Professor Peller: Not every information about you is for public consumption!
Professor Peller, as he was widely known, was one of Africa’s most renowned magicians. He kept millions gasping for more with his magical wand and enchanting performances. His audience were not just ordinary people, as he had once wowed great African leaders like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, President Gnassingbe Eyadéma of Togo, President Samuel Doe of Liberia, and President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin Republic.
Born Moshood Folorunsho Abiola in Iseyin, Oyo State in 1941, Professor Peller, as he came to be known, was Nigeria’s most popular magician. To enhance his skills with illusion tricks, Professor Peller attended a School of Magical Arts in India, where he spent 18 months. His first show held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos in 1966.
It was on August 2 1997 that the news went viral that the invincible and adorable Professor Peller had been assassinated. I had just finished from Wesley College of Science, Elekuro in Ibadan, awaiting my WAEC results. My secondary school days were filled with major discourse of rumours about Professor Peller’s exploits.
Mention the name Peller and the next thing that comes to mind is magic. He was a legend and a solid master in his craft. He did no wrong when he hit the stage. He was lord of the stage anytime and anywhere. With a charismatic nature that no one could contend, he would mount the stage and mesmerise the audience, except for one occasion at the National Theatre in Lagos, where he experienced an unusual interference when he was trying to put together the body of his wife whom he had already parted into two.
There are deep things to learn from this great man that bestrode the magical world with unimaginable grandeur and finesse. He made the practice of magic more alluring and entertaining in his glorious days. Although he was undisputedly the legend of magic in Nigeria, Professor Peller was also a devout Muslim, who did not miss any of his Islamic obligations. How he blended the practice of magic with his religious faith was quite intriguing.
As young boys back then, we found it unfathomable to believe that a man who had genies at his beck and call could become defenceless when he needed it the most. How can a man with such magical prowess die in the hands of mere mortals? How could a man who dined with genies and spirits be killed by mortal weapons? How could a man who commanded battalions of genies be disarmed by bloody civilians? How could a man who held others spell-bound by his magical techniques be demystified in the most unlikeliest of ways?
In an interview with BBC News Yoruba, where the late Prof. Peller’s wife, Mrs. Silifat Abiola Peller recounted what actually led to the magician’s unfortunate death, she said: “Unidentified gunmen shot my husband at his residence, when he was observing his evening prayers. He had unknowingly given out information during an interview. He made a mistake telling journalists during an interview that the only time he was without any magic or power was when he was praying. He said he only wore an agbada or jalabia, and nothing else whenever he prayed. I believe that his enemies got hold of this information and used it against him.”
Silifat said the assassins who killed the magician ensured they carried out the act at the time he was observing prayers.
I believe strongly that Professor Peller left not only a legacy in the art of magic but also left behind critical lessons for us all.
• Never Reveal Your Weakness And Vulnerability To Others: Professor Peller was invincible until he made his vulnerability a public discourse. Be mindful with whom you share your innermost secrets.
Charles Dickens once said, “By staying alive, one is a constant threat to the life of so many others”. His point of vulnerability was safe with his wife but not meant for public consumption! Your secret becomes a weapon in the hand of your enemy. The assassins swung into action immediately Professor Peller revealed his secret. It wasn’t the weapon that they brought that killed Professor Peller; it was his secret that they had access to that gave him out.
• Keep Your Private Life Private: Privacy is power! Whatever makes you happy in life, keep it private. What people don’t know, they can’t ruin. Keep the affairs of your children private! Keep your marital affair private! Keep the secret to your strength private! Keep your life-supports private! Even if you are a celebrity, you must draw a healthy line between what is private and what is meant for public consumption.
• Be Careful Of Who You Share Your Next Move With: When you build in silence, people don’t know what to attack. Nobody is entitled to know your next move. Keep your plans and moves to yourself. Let your results announce you. Many dreams have been prematurely aborted just because some people let out critical information to the wrong people. I have observed a lot of abandoned projects in the lives of many people as a result of undisciplined tongues. If you want to be successful, you must learn to make more moves and less announcements. Sometimes you don’t need to announce your next move until it is done. Work hard in silence, let your success make the noise.
• We All Have Our Achilles’ Heel: There is no man that is flawless except God. Apostle Paul admonishes us all in 1 Corinthians 10:12 when he said, “Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”. The legendary Achilles was impenetrable by human weapons except his heels. Achilles was all but invulnerable except for his heels, where his mother held him to burn off his mortality. We must all recognise that there is always a soft-spot through which the enemy can gain entrance into our affairs. It takes wisdom for us to guard it diligently.
• There Is Always An Enemy Within: French philosopher, Voltaire once said, “Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies.” There is an African proverb that says, “When there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do you no harm.” Be mindful of your inner cycle! Whenever there is a sell-out, your ‘friends’ are always the first set of suspects.
Julius Caesar was assassinated with the help of his closest friend, Brutus. In a story of betrayals, about 60 conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius stabbed Caesar to death at a meeting of the Senate. The pain and knowledge of imminent death did not stop Caesar from exclaiming, in shock, disbelief and sadness, “Et tu, Brute?,” meaning “Even you, Brutus?” If anyone would betray him, surely not Brutus, he believed.
• People Are Not Loyal To You, They Are Only Loyal To Their Interests: I repeat, people are not loyal to you, they are only loyal to their interest. When you know this, you know peace! Be mindful of the people with whom you share your greatest secrets. They may use it against you when they are no longer in your camp. Ahithophel in the Bible was one of King David’s most trusted advisers. He took a leading part in the revolt of David’s son Absalom, and Ahithophel’s defection was a severe blow to David. If not for God’s intervention in turning his counsel to foolishness, King David would have been dealt with in the most severe of ways.
• Be Very Careful With Your Domestic Staff: Your cooks, drivers, security officials, gatemen and care-givers must never be casually recruited. People that are casual in the process of sourcing out for these group of domestic staff normally end up becoming casualties in life. Matthew 10: 36 says, “A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’’ Be careful with the members of your household. Don’t be casual with your movements and itineraries. Sometimes, you can change the route through which you take to get home, this may sometimes be a life-saver. Never be predictable with your movements with strangers.
• Until You Learn the Skill Of Information Management, You Cannot Manage Anything: Information management is key for any man that will go far in life. If you will go fast and far in life, learn the skill of managing information around yourself, your spouse and your children. Many children are already sold out just because their parents couldn’t manage information properly. God gave revelation to the wise men in the Bible about Jesus’ birth but they became unwise with managing the information. They strolled waywardly to Herod’s palace to share with him the information that God gave them in the secret. It almost caused Jesus’ life but other innocent children were not spared. Just one information mismanaged cost the lives of over 20 children in Bethlehem. Shield your children from evil interferences by managing information around their failures and successes wisely.
We will all die one day but we make it too soon when we share critical information with the wrong people. The first step to being security conscious is being very careful with vital information. Be sensitive with where you share information. Some people have become victims because of the information they shared when clubbing with friends. Some carelessly give out their itineraries at beer parlours. Stop being casual, so that you don’t become a casualty!