The Entitlement Mentality 

John Bull is the only child of two successful parents. His father is the executive director of a major bank while the mother is an oil magnate. In between these parents lies a vast amount of property, business holdings and fat bank accounts. John Bull, an undergraduate in one of the private universities, doesn’t see the need to study hard or carve a niche for himself. What’s the point in stressing myself when I have family wealth to fall back on, he’ll say. Whatever belongs to my parents belongs to me.

Vera and Steve are couples. Both are working class though Vera’s workload seems to be more than Steve’s. Most times, Steve gets home earlier. Although he could help out with dinner pending the arrival of Vera, he’ll rather not. I’m the head of the house after all. My place isn’t in the kitchen. So he’ll rather hang out with friends in the meantime while a fatigued Vera gets home to do all the cooking.   

Foster is a citizen of Friverkistern. Throughout his undergrad days, he’d always had lofty expectations of his government. Although he had the opportunities to learn new skills and go for relevant trainings, he chose to keep faith with his government. It’s the responsibility of the government to provide me with a good job after studies, he’ll insist. He however gets offended and let down by the same government after 3 years of unemployment as a graduate.

Brian is an uncle to Taylor. Brian is a wealthy businessperson in the city. He had battled all the odds to make it to the top. On the other hand, his nephew Taylor is a lazy bone whose only job is to leave on Brian. He’ll rather knock at his uncle’s door each time he has a need. He believes God blessed Brian for a reason – to meet the needs of family. What more, he is convinced he has a stake in his wealth. After all, I’ve been praying ceaselessly for him. The minute Brian stopped dolling out cash to him he began to resent him. He’s just self-centred.  

Craig is a member of an ad-hoc committee set up by his company management. On the committee are folks as educated, exposed and experienced as Craig. He however feels he should naturally chair the committee, being the eldest. The other members however disagree with him and appoint a chairperson by popular majority. Craig makes things difficult for the committee as he always demands his ideas be approved in lieu of others.  

Clara and Gloria are friends. While Clara is open and shares her private affairs with Gloria, Gloria is secretive and doesn’t give much away. Interestingly, she expects Clara to open up to her about herself every time but cleverly avoids bringing up her own private matters. Clara eventually takes notice of Gloria’s clever ways and decides to talk less about herself henceforth. Upon noticing the change in Clara’s manner of communication, Gloria feels offended and decides to cut her off.

Peter has been home all day doing nothing. He knows he needs to cash a cheque at the bank down the street but puts it off until much later. He however doesn’t get to the bank until 4 – the exact time the bank closes for the day. When told to come back the next day, he flares-up and begins to cause a scene. He feels it’s not going to take any effort for the teller to attend to him as he is the only one left. Customers are always right after all.

………… . . …………………………..

One thing is common to the characters of John Bull, Steve, Foster, Taylor, Craig, Gloria and Peter in the illustrations above: they all have a complex called the entitlement mentality. It’s the kind of personality trait that makes a man feel the world revolves around him alone. He believes other people simply exist to singularly meet his needs or be at his disposal. One who suffers from this trait is unable to distinguish clearly between his privileges and rights. As far as he is concerned, his needs, desires and expectations are priority and he’ll do whatever it takes to actualise them.  The entitlement complex creates a larger-than-life portrait in the mind of one who has it. He clearly sees himself as one who is better off than every other person hence their need to be subservient to him.         

The entitlement complex is only a closely linked to narcissism – a personality disorder characterised by excessive self-admiration/importance and need for attention. You are sure to hear the entitlement claimant use expressions as I don’t care, it’s my right, I’m always right always. The first person and possessive pronouns I, me, mine are consistent in his lexicon. 

The entitlement claimant rarely sees anything wrong about whatever he does even when it’s obvious. Instead of owning up to a fault, he’ll rather make up excuses to justify himself. 

Let’s consider our special characters and entitlement claimants as case study. We’ll deduce certain characteristics peculiar to folks with entitlement complex from them:

John Bull is our first claimant. He is likely to be a product of an African influence that believes whatever belongs to the parent belongs to the child. Although he never contributed to his parent’s wealth, he feels he has a claim to it because of the sonship status. Such warped knowledge makes him lazy and irresponsible.

An entitlement claimant like Steve is downright inconsiderate and unfeeling.  He has an overrated sense of self-esteem. His untoward attitude is fuelled by his absurd patriarchal mentality that relegates the wife/woman to play less-dignifying roles. He feels that, because he is the husband, it’s his right to be cooked for even if it’s at the expense of his wife’s well-being. 

Foster is clearly disillusioned. He has an unrealistic expectation of his government.  He his is ignorant of the intricacies of the bill of rights. He fails to understand that just because the right to employment is valid, it’s not guaranteed. While it’s the duty of the government to provide certain benefits for its citizens, realistically, there is a limit to what it can provide. Foster’s claim to some right makes him overly dependent hence doesn’t take responsibility for his future.  He only thinks about what his country can/should do for him and not what he can do for his country.

Just like Taylor, many entitlement claimants always feel they have a stake in another’s success. While they are lazy and hardly take responsibility for their lives, they make others feel guilty for their sorry state. Taylor and his ilk lack a sense of appreciation for the sacrifice of others. Taylor insists his uncle is successful because of his prayers. Shouldn’t he rather say the prayers for himself?

Craig presents an interesting case of entitlement complex. He has little or no regard for due process. His claim to leadership is largely based on age difference. Because of his over bloated feeling of self-worth, he tries to impose his ideas on others. Folks like him are consistently arrogant.

Something about the entitlement claimant makes him feel he is so special. Someone like Gloria always likes to be in the position of strength. She wouldn’t tell her friend stuffs but feels it’s her friend’s duty to spill. Gloria is distastefully clever and selfish. The entitlement claimant gets offended over a situation he is culpable.

Because, he suffers from the entitlement complex, Peter is plainly inconsiderate, unreasonable and arrogant. The entitlement claimant thinks only of his own convenience and satisfaction. When things doesn’t seem to be working in his favour, he becomes irritable.

The entitlement claimants are of the generation gimme. 

Nothing more guarantees the erosion of character than getting something for nothing – Dennis Prager. From all indications, the entitlement mentality tends toward the undesirable. While its ideal can be channelled to positive ends, it turns into a personality disorder when it becomes excessive. While it could foster the attitude of a healthy self-esteem, it’s most likely to promote a malignant form of self-love/worth. 

Entitlements are not rights and except for the basic human rights, not all supposed rights are assured. Often times, folks use entitlement claims as a guise of laziness and inability to take responsibility for their inadequacies. They expect too much of life than they are willingly give to it.    

Mark Twain once said don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. You owe it to yourself to make a sense of your life. As much as you matter, the world doesn’t revolve around you alone. 

If you want it, you earn it!




Image Credit: antipodeanwriter

©ayansolaibukun 

THE MAN AT THE POOL OF BETHESDA 

It was in the year 15BC, during the reign of Herod Agrippa. The name of the village was Emmaus – one of the poor villages in the town of Nazareth.

Having been advised not to engage in any tasking work by the village apothecary Noel, Tirzah laid down in her house on a straw mat her mother had given her during her last visit. Unless you want to lose this child, you’ll desist from all sort of labour and use the mixture I’ve given you, Noel had warned her.

The house is a square-shaped stone structure. The interior was essentially a single large multipurpose room portioned into sections in which members of the family occupied. Hammocks can be seen hanging in separate corners of the room. Scattered around are household items – hand mill, lamp stands, earthen vessels, bushels etc. Except for the garments and cloaks that happen to be properly folded and arranged in the camel’s furniture, every other thing seemed to be unattended.

Connected to the extreme end of the room is a smaller backroom where the animals – few sheep and rams – were housed at nights. The windows are small apertures grated with woods high in the wall and the floor made of pounded earth. As for the roof, it was made of flat sturdy timbers with barely ample slope to drain off the rainwater. When it’s not raining, laundry was put out on it to dry.

