By Akin ATOLUGBOKUN
The words good and bad are very common in day-to-day usage. Even small children can say something is good or bad. Each of the words is a direct opposite of the other – if something is not good, it is then bad. Good is something pleasant, acceptable, normal, just, rightful, righteous, rational, and all other positive adjectives you can think of; whereas bad things take negative forms of the above qualifiers. Based on superficial perception, if two words run parallel they are never to meet because “ire ko l’oruko meji, ire ni ire” i.e. meaning what is good has no other name, it remains good. So thus badness – whatever bad is bad. On deeper perception, the two words are like strands of rope twined together – they seem inseparable. A deed may appear good whereas it has a negative effect. On the other hand, a wrong deed may end up advantageous! For example, lying is bad, you are taught right from kindergarten that it is bad to tell lies. Fanatic religious minds would say “kosi iro to to,” meaning, there is no lie that is rightful. Yet, one such fanatic’s life was saved from being exterminated by hired assassins through lying. When the assassins came, the holy man’s gateman sent them on a wild goose chase. He lied: “It serves my master right. He is a bad man, you narrowly missed him, he cannot have gone so far on his way to the airport; pursue him before he boards the plane.” The assassins believed him totally and went on the prowl! When they were out of sight, he quickly alerted the holy man on what has transpired between him and the assassins. The holy man had his escape! One would have thought that such a fanatic would blame the gateman for telling such fantastic lie! When the assassins realized that he had been hoodwinked by the gateman, they came back with dastard determination to wipe out everyone in the house but they were received by stronger arms of law!
Perhaps, religious extremists would realize that some lies at a point in time can be rightful! On the other hand, truthfulness is a good behaviour but on some certain occasions, it may spell out doom for another person. Some people are purely truthful even to a fault. Children are noted for being innocently truthful to the core. Hear a boy of five delivering a message to his father’s creditor: “My dad has gone under the bed and he asked me to tell you that he has travelled to Lagos that it would take him one week to return.” Another one told his dad’s friend who always walks in at meal times: “Dad and mum have gone out and Auntie Dele has not returned from market to prepare food. Yet, one of eight advised the younger brother of his dad; who is an applicant: ‘Uncle, if I were you I will not eat the food given to you by mum.’ The young man asked why, he replied, because mum always abuses you, after you might have gone; calling you a lazy man who ought to have been going to motor park to carry loads in order to earn a living rather than showing up for food all the time.” During a tribal clash in certain quarters in a large city in the north, a northerner nearly got his best friend, a southerner beheaded for acting in absolute truthfulness. When it was the turn of his friend to face the assailing squad, he led the assailants to every joint they used to visit together but the search was to no avail. Northerners are noted for being truthful even to a fault at times. The last place they went was the house of another friend of theirs who also was a northerner but a more systematic person. The southerner was actually hiding in a dry well at the back of the house. The truthful friend was adamant on the fact that if the man had not been found in all the places they had searched, definitely, he must be in the house of this third friend. The third friend was also adamant; he lied he had not seen the man for days. The man spent three days in the dry well before he was smuggled out of the city in the middle of the night. In this case, who in your view has done well for the man? Is it the good friend who was telling the killing squad the truth about where his friend could be found or the third friend who lied to save the head of the man? Remember, truth is good and lying is bad – judge. In the holy scriptures of the Christian, a prostitute, Rahab lied to save the lives of Israeli spies. The Jericho soldiers wanted to kill the person who hosted them for spying on their fortified cities but Rahab hid them in the roof of her apartment but lied to the soldiers that the Israeli truly lodged in her apartment but they had already gone back to where they came from. The soldiers embarked on a wild goose chase. For lying, Rahab became a heroine in the history of Israel! Is it good to lie at times?
Courtesy demands you lie at times, especially during giving testimonies about a dead person. Have you ever heard people saying bad things in the wake-keep or Friday ceremonies of a dead wicked person? Yet, the religious leaders will continue to say “ko si iro to to suna” – sheer hypocrisy you would say! The doctrine of some churches in Christendom forbids polygamy – it is sinful they say. However, churches now are a game of number – the larger the members, the fatter the purse! In such churches, polygamists are never barred from being members but they are not allowed to be church workers in any form. Can you identify who add more to the number of the congregation? Can you say who is economically important to the church: the polygamists or the monogamists? All things being equal, the family of a man who has two wives and eight children (four by each of the wives) would contribute more for the coffers of the church than the family of a man with one wife and four children. For instance, things being equal as I have said earlier, if on a certain Sunday each man in the two families offered N2,000.00 and each of the three women offered N1,000.00 while each of the twelve children offered N2,00.00, the family of the man with two wives and eight children would have contributed more viz:
The polygamous family
One husband – N2,000.00
Two wives @ N1,000.00 each – N2,000.00
Eight children @ N200.00 each – N1,600.00
Total offering – N5, 600.00
The monogamous family
One hundred #2,000.00
One wife #1,000.00
Four children # 800.00
Total offering #3,800.00
Get me right, I am not projecting this to give credence to polygamy but to point it out that at some occasions, the line between good and bad can be faint and thin. In sinful situations, one stands to gain – even a church acting righteously should not allow the sinful polygamous family to pay tithe or offering. Hypocrisy is bad but it is yielding a good dividend in this wise! Yoruba people often say: Ófofo ko gba egbaa, enu ope du lomo,’’ meaning, a talebearer does not worth being paid, he/she can only receive verbal thank you. That saying denotes that tale bearing is a bad habit. This may not be true in several aspects: News reporting is on-going in the society. Whistle blowing is tale bearing but it exposes the activities of embezzlers, fraudsters, money launderers, and other financial malpractices. Police informants are tale bearers but they are in it to rid the society of criminals. Spying and espionaging are tale bearing but they are done to boost and protect the integrity of a nation. Can you think of more “ofofo” that are beneficial? What would you give to someone who truly informed you that he overheard Lagbaja and Lakasegbe plotting to waylay and kill you? Egba or mere thank you?
The issue at hand is an oracle divining for Nigeria, a nation created by Lugard (a mere mortal) by arranging an unholy marriage for strong bad fellows. Distinct nations were dumped into one and chaos began to reign. Nigeria’s old National Anthem was a good dream-not dreamt by Nigerians themselves but by the colonial master for Nigeria-it was all deceit! They foresaw the chaos that would ensue. Inter-alia, the anthem are the following deceptive lines:
“Though tribes and tongues may differ/. In brotherhood we stand”-They knew that some tribes are more advanced than others. Brotherhood used was meant to cajole the several tongues and tribes to stand together; but has it worked since independence? Have different tongues and tribes in Nigeria regarded themselves as brothers? Nay, they are neither of the same fathers nor mothers. And they don’t have common fatherland.
“Our flag shall be a symbol/that truth and justice reign-Has there been fair play and justice in the sixty years of her independence?
“______hand on to our children a banner without stain”-where is that clean banner in the face of Boko haram, Fulani herdsmen, insurgency, kidnapping, ritual killings, political thuggery with no free and fair elections, depletion of the public treasury, and what have you?
‘’O God of all creation/Help us to build a nation where no man is oppressed – Look back in the sixty year’s journey. Have some tongues and tribes not been using numerical power to oppress the others? The colonial masters designed it so!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Divorce is not advisable unless it is based on unfaithfulness of either spouse. So, the Holy Scripture says. Can there be trust, love faithfulness, loyalty, unity, and peace in the life of strangers who were forced into an unholy wedlock? Wouldn’t it be better to put asunder what God has not put together?