The 2016 Rio Olympics have come and gone, but like any other sporting event or tournament it has left us with memories. The good, and the not-so-good. There were surprise marriage proposals beamed around the world, an athlete who had a bad case of diarrhoea while he ran his race, a medal winning swimmer who quickly went from hero to zero after he was found to have told a disgraceful lie, and another long distance runner who burst into limelight after making a gesture in protest of the treatment meted out to his ethnic group back home. Records were set. Records were broken. Individuals and teams defied the odds to excel beyond their limitations. For an event that kicked off amidst controversies and plenty of difficulties, the 2016 Summer Olympics sure wasn’t shy of happenings. Happenings, heroes and villains. But, villains are hardly worth dedicating time and space to, so I’ll be highlighting my top five heroes of the just concluded Summer Games in Rio.
“Wherever the crowd goes, run in the other direction”- Charles Bukowski
When an undeniably important voice makes controversial comments on any subject or issue, there’s bound to be plenty of conversation and argument for and against their opinion. And the case was no different when renowned writer and author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie stated her dislike for the term “baby bump”- a colloquial term for a woman’s obvious pregnant state. She had made the comment in an interview with the UK’s channel 4 News sometime last week. In her words “I wanted my pregnancy to be something I shared with the people I love, with the people who know me. There is a kind of pregnancy as a trendy thing that I find very uncomfortable and I deeply dislike expressions like ‘baby bump.’ I find it very irritating…”
It’s best to keep things as simple as possible. But like many other things, it’s easier said than done. In a world that constantly conspires to subdue and overwhelm, staying calm is one of the difficult things to do. Life is short. The average person out there desires to achieve as much as they can in as little time as possible. There are personal desires…desires which the world oftentimes indirectly and sometimes pointedly oppose. The cacophony of voices that tend to drown out our own inner voice. A lone voice in the wilderness.
The third and fourth lines of the Nigerian National Anthem read “The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain.” It’s supposed to be a profound declaration of assurance. An unequivocal guarantee that come what may, our country will be there for anyone who has made an unforgettable contribution to the Nigerian State, but has succumbed to the cold hands of death in one way or the other. It’s a statement of promise from a nation to her citizens. If anyone ever doubted the veracity of that promise, their skepticism must have evolved into full blown disbelief with the events surrounding the burial of former Super Eagles Skipper and Manager, Stephen Keshi last Friday.
“Our motto is: When they go low, we go high”– Michelle Obama
I had all but concluded the piece for this week when I stumbled on a short clip of Michelle Obama’s Democratic National Convention speech. I immediately rued missing out on watching her give the speech live as I was instantly intrigued by the little I saw on CNN. Of course I had to see the epoch-making speech as soon as possible, for I had heard and read that she stole the show at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia which had thousands of people, and millions watching all around the world. I saw the full video at a later time and took time out to read the transcribed version of it, and to say I wasn’t disappointed would be a huge understatement.
Two lawmakers butt heads and engage in a war of words on the floor of the upper legislative chamber. One is the controversial Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial district, while the other is the lawmaker representing Lagos Central and wife of the equally controversial former governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu. The feuding senators belong to the same party, but have been able to get their colleagues, fellow party members, other politicians and the general public divided on whom to queue behind.
It’s exhausting to be black at this time, perhaps more than ever before. In the past week two black Americans were shot and killed by the same set of people who were supposed to be protecting them. In the last couple of years hundreds of unarmed black people lost their lives to police brutality. A worrisome trend that necessitated the creation of the black lives matter movement. Racism is the hydra-headed monster that has plagued the black race since time immemorial, and while one hopes that this monster would be slain once and for all, recent events point to the contrary. Truth be told, the prognosis looks gloomy.
The lowly security guard of a foremost bank in Nigeria stumbled upon a wad of cash. $10,000 to be precise, in the premises of his company. It was there for the taking. He chose not to take it for himself. Instead he returned the cash that amounts to about N3m in Nigeria to the management of his branch. A huge sum that had the potential to change his life forever. But, the 29 year old who reportedly earns a paltry N30,000 monthly literally passed up the opportunity to be a millionaire overnight. It is mind blowing and challenging at the same time.
“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real”– Jesse Williams
I had a fairly difficult time titling this piece. I played around with “The Stars Also Cry,” thought that wasn’t quite good enough and changed it to “Geniuses Also Cry,” and had opted for that until I had some sort of eureka moment and finally settled for the current title which I consider more apt. I may have been wrong, so feel free to work with whatever title resonates better with you. With that out of the way, the Copa America finals which culminated in the seventh consecutive defeat in major international tournaments for the Argentina national team, and a fourth consecutive loss at the finals for the magical football genius called Lionel Messi in the colours of his home country was one loss too many. It had become perennial thorn in the flesh of a man whom many regard as the best footballer to ever play the round leather game. He couldn’t take it anymore. He had had enough. Consequently, he announced his retirement from international football immediately.
Typical conversation between a Journalist/Interviewer and a Successful Person
Interviewer: Please tell us how you were able to achieve so much success in your career.
What many would like to know is how you were able to rise to prominence and wealth in spite of your humble background.
Successful person: In 1998, I left my small town to seek greener pastures in Lagos. I had only one shirt with me, which was what I had on that fateful day. I was poor, but I struggled and worked hard. I paid my way through school with the little money I was able to make from the odd jobs I was doing until I left school and met Mr John…and the rest as they say is history.
It’s been God all the way, God has been very faithful to me and I give him all the glory.