Tirzah had had four females issues already Sarah, Milcah, Dena, and Jedidah. With four children to her credit, she was supposed to be a fulfilled wife – it takes a fruitful womb to produce that number of children. Unfortunately, the Israel of that era, being predominantly patriarchal, did not have much regard for female children. Their presence was only felt in the place of discharging household duties and child bearing. As far as the Jewish tradition was concerned, as long as she (Tirzah) had not produced a ben (son), she was no better than a barren.

Being a man of good conscience and with genuine love for her, her husband Eliud, much to the bafflement of his kinsmen, had resolved not to take a second wife. As was expected, many of them believed Tirzah was the bane and that she was long overdue for a replacement. It was as though his folks had resolved to make life unbearable for Tirzah. Each time any of them dropped by, they ensured they frustrated her and make her feel miserable. You are no longer at the prime of your youth anymore you know, his mother Rahab had told him the last time she visited. Give me a male child while I am still alive or my spirit will curse you from my grave, she had threatened. Even his wife’s plea to him to heed the counsel of his people had fallen on deaf ears. In due season, he always reassured her, Yahweh will provide a male child.

On the 20th day of the month Kislev (September), it occurred to Tirzah that her monthly flow had not come as it used to. By her crude count, it was ten days since the flow was supposed to start. What’s more? She observed her hips were getting unusually larger and her bosom firmer. Something isn’t right with my body, she had told her husband. Well, there is only one way to find out what it is, her husband replied. Pay a visit to Otniel. Otniel – a heavily bearded man with a grave demeanour – was the only physician in the village of Emmaus at the time. Although his approach to medicine was somewhat crude, it always yielded results. Whenever the villagers had ailments or sustained varying degrees of injuries, it was unto Otniel they went.

Taking with her 5 shekels of silver as fee for consultation, Tirzah left for Otniel’s. It was still in the first hour of the day (7 am) and being the period of winter, it was extremely cold. But for the cloak of skin she wore, she may as well have frozen. She had quite some grounds to cover as Otniel’s place was at the outskirt of the village. The few villagers she met on her way wondered and asked what took her out of her house in such a bad weather and that early. I need to attend to an urgent business at the outskirt of the village was all she told them. Village folks can be nosy.

Shalom, she hollered on arriving at the physician’s threshold. After what looked like minutes, a voice bellowed a shalom in response. Yahweh be praised, she muttered under voice, relieved at the fact that she met him at home. A minute passed before the owner of the voice revealed his face. Judging from his appearance, he was about to set out. What brings you to my home Tirzah? You are indeed lucky to have met me as I am just preparing to go out. He ushered her in and she intimated him on the reason for her visit. Otniel listened patiently to all she had to say. From all he heard, his gut told him Tirzah was with child, but he couldn’t be too sure. In order to carry out a proper test, he collected a sample of her urine and asked her to come for a feedback in two weeks.

The standard pregnancy test was actually not a difficult one to perform. All you need do is to keep, separately, emmer wheat and barley seeds moistened with a woman’s urine. If the seeds sprout, she is pregnant. Also, if the barley sprouts first, the child was most likely to be male while the child is female if the emmer grows first. In Tirzah’s case, the seeds sprouted and the barley was the first to grow.

The news of Tirzah’s test was received with great joy in Eliud’s household. It was as though she had already put to bed. As a sign of gratitude to Yahweh, Eliud went to the temple and gave a meat offering – unleavened cake baked in the oven and made of fine flour mingled with oil.

As her month of delivery drew nearer, so heightened the state of anxiety in Eliud’s household. The man ensured that his wife took every portion prescribed by the apothecary. Her sister Peninah had already come to stay in order to help her with house chores. Although she would have loved to assist her family at the threshing floor, being the season of wheat harvest, she wasn’t permitted to go beyond a stone throw from the house. As much as she was happy about the love and care showered on her during the period, she wished she could contribute to the common good.

The baby arrived eventually and it was indeed a bouncing baby boy, a healthy looking one at that. The house of Eliud was filled with rejoicing and laughter as well-wisher lifted their hands in thanksgiving to Yahweh for the blessing of a male child. As was the custom of the Jews, the baby was taken to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord on the eight day. Being the first son, he had to be redeemed. In order to do so, Eliud gave the officiating priest five standard shekels as ransom. Upon, receiving the ransom, the priest took the baby in his arms, christened him Benaiah BaTazir as indicated by his father. He then spoke a blessing over him and handed him over to his mother. As soon as the dedication ritual was over, the family returned home to a feast to celebrate the dedication.

And so the boy Benaiah was added to Eliud’s household. He developed/grew like every normal child. He was a healthy boy right from birth and hardly gave his parents unnecessary stress. The day-old baby eventually became a toddler and soon began to make friends among his age mates in the neighbourhood. He was such a lively boy and a pleasure to behold to his parents.

All was well with the child Benaiah until he turned ten and fell sick. It all started with complaints of headaches and pains in his joints. At first, his parents thought it was just one of those seasonal bouts of illness and merely treated him with the herbs commonly used to cure such illness at the time. However, much to their consternation, the symptoms didn’t abate. Tirzah had now become frantic. She watched over the poor child day and night with tears, looking up and crying to Jehovah to restore his health. The once sprightly child was gradually becoming an object of sympathy by friends and family.

It dawned on Eliud that unless he took drastic measures and sought help from without, he was bound to lose his only son. So with the help of his close relatives, he took the boy away from the house and began to seek the help of physicians from far and near. First he went to Nazareth and then to Galilee, Judea, Bethany until he was finally referred to Cephas in Jerusalem. If he is unable to do something about the child’s predicament, said Gaius of Bethany, then there will be no hope left for him. Indeed, Cephas was known throughout the province of Jerusalem as a physician of repute. Although his charges could be deemed outrageous, on most occasions, he got the job done.

So great was Cephas’ repute and goodwill that Eliud was full of hope that he would get solutions to the child’s pathetic condition on getting to him. Yes, his service would cost him a fortune but nothing was too much to keep the beginning of his strength alive. It was therefore a dismayed Otniel to whom Cephas gave the verdict of his son’s condition: I’m afraid there is nothing I can do to help him, he told Eliud. Your son’s case is such a strange one. By this time, the sickness had already crippled the child Benaiah. With the sentence pronounced by Cephas, Eliud dropped all hope of a cure for his son’s sickness and took him back home to a frail Tirzah. The ripple effect for the boy was frightening: He could no longer mingle with his equals and lead a normal. Worst of all, he’ll have to depend on others for sustenance for the rest of his life.

During this period in Benaiah’s life, miracles were rare in Israel. Indeed, the people had heard the account of great and mighty works done by Yahweh through the hands the prophets of old, but they hardly get to witness them. Although there were magicians, illusionists and sorcerers all over the place, the closest their acts got to performing miracles were parlour tricks. The only reference point to healing at the time was at the Sheep Market at the outskirt of Jerusalem, at the pool of Bethesda. It was a five-sided pool with porches surrounded by five covered colonnades. In these porches gathered a great number of silk folks who continually waited their turn to be healed. It was reported that at a certain periods of the year, an angel of the Lord would go down into the water and make it bubble. Whosoever got into the water first after it bubbled was healed of whatever ailment.

Clearly, the pool was the only hope for Benaiah and it was there they took him. At the early stage of his predicament, his parents sought the help of two young men who always helped him to the pool at the early hours of the morning and returned to take him back before it became dark. However, as he grew older, he refused to be at the mercy of his aids. He resolved to go the way of cripples and drag his body back and forth the pool day in day out. He’ll set out at the break of day and embark on a homeward journey after each frustrating day at the pool.

It wasn’t until his seventh year in the predicament that the child Jesus the Christ was born of the virgin Mary at Bethlehem of Judea. This was the child concerning whom the prophet Isaiah prophesied

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

This child Jesus grew and waxed strong in Spirit. He increased so much in wisdom and in the grace of God that those who knew of his background began to take note of him. He however, didn’t begin to demonstrate his supernatural abilities until much later. In the meantime, he humbly learnt the trade of carpentry from his foster father Joseph.

