There are many lessons to take away from this discussion. Losing a match or even losing anything else for that matter is not the end of the world. With discipline, perseverance, belief in yourself and the help of God you can succeed. The Good Book says:
“Do you see someone diligent(or skilled) in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before lowly officials.” The simple truth is that there are many who appear to be doing well who have actually attained that level of “Success” in a less than honest manner. That’s why the good book says: “There is a way that seems right to a man but it’s end is the way of death.” This means if you’re diligent and skillful in what you do and you go on to establish a reputation of integrity, your reputation will definitely precede you. Sooner or later, people will know you as a person of character, of good reputation and as someone in full possession of the expertise required. With time this will begin to work for you. Teach your children to not be in a hurry. Character and reputation may take a little time to build but once people know you for it, favour and progress will follow.
Those of you who watch the Grand Slam tennis tournaments may have noticed that it’s obligatory after the final match for both the winner and the loser to make speeches, right there in the middle of the court. It is not expected that the loser, just because of the devastation of defeat, will refuse to show up or refuse to say wonderful things about his or her opponent, as is the usual practice. This is quite unlike the USA basketball team who refused to show up for the medal ceremonies at the Atlanta Olympics of 1996 because though they were the clear favourite, they only came 3rd. They regarded the gold medal as their entitlement and sulked when they didn’t get it. Forgive me for all the sports analogies but believe it or not, I was quite a keen sportsman myself and I know how all I learned from playing sports shaped my outlook on life. I played Rugby, Football and Cricket for my school. And in Rugby I went a little further by also playing for my county, Oxfordshire.
Just like the USA Basketball team as illustrated above, I will emphasise here that not all Oyinbos are exemplars of integrity. Far from it, though admittedly there is a lot we can learn from them as a people. Time for a quick story. Before taking my “O” Levels, I told my dad that I wanted to change schools once I had concluded my “O” Level exams. He agreed and thereafter informed my current school at the time. The next term, by which time I had resumed at my new school, my former Headmaster wrote to my dad claiming that we had not informed them of my departure therefore we owed them one term’s school fees. As gentle as my dad was, he was having none of it. Of course we knew where this was all coming from. My immediate older brother, who happened to be the Head Boy and the Captain of just about all the school sports teams was in his final year and the Headmaster just couldn’t handle the thought of both Akandes leaving at the same time. Very quickly, the whole situation took a dramatic turn for the worse as the school threatened to take my dad to court. I was pleasantly surprised when my dad quite uncharacteristically told them to do their worst. Realising fairly quickly that they had no leg to stand on, they dropped the whole matter. Now, the interesting thing is that at my new school, we were scheduled to play an away Rugby match against them that same term and being the school’s senior team, it was customary for our Headmaster to attend all our matches, both home and away. There was no greater motivation for any school boy than to see your Headmaster on the touchline cheering you on but do you know what happened in this rather absurd case? He stayed back at school and sent his wife to represent him. As if the two Headmasters had conferred on the matter, my former Headmaster, though the host, also refused to show up for the match and he too sent his wife! The tension throughout our time on their premises was so thick you could cut through it with a knife! Gone were all the usual pleasantries accorded a visiting team. It was so bad that we were advised to skip the traditionally lavish post match Tea(lunch), which we naturally looked forward to and leave immediately after the match. That is exactly what we did. Our joy though was that we gave them a complete thrashing, beating them by more than thirty points and to my personal satisfaction, I scored twelve out of those points.
The purpose of this story is not to regale you of my sporting prowess as such but to bring out a very important point. We have already established through this story that integrity is not determined by the colour of one’s skin. Neither is it determined by tribe or even age. No, it’s a character trait that one must consciously work on to indoctrinate in oneself and work even harder to sustain at all times. Those who feel we’re condemned as a black nation to a perpetual state of backwardness and corruptive tendencies; those who always try to justify our negative traits with the customary “this is Nigeria” are just so wrong. From the story just told, it’s obvious that integrity is not just a white thing so if the best of their societies can adopt it as a way of life, so can we. It’s a mindset. It’s a decision that needs to be made both individually and collectively.
To put it in a nutshell, integrity is not and should never be a matter of expedience. Your word should always be your word no matter the consequences, as integrity is a constant. I end with this instructive quote by H Jackson Brown Jr which says, “Live so that when your children think of Fairness, Caring and Integrity they think of you”.
Changing the nation…one mind at a time
Dapo Akande, a Businessday weekly columnist is a University of Surrey (UK) graduate with a Masters in Professional Ethics. An alumnus of the Institute for National Transformation; with certification in Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence from Case Western Reserve College, USA. Author of two books, The Last Flight and Shifting Anchors. Both books are used as course material in Babcock University’s Literature department. Dapo is a public speaker, a content creator and a highly sought after ghostwriter.