Influence is a word that increasingly features in our daily vocabulary; so much so that we now have people who go by the title of Influencers. Impacting the behaviour or thought process of others is a concept the vast majority of us could relate with since we were kids. Our parents warned us about peer pressure and how it could derail us from the straight and narrow path. At school, we were admonished not to join band gangs to ensure we weren’t tempted to engage in untoward activities such as drugs and heavy drinking. All our lives, we have been lectured on the potential danger inherent in influence.
It starts at an early age: the dream and need to belong. To be one of the cool kids. The drive to be affiliated with wealth and recognition began in high school; children from average homes who did all they could to be friends with the kids from affluent backgrounds. They devised every means to be viewed as one of the creme de la cremes of the student society. Some of them went as far as denying their own parents or seeing them discreetly when they came visiting because they needed to keep up an appearance.
Nearly 2.5 million Muslims participated in the Hajj (a spiritual exercise that constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam) this year. The figures have risen steadily over the years, and it is safe to presume the next couple of years will follow the same upward trajectory in numbers. The El al-Adha holiday is one both Muslims and Christians can identify with even though it is not officially celebrated by Christians. The story of Ibrahim (Abraham in the Bible) and God’s command to him to sacrifice his son, Ismail is recorded in the two most popular holy books. Eid-el Kabir is tagged, a festival of sacrifice—one that commemorates a test of faith and belief in the supreme being.
At the basest level, humans go through the same challenges: juggling family and vocation, giving attention to the things that really matter—making and sustaining a living, staying healthy—nurturing relationships. For people in developing countries, poverty is an ever-looming possibility, so there’s a constant battle to stay afloat financially. Add political turmoil and insecurity to the mix, and there’s no doubt that everyone has sufficient burdens to keep them busy. However, there’s a challenge that never ceases to rear its head. One that’s designed to break anyone who isn’t deliberate about self-awareness and authenticity.
Talking about famous people, the first thing you need to know is that there are celebrities and there are social media celebrities. No, they are not the same thing. Yes, sometimes, the lines blur and social media celebrities (or call them influencers, if you like) evolve to become popular in the actual world, but many…
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
“Amen.” The congregation chorused as Sunday mass came to a close.
Some members of Redemption Evangelical Church thronged forward to pay their respects to Father Brown the presiding priest of the parish.
“God bless you.”
“God bless you.”
“You are blessed.”
Father Brown had a prayer for everyone around him. The 6ft 3 inches bulky man of God was adored by his people. Even though he towered above everybody else, he was soft-spoken and a calm reassurance accompanied his teachings.
One of the traits the typical Nigerian (and to a larger extent, Africans) adores is humility. We talk about it—actually, we pontificate about it—a lot. We are obsessed with people who appear to have means or recognition yet are self-effacing. And when we come across those who do not care to be particularly modest, we are gutted by their arrogance. We can never fathom why anyone would not deign to make light of their genius or success. It’s entertaining to watch, really. More so when one remembers that Nigerians aren’t exactly famous for a being docile, meek bunch who are contained in their ways.
Ayo is an OND holder who now has a thriving business. He is dating Jane, a freshman in the university. Because Jane comes from a penurious background, Ayo has opted to foot all her school bills; and not only that, he takes care of her feeding and general welfare also. The lovers have an agreement to get married as soon as Jane concludes the mandatory National Youth Service Corps. Their parents are also aware of this, and Jane’s parents who live in the village are especially grateful to Ayo for the constant financial support he lends.
I suffer from shock. Anytime something untoward or unexpected happens to me, I am immobile for a few seconds or minutes before gathering myself and willing myself into a reaction. This also means that I am not the type to shout, burst into tears or wail on receiving unpleasant news. The tears come later…after processing events. My friend, Anna (real name withheld), on the other hand, is highly emotional. The tears are never far away whenever she gets upsetting news; at other times, she would let out a scream or shout of pain. Two friends, two different reactions to bad news.
If there’s a category of people who know a thing or two about rejection, self-doubt and uncertainty, it is writers. One time a police officer asked what I did what for a living and when I simply said “Writer”, I could see the quizzical look on his face. A look that asked, “Is that even a job?”. Toeing a path where you are never sure of the outcome of your efforts can be mind-crippling. For the creative, there’s the constant pressure to create; and not just create, but surpass the success of previous work.