By the time he was thirty, God had anointed him with the Holy Ghost and with power. He had been instructed by the Spirit to begin the works of the Father. He was no longer Jesus the carpenter’s son but the Jesus who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil. He now had a ministry and was busy at it with the help of his disciples. At this point in time, the Child Benaiah was no longer a child. He was a full-grown man in his 38th year as a cripple. He still continued to relentlessly visit the pool of Bethesda at Jerusalem, hoping that one day, he’ll be fortunate enough to step in first into the bubbling pool and be healed.

During this period, Jesus was not known to frequent Jerusalem as that was the dwelling place of the Jewish rulers who sought to do him harm. Nevertheless, as it was the custom for the Jews to congregate at Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, Jesus also went up with his disciples to celebrate the feast. Some hours before then, Jesus had left his hometown Nazareth feeling disappointed at the unbelief of his kinsmen. No prophet is acceptable and welcome in his own town, he had told his disciples solemnly.

On the same hour that Jesus was making his way into Jerusalem with his disciples, at the 12th hour of the day (6:00pm), Benaiah the cripple was contemplating leaving the poolside to embark on his homeward journey. It was a particularly unlucky day for him as he came late to the pool and had to sit at the edge of the large crowd of sick people. Had the angel of the Lord went into the water to stir it up, he was surely not going to get close to the pool let alone be the first to get into it. He had already turned his back against the crowd and the pool and was contemplating his move.

With his back against the pool, he was now facing the footpath through which folks came into that section of Jerusalem and went out alike. This meant that his gaze commanded the approach of passers-by. It was at this moment Jesus and his disciples made to pass by. Their passage was noticeable as they were about the only set of people coming in at the time. Something about the approaching group caught his attention and more particularly about the man who seemed to be the leader of the group. Well, he deduced he was the leader because he was the one doing the talking while the others – about twelve of them – keenly listened to him. What it was about the man that caught his attention he couldn’t tell. Although he had heard about the fame and supernatural abilities of Jesus, he had never seen him before and so could not tell who is who. Nevertheless, regardless of the reason for the force of attraction, he stared intently at the seemingly leader of the group.

When they were just a few yards away from the pool, Jesus, who had been admonishing his disciples concerning the subject of faith, fell silent as his gaze fell on the crowd of sick people before him, oblivious of his presence. Compassion welled up inside him. How gladdening would it be to see the whole of them healed, he mused. Even if he wanted to heal them all (and he could) not every one of them would have the faith to be healed. He was going to look away from the crowd when he noticed that one of the sick folks fixed his gaze on him. From all indications, the man was crippled. His gaze on him was that piercing that he could not look away from him.

As he gazed back at the man, he saw his entire life history in a flash – a man of many sorrows, crippled for a very long time. Without a doubt, he knew he had to do heal him. Instinctively, he walked straight to him. His disciples followed closely behind – they knew a miracle was about to take place; Christ doesn’t come in contact with you for nothing sake. On getting to the spot Benaiah sat, Jesus put the question to him immediately: wilt thou be made whole?

The question triggered a feeling of consternation in Benaiah. No one had ever asked him such a question. How can he ask if I want to become well? Perhaps he is trying to mock me, he thought. He must be the jester people say makes costly jokes in Jerusalem. But then, who knows if he has good intentions? Perhaps he meant to ask if I’ll like to be assisted with getting into the water in time when the pool is stirred by the angel. So in response to the perceived meaning of Jesus’ question, Benaiah answered: Sir, I don’t have anyone here to help me get into the water when it’s stirred up. Whenever I try to get in, someone else beats me to it. I should be healed long ago only if I had help.

Jesus understood his plight. His long years of misery had crippled his ability to reason well. The poor man couldn’t even answer a simple question properly anymore. Rather trying to make him understand the essence of his question, Jesus decided to address the situation head-on. He spoke to him with authority Get up, pick up your mat and walk!

That’s it! I’m definitely being mocked, he decided. He couldn’t even remember what it felt like to walk anymore as the last time he did so was 38 years ago. But almost immediately, he became excited about the thought of getting to walk again. Something from within told him It wouldn’t do you any harm to try standing like the man instructed you. He decided to take to the instruction. So placing both hands firmly on the ground to serve as fulcrum, he lifted his trunk. The second he did so, what seemed to be a surge of current ran through his body – from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet.

It was as though that flow concentrated on his lower region as he began to feel an usual strengthening of his waist region downwards. A feeling of warmth had set in…his joints had come alive, his bones revived, his twisted legs straightened out. I’m healed! he screamed as he jumped on his feet limping and then leaping and then breaking into a trot. In the heat of his excitement, he had sped off and forgotten about the man who asked him to stand up. He returned to give thanks to him but the master was long gone.

Image credit: The Faith Friends

©ayansolaibukun

PROPHECY GONE WRONG

It was on a Saturday morning. My mum had just woken me up from a well-deserved sleep just to share the news from our church with me.

The night before was spent at the church vigil where we had prayed all night against some demons trying to afflict the members and bring the church down.

I clearly recall how pastor had mounted the pulpit the Sunday before the vigil with a holy aggressive expression about him. You’ll think he was battling some unseen forces right in front of him. Anyway, he mounted the pulpit – a wooden elevated platform that there was no need for, now that I think of it. Yea, there was just a sprinkling of congregation in a space that barely accommodated us. The size of the entire building couldn’t have been longer than that of 3 shops at Tejuoso market put together. There was barely any room for an aisle. We were closely packed together and were just a couple of yards away from where the pulpit was. A simple lectern would have done the job. But what do I care? Pastor Esupofo wanted it that way and so it was.

Like I was saying, pastor Esupofo mounted the pulpit. He was on a threadbare white coat that he only wore on special occasions. Referring to what he wore as suit is to smear the essence of that particular outfit. He took a dramatic pause of about 30 seconds and blurted the devil is a liar! he exclaimed in Yoruba. Beeni (yes) the congregation responded in unison, springing up from the wooden benches they sat on. You couldn’t call them pews as pews had provisions for backrest. I remember brother Tayo, in one of his dozing spree, once fell backward and landed on his trunk.

Well, the congregation was all on their feet at the pastor’s outburst. Riding on the excitement his utterance gained, pastor Esupofo went on to prove to us how that the devil was always parading himself as strong but indeed weak and defeated – devilnition 101. At this rate, he was no longer looking like himself: his eyes had turned red and bulgy. It was as though the sockets would fall off. His mouth had begun to foam at the corners. It seemed as though his waist wasn’t in tune with his present condition as he kept trying to adjust his belt and balance the baggy around his waist.

After railing on for a spate of 20 minutes on the crafty nature of Satan, he broke suddenly into a warfare song:

Ile lanu k’agbara esu wole (let the earth open up and swallow the power of the devil)

K’agbara Olorun duro o (let the power of God reign supreme)

Hallelujah!

You need to have grown up around the aladura circles for you to understand the spiritual efficacy of that song. Well, the congregation understood and spontaneously took the song from our pastor’s mouth. In the twinkling of an eye, it was holy commotion as the tempo broke into frenzy. Heads began to sway vigorously and headgears flew off in the process. The sounds produced by the clapping were like fireworks as most of the congregation were artisans hence skilful with their hands, the beats from our agbamole helped to accentuate/intensify the tempo and vigour with which we sang. You see, the agbamole was the single musical instrument the church had to her name and alagba Akani saw to it that it paid it dues. Soon enough, things began to happen as the church began to chant the last two lines of the song repeatedly. Folks began to fall under the anointing and as they did, the benches fell along with them, I was lucky not to have been hit by one of them as I retracted my left foot just when it was going to land on it. Glory dust raised by the stamping feet filled the room and one could barely see the person standing close-by. Well, most of the floor plastering had already been undone and it was almost bare earth.

At last, pastor Esupofo grabbed the bell and swung it as a cue to end the singing and bring the church to order. I heaved a sigh of relief. Meanwhile, while every other person seemed to have yielded to the prompting of the bell, mama ibeji appeared to be on rampage as she suddenly went into the Spirit. Now, this wasn’t an encouraging situation coz mama ibeji was known to stay in the Spirit for minutes unending while the congregation perfunctorily listened to what the Spirit had to tell the church. There was a particular day she got stuck in the Spirit for about 40 minutes. It wasn’t a happy day as hunger pangs did a number on my stomach in protest.

