The Diary of an Octogenerian.

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Have you ever made decisions that you regretted or altered your life forever? For a few weeks we would be looking at an old man’s diary, the decisions he made and how they affected his life. Hopefully you’ll pick up one or two things from his story.

The Tenth Decade.

octogenerian

So I am now an old man. I never thought people would call me that but my whitened hair, wrinkled hands and nearly sightless eyes attest to the fact. I am no longer as active as I used to be and I cannot do much all day except sit down in my rocking chair and remember…
I remembered when I was ten. Tall for my age, wiry, I thought I was the smartest thing since frozen yoghurt. By the time I was ten, I had read nearly 50 books. I liked shocking people with my encyclopedic knowledge. I had information on nearly everything under the sun. I even knew where babies came from.
At ten, I remember my best friend. Her name was Salewa. She was nine, a cute little thing with cornrows and she lived in the block beside us. I remember trying to impress her with my knowledge about giraffes one day. “Do you know a giraffe is 5-6m tall?” “Do you know it has all round vision?” Unlike my other friend Daniel who always wriggled away to play football when I started one of my fact expositions, she listened to me in awe. It was nice to have someone to look up to me at that age. Of course, she was also my friend because I beat her in everything. Whether it was the indoor games we played or the racing competitions we had but I never heard her complain even once. Daniel was so not like her. He cried ‘foul’ every time I won a competition.
When I was ten, I considered who God was for the first time. Did He live up there in the sky with a big white beard watching us? Was he anything like our Anglican priest with his somber attitude and black cassock? Salewa said God was a Friend. That he cared about us. She made it seem like he was some sort of Father Christmas(who I was smart enough not to believe in). I felt she didn’t know what she was talking about. God seemed more to me like a stern headmaster, like my father, who flogged us when we were naughty but for the most part ignored us.
At ten, I had dreams of becoming a pro-footballer. Never mind that I was a little bow-legged and Daniel whipped me good whenever we played a game of pass. At ten, I was big and bold and brave hearted. I was not afraid to dream…

To be continued.

Is Somebody Singing?

Is Somebody Singing?

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As a news correspondent, my job takes me to varied places-even where angels fear to tread. When I was told that my next assignment would take me to the Chibok village and environs, I mentally prepared myself. Carnage was not new to me. I had covered one of the bombings in Maiduguri a year ago. My family had their reservations about a young female reporter going into such difficult climes and for a while the TV station I worked for had given me a break from dangerous assignments. But now with the Boko Haram crises escalating, and the over two hundred girls kidnapped from Chibok still missing, they had reviewed their decision and those at the top considered me the best correspondent to cover the situation. So here, I was with my camera man and my light travel kit filled with basic supplies traveling in a rickety pick-up inot the unknown. On our journey down, I saw scattered spots of security personnel dotting the countryside. They looked bored or disillusioned. I wondered if the Ak-47 they carried was enough to deal with the threat this Boko Haram people represented.
Finally we got off and I shook the dust that had gathered on my clothes. We stopped at the school and took a few pictures and then headed off on foot to some of the surrounding villages.
I am not a blubberer but I couldn’t stop the tears that formed a pool in my eyes when I saw how the villages had been razed to the ground. There seemed to be scattered human remains here and there. I did not look closer for fear of what I would find. Who were these monsters that had destroyed the lives of innocent people? As we walked through the village, we did not see a single soul. It seemed bereft.
We got to a hut and a part of it had collapsed but I seemed to be hearing some movement inside. My cameraman and I edged closer to take a closer look. What we heard stunned us. I had to pinch myself. Was somebody actually singing here? Somebody was singing: “Mungode Ubangiji mungode kwarai kwarai.”
I was amazed. Surely it was impossible for someone to sing in such a place, let alone sing song of praises to God. We made our presence known to the woman and she came out to meet us, her face welcoming. She had a six month old baby on her back. My first question was to ask her why she was singing. She beamed as she answered: “God is so good to me. When the Boko
Haram people came my parents died and my husband ran away leaving me with my baby but I could not run because the baby was sick. But God healed my baby and spared our lives.”
I could only gaze at her in wonder. Apparently it was still possible to be joyful despite whatever loss a person had experienced. When coming for this assignment I had an idea on the angle I would write-the carnage, the devastation, the hopelessness. But this singing had changed all that. Her courage and resilience reminded me of Martin Luther’s famous words which I truly believed could be applied to Boko Haram. “We shall overcome someday.”‘

Sometimes when we go through…

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Sometimes when we go through…

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He was kidnapped from his home by his brothers and sold as a slave. In his master’s house, he was falsely accused and then thrown into prison for years. While in prison he was able to be of help to people, but the person who promised to be of help to him forgot all about him. He knew the depths of despair and disappointment. It would have destroyed a lesser man but Joseph managed not only to survive but emerge victorious.

Sometimes when we go through heartache and disappointment, the cause is hard to understand. We wonder what brought it about and agonize on what we could have done to warrant such ill-treatment and pain. At times it may be from an affliction from the devil, it may be a consequence of something we have done unknowingly or are still unwittingly doing and at other times it may be part of the birth pains in the process of producing something glorious (like what happened to Joseph in the bible). When such things happen, we need to consecrate ourselves to pray and fast, and ask the Holy Spirit to shine light into the situation and illuminate the source of the problem. We need to search the word and apply God’s promises to the situation and pronounce it daily.

However we must attempt the temptation to dwell for too long over the question ‘why?’. Or its various variants ‘why me?’, ‘why now?’, ‘why this way?’. If we pray and do not immediately receive insight into what the root cause might be, we should trust God to work it out and seek for wisdom on how to move on. Beating ourselves up on the question ‘why?’ can drag us into self-pity and bog us down in a slough of despondency. If we have assured ourselves that we are walking rightly and have a clear conscience in all our dealings, then we can trust in God to judge the matter and bring justice for us.

It is also very important to let go of all grudges and release everybody that might have offended us, as such ill feeling often create a loophole for the enemy to deprive us of grace. Jesus said this clearly when he asked us to forgive those who offend us for even so would the heavenly Father forgive us our own wrongs.

Again we must ensure that we do not ascribe too much power to the devil, for though his power is real and strong, God is in ultimate control and will never allow anything to befall us that is more than we can bear. He will also equip us with the grace to handle anything that may befall us, triumph in it and emerge as better, stronger people. Thus we must cultivate a habit of praising God in all circumstance. This is not living in denial or trying to overcome a bad occurrence by forgetting about it. Rather rejoice about it with faith in God that it will give birth to something beautiful, because God is able to make all things work together for good in the end.

By Ifeoluwa Odedina