Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Do not Let People Define You by Your Failures




I sat perplexed as I heard his story. His songs re-echoed in my head. I could imagine him playing the guitar. Every touch on the string brought out melodious music, so inspiring; touching me deep down in my soul. Yes, I could say that even my bone marrows were shaken. He sang those songs that have become favourites in church choirs in Nigeria.


"I ran away from school. It was so unbearable. I had got an extra year in the university and so I returned to school to face it. It was necessary that my extra semester courses had to be up to fifteen credit units... "

He kept quiet again. He was still staring into space. Then he took a deep breath, turned his head and stared right into my eyes. 

"But I failed again, seven credit units in all."

What he said, hit me. My heart was racing. I had thought my own story was the worse.

"That was when I ran away."

I thought about his running away. I could imagine his strides as he raced to nowhere in particular. But that was not what he meant. This was a young man born with a silver spoon who was privileged to be an undergraduate of one of the best private universities in the country.

"I was frustrated. I saw myself as a failure. If it were even a third class degree or pass, at least I would have something to show for my years in the higher institution."

I readjusted on my seat. I brought my arms closer to my chest. My heart was racing fast. As I folded my arms, I was able to calm my anxiety.

"Home was hell. Nobody saw anything good in me. I got no single encouragement. My father saw me as cursed . "

He paused. Then he looked at me again.

"I will never forget the day my father took me to a white garment church for prayers. Oh! that day..."  he shook his head, "they beat the hell out of me."

I thought about who he was today. He had performed in major concerts. He had links with the best music producers and entertainment bigwigs in the country. I could remember seeing his pictures with Cobhams Asuquo and Wale Adenuga. These are great minds he had worked with.

"Those songs you so much love were written when I was at the deepest pit in life. There were what I used to encourage myself when I felt the world had rejected me."

I was not alone, I could remember how I often felt like an outcast back home because my parents were looking down on me. I had an extra year to contend with in a public university at a time when my younger ones who had attended private universities had both graduated. Now, I had seen someone who had a worse story to tell. 

"In all of these things, God has been so kind to me." He said, as he patted his hands on my back.
Yes, he was right. I beamed with smiles, I was lifted.

 We were two of a kind. Though we were both undergraduates of Mathematics in our various schools, it was my love for music that got me to know him. While I was going to face my extra year courses, as soon as the lecturers in Nigerian universities call off their strike action, he had given up on his own. Then I thought about my church choir. I was going to lead the worship session on Sunday. I knew his story was going to reverberate all over me when I sing. The world needs to hear his story.

This is not a time to give up on your dreams. Even if the people closest to you have written you off. It is time to tell yourself that you have what it takes to excel. There are people out there that you are better than. Follow your passions and do not let people define you by your failures. That you failed does not mean you are a failure. Brace yourself up and believe. The forces of nature will work in your favour when you persistently determine and work to succeed. 

And do not forget, just as my good friend said in his story, 'in all of these things, God will be kind to you.'

Thanks to my friend Mercy, for telling me his story.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Andy Murray Shines


Andy Murray played out his heart to winhis first Wimbledon title and ended Britain's 77-year wait for a men's champion with a hard-fought victory over world number one Novak Djokovic.

The 26 year old Scot converted his fourth championship point game to win 6-4 7-5 6-4 and claim his second major title in a dramatic final .

As the game was on, Andy Murray had already captured the hearts of majority of the 15,000 spectators on Centre Court and thousands watching on the big screen nearby and millions more around the country.

This victory has once again brought Murray to spotlight after he won the Olympic gold at the London 2012 Olympics. Andy Murray, is indeed, on top of his game.
Picture: Courtesy, independent.co.uk

A Toast for Neymar




The 2013 FIFA Confederations cup may have come and gone but the memories of great football artistry displayed by Neymar, the Brazilian wonder boy who eventually emerged as the most valuable player of the tournament is still in our minds.

Barcelona FC is so lucky to have sported and signed on this prodigy because his value would have sky-rocketed after the FIFA Confederations cup.

Neymar helped Brazil to lift the FIFA Confederations cup for the third consecutive time. No doubt Neymar da Silva Santos Júnio, 21 is on top of his game.
 Picture: Courtesy, totalbarca.com

Monday, May 27, 2013

Find a Reason to Succeed

“You can never beat Ukyi,” Akpa told me. Ukyi was the overall best pupil in my form in the last term examinations and it was obvious to everyone of us that she was very bright.

Ukyi joined my class when her parents enrolled her in my school and even though she came just a few weeks to our exams, she outshined me in our examinations. 