Anyway, mama ibeji had begun her spasmodic gyration. Her body had begun to shake vigorously and thereafter to sway. Two of the elderly women held each of her arms to steady her while another carefully untied the baby she strapped and held it in her arms. In a short while, she began to speak strange tongues. Well, she spoke in strange tongues for a while and punctuated it with her interpretation in Yoruba. As usual, it was a doomsday monologue – all fire and brimstone. After what seemed like ages, she appeared to be bidding the Spirit farewell as the pace of her utterance slackened. She finally got a hold of herself, sobered up and before taking her sit, wrapped up her utterance by saying eyi ni oro Olorun si ijo omo enia (this is the word of the Lord to congregation of the sons of men).

Having ended her utterance, pastor Esupofo took control of things again. He asked us to take our sits while he shared what led to his initial outburst and song with us. At this point in the service, the heat from the harsh sunny weather and the just heated-up atmosphere was becoming unbearable. Well, the roof over our head was made of rusty corrugated iron without any asbestos. Besides, the room was stuffy due to poor ventilation as there were only two small wooden windows through which air filtered in. It was in this pitiable condition that we patiently sat to hear what pastor Esupofo had to say.

He began to narrate what he described as the revelation he had the night before. In that revelation, he began, I saw us gathered here in the church to pray. While we were at it, Sister Felicia (pointing at a sister in the congregation) came in with a group of dangerously looking men. She, along with those men, began to beat us all up and drove us out of the church. They eventually focused on the building and tore it down. He then gave us the supposedly interpretation of the revelation: Sister Felicia was an enemy of the church and was trying to bring down the building along with her evil cohorts.

As he narrated his revelation of Sister Felicia’s plan, folks in the congregation began to turn their gaze at her in wonderment and then to exchange telling looks. Ko le jebe! (it can’t be), I whispered to my friend Dele who sat next to me. How can pastor Esuposfo see a whole Sister Felicia wreaking havoc in his revelation? I mused. He has to be mistaken.

Let me tell you a little about Sister Felicia so you can see reasons with me. You see, Sister Felicia was a good somebody – very generous and nice to us children. She was from Benin but had lived most of her life in Ibadan. One could almost argue that she is Yoruba from the way she spoke the language. Sister Felicia was a jack of all trade. She was a tailor but also sold other stuffs by the sides. Famous among her produce was her epa (roasted groundnut). The children in the neighbourhood were all beneficiaries of the goody as she always gave us a handful each from it when it’s done. Most of all, she was a dedicated caretaker of the church. Because she lived closest to it, she always ensured she went there regularly to clean it up and put things in order. Not that there was much to put in order though.

Now you know why our dear Sister Felicia couldn’t have appeared in such a manner in pastor Esupofo’s revelation. Something is fishy!

As I was busy trying to make sense of the bomb our pastor just dropped on us, his voice filtered into my thought again and brought me out of my reverie. I had him instruct us all to stand which we all did. He then told us all to turn to the spot where Sister Felicia sat (coz she remained on her sit) and fix our gaze on her. Slowly and reluctantly, we obeyed. There was utter silence in the church now and should a pin have dropped at that moment, she would have heard distinctly. We were all held in suspense of what was about to happen.

The next instruction from pastor Esupofo was unprecedented. You all should begin to rain curses on her, he directed. Holy Armageddon! Olopa ewoni t’epe. The look on all faces was a mixture of shock and confusion. It was as though all hell was let loose on the house. Didn’t the good Lord say bless your enemy (if you are able to establish who is though. How come our pastor is saying curse Sister Felicia, the enemy of the church?

Sensing our inclination to disobey his instruction, he went on to declare those who refuse to rain curses on her as her partner-in-crime and curse too. At this point, a large number of the congregation began to grudgingly mutter stuffs underneath their breaths – it was a whispering party. The idea was to make pastor Esupofo think they were obedient while they silently went about speaking whatever they wanted. It was at that point that Sister Felicia, who had been shock-stricken all along, stood up suddenly, picked her bag and marched out of the church. The rest of the service was a pity-party.

As though we hadn’t had enough stress to last us for a lifetime, our man of God decided to impose a Friday vigil on us. We’ll be praying to fortify ourselves and the church against every attack of the devil, he explained.

It was to this august vigil we went and it was from the sleep the vigil deprived me of that my mum woke me. Wake up, she persisted, tapping me on the back. You need to hear this, she continued. Reluctantly, I sat up and asked for the reason she aroused me. You won’t believe this, she responded. Believe what, I pursued. Well, Sister Tayo just informed me that our church building has been torn down. It took me a while to process the information. How can the church building we left a couple of hours ago be pulled down all of a sudden? As though she was reading my thought, she proceeded to explain it. It turned out that our church was erected on a government property and several warnings to move it from the spot had been ignored. The municipal authority decided it was time to take action. They came with a bulldozer in the early hours of the morning – not long after we finished the vigil – and pulled the illegal structure down.

There and then, the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. Sister Felicia wasn’t the enemy of the church after all. it was our pastor Esupofo and the government and they successfully pulled down the building just after we prayed against it. Indeed, esupofo. But perhaps our pastor did too.

Image Credit:iStock

©ayansolaibukun

In the name of Relationship 

I once had a neighbour who was a bachelor at the time – tall, dark and handsome young man with a little change in the bank. He had this beautiful lady who always come around during weekends, mostly Saturdays. The minute she settles down in the guy’s room, she sets to work. She starts by sweeping and cleaning up his apartment – a room and parlour. She’ll then bring out a mountain-load of the guy’s used cloths – undies and all – and begin to wash. Sometimes, she’ll have to fetch the needed water to get the job done. Once the cloths are washed and hung out to dry, she sets out for the community market nearby to get foodstuffs/groceries which she begin to prepare the minute she returns. 

Meanwhile, while she is busy at work; Mr Smart is at a field adjacent our building playing football with friends. Once the match is over, he starts to discuss football and other manly matters with the same friends. After a discussion that spans over two hours sometimes, he comes home to have his bath, dresses up and informs the lady he needs to see a couple of people here and there. I hope food will be ready by the time I’m back, he’ll ask. Sure, it will. Just don’t take too long to return, the lady I now call Miss Compliant will respond. Anyway, by the time Mr Smart returns, food is ready. Usually, she waits for him to return before she eats. Food doesn’t taste well when you eat alone after all. So bros returns and they both eat.

Now, here is the curious thing, up to the point when she gets to his place till they both eat, the door is always partially opened – well, at least he leaves the main door opened while he drapes the curtain the over the net door. However, the minute lunch is over, boss man shuts the door completely and turns on the home theatre on full-blast mode. What happens during the period the blasting is on is best left to your imagination. All I know is after a couple of hours, the volume of the beat is turned to room level and the duo emerges looking refreshed.

This routine went on for a spate of six month until sometime in April. I got home one fine Saturday evening to be greeted by an interesting scene. Miss Compliant was banging on Mr Smart’s door crying profusely. Clearly, the dude locked her out. How dare you treat me this way, she lamented. After all I did for you…after everything I’ve sacrificed for you and so forth. Well, she eventually exhausted herself and decided it was time to leave. Ori mi a da fun e, she muttered as she matched out tearily into the street. 

I later came to know the lady had a master’s degree in economics from one of the federal universities. Besides, she had a fine job and earned a reasonable income. Mr smart was only a college dropout who lived on family money. By the way, it wasn’t up to a month of Miss Compliant’s exit before Mr Smart discovered another babe who continued in the path of Miss Compliant. He moved out of the house not long after. 

……. …. ………………………………  

If, as a lady, you fall into the category of the lady Miss Compliant, shame on you

It bothers me when I see or hear of ladies who literally enslave themselves all in the name of being in a relationship. It’s either such ladies don’t know their place or role in relationships or they have a big problem with self-esteem/worth. Nothing or better still, no Man should make a lady stoop way too low and lose her sense of dignity. It’s bad enough when less-informed folks indulge in servitude in the name of loving a man. It’s however distasteful when well-educated/exposed ladies condescend to the level of a maid for a guy who is yet to be their husbands.

