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On the glitz and glamour of end-of-year celebrations – Part 2

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Know that the life of the world is only a play, an idle talk, and pageantry, and boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children (Q57: 20)

Now it is from the above that I hinge my speech this morning. During the past six years, we have striven to be the best of parents to our children. But who are we? – Children of former poor parents. Who are we? – Children of farmers and Gari-sellers in villages which lacked water and electricity. Who are we? We are Professors, Ph.D holders, engineers, lawyers and accountants. In other words, most parents here today were once children of men and women who were unknown in the cities. We read our books on our own; we had to do that because we had parents who could not read. We obtained WAEC and GCE forms by ourselves; we had parents who did not know what these acronyms meant. We had nobody to tell us to read our books. Nobody told me to obtain the JAMB form let alone to prepare well for it. We went to school with tattered clothes, worn-out shoes and in emaciated tummies. My wife would not eat unless and until she went to the bush, fetch firewood, sell same in the market before procuring her meal at night. We were like Jesus Christ with no father; we were like Muhammad who was born posthumously. Jesus Christ had nobody to call my ‘daddy’; yet he achieved his destiny on earth; Prophet Muhammad lost his father and mother very early in life; yet he became the best of men. We were like them. We were orphans of time and destiny; we were destined for greater today. And here is today.

Today is here. We have become what we never thought we would be; today. But immediately we became what we were destined to become we forgot where we were coming from. We made a pledge to never allow our own children have a taste of what we tasted. We thought the best parenting is that which insulates the child against earthly tribulations. Somebody referred to us as first class parents; first class parents who desire to produce first class children; we have become ‘great’; we now strive to bequeath greatness to children of our loins and womb. We have striven to re-write history- history teaches that its rough roads that lead to greatness; for our kids, the assumption is it is paved and decked roads that lead to greatness. As at yesterday, of all men and women we have had their names mentioned, hardly have we heard of the role played by their parents on their path to greatness.

In other words, in order to make our children excel like we did, we have committed some errors. Some of us became indulgent and permissive; we have exposed our children to life faster than necessary; our children do not wait for the world to discover them; they are discovering the world by themselves. Our children now know the world better than we do. They determine the kind of car they ride in; the costlier the appliance the more preferable.

Dear parents! Is it not true that we have become small gods for our children, for these kids? In order for them to pass their Senior Secondary Examinations, we went into great pains. Given the opportunity, some of us would want to sit for the exams on their behalf. The pocket monies some of these kids used to bring to school on a daily basis were equivalent to the money some teachers receive monthly as salaries. Sirs, do we spare some thought for a future when these children shall have to eke life for themselves? Or do we think we shall continue to be there for them? Where are our own parents now?

So dear children…today is the day you have become men and women. Today and forever, you are going to discover what life really is; today you are transiting from this station to another destination. In other words, life is all about stations; stations before destinations. But I have since discovered that there is no and there can be no permanent destination here on earth. On earth, every arrival marks the beginning of a new departure. What it takes you to pass WAEC would be smaller than what it would take you to bag your first degree in the University. On earth, every companion gestures to the discovery of better companions.

Dear children, today you ceased being children. You are entering a phase in your life where you have to make or mar it. You are now on your own. Remember all of you are already in the one and only university that you need no JAMB to get admitted into. You are already in your own “Youniversity”. You are now your own Vice-Chancellor. Suddenly, you are no more a child; you have lost your innocence.

Dear children, this speech today is not meant to call your attention to how beautiful all of you are in these colourful clothes. Rather it is meant to inform you that the only pathway to success is for you individually to think about how you would begin to sow for yourself new clothes- the clothes of success. Whereas these clothes on you today are beautiful in your assemblage, you have to remember that all of you had to sew it beautifully before it became beautiful on you all as a group. The message is this- individuality is the key to success; difference is the magic.

Dear parents, ladies and gentlemen, let us jointly tell these young kids not to use someone else’s mirror to image themselves. Let us tell them nobody was there when the Almighty was fashioning them in the way He only chose so it would not profit them to attempt to define themselves using someone else’s parameters. Let us encourage them as they trudge on in life to have no fear for what that boy or girl will say. Let us strengthen them to, as my mother would say, not use someone else’s wristwatch to mark their own time.

Dear parents, ladies and gentlemen! Let us encourage them to measure people not by the size of the car they ride, the size of the house they live in, nor the kind of clothe they wear. Let us tell them that in life except in democracy, quality of the heart and head matter more than the quantity. Let them know that life would now begin to unfurl and unveil itself for them more closely than before. Let us tell them that before today they have being living in the wonderland; that from today they shall live in active land. In the latter, it is what you sow that you reap; that it would not matter, in line with Jerry Zucker, that your dream came true if you spend your whole life sleeping.

Dear parents, let us tell these kids that life is about problem and solution; that life is all about movement from one station to another station; that every arrival marks the departure for another journey; that life is not a bed of roses; that of all the creatures of the Almighty it is only human beings who can cry and laugh. Like young roses in the garden, may our sources of joy not be plucked before they are ripe; may the Bestower endow them with the fruits of the womb those whose tears are hot out of desire for that which only He can give.

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