Wednesday, June 8, 2022

ust few days ago, I accidently came across an affluent man whose name is Nwokeadinjo (No-man-is-ugly). He is wealthy but facially ugly. Probably he descended from the generation of the vulture. Most women look at his pocket rather than at his face. Pregnant women avoid coming in contact with him in order to avoid their unborn babies capturing his ugliness. If this man in question goes for ugly contest, no one can take away the first position from him. Indeed he is ugliness personified. If you come in contact with him, then you are sure of having bad dreams during the night. People love him financially and hate him facially. In order words, he is good at fundraising but bad at friendship. In contradiction, this rich and ugly man is marrying a beautiful lady. Thus ugliness is marrying beauty. Their children are a blend of the two qualities. The good and the ugly is a fine combination. If you are ugly and rich, you can marry the most beautiful woman. But if you are ugly and poor, you will regret coming into this world.

Life in this world has two sides: the good and the ugly. No condition, they say, is permanent. Having an alternative gives rise to hope. When the going is good, you have many friends. But when the going is bad, all of the friends disappear. The Holy Scripture says, "At a time of prosperity, adversity is forgotten, and at a time of adversity, prosperity is not remembered" (Sirach 11:25). Life in this passing world is not stable. The good comes. The bad comes. Often we laugh. Often we cry. Laughter and tears compliments one another. The same mouth that is used to laugh is also used to cry. Sadness accompanies crying while cheerfulness accompanies laughter. The sound of crying is different from the sound of laughter. It is impossible to cry and to laugh at the same time. Nevertheless laughter can come after crying. Some time ago, I was at the burial of a demised beautiful single lady. The boys digging her grave were doing it with mixed feelings of sadness and joy. A carton of beer was set before them. As they dig the grave, they shed tears for losing such a beautiful lady. On the other hand, when they sip from the bottles of the beer, they rejoice. Judging from their facial appearance, tears run down their cheeks from one eye while the other eye radiates joy.

Few years ago, my priest friend from Germany who visited me rightly concluded, "Nigerians are suffering but happy." So for us Nigerians, suffering and joy go together. Our suffering is not divine but man made. The origin of our suffering goes back to Lord Lugard who amalgamated people of divergent living and culture and called their geographical area Nigeria because of selfish reasons. How can cats and rats cohabit? No wonder things fell apart just six years after our independence. The center could never hold due to bad leadership, corruption and marginalization. These led to the outbreak of 1966 to 1970 Nigeria - Biafra civil war, which resulted in genocide. At the end of the war, it was proclaimed verbally that there was no victor and no vanquished. Unfortunately what led to the civil war continued later unabated.

Today our country is in shambles due to selfishness, bad leadership, unemployment, corruption, poverty, lack of religious tolerance, marginalization, lack of federal character and trust. These culminated in insecurity of lives and properties. Many say that the civil war situation is better than the insecurity situation we have now. Kidnapping and killing for ransom is the order of the day nationwide. Terrorism of different types and degrees rear its ugly head everywhere. Nowadays the life of fowls is more valuable than human life in this country Nigeria. Travelling by land is now as dangerous as going to hell on foot. The victims of the Abuja - Kaduna train abduction are still languishing in the forest and their abductors are threatening to kill them if their huge ransom demand is not met. How can we be happy in the midst of this worsening insecurity? The laughter seen on our faces these days is artificial and a consolation. If my German friend comes back, I do not think he will deduce that we are suffering and happy. The correct description presently is: We are suffering and sad.

In Sokoto State, we are still mourning the merciless murder and burning of Miss Deborah Samuel Yakubu over allegation of blasphemy at Shehu Shagari College of Education. Her Muslim school mates took laws into their hands by lynching her in the name of Allah. She died in cold blood. Tears flowed from Sokoto into the River Benue and River Niger. It was a case of religious intolerance and misunderstanding. Her poor parents in Niger State have wailed and are dumbfounded. It was an ugly bloody incident. Fortunately the good came to the parents of the slain Deborah when the General Overseer of Omega Power Ministry (OPM), Chibuzor Chinyere, gifted them 14 flats bungalow and a car in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. They cried and rejoiced.

Down here in Anambra State, insecurity has darkened our white teeth. Tears are flowing all over the state because of the bloody mayhem perpetrated by enemies of progress. Unknown gunmen are terrorizing the people on frequent basis. Enforcers of the sit at home syndrome are on the loose. Disgruntled politicians are behind some of the terrific attacks. Of recent the lawmaker who represented Aguata 2 Constituency, Honorable Okechukwu Okoye (a.k.a Okey di okay) and his personal aide were kidnapped and beheaded after collecting millions of ransom. Many innocent persons going about their daily businesses have been shot dead here and there. Security men are not spared. A mother and her four children were gruesomely murdered by the unknown gunmen some days ago. Our laughter has vanished. Tears are flowing. But thank God the Governor, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo, is on top of the ugly situation. Therefore, there is hope in hopelessness. The ugly by the grace of God will soon give way to the good in Anambra State.

Night gives rise to day. Light dispels darkness. After rain comes sunshine. Joy wipes away sadness. As I was deliberating on this topic there was breaking news in Ekwulobia Diocese of Anambra State, Nigeria. His Holiness, Pope Francis, after reciting the Angelus before a large crowd of congregants at the Vatican City on Sunday 29 May 2022 announced the creation of twenty-one new Cardinals from around the globe. My own Local Ordinary, Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke, was among them. Following his elevation, he is now to be addressed as His Eminence, Peter Cardinal Okpaleke. Joy radiated throughout Ekwulobia Diocese and beyond. The terrorized people of Anambra State danced for joy. The cockerels all over the state crew for hours. The hunger in me before the breaking news vanished. Joy filled my belly. When I visited my white house the following morning, I could only pass joyful gas. For now Cardinal Peter Okpaleke is still the Catholic Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese. Anything for good can happen tomorrow. He is now eligible to join in the Pope's Conclave to elect a new Pope, when the time comes. He is also eligible to be elected as Pope. Who knows? He may be the first African Pope. The stone rejected by builders has become the stronghold of the house.

In whatever adverse condition we find ourselves, let us not despair. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Since a black hen could give birth to white chickens, there is hope. The downfall of a man is not the end of his life. Pieces can metamorphose into peace. The good can turn to be ugly. The ugly can also turn to good. White and black is a good combination.