I’ve tried to contemplate reasons why a lady will leave her parent’s house to gleefully do things she’ll do grudgingly in her parent’s house. A lady once told me that it’s okay for a lady to do such things as a way of showing submission for a guy. Really? I asked in amazement. Submission to a guy who is yet to be your husband? By the way, submission, in the proper context of marriage, isn’t the same thing as servitude. It only informs the sense of honour and respect a woman has for her husband. 

Among such ridiculous excuse made even by quite a number of ladies for this predicament is the need a lady to take care of a guy, please him and make him happy. Take care of him? I’ll like to know if such a guy is invalid, incapacitated or indisposed. Unless any of the above, a guy (bachelor) who needs a lady to take care of him really needs help. As for pleasing or making a guy happy, the lady who embarks on such mission must be Santa Claus. A man you need to please in order to keep is surely not a man you should be involved with in the first place. If you need to please anyone, it’s God and by extension you. Meanwhile, a man you’ll have to make happy in a relationship has to be one who lacks joy by himself. The first person that can make you happy is you. I’ll rather be in a relationship with someone who has a consistent disposition of happiness.

Folks should free themselves from the shackles of myths surrounding singleness, relationships and marriage. No lady should be pressured to go into an abusive relationship because she is running out of time. Ladies who fail to see singleness as fine and enjoyable are likely to become cooperate slaves and glorified prostitutes. 

If I were a lady, I won’t even think of getting into a relationship with a man who can’t take responsibility for his own meals, get his chores done and control his sexual urge. The condition for a meaningful relationship is mutual affection, respect and understanding. Both parties in a relationship have equal rights/roles. The fiancé is not the provider – both parties should provide for themselves or at best support each other. In the same vein, the fiancée is not a maid, laundress, and sex machine.             

The need for the knowledge of role-play in relationships is needful or abuse is inevitable. A lady should not consider a relationship as a means to an end and should refuse being taken for granted or used unseemly by a man no matter what he claims to have to offer. If the qualification for a relationship is servitude, shouldn’t you rather be on your own and make your life count? 
Image credit: depositphotos 

©ayansolaibukun 

CHINEDU

4, Onile Aro street, Ojoo brings sweet childhood memories to mind. I spent the formative part of my life on this street. Growing up with our neighbour’s (the Alimesuyas) children – Harry and Gerald was pretty fun. Although our parents ensured a level of restraint over our childish abundance, we ensured we-the children- ensured that we didn’t miss out on the pleasures of childhood. From rolling old and dumped tyres together, playing hide and seek, re-enacting the James Bond episodes, planting random crops in a corner of our compound and doing mischievous things that kids of our age are known for. 

You see, Harry and Gerald are brothers – Harry being the eldest. Harry and I were age mates but I happened to be the most daring. You may not have believed that if you had seen us at that point in time. Physically, you’ll think Harry was the boss – taller and more muscular than I was and all. But the last time I checked, it has never been about the physique. It always boils down to what the individual is made of.

Life outside the confines of our compound was fun too. Thank God for children! Unlike the average adult, they relate with one another without any reservation. So we blended easily with other children on the street and almost didn’t have anything or anyone to give us tough times – except for Chinedu!

In every Israelite camp, there is always a Goliath who is known to bully the people from time to time. Chinedu was our Goliath. 

Now that I think of it, I can’t figure out what we did to him to deserve the treatments he melted out to us but one thing is as clear as crystal – he was our worst nightmare back then and the reason why working freely on the street of Onile Aro was not always an interesting experience. Chinedu was from a family of devout Catholics. However, as an individual, he was a devout sadist. His family do host evening mass in their compound every day and my friend Harry, being a Catholic, would always go for mass in his compound. The truth is he always went with a sense of awe that had nothing to do with God.

Chinedu was short of any outward comeliness. The poor outlook must have been a reflection of the state of his heart.  However, since there is no room for vacuum, in the absence of admirable physical contents, he was blessed with an unnerving outlook.  He was shorter than Harry and I. The shape of his head looked like a piece of wood carving done in haste. What more, he had a bad dentition and one of his front tooth stuck out – one bite from that machine and the life of the victim never remains the same. By the way, he had this protruding belly that made it look like he had just consumed a mortar-worth of apku every blessed minute. And yea, he was bow-legged. All in all,Chinedu should never have been the least of our troubles. However, somehow, he managed to inspire fear in us. I guess he just considered us a worthy prey and we always proved him right.

Anyway, our real struggle with him never starts until in the evening. Well, he couldn’t do much bullying in broad daylight and under the prying eyes of the third-parties. African parents can send their children on endless errands – especially sweet mothers. Sometimes, one of us would be sent to get a box of matches, bread onibeji (twin/double-shaped breads), a sachet of cowbell milk, a measure of granulated sugar and other miscellaneous items. During these series of errands, we always went in each other’s company – all for the fear of Chinedu. You see, no matter where we had to go, we had to pass by his compound. I don’t know how it happens but there is hardly a time we pass by that he doesn’t accost us. I think the devil in him just heralds our passage. Even on days when we couldn’t see him anywhere around and felt we narrowly missed him, he just happens to surface out of thin air. Whenever he shows up like that, he begins his taunting spree. 

You two no sabi fight shey? I no go gree you pass if you no go fight with me. 

He would accompany the verbal threats with mild physical assaults – hitting us on the chest or shoving us. We would then begin to appeal to his seared sense of reasoning in our Brighter Grammar English

Chinedu, please we don’t want a fight. Just leave us alone to run our errands in peace.

As expected, our pleas usually fall on his deaf ears. Truth is the boy was hopeless from the neck region of his body upwards. Anyway, at some point in the squabble, we would manage to outsmart him and take to our heels.

The daily confrontations with Chinedu went on for a long time until one fine evening. On that day, I had resolved I had enough of his nonsense. I had conflicting thoughts going through my 8-year-old mind. Why should this idiot keep threatening you, a part of me asked. You never offended him to deserve his trouble in the first place. Unless you do something about his unruly attitude, he is going to get more aggressive with you. Tonight is when you confront him! The other part of me was however less confrontational. In fact, it was bent on restraining me. I hope you know the weight of what you are considering, it counselled. He is surely going to beat you into a pulp. I managed to silence that particular voice and decided to bring my friend and partner-in-misery Harry into the plan.

Harry, I began. Look, I think I’ve had enough of Chinedu’s bullying. We should go and challenge him – fight him once and for all tonight. Harry must have stood alarmed – standing in front of me like a carved nkwu. He looked as though he just woke from a bad dream. 

Are you out of your mind, he finally retorted. You want us to go and fight Chinedu. Don’t you know what he’ll do to us? Best we let him be and do all we can to avoid him… 

He would have continued his defeatist monologue had I not cut him short. Don’t be a sissy, I fired back at him. You are only saying this because you are scared to confront him. If you won’t follow me to his place, I’ll go on my own but be sure I’ll be the only one to gain his freedom tonight.

My tough stance must have driven a little sense and courage into him. Or perhaps the thought of being the only one to deal with Chinedu did the trick. Anyhow, he agreed to accompany me although I could still sense his lack of confidence and tentative demeanour. He tagged along while I led the battle to Chinedu’s compound. Seeing me at that moment, you would have thought I had no iota of doubt and fear in me. In the contrary, with every step that led us to the Chinedu’s, I felt like I was making the mistake of my life. Something in me kept saying hope you won’t regret your foolhardiness

I had however gotten to a point where I refused to give in to my fears. A strange feeling of tempered rage took over me. For all I cared, it was today or never. I had resolved to face my fear no matter what the outcome may be. For the first time in my timid life, I wasn’t walking to avoid the bully but instead to confront him purposefully.

