Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaWednesday, June 18, 2014




traveller is wiser than a sage. The tortoise also maintains that travelling is beneficial, and that is why it travelled to its mother's ancestral home and learnt how to protrude its lips upwards. It is by travelling that Christopher Columbus discovered America. A person who does not travel remains in his or her myopic world. Personally, I have travelled to many European countries. In Africa, outside my country Nigeria, I have been to Ghana from where I learnt many things.

Few days ago, I travelled from Awka to Abagana through the Enugwu-Agidi bye-pass. As I was operating the steering of my ministry vehicle, I came across a dangerous bend (in those ignorant days we say "bending-corner"). What did I see? Behold an accident whereby a huge chain caterpillar machine somersaulted. The chain legs were looking towards heaven for mercy. In fact, the caterpillar broke into pieces like wine jar. Immediately I exclaimed, "What an unbelievable somersault!" The somersault was an eye-saw that I doubted if the driver survived. If a caterpillar can somersault, what happens to the Volkswagen? The famine that kills a rich man, buries a poor man alive. The somersaulted caterpillar machine is still lying there waiting for the day of Resurrection. God have mercy!

I still have the reminiscence of a fatal accident which happened at Uga in Aguata Local Government of Anambra State some years back. A motorcycle rider collided face to face with a bicycle rider in a pathway. Can you guess the result? The motorcyclist died at the spot while the bicyclist got up and walked away unharmed. What an unbelievable somersault!

This event led my little mind to cogitate over the meaning of somersault. Literally, somersault sounds like two words joined together: summer and salt. The summer season in Europe, America and some African countries denotes a period of a favourable weather, marked by dryness, sunshine and longer day. When I was in Germany for the first time, I couldn't believe what I experienced during summer. In the climax of this season, darkness begins to descend between 9.00p.m. and 10.00p.m. The morning light deems as early as 5.00a.m. I couldn't believe it. I came. I saw and I conquered.

On the other hand, salt is a whitish sweet substance in form of powder. It has a healing effect and also used to sweeten our foods. When the salt is used during summer season, it gives rise to "summersalt." My dear reader, this is a joke - o!

Grammatically speaking, the Wikipedia free Encyclopaedia gives this definition: "A Somersault is an acrobatic exercise in which a person's body revolves 360 degrees with feet passing over the head." It can be done backwards and sideways. It can also be performed in the air or on the ground. When done on the ground it is regarded as roll. Before reading further, I want you to somersault now. Have you somersaulted? Some years ago, I unintentionally somersaulted from a pear tree and landed in the hospital. Pride propelled Lucifer to somersault from Heaven and crash-landed into hell. The fowl somersaulted from the poultry and landed into my stew. The mango fruit somersaulted from its tree and landed into my mouth.

Everything seems now to have somersaulted. In those good days, when a householder shouts, "Who is there?" the thief takes to his heels. But nowadays when a thief shouts, "Open the door!" the householder runs away abandoning everything.

As Christians, many of us have somersaulted from our Faith. In those days, pagans worshipped idols and remained in their shrines. But today, some Christians known as neo-pagans go to church concealing idols under their tunics. They confess their belief in God by lips but in their hearts believe in idols, charms and superstitions. They wear Sacramental in front and hang occult objects behind. They worship God by day and adore Satan by night. They receive Holy Communion in the Church and drink occult blood at satanic temples. What an unbelievable somersault!

Economically speaking, the power of our Nigerian currency, the Naira, has somersaulted. I witnessed when One Naira was equal to One US Dollar. But today it is up to N150 for $1. Between 1984 and 1988 when I was studying Philosophy in the Seminary, I boasted of having N40 (Forty Naira) as pocket money for a semester of three months. While going home for holidays, I still had a balance of about ten naira in my pocket. The somersault of the Naira today is such, that if you give a beggar forty naira as charity, he will curse the day you were born. Few years ago N1,000 had much value, but these days it is almost valueless.

Even human life has somersaulted by devaluation. Life is a primary value, because we were created in the image and likeness of God. The sixth Commandment of God forbids wilful termination of human life at any stage. This includes murder, abortion, homicide, suicide and euthanasia. God's will has somersault into human will. Blood-letting is the order in our society today. Armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism, terrorism, etc are all militating against the sanctity of human life. Not even fowls are being killed like human beings within Nigeria and all over the world. Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of the Archdiocese of Jos bemoans the ugly toiling with human life in these words: "In Nigeria, we have lately become overwhelmed by spate of killings and spilling of human blood, where ritual murders, unresolved assassinations, kidnapping, cultism and terrorism have become part of our daily news and life experiences. Regrettably, human life has become cheaper than a loaf of bread. From hijacking and loss of airborne planes to the avoidable mishaps of sinking of ships and ferries loaded with passengers, to the mindless wars and avoidable military conflicts, human lives are wantonly wasted everywhere, everyday" (Punch, Friday June 6, 2014 in Nigeriaworld website). In fact, since the 11th September 2001 terror attack in America, the world has not been the same again.

As I was about to conclude this article, the news of the death of an illustrious citizen of Nigeria, Professor Dora Nkem Akunyili, filtered into my ears. The world seemed to have somersaulted at this painful news. I pushed my computer aside and wept over this monumental loss. Dora Akunyili was a woman of integrity. As the Director of National Agency of Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) she saved the lives of millions of Nigerians that would have died through fake drugs. I know the fake drug dealers would be filled with jubilation that she is dead. There is no cause for alarm since everyone must die. As Information and Communication Minister of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Dora distinguished herself honourably and stood for truth and justice. As a politician, she played the game well. For her, the end does not justify the means, but vice versa. Adorable Dora, farewell! We miss you! May God crown you with the crown of victory in Heaven for a life well lived. Rest in peace, till we meet to part no more on the Resurrection Day!