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Be Distinct Or Be Extinct (2)




You’ve got to discover the one thing you were created to be and be willing to pay the price to be it. Sometimes people are beautiful, not in looks but just in the way they are. Steve Marraboli said, ‘’the most amazing gift you can ever give the world is you.’’ In the face of individual liquidation, the question of individuality must be raised anew. The strongest force in the universe is a human being living consistently with his identity.

The only thing that can never be faked is being yourself, it happens naturally. We are living in a world where we are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves! The hardest battle you’ll ever have to fight is the battle to be yourself and whatever makes you weird is probably your greatest asset. Joyce Meyer said, “One of the favourite tricks of the devil is manipulating our identity because if he can keep you from realizing who you really are, he can keep you from doing what you were created to do, and he can keep you from enjoying the life God has for you”. The most exhausting thing in life is trying to be like others.

You are designed by God not to blend in, but to stand out. There is only one thing that God will never call you to be in life and that is being someone else! You aren’t called to be anyone else; you are called to be ‘YOU’. Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are; there is only one you for all time. Fearlessly be yourself!
‘’I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.’’ –Rita Mae Brown

The amazing story of mega star, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a true ‘’rags to riches’’ tale of a penniless immigrant making it in the land of opportunity, the United States of America. With an almost unpronounceable surname and a thick Austrian accent, who would ever believe that an ordinary body builder from a small village in Austria would become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and one day be the Governor of California!

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947 near Graz, Austria. He rose to fame as the world’s top body builder, launching a career that would make him a giant Hollywood star and later, the governor of California. His father, Gustav, who constantly ridiculed Schwarzenegger’s early dreams of becoming a body builder wanted him to become a police officer just like him.

Regardless of his father’s intimidation, the young Arnold held tenaciously to his dream and would not allow his father mold him into what he was not. On several occasions, he vehemently refused to tread the path that his father had laid for him. As an escape for all the ridicules at home, Arnold turned to live his passion: body building and the movies in a foreign land. He eventually became a fugitive for his passion, an intense passion that would later bring him to international limelight.
‘’Make the best of yourself because that is all there is of you.’’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson

His sojourn into body building brought him both fame and fortune. In all, Schwarzenegger would win five unprecedented Mr. Universe titles and seven Mr. Olympia crowns during his body building career. Arnold, with his great physical strength and sense of humor catapulted himself into the top echelon of acting world and has become one of the highest-paid action film star in Hollywood, with several films to his credit. After years of blockbuster movie roles, Schwarzenegger went into politics, becoming the governor of California (2003 – 2011). Arnold ran as a republican in 2003 in the California recall election that ousted the incumbent Democratic Governor, Gray Davis. He was re-elected in a land slide in 2006 elections.

In 2012, he returned to his acting career, starring Jean-Claude Van-Damme, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone in the star–studded film, ‘The Expendables’. Within just one week, the movie had climbed to the No. 1 spot at the box office bringing in nearly $28.6million. His foray into politics has made him an active and respected member of the Republican Party with the hope of becoming a possible future Republican presidential candidate of the United States of America. The legendary actor has this to say in one of his speeches in 2001, ‘’my own plan formed when I was 14 years old, my father had wanted me to be a police officer like he was, and my mother wanted me to go to trade school.’’

Don’t be afraid of being different, be afraid of being the same as everyone. The intriguing story of Lagbaja, a multi-award winning Nigerian Afrobeat musician, singer, instrumentalist, song writer and marvellous saxophonist reiterates the power of a creative and disctinct life. Lagbaja was born Bisade Ologunde in Oyun local government area of Kwara State. According to Lagbaja, his mask is used as a symbol of man’s facelessness. Lagbaja is a yoruba word that means ‘’nobody in particular’’.