We finally arrived in front of his compound. And sure enough, he was readily available. He must have thought that we were on our usual errand routine and hence another opportunity to bully us. What he did not know was that it wasn’t business as usual for him. I walked straight up to him – Harry kept a safe distance at the rear. Sharp dude. His plan must have been to have a sure way of escape should things go south. But like I was saying, I walked straight up to him. As my move was highly unusual, he must have sensed that something was wrong somewhere. Normally, we always tried to walk our way around him. My facial expression and body language must have confirmed his thoughts because I had a steely and determined look about me – the type that says I’m ready for you today.

When I was just a couple of yards from him, I stopped in my track, looked him straight in the eye and blurted out Look Chinedu, we won’t take any bullying from you henceforth. Today is when our troubles with you end. My freedom declaration caught him unawares – he never saw it coming. Who would blame him if he didn’t? After all, his bullying had never gone challenged. The poor guy just stood there like an iroko tree, looking lost and confused like a thief caught in the act. His jittery demeanour gave me more reassurance and built up my level of confidence. 

It took him a while to recover from the initial shock and for the import of my outburst to settle in his thick skull. He finally found his voice. You won fight me, he screamed as he shoved me. Yes, I’ll fight you and beat you up, I responded without mincing words as I shoved him back more roughly than he did. The die was cast already and a fight ensued. The good news is I had already defeated him before the fight began.

Here is the thing, I had never engaged anyone in a real fight before then neither have I ever set the stage for one. But on this day, I fought like a maniac. I was fighting for my freedom and I was going to fight to finish. Meanwhile, all the while Chinedu and I were duelling, my good friend Harry just stood there awe-struck – not believing what he was seeing. He had never taught that his easy-going friend could imagine starting a fight let alone actually fight.

I was like Achebe’s Okonkwo. My duelling partner Chinedu could be likened to Amalinze the Cat – the man whose back had never touched the earth. However, just like Okonkwo, in a matter of seconds, I had thrown my catty partner and had his back kiss the earth. That was the last time he ever challenged me (and by extension Harry). Actually, henceforth, anytime he sighted us from afar, he did well to avoid us.

I faced, fought and overcame my fear Chinedu!                 

       

TO LIVE A LIE 

Permit me to introduce you to Mr Smart and Mr No-Choice.

Mr smart is known to tell “compulsive” lies, i.e. he plans on misleading and deliberately conveys a false impression. He is something of a pathological liar – always seeming to get better at it by the day. Mr Smart has a lie for every occasion be it an attempt to avoid punishment, a strategy to give a false impression of himself or a plan to extort the other fellow.  It is safe to conclude that he is manipulative and Machiavellian by all standards. You see, he had gone through a process of ‘emotional adaptation’. As small fibs snowballed into blizzards of deception, so easier did his efforts at telling lies became. Little wonder why the scent of strong perfume becomes less noticeable over time.

Mr No-Choice however ‘manages’ to tell “white” lies now and then. He is of the opinion that precisely sincere interactions at all times are not humanly possible. In his bid to ease social communication, he sometimes makes do with a sprinkling of lies. According to him, he is not entirely at ease with deceptions. The case to tell white lies arises for him when he needs to avoid embarrassment, get along with particular folks or avoid hurting someone else’s feelings. Many times, he has had to lie solely for the benefit of the other party. He perceives his style of lying as a sort of inoffensive social lubricant. 

The manner of lying notwithstanding, one thing is common to Mr Smart and Mr No-Choice – they both lie. While one may be quick to justify Mr No-Choice’s reasons for lying and vilify Mr Smart, it may be of interest to note that they both follow the same guidebook to execute their deceptions. Interestingly too, they go through the same neuropsychological process while lying. More so, they share almost similar tell-tales signs that give them away. 
Man is a creation of choice. For every decision he makes, there is an opportunity cost. When either Mr Smart or Mr No Choice considers lying as their best option, at least two things happen concurrently: a new item of information (the lie) is created while the genuine item (the truth) is withheld. There is no midway about it since the truth can’t be said in the course of a lie. Some would argue that it’s possible to have a sprinkling of truth – here and there – while a lie is being told. However, the fact that one can still afford to spare some elements of truth in the course of lying means one can choose not to lie at all and come out clean. 

There is much more to telling a lie than meets the eye. For instance, there is a distinct difference in brain activity when both Mr Smart and Mr No Choice decide to tell the truth or result to lying. If you have the privilege to examine the working of their brain, you’ll observe that different parts of it are used to express falsehood than are used while telling the truth. It takes more cognitive efforts for them to lie than being sincere. In fact, there is more draining of their mental ability/strength when they tell a lie. This is so because the liar will have to work harder to sustain the false narrative he has created. Not only does he have to remember the facts and figures he has created to tell a lie, but also need to remember which facts he changed and how. This is why you’ll observe some of these tell-tale signs when folks are lying:

They seem to think harder than is required for the occasion. Of course, everyone have the tendency to forget a little detail now and then. However, with the passage of time, the one who lies will have to work harder remember the details he has supplied in order to maintain consistency.

They talk unusually hesitantly. Because they need to self-edit, try to remain consistent and leave out statements that can give them away, they tend to proceed with greater care in telling and retelling fictional accounts.

They are often edgy, apprehensive and jittery. It takes one who has become emotionally conditioned to lying to lie without looking at least uncomfortable and anxious.

They do away with the little flourishes and details that embellish stories told by sincere folks. The more the details supplied to tell a lie, the more difficult it becomes to recall and sustain.   

Let me bore you a little with some scientific talk. Neuropsychologists tell us that although several brain areas play a role in falsehood, the prefrontal cortex (situated just behind your forehead) play a major role. The activity in the prefrontal cortex increases when folks lie. In case you’re wondering what this organ does, well, it’s responsible for “executive  control” (ability to regulate thoughts or actions to achieve goals). It also coordinates cognitive processes such as planning, problem solving and attention – all of which are vital steps in telling a lie. You should therefore not be surprised to know that there is a spike in the activity of this organ while at the business of lying.

Although, you can easily detect when some people lie, there are those who “lie so well” you’ll defend what they say even at gun point. It all depends on how used a fellow is to telling lies. For folks who are pros at lying, even the polygraph will be a mere “entertainment device” rather than a scientific lie detector. The expert Bunn has said that the polygraph measure physiological responses (heart rate, skin conductivity…) that deals fear and not necessarily dishonesty. Other than the polygraph , other conventional means to detect lies is to track speech hesitation, changes in vocal pitch, observing nervous adaptive habits like scratching, blinking or fidgeting. Even these methods can’t guarantee perfect lie detection. 

No matter the excuses advanced for lying, when one makes a habit of it, it’s expected to result in encompassing and devastating consequences. For every occasion a person tells a lie, an opportunity/choice to tell the truth is forgone.  

 
Image Crédit: Flickr.com

©ayansolaibukun 

PERFORMANCE IN ENGLISH :A TEST /MEASURE OF INTELLIGENCE… OR NOT [part3]

In explaining the creative/productive features common to all language, Adedun (2010) posits that despite the fact that there are laid down rules that govern the use of language, the users, yes the skilful users, often possess the potential to…create a desired effect or impact… His position therefore establishes the personal input of the language user in the essence or quality of what he/she says with his/her language. What can only be said is that some languages are more developed than others are. However, this does not depreciate the value of such language.

No language has an independent existence of its own, but a particular language dominates when its speakers dominate and vice-versa. History shows that a language becomes a global language due to the political power of its native speakers, and the economic power with which it is able to maintain and expand its position (Luke Mastin).  

Worthy of mention is the fact that the English language was, at a point in history, not regarded as a language to be spoken by the ‘elite’ hence was described as a vulgar language – a vernacular. Around 11th century, the nobility of England spoke French and Latin while the common people (masses) spoke varieties of old English. It wasn’t until later in 16th century Britain that English established its position as the national language. Thus, the English went through a series transformation, lexical and grammatical adjustments before it became the most desirable language that it is today. Interestingly, the language is known to tap from other languages to strengthen its vocabulary has over three quarters of the words in modern English, particularly the more learned terms, are borrowed from other languages.