Akpa’s remark hit me. It was a challenge. My heart started racing and my temperature rose. How could Akpa draw this conclusion? Yes, Ukyi was brilliant but does that mean she would beat me a third time?


I looked at Akpa and made a hand gesture moving forward my open palms to him saying, “Bet me, I will beat her in our third term exams.” 


Akpa did not hesitate to tap my palms with his but that was after he laughed out loud. He shrugged, laughed again and said, “I am telling you. You will see.”
 

“No way,” I said. I meant every word I said. 

And when it was the day for the school’s graduation and award ceremony which usually comes up after the last exams for the session, the names of the best three students in each form were called out for prizes. It got to my form and it was time to announce the best pupil. My heart beat was racing, yet I was so sure I was going to be the one. 


And a loud ovation greeted the announcement of my name. I was over joyed and moved to the stage to shake the school’s head mistress and the bishop who found my school. I felt a great sense of accomplishment as I clutched my prize.


As I tried to figure out where my father sat, Akpa rushed to me beaming with smiles. “Ol’ boy, you too much!” he said and shook me vigorously. “I didn’t know you could beat Ukyi,” he added. Akpa’s challenge had made me so engrossed in my studies that I forgot what he had told me in the beginning of the term. I smiled and I felt good.


It happened several years ago but it still beats my mind on how a challenge can bring out the best in us. Akpa’s remark that Ukyi was way better than me, academically; peeved me. I felt that way, not because I disliked him or Ukyi but because he felt so sure that I could not. So I had to prove that I can!


Life usually gives us back what we put in it. I was diligent and it paid off with success. A reason triggered off that diligence. It was Akpa’s challenge.


Indeed, our lives would become more fruitful if we find reasons to bring out our best. Imagine the joy and glory that comes with success. Yes, when you build that your dream house, when you pay off your debts, when you find your dream wife, when you write that book, when you start running that fledging business ..name it! 


Picture yourself living the kind of life you want and let it be the reason why you have to work smart and hard. Do not brush off that jeer by a colleague who says you cannot when you know you have what it takes, even though it looks difficult. Let that be your reason to ‘fight’ for your success.


Consider the rising number of unemployed people out there; some of them just need the right contacts to find a good job while others need capital to start a business and some others just need the right motivation and mentorship. You could be that influential friend that can make a phone call and link one of them with a job. You could be the philanthropist that can give one of them financial empowerment to start up. You might the person whose story can inspire them to go out and do something that would make them succeed. Imagine the value your success can add to one of them.


Think about it, your life would make more meaning when you find a reason to succeed. 



Picture, courtesy: matthewdavisvisuals.com

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Staying on Top of Your Game: Lessons From MTN




MTN is business savvy and that makes them stand out. They understand Nigerian business terrain better. At a time ECONET(now Airtel) was busy trying to build strong facilities in a few cities, MTN spread their tentacles to many towns. Their network service were not reliable, but Nigerians who were long waiting for GSM services rushed for their sim cards. Few years later, they reinforced their facilities in those towns after making quick money.

When MTN got the sole right to sponsor Who Wants to Be a Millionaire(Nigeria),they made sure you can only apply(text or call) to participate in the show, exclusively from an MTN line. It was not so when Vmobile alongside UBA and Orange Drugs(Delta Soap) were sponsors of the game show. Vmobile failed to realize the potentials of the show.

And a few years ago, when the newest entrant, Etisalat and later, Airtel, were crashing call tariff to win new customers, MTN stayed put. But suddenly, MTN came up with MTN super save and other packages giving even lesser call tariffs. They won back most of their subscribers.

Last night, I saw a brand new commercial from MTN advertising the recently activated number portability scheme. And who was on set? It was none other than Hafiz Oyetoro popularly known as Saka. The actor, well known for his comic roles in English and Yoruba home videos and sitcoms, not too long ago featured in several Etisalat adverts. Saka brought life to these adverts. His expression, "like my wife o" where he opted for an Etisalat package that gave a lot of freebies used by his wife in one of the adverts easily comes to mind.

This is another good business move by MTN who have been receiving a lot of backlash from subscribers, some of whom have advocated switching to other networks. It is likely that MTN offered Saka a better deal after his contract with Etisalat was not renewed. Or maybe his deal with Etisalat was just per advert. No doubt, Saka, is a lot richer, after this commercial.

While I commend the MTN boardroom for understanding Nigerian business terrain better and making smart business moves, I believe the best business move, they can make in the long term is to reinforce their facilities and improve their network.

But for now. I admire their insight, hindsight and foresight. No wonder, they are on top of their game.

Enjoy the advert video clip below. Saka don port! Saka don upgrade to MTN. See the effects they achieved with the lights. Saka's attire changed from green to yellow. An impressive advert and a smart media weapon by MTN. I love the 'kirikata' dance too!