It depicts the anonymity of the so-called ‘’common man’’. The mask and the name symbolize the faceless and the voiceless in the society. Lagbaja’s style and creativity has really shown that you can be local geographically while being global in expression; he symbolizes a man with no ‘face’ value but unbeatable intrinsic worth!
‘’He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away’’ – Raymond Hilll

Lagbaja is widely considered to be one of Nigeria’s most exciting and interesting contemporary artists. Combining sophisticated compositions with a dynamic stage show and enigmatic personality; often his music is purely instrumental –an interplay between traditional yoruba percussion, drums, chants, western instruments and especially the saxaphone. His unique genre of music is called Africano, it is a distinct blend of jazz, high life, afro-beat, juju, fuji and hip-pop.The originality of the Ikiraa Master is incomparable; his ingenuity and dexterity with the saxaphone is both striking and awesome.

The ‘facelesss’ man has now become the face of modern traditional music. His style and costume have brought a modern face to the yoruba masquerade tradition. Lagbaja’s music is not only for entertainment but has evolved overtime to pass messages that contribute greatly to national discourse.

While some of his songs simply entertain, most are about serious social issues; a major shift and departure from the clueless lyrical content of most Nigerain musics. He passes impactful messages in humorous ways and continues to use his music as a catalyst for the emergence of sane and better society. His brand of music is unique, distinct and peculiar; it refreshes the human conscience and guards towards making sane choices.

In his album ‘’We Before Me’’, he emphasized the culture of honesty, unity, brotherhood and the virtue of selflessness in a deteriorating enviroment. His exemplary style has nullified the thought pattern that every brand of music must have a form of sexual appeal in order to reach a large audience. It is amazing how a man can be fully cladded and still mesmerizes his audience without any sexual appeal that is common among musicians of nowadays.
‘’I don’t think you will ever succeed at trying to be anyone else but who you truly are.’’-Emmy Rossum

Lagbaja’s road to stardom was paved with challenges and seemingly unsurmountable hurdles. Out of stark obscurity, the omo baba muko muko, as he is now famously called, formed his first small band in 1991 in Lagos after he had taught himself to play the saxophone.

It took a while before he could garner much audience despite his regular performances at the Sea Garden venue in Lagos due to his unique and strange style. His debut album in 1992 titled, The Colour Of Rhythm, suffered a great setback when his attempts to have the album pressed on compact disc in England were aborted in 1993 when the British Embassy in Lagos refused him a work permit. His major turning point came in 1996 with the release of the song ‘Bad Leadership’ which was a great indictment on the flaw full leadership model in Africa.

He was then invited by the international Red Cross committee to join Papa Wemba, Lucky Dube and Youssou N’Dour on a Pan-African project to promote awareness of humanitarian abuses. He also clinched the 2006 channel O music videos award –Best Male video (‘’Never far away’’). The easiest route to oblivion is in trying to be like others. Lagbaja took an abnormal detour from the rest and today, he has become a phenomenon, an ambassador of the Yoruba culture and a representative of the African traditions and values.
“Excellence is doing a common thing in an uncommon way.”-Booker Washington

Finally, I want to address parents that have turned their children to victims by forcing and manipulating them to live a life that they themselves should have lived when they were younger. I want to use this platform to specially advise parents in the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, he once said, ‘’you must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.’’ Designing the future of a child is beyond parental ‘Jurisdiction’. Parents should avoid the temptation of forcing their children to fit into their own design but rather provide them with a platform to stand out with their uniqueness.

The greatest gift a parent can ever give to their children is to give them a platform to be themselves. Parents are meant to nurture the uniqueness in their wards. The greatest parental sin and abuse is to manipulate our children to live a life that is not theirs. I want to say categorically and emphatically: ‘’I will never apologize for being me. You should apologize for asking me to be someone less.’’
“Of all freedom, the most important is the freedom to be you”- Jim Morrison

Gbenga Adebambo is the dean of schools at the Educational Advancement Centre (EAC), an author, youth specialist, international coach and the Editor-In-Chief of MAXIMUM IMPACT MAGAZINE. He is also the founder of the youth ministry called STOP ‘T’(Seeing Tomorrow’s Opportunities and Potentials Today), a ministry that is involved in discovering and nurturing hidden potentials in youths in order to equip them for tomorrow’s challenges, opportunities and responsibilities.

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