The idea that the ability to speak English – due to its prestigious status as a world language – is a measure of intelligence does not hold water. If it were to be true, great thinkers like AristotlePlato,   ConfuciusFlorianBuddhaGhandi, who made marks on the sands of history, would not be regarded as intelligent. These sages were of Greek, Chinese, Roman and Indian origins and wrote in their respective languages. In fact, the works of someone like Aristotle has come to be one of the most referenced in English literature.  

One can only make a case for intelligence as it relates to the closed group of mainly English speaking people. In this case, the distinction will have to do with the display of intelligence between the native speakers of English (L1speakers) and speakers of English as a second language (L2speakers). The native speakers of English have linguistic competence (intuitive knowledge) of their language. They simply acquire the language naturally and do not need to be taught its rudiments (except for the written aspect). The speaker of the English language as a second language however has to learn it. He does not have an in-built knowledge of its vocabulary and grammar. He therefore requires a level of linguistic intelligence (much more than that of the native speaker) in order to learn and use the language competently.   

Certain facts concerning the relevance of English in respect to its speaker(s) cannot be overlooked. For one, the language has risen to a status in which its learning/acquisition and effective use accords its speaker greater prestige and social relevance. Due to its position has a global language, one who speaks it has the benefit to reach a wider audience and make more impact. In addition, since there is a cordial relationship between language and power, the speaker of the English language has a level of social, economic, and political advantage/edge over those who can’t speak it. These privileges notwithstanding, nothing about its use suggest a yardstick for intelligence.                    

What makes a language prominent is not the language in itself but the value attached to it. For instance, factors like the population of the speakers, its spread, its socialeconomicpoliticaltechnological relevance etc. determines language status. English or any other language cannot be a measure of intelligence. English, like any other language, is merely a medium of expression. The language doesn’t reflect intelligence; rather, the user does. For example, there are those who are fluent in the spoken English but hardly express intelligent opinions. 

It’s one thing that the English speaker is intelligent (by himself) and then communicates his intelligence via English. In that case, what makes him intelligent is not the fact that he can speak good English but that he is sound upstairs enough to use English to express himself. Take the Chinese, Indian, Hebrew, Japanese languages as case study. The bulk of progress recorded in technology and science comes from those areas. Interestingly, their citizens are not English speakers. In fact, they don’t encourage its use. Yet they have geniuses and world record breakers in their numbers. 

On a lighter note, what would you say about my grandfather who can’t say wa kin pa e (literally-come, let me kill you) in English but exudes wisdom? Truth is most people just hide under the cover of fluent English to shield their ‘foolishness’. Average folks here their fluent speaking and due to inferiority complex think this set of English speakers are better off than they are. 

No language is a decimal for intelligence. The speaker invests the language with the prestige and ‘glory’ it attains. 
Image credit:Sarcasm (Facebook) 
©ayansolaibukun 

PERFORMANCE IN ENGLISH :A TEST/MEASURE OF INTELLIGENCE…OR NOT [part2]

Linguistic relativity is that field of knowledge that considers the idea that language and its structures influence and limit human thought. Works in this field has established the fact that language has less influence on thinking than one might suppose. Recent research as shown that although language may have some influence on our thinking, it does not affect out underlying understanding of concepts. Also, intelligence is more related to successful educational, occupational, economic, and social manifestations than any other variable(s) – such as language. 

Scholars like Skinner (1965) has opined that language learning/acquisition and development occurs through principles of associationreinforcement and the observation of others. Other than performance in English (or any language), biological factors such as brain volume, speed of neural transmission and working memory capacity are most reliable quotients for intelligence. In the informed opinion of Charles Stranger, it’s our vast intelligence that allows us to have language… language only gives the ability to communicate our intelligence to others. Steven Pinker poetically explains Stranger’s idea when he says language is the jewel in the crown of cognition. High linguistic (language) ability and high general intelligence can be at least partially separate and not necessarily intertwined. 

So far, from what we can glean from the concepts of linguistic and general intelligence, the claim that speaking English is a measure of intelligence does not hold water.        

To further argue against the claim in questions, it’s apt to briefly examine the concept of language and its entailments in relations the presumed ‘superiority’ of English.

Countless definitions of language abound but that of Henry Sweet will suffice. He describes language as the expression of ideas by means of speech sounds combined into words… The operative words in his definition will be expression of ideas. Note that the word idea is a subset of intelligence i.e. the stuff of idea is dependent on the level of intelligence. For instance, an intelligent mind is most likely to conceive sound ideas and vice-versa. Therefore, just like Stranger’s informed opinion, Sweet posits that language, whether English or Hispanic is merely a tool/medium of expression. A Spaniard will make much sense as a Briton or American with his language.  

It’s common knowledge among language experts that no language is ‘superior’ in itself and that no language can be considered to be inferior to others. All human languages represent extremely complex systems of communication. Folks who live in the so-called third-world countries use languages that are as intricate and versatile as those spoken in the most highly developed societies. All languages are flexible enough to adapt and expand to the needs of its speakers. It’s illogical to privilege the language of a particular language community – nation, tribe, or region (English in focus) over another just because that community enjoys global prestige. Such distinction is sociologically motivated and not linguistic.               Gretchen McCulloch puts the preceding statement in clearer terms when he argues that

  •  languages or dialects that people think of as “better” reflect a social (and often racist) judgement about who has power or who is considered more important, not anything intrinsic about the language itself.   

From a linguistic standpoint, every human language shares the common features of being system-based (governed by a set of rules), arbitrariness (lack of relationship between a word and what it refers to), dynamism (keeps changing with time), culture-dependent (reflects the culture of group of people), displacement (ability to use language to refer to things outside the scope of a current speech situation), reciprocity (an exchange between at least two people), discreteness (uniqueness of the individual sounds of a language), innateness (intrinsic ability of every ‘normal’ human to use language), creativity and productivity (ability to skilfully manipulate words to create desired effects). 

to be continued… 

Image credit: Sarcasm (Facebook) 
©ayansolaibukun 

TELL IT NOT IN GATH! 

I love the man David. He asked to tell it not in Gath!

You see, this man David had an archenemy in the person of King Saul – he was a man anointed by God to shepherd the flock of Israel. He however fell out of favour with Him due to his disobedient and unrepentant attitude. 

Knowing David to be the one chosen in his stead by God, as king over Israel, Saul began a life-haunting campaign against David. On several occasions, David had to run from pillar to post, valleys to mountains in an attempt to avert Saul’s unmerited wrath against him. Interestingly, each time Saul fell into his trap , he restrained his men from killing or hurting him. Don’t you know he his God’s anointed, he’ll tell them. Saul was like that proverbial stray dog; he never heeded the calls of restraint and sound counsels. Anyway, while still keeping deadly tabs on David, he met his waterloo at the war with the Philistines – there the man died

What else could have been pleasant news for David? What else should have given him a cause to rejoice? Everyone in Israel knew of Saul’s blood lust towards David (who had already earned the majority’s goodwill) hence, in their thinking, the news of his death should bring relief and joy to the persecuted David. 

Relying on this notion, this smart Amalekite, who had been at the scene of the battle and witnessed Saul’s death, took it on himself to take the good tidings to David. He even reconstructed the story of how Saul died. He (Saul) pleaded with me to kill him and I did, he lied. I’m sure Sir David will compensate me richly for taking out his enemy, he must have thought.  

David’s reaction to the news stuns me. I was here thinking oh boy, David’s banger don ripe be that o. Instead, he fasted, wept and mourned the loss of a man who sought to kill him. How dare you raise your hand against the Lord’s anointed ? he questions the Amalekite in fury. He got an instant death for his service. What more, David wrote a lamentation for Saul. He described Saul, his sons and other fallen men as the mighty. He declared:

  • Tell not the story of their defeat in Gath!
  • Publish it not in the streets of Askelon;
  • Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice;
  • Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.

In present day reality, the instruction would have read: circulate not/ make not a fuss of it on social media (especially Facebook and WhatsApp).

