve him.” Many will die of the most trifling of diseases if they have not the spirit to resist, even as some will survive the most malignant of diseases even without medicament. Or as Edward Bach would say “Disease is in essence the result of conflict between soul and mind.”
In defining the word ‘hale’, Encarta’s English dictionary first traces the word to its old form ‘whole’, -as in to be whole- or to be ‘fit and strong’, to be ‘in robust good health’, to be ‘in good shape’ or to be ‘in peak condition’. Then the encyclopedia defines the word ‘hearty’ to mean ‘showing physical health’, ‘strength or vigour’. But Encarta’s ‘Thesaurus’ alone explains the figurative phrase ‘hale and hearty’, to mean: ‘healthy’, ‘strong’ and ‘athletic’; or ‘in shape’, ‘on top form’ or ‘in fine fettle’.
And so to be ‘hale and hearty’ is not merely to be perceptively ‘healthy’, ‘fine’ or ‘fit’; but to be ‘hale and hearty’ is essentially also to NOT be ‘sick’, ‘ill’ or ‘un-well’ –pathologically that is. And which, in all honesty, we can hardly say especially of Buhari, no matter how much we desire to defend him. Nor can the health of anyone at Buhari’s age be vouched for, no matter how we desire to. To be ‘hale and hearty’ is not only to be in a state of physio-mental ‘ease’ but it is especially to be free from all ‘dis-ease’ (‘disease’)
In our pedestrian, everyday usage, to be ‘hale and hearty’ is virtually an exaggerated form of expression of wellness. Many of us are metaphorically ‘healthy’ without necessarily being existentially ‘hale and hearty’. In fact, whenever we dare to say that we are ‘hale and hearty’, what we mean is not merely that we are in an excellent condition of health, but that we are nearly as disease-free as a new born.
As a man thinketh…
But suppose, just suppose, that to be ‘hale and hearty’ is essentially a ‘state of mind’; like in the biblical saying “as a man thinketh, so is he”, shouldn’t the bearer of that ‘state of mind’ only -and not any other- be the one to announce that he is ‘hale and hearty’? It is not impossible that a person can ‘think’ himself ‘hale and hearty’ when in actual fact he is ‘diseased and dying’. In much the same way too, that a person can think himself ‘diseased and dying’ when in actual fact he is ‘hale and hearty’. The saying that “as a man thinketh, so is he”, operates more in the spiritual realm than it does in the physiological.
Often spiritually-minded persons have experienced healing merely by mentally disavowing the existence of pathological conditions right in their physiological beings. In much the same way that others have also taken ill merely by mentally submitting to a state of pathological premonition or presentiment. As the German physicist and writer George Christoph Lichtenberg would say: “Even imaginary illnesses can become real.”
And so, let’s face it, whereas President Buhari can ‘think’ himself ‘hale and hearty’, in actual fact Buhari may be ‘diseased and dying’. Said Shakespeare “Death, as the psalmist saith, is certain to all; all shall die”. Conversely Buhari may ‘think’ himself ‘diseased and dying’, but in actual fact he may even be ‘hale and hearty’. But Lai Mohammed could not have known whether Buhari was ‘hale and hearty’ or ‘diseased and dying’, unless Buhari himself or Buhari’s doctors had told Lai Mohammed so.
And in either of which case Lai Mohammed should only have told Nigerians that Buhari had said he was feeling ‘hale and hearty’ or that Buhari’s doctors, after diagnosis, had said that Buhari was ‘hale and hearty. A ‘hale-and-hearty-thinking’ or a hale-and-hearty-feeling Buhari may have the luxury of revealing the state of his ‘mind’ or ‘body’; but his doctors do not have such luxury. They can only reveal the result of their diagnosis.
But the irony of it was that at the material time that Lai Mohammed was telling Nigerians that Buhari was ‘hale and hearty’, neither Buhari nor Buhari’s doctors could have vouchsafed that clinical information, because in actual fact there was no such information available –yet! Nor is there any such information even now. Because Buhari could not have been undergoing ‘series’ of ‘medical tests’ under the supervision of his doctors abroad, and a non-medical cabinet official at home would be certifying him ‘hale and hearty’. Short of abnegating the outcome of the ‘series of tests’, Lai Mohammed’s certification of his Principal’s state of health in fact obviated the need for any tests in the first place.
The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating. If the President was ‘hale and hearty’, then the President should have been in office working like a man who is ‘hale and hearty’. Don’t tell me that the ‘series of tests’ he went to conduct was to confirm that he was ‘hale and hearty’. Because it would still have been preposterous to claim to be ‘hale and hearty’ and then to go running ‘series of tests’ to confirm if one is ‘hale and hearty’.
Only Buhari can certify status
The absence of disease should make seeing a doctor absolutely unnecessary. As they say concerning the medical benefit of fruits ‘one apple a day keeps the doctors away’. Meaning that a ‘good health’ is a double blessing: it keeps you away from disease and it keeps doctors away from you. But if you must see a doctor, whether to attend to an existing ‘bad’ health situation or even if merely to run a check on your existing ‘good health condition, you cannot be certified ‘hale and hearty’ while the doctors are still checking!
The moment Buhari had said that he was proceeding on some part of his annual leave and that he would use some of that period to see his doctors, then his chance of being ‘hale and hearty’ was now necessarily contingent upon the outcome of that medical appointment. Meaning that every time a person feels the need to see a doctor whether he is prompted by a feeling of un-wellness or even merely to reconfirm a state of excellent health-worthiness, notwithstanding whether that person ‘thinks’ or ‘feels’ ‘hale and hearty’, only a pronouncement by the doctor can confirm that he is ‘hale-and-hearty’.
But even if we admit that to be ‘hale and hearty’ is essentially a ‘condition of the body’ and not -as I have argued previously- a ‘state of mind’, it should still require the owner of that ‘body’ –and not any other- to say that they ‘feel’ ‘hale and hearty’ or to admit that they ‘feel’ ‘diseased and dying’. Yes, just ‘as a man thinketh, so is he’, equally so, ‘as a man feeleth, so he may be’. And it is not impossible that a person can ‘feel’ himself ‘hale and hearty’ when in actual fact he is ‘diseased and dying’; or that he may ‘feel’ himself ‘diseased and dying’ when in actual fact he is ‘hale and hearty’.