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Competition, Competithief, Competwotowin

By Kole Omotoso
19 September 2021   |   2:59 am
Can the world exist without competition? Without competition can there ever be progress on earth? But if necessity is the mother of invention what is the place of competition

Can the world exist without competition? Without competition can there ever be progress on earth? But if necessity is the mother of invention what is the place of competition in this scheme of things? When we examine some of the policies of socialism, there seem to be elements of doing away with the competition. ‘No food for lazy man’ can be read as a counter to ‘To every man according to his ability.’

In the recently concluded Women’s Tennis US Open in New York, one of the teenagers spoke of a teacher who advised her to stick to her books and forget tennis. She would never make it big. How is that teacher feeling now that her pupil made it huge in tennis?

When you win you celebrate. Celebration is the source of the greatest of the arts. Painting, music, theatre, poetry. This is because there is joy in winning. Joy moves one to celebrate.

But recent a winner came out with the statement to the effect that when she wins she is not happy which she thought was anything but strange for her. It was sickness. It must be some mental illness.

Does it have to do with how success was achieved? The greatest stories are about good and evil, success and failure. Good succeeds while evil fails. What other reasons make Nollywood such success it is today if not for the clarity of the difference between good and evil?

Jealousy is the beginning of evil. Your neighbour has money, you do not. He splashes money all over the place. You do not even have enough to buy bone-smeared-with-meat to swallow your eba-gari! The moralist will tell you that you should be happy with your lot. Rather remember your other neighbour who has gari but no water to make gari and has to eat the gari dry. Or as they say, in the case of the neighbour who has yam, has the fire to cook it but has to pound his yam with his teeth.

What about reverse jealousy? You know the poem “Wetin make I do?” (What must I do?) We dey waka for road, person wey get horse dey jealous we for having two legs to waka/We dey eat vegetable only because we no get money buy meat, the meat neighbor dey jealous/Wetin make I do?/We dey wear rags, fashionista say make we come out road/Wetin make I do? What must I do?

Why can’t we both be winners? Two teams play to a draw. The referee does not congratulate both teams and bids them go home and celebrate. No. They must play penalty. And when they play even, say 5-5, they must play sudden death. The first to score wins. Why cannot both sides win?

There is hardly anywhere any celebration of failure. If anyone tries to celebrate failure he is considered a clown, entertaining. Like when Baba Sala’s old Volkswagen broke down. Baba Sala took pity on the old car, procured a suitable pillow (oshuka), and carried the car on his head to the mechanic’s workshop for repairs. After all the car had carried him for so long, it is only fair that he should carry him, at least, once.

If there cannot be two winners, can’t there be two losers? No, it is so that there will not be two losers that there should be one winner. But failure drives the loser to death. Is the death of one better than the death of two? Two failures are not seen as such but as equal, same-same, celebrate the success of both.
It is also in order to avoid sickness in society that the concept of no winner no loser, no victim no vanquished was created.

If there is something that human beings do not understand it is mental illness. When the mind is sick, everything in the body comes to a stop. We need to stop mental illness. That is one reason to put a stop to competition especially when the winner is not happy when she wins. If there was a legitimate manner in which to celebrate failure it would be a good thing to fail.

For instance, we could celebrate failure today as a certain road to success tomorrow. Certainty that tomorrow will be better than today we could live for tomorrow then and let the success of today celebrate but the certainty that tomorrow belongs to us would make us joyous.

If it was not certain that success will always succeed there would be room for failure in life. The challenge of life then is the challenge of accommodating failure. If there was hope that success would follow failure, there would be room for failure in life. And it also is certain that he who succeeds today will fail tomorrow. But no, the one who succeeds today wants/prays to succeed tomorrow and the day after and the day after, a world without end.

But it is the same person who now says she is not happy when she wins. Which signifies failure. If success leads to unhappiness and failure leads to unhappiness what is the use of success? But there is something else. Facing the press after the success of the winner looks like gloating. “To dwell on one’s success or another’s misfortune with smugness or malignant pleasure.” This is the dictionary meaning of the word ‘to gloat’. There are two parts to facing the press: to dwell on one’s success and on another’s misfortune with pleasure. We can insist that both winner and loser face the press at the same time. The winner would dwell on her success while the loser finds reasons for her failure. She also might dwell on her future success which, remember we are certain, will come. That way we can ensure that both winner and loser are together.

Right now, the loser seems to skulk out of the stadium while the winner waits for the confrontation with the press. It is not clean. Both competitors should boldly face the press and speak their minds. That way today’s winner speaks while tomorrow’s winner reminds us of her future success.