I feel sad when I see so-called Christians make a mockery of a man of God who are caught in a fault, especially when such a man is not of their denomination or doctrinal persuasion. I knew/said it! they’ll declare triumphantly. I knew the man was up to no good. I’m even surprised it took this long for him to be exposed.  The rate at which folks sponsor such news bemuses even the unbeliever. 

Bros, do me a favour: if you are in the company of this self-righteous mockers, hang your head in shame and learn from David. He wasn’t even a new-creation believer neither did he have the luxury of God’s word which you have today. Yet, he did wisely.

Perhaps we should come to acknowledge that men of God (and by extension, men in the position of spiritual leadership) are flesh and blood like everyone else with like feelings and affections. Yes, they are meant to be spiritually mature but not infallible. They are  also liable to mistakes and inadequacies. Their shortcomings nevertheless, they are the anointed of God and should be so reverenced. 

The writer of Hebrews expresses the mind of most ministers when he admonishes believers to:

Keep praying for us, for we are convinced that we have a good (clear) conscience, that we want to walk uprightly and live a noble life, acting honourably and in complete honesty in all things. Heb13:8 [Amp]

Simply put, he starts by saying: folks, we need your prayers. Yes ,we are sure we have a good conscience (as believers). However, through your prayers (which is the supply of the Spirit); we’ll continue to act honourably and in complete honesty in all things.
The apostle Paul, a great man of faith, never at any point thought he was self-sufficient. Throughout his epistles, he kept imploring brethren, pray for us! 

Apostle Peter who was the lead apostle and by extension the overseer of the early church, made quite a number of mistakes (see Acts 5:1-10, Gal 2:11-14…). This didn’t however disqualify him; rather, he was still used mightily by God. Paul didn’t find Mark worthy enough to journey with him initially (Acts 15:38). He however, testified of him as profitable for the ministry later on (2Tim4:11). The man in 1Cor5:1 did despicably and was duly “punished” for it. Paul however counselled that he be forgiven and comforted in 2Cor2:5-8. 

You are at best a selfish Christian if you don’t pray for your spiritual leaders. You are however disgusting if all you do, when they sometimes go wrong, is mock them make a business out of it. When you go about your public show of shame on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp, you give cause for the daughters of the Philistines (unbelievers) to rejoice and mock the gospel.

When you find a man overtaken in a fault, the instruction for you (if you are indeed spiritually mature) is to restore such a one – not celebrate his supposedly downfall (Gal6:1). In case you think the men God testified about were infallible and never had a moment of misconduct, take a quick journey into Hebrews 11 – you will be shocked. 

Stop being a busybody. Get busy with the gospel. Stand in the gap for your spiritual leaders. Be genuinely concerned  about the misconduct  of a fellow believer and do your best to restore him.

If your blood were pristine, God wouldn’t have needed to send his son. Perhaps you could have been the sacrifice for our sins.     

If God wouldn’t write of a man or strike out his name for a misconduct, who are you to? 
©ayansolaibukun 

Shylock:a case for/against him

To bait fish withal. If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies—and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me I will execute—and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction
Merchant of Venice : Acts 3 Scene1

Shakespeare’s portrayal of Shylock holds little to be desired.  From all indications, it can be argued that Shylock (though full of flaws) is as well a victim of prejudice. 

A lot is not right about the  manner in which the playwright assigned roles and characteristics to the main characters, his approach to justice and his perception of right and wrong. 

Renaissance Venice is the setting of the play. Two opposing forces, represented by two major characters – Antonio and Shylock are ‘at war’ in this classic piece and the events and actions of the play revolves around them. 

The man Antonio is an influential/powerful merchant of Venice. A Christian by description and a purported nobleman. He represents the high and mighty, the privileged and the sect of the untouchables. Shylock on the other hand is shy of luck. Although commonly regarded as the villain of the play, he is a rich Jew who practices usury. 

Between both characters, there is no love lost. Shylock loathes Antonio because he has consistently despised him and his people (the Jews). He finds Antonio’s inability to repay his debt as a way to take his revenge on him. His insatiable vengeful quest becomes his tragic flaw as he looses all at the end  – even his right to religion. Meanwhile, Antonio, although not devoid of faults, is freed without punishment or reproof. 

In my opinion, I feel Shylock wasn’t served a fair dose of  justice. Although a man with a lot of inadequacies, he is as well a victim of prejudice so long as the eyes of the law seemed shut against the undoings of Antonio and his lot. The unforgiving attitude of Shylock didn’t make the  inhumane disposition of seemingly good fellows like Antonio permissible. It appears the narrative seemed to overlook the wrongs of the ‘better other’ while not even a common sense of apology or remorse was shown for the plights of Shylock and his folks.

I find it distasteful that the full force of the law was brought to bear to the aid of one man(Antonio) in his ‘pitiable’ moment while no one seemed to care about the age-long ill treatment meted on Shylock and his people. 

A fact to acknowledge is the notion that archetypes proceeds from the initial assumption that every work of literature can be fitted into a larger framework that encompasses all aspects of our social reality. The story line in Shakespeare’s Shylock depicts archetypes, i.e recurrent narrative designs, patterns of actions, character-types, themes, and images that transcends the work and represents common patterns of human life.  
Shylock and Antonio are archetypes. Both are microcosms that represent broad aspects of the human reality. In each character, you’ll find the traits of  the oppressed and the oppressor, the victim and the victor, the scapegoat and the sacred lamb. A more powerful nation (in her pretence as a becon of light) decides to  ravage ill equipped ones due to perceived danger threat posed by the latter. The influential individual (himself with a deceptive personality) is empowered to hurt a fellow human because of wrong doings he is not free of. The bulk of the formers have the resources, connection, and will power hence control the narrative. 

We see a Shylock who is  bitter, unforgiving, vengeful  and all. However, we don’t seem to realize that his attitudes are the fruit of what the hypocritical system of judgment/authority of his time has dished him. One would have thought  the narrative would also bring  the arrogant, unkind, dehumanizing, self-righteous attitude of people like Antonio to the fore, but it failed to do so. 

It’s not going to be out of place to think that Shylock would have been a better person if his plight hadn’t been consistently overlooked. If you desire the best in/of someone, shouldn’t you try to extend a hand of goodwill to them? 

Now to lady Portia. I would she demonstrated her famed/supposed sense of wisdom and justice through and through. She was so witty and being grave in the defense of a man she hardly knew. Come to think of it, she only agreed to defend Antonio at the behest of her lover Bassanio (one can’t even be  sure if both guys weren’t secret lovers, but that’s by the way). Our ladyship in all her wisdom couldn’t pause for a moment to look into Shylock’s grievances. Such a Daniel!

At the end of the play, the influential citizens (sacred cows) of Venice had cause to celebrate  while the likes of Shylock continue to nurse the feeling of pain and shame. What more can be oppressive than forcing a man to forsake his faith and beliefs and unwillingly embrace another? Truth is, the empowered of the ‘two evils’ won the ‘victory’. One is left to determine if the idea of fairness and true justice and is reflective in the play at all. 

To think that my overall sense of empathy lies with Shylock is to think amiss. Dangerous reactionary demonstrations should never be tolerated no matter the reasons for them. This is just an attempt to point out loopholes in the narrative and indeed human relationships as a macrocosm. If sheer sentiments and ego protection is the basis on which we judge and relate with others, there is surely not going to be a breathing ground for fairness and healthy co-existence.

There was a lot Shylock did wrong. There was however a lot more the superstructure which Antonio represented could have done better. In Achebe’s words, if I cut grass and you cut, what’s your right to call me names. If the system of justice will mete out punishment  to a ‘faulty’ man (Shylock), shouldn’t it strike a common ground? After all, he that must come to equity must come with clean hands.

It’s sheer hypocrisy to attend the speck in another’s eye while a whole log takes residence in one’s own eye. 

Antonio has never been my hero in the play and neither was Shylock a ready-made evil. 

The world will be a safe and peaceful place for us all to live if we will do unto others as we will like them do to us.There should be no justification for wrong doings neither should acts as lack of kindness and near inhumane treatment go unnoticed.

Shakespeare’s got some explaining to do. 

Image credit : The Boomerang 

©ayansolaibukun