‘It depends on whose hands it is’ (2)



Concluding part of reflections at the graduation mass at Loyola Jesuit College, Gidan Mangoro, Abuja, on Sunday, July 12, 2015
First part was published yesterday

It is important that you bear this in mind because almost all of you here come from privileged homes where you have had things at your beck and call, drivers, stewards, money, toys, holidays, cosy homes and so on.

Some of you would probably have never washed your own clothes, cooked your own food. Although surrounded by stewards and drivers older than you, most of them old enough to be your grand father, you have learnt to refer to Papa Ade as Cook, and Mr. Chike as Driver.

And so you belt out the orders and throw tantrums over food that is not well cooked, water that is not hot, drivers that are not driving fast, a car that has not been washed and so on.

Elite parents believe that their wealth acquired sometimes by hard work or by theft of state resources have earned a good life for their children. They do not believe their children need to suffer again and that their fortune is a comprehensive insurance policy for their children.

Parents believe that apart from their sweat, the stewards, nannies, drivers that they hire to look after their children are inferior human beings. They do not teach them how to respect their fellow human beings simply because of status. As such, in schools across the country, many of these children turn out as spoilt brats, above the law. They do not believe that the red lights are for them. They do not believe that any rules apply them. They believe they have power over alcohol and drugs.

After his examination, when one of these spoilt kids was asked by his classmates how the examinations had gone he said, “Well, the examinations were hard, but I am not worried. My dad is working on my results. He will sort out the examiners.”

Chimamanda Adichie, whom most of you must have heard of, wrote a most timeless piece titled, The Danger of a Single Story. Among other things, she made reference to her own life, something that is useful for us here.

In the essay, she spoke of her own experience. She said, “I come from a conventional middle class Nigerian family. My father was a Professor and my mother was an Administrator. And so we had, as was the norm, live-in domestic help who would often come from nearby rural villages. So the year I turned 8, we got a new houseboy. His name was Fide.

The only thing my mother told us about him was that his family was very poor. My mother sent yams and rice, and our old clothes, to his family. And when I didn’t finish my dinner, my mother would say, finish your food. Don’t you know? People like Fide’s family have nothing. So, I felt enormous pity for Fide’s family.” Today, some of you have been taught to feel sorry for those who work as domestic staff in your homes.

Let me end, by once again restating that from today, the steering wheel of your life is in your hands now. Your parents and teachers have done their best. From now on, you will be on your own with fewer rules and supervision. If you consider this to be a license, an extension of your parents’ privileged lawn, then you might end up like Mr. Booth above. The choice is yours.

Life is never what we dreamt it would be, but experience based on personal reflections and looking at the lives of others all the challenges even more exciting. The words of Rudyard Kipling in his famous poem simply titled, IF, present us with lessons about life. I will quote just the first, second and final verses which go as follows:

If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Finally, I also want to leave you with something someone sent to me. I also find it very useful for you as you move on in life. It reads:
A tennis racket is useless in my hands. But a tennis racket in Ms. Serena Williams’ hands is worth millions of dollars. Remember: It only depends in whose hand it is.

A football is just a piece of inflated leather, but under the feet of a Lionel Messi, it is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It depends on whose feet it is.

A rod in my hands will keep an angry dog away. But a rod in Moses’ hands parted the mighty Red Sea. It only depends on whose hands it is in.

A catapult in my hand is a toy and it might manage to kill a bird. But a catapult in David’s hand was a mighty weapon that fell the almighty Goliath. Remember: It only depends on whose hands it is in.

Two fishes and 5 loaves of bread in my hand is just enough for breakfast for my family. But two fishes and 5 loaves of bread in my Lord, Jesus’ hands fed thousands. Remember: It only depends on whose hands it is in.

Nails in my hands might just cause a temporary injury. But nails in Jesus Christ’s hands produced salvation for the entire world.
It all depends in whose hand it is.

A certificate from Loyola College should be a treasured gift. It is now in your hands. I hope you can use it to change the world. God bless you.
• Father Kukah is the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto

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1 Comment
  • kunle aina

    Priceless and timeless words..good for both young ears and old..Thank you Father Kukah