By Muyiwa Adetiba
Whoever celebrates a private birthday at Harbour Point? This was the question that first came through my mind immediately I got the invitation card for Dr Kofo Odusote’s 70th birthday party. Especially when the invitation card made it clear it was not an ‘Owambe’ party.
In fact, it specifically decided against ‘gele’ and ‘agbada’ which suggested a casual, intimate evening. Harbour Point is an expansive events’ centre noted for big society events that connote—in my head—‘Aso ebis,’ sirens and some rowdiness. It is definitely not my place for a casual, private setting which the IV suggested.
So, a mental follow-up question was ‘how would she fill the place up and still retain the ambience of class and inclusiveness considering it was a week day?’ But I underestimated the ‘pull’ of Dr Odusote. Faces I had not seen in a while; faces that like me, had pulled back from social events; faces that live far from Victoria Island found time to grace the occasion. The refrain on most lips was ‘Kofo would do it for you.’ She made allusion to that statement during her short speech when she said: ‘if you invite me to a place, it is because you want me to be there and I will do my utmost not to disappoint.’
For many therefore, it was payback time. She had sown generously and her harvest, I can reveal, was impressive. Despite my initial reluctance, even I had a great time. Old school music, old acquaintances, informal yet dignified setting ensured a pleasant evening that went far into the night. Her husband, the gentle Professor Kayode Odusote is one of my favourite ‘egbons.’ So attendance was for me, a question of the ‘palm oil and yam’ adage. You either eat because of one, or you eat because of the other. This is what goodwill does and I am sure many attendees had similar sentiments.
Life is about goodwill and IOUs. As we pass through the journey of life, IOUs are issued out and collected in different currencies. Those who have free, accommodating spirits find peace of mind in even the most difficult circumstances. Those who go out of their ways to genuinely lighten the burdens of those around them find their own burdens being lightened inexplicably. Those who give freely of their time and money just find that they are never short of assistance at critical moments. They also find to their surprise, that those who are going to help them are not necessarily those they had helped. There are people who light up a room the minute they step into it. There are also people who darken a room the minute they step in.
There are people who, even in a crowded room, attract people to them. And there are also people who repel people even in a sparse room. In other words, some go about with good karma while some go about with bad karma. Your karma in most cases, is an outward manifestation of your private dispositions and actions.
Depending on which philosophical or spiritual bent you belong to, it is believed that an evolved mind is a mind that thinks of, and serves other people. It is also believed that an evolved mind is a mind that attracts good karma. Seen along this line, then most of our political leaders are unevolved because they are self- centred. It is therefore not surprising that they attract bad karma. But that is a story for another day.
Today is about those who give of their time and resources. Most of them outside the glare of publicity. A couple of years ago, I wrote about a silent millionaire in the Benue trough who had been spending millions upgrading and equipping the schools in his local government area to modern standards. His satisfaction would be to see village boys and girls given a chance to become international players like him. His only caveat is that his identity be not disclosed. He was obviously not doing it for political reasons or even for fame.
Last month, I attended a dinner hosted by the Nigeria Society for the Blind. I have attended this dinner now for a couple of years. Each time I am brought to reality of those who live life in permanent darkness. It makes me realise how privileged I am. It also makes me appreciate those who are putting enormous resources together to make sure a few challenged people live a semblance of a normal life.
Their joy is in seeing those who come in disoriented and worthless receive a measure of training and self-worth that would make them live positive, productive lives in the outside world. Their frustration is that they wish they could do more in a society where so much is being squandered. We already imagine what kind of karma these people will attract.
Earlier this year, I had written an article on Ms Toyin Adesola, a small, petit lady who is doing giant things. She is a sickler who is looking beyond her personal pains and travails to bring relief to many sickle cell sufferers who cannot afford basic drugs. Her aim is to move from clinic to hospital. She will need our collective support to achieve her lofty goal. She is on the net for those led to help.
Last month, I attended a meeting put together by Mrs Moji Animashaun who has spent most of her working life attending to cancer patients both in Nigeria and in the US. Now retired, she wants to use her wealth of experience for her country. From our discussion, she made it clear that most people die more from the way cancer is managed than from the disease itself. She has set up an NGO called St Cyril Cancer Foundation which if successful, will manage many cancer patients and help reduce medical tourism.
Many cancer patients and families are aware of a serious dearth of cancer facilities in the country. St Cyril Cancer Foundation will help fill some of the gap. But she will need help from individuals and donor organisations to achieve her objective. Those who are interested either as a patient or as a donor can get more details online.
It is heartening to see ordinary folks go beyond the ordinary to help people in need in spite of severe limitations in the system. One thing is clear. When you sow, you will reap. When you serve others beyond self, you attract good karma. Evolved minds don’t wait till they have had enough before they reach out to others.