Pictures, courtesy: Brandwork Nigeria, PilotAfrica.com

Friday, April 20, 2012

Get Out of that Comfort Zone!

He was working in a government hospital as a medical doctor. He did not like the monotonous nature of the job. He detested coming to work every day and waiting for his pay cheque at the end of the month. He came from a family where most of his relatives shunned payed employment jobs because they prefer to start their own outfits.

Working for government most of his life and settling down for gratuity and pension did not appeal to him. He felt 'running his own show' will make him think harder and come up with more initiatives and creativity in the course of his work.

It was two years down the line, after he got his employment letter to work at Charanchi in Katsina State and he was not finding the job exciting.

It was not an easy thing to do but he had made up his mind...

And he threw in the towel. He went on to start a his private clinic at Katsina, the capital city of the state. The reactions he got from most of his colleagues and superiors were "Are you crazy?" "You are playing with your career" "You have just ruined your future." His determination made him turn deaf ears to their cautions.

"The first six months was hell. I only had a few patients patronizing the clinic. I was spending a lot of money running the clinic as compared to the little income."

"Many people failed me. A relative that promised to give me a loan came up with excuses. Another friend that had promised to deliver some equipment to me disappointed me."

He had to sell his car to pay some debts he accrued. He was between the devil and the deep blue sea.

"At a stage, I had to give out my apartment to someone interested to refund me the money I paid and I moved into one the rooms in the place I rented for me clinic." He said, as he recounted his experience.

He needed to achieve the dream. It was the same dream that led him to take the risky decision that made him quit his job. Unfortunately, with the turn of events, the dream looked distant and bleak. But he had been a dogged fighter all his life and he needed to prove his friends that thought he was crazy, wrong.

Where there moments that he thought of quitting? "Yes," he replied, "but I had no escape route because 'I had burnt my bridges and there was no going back."

"My big break came about a year after, during the cerebrospinal meningitis outbreak in the north," he said, "the vaccine was scarce and I was fortunate to have some in stock."

" A trailer load of infected patients from the border towns and Niger republic were brought to my clinic and the government public health officials were ready to buy the vaccines even at more than four times the cost."

"The work was so hectic at this period but it payed off and I still had more patients to administer the vaccines even after I ordered more drugs from Lagos."

Less than two months afterwards, he bought another car and started making arrangements to move into a new and better apartment. His clinic started booming. The disease outbreak had made it more popular and many patients had come to gain confidence in him. Today, he has a hospital and many thriving investments. He has also built a strong reputation as a general practitioner.

When he was asked about his colleagues way back his days as a government employee, he replied: "Oh! they are doing marvelously well. Many of them are getting set for retirement and some are already through and waiting for their gratuity. Many of them now commend me and salute my courage."

He braved the odds and he took a difficult situation that paid off. Everyone cannot be like him, it all depends on your mindset and what you want in life. But you could be succeed like him if you are convinced that you need to 'run your own show.'

Perhaps you are tired of your 9 to 5 job and your monthly pay cheque that is barely enough for you. You may have been nursing a dream about a business venture or project. Calculate the risks; now might just be the right time to take a leap of faith.

It is your life; live it to the fullest and it matters that you reach and stay on top of your game!

Picture, courtesy: networkequipment.net and southern4life.blogspot.com

Thursday, April 19, 2012

You Have a Bright Future!


I watched him limp around the clinic at various times to get a device for one procedure or another. Merie was a master of his art. The fact that he was physically challenged did not diminish his work because he was never found wanting.

"I have a bright future and God will keep taking me to a higher level," he told me, as we discussed when he finished seeing the patients at hand. It was obvious that he never or rarely thought about his disabilities. He told me about work, his young family, the wife that God blessed him with and how her prayers enabled him secure his a job at a time that getting employed was difficult because of the global economic meltdown.

As I watched and listened to Merie, I seemed to forget most of my headaches because they all appeared to be trivialities. I could walk straight, I could speak and hear well, I was physically alright but just the night before, I stayed awake for several hours thinking about the things I needed to get done. My problems turned to a flash in the pan as I looked at this young man who had to endure a remarkable physical challenge caused by poliomyelitis infection, which he contracted when he was just an infant.

"In my second year in the University, I made up my mind to quit. It was just too unbearable. I was the one training myself." His face was expressionless as he spoke, "My faculty head advised me against it. I persevered by combining studies and petty trading. And the rest is now history."

He had stubbornly refused to join a relative to learn a trade, instead he set up a barber shop to raise funds. "I had to use my little savings to buy a hair clipper.It was from the money I made from my shop, situated under a tree shed that I was able to take my senior school certificate and university matriculation exams."

My mind wandered to the various possibilities that could have taken place in the life of my friend had it been he did not set his mind on his ambition and persevered against all odds. He is an eye doctor today. Indeed, like he says and believes, he has a bright future.

Many of us are more advantaged physically. A great majority of us did not have to toil to train ourselves in the course of higher education. Yet we keep dwelling our minds on the things we do not have. Many times we go about as if life has short changed us. We worry, we play the blame game-forgetting our strengths and the opportunities that life has offered us.

A lot of lessons can be learned from Merie's life: Your present challenge does not mean you are finished, it is just a phase and your attitude as you face it, matters a lot. We would better enjoy our lives when we stop looking at limitations. Whether you are well or physically challenged; whether you are black or white; whether you are wealthy or just surviving or whether you are educated or illiterate- it is never too late to get your fire back and live your best life.

You can start it now by eliminating negative confirmations and limiting thoughts! For a start, you can take a cue from our friend Merie; say it and believe it, "I have a bright future and God will keep taking me to higher level !"

As you face your life and daily tasks with diligence and this kind of positive mindset, it would push you to rise above those limitations that have always held you back.

You have a bright future! You will win!

Picture, courtesy: dreamstime.com

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Goodbye Whitney







She had one of the most beautiful voices ever. She conveyed the emotions that her songs portrayed, so well, that the listener feels it deep inside. Such was the kind of connection that fans of Whitney Houston felt whenever her songs were played. Besides that, she was so beautiful and had the most charming of smiles.

As she is laid to rest, the world would miss a star-musician, actress, model, producer and one who many turned to the lyrics of her songs for solace and inspiration. Her music enabled many of us to have faith in ourselves. Those who were heartbroken found some comfort in her songs. The messages were uplifting and positive and taught us to believe in our dreams and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Houston was among the greatest singers of the 1980s and 1990s. She grew up surrounded by gospel and soul music legends like Franklin and Warwick. Her landmark hits brought R&B and gospel touches into pop music’s mainstream.After her debut, her popularity grew exponentially with her second album, “Whitney” (1987), with all four singles - “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, “So Emotional”, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” - hitting No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Whitney was a trail blazer.In the 1980, at a time when MTV(Music Television) was gaining grounds, it received harsh criticism for not playing enough videos by black artists. With Michael Jackson breaking down the color barrier for black male artists, Houston did the same for black female artists. Whitney Houston became the first black female artist to receive heavy rotation on the network following the success of the "How Will I Know" video. This opened doors for more female black artistes.Her 30-year career that peaked with her 1992 signature hit “I Will Always Love You” paved the way for a generation of singers that followed her.

According to the Guinness Book of records, Houston was the most awarded female artist of all time, with two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. She held the all-time record for the most American Music Awards of any female solo artist and shared the record with Michael Jackson for the most AMAs ever won in a single year with eight wins in 1994.Houston won a record 11 Billboard Music Awards at its fourth ceremony in 1993. She also had the record for the most WMAs won in a single year, winning five awards at the 6th World Music Awards in 1994.

Whitney Houston also excelled as an actress, acting in, The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale and Preacher's Wife. Her first acting role was as the star of the feature film The Bodyguard (1992). The film's original soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Its lead single "I Will Always Love You", became the best-selling single by a female artist in music history. With the album, Houston became the first act (solo or group, male or female) to sell more than a million copies of an album within a single week period.

From America to Asia to Australia to Europe and her roots, Africa, Whitney Houston's music brought joy to many. The musician, who started by singing in her church choir as a little girl and teenager was mentored by her mother, also a singer(gospel), Cissy Houston; and influenced by her cousins, Dionnie and Deedee Warwick and her adopted aunt, singer, Aretha Franklin.

Whitney, like all of us was not perfect, she faced various challenges like alcoholism, drugs and difficult relationships and marriage. She lived through them and was honest and genuine in the face of it. She died at a time many thought she was getting back on track.

Music was her life. Though her life was cut short at 48, while her music career blossomed, she was on top of her game. Her music lives on. She utilized her talent to the fullest and her passion for what she did was legendary, of which the records she set and the numerous awards she won testifies.

Goodbye Whitney!

Picture, courtesy: MTV, time.com, bellanaija, ukmix.org

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Magical Chipolopolo of Zambia






Right from the onset of the 2012 Confederation of African Football(CAF), African Cup of Nations(AFCON) hosted by Equitorial Guinea and Gabon, followers of African football can attest to zeal and commitment of the 'Chipolopolo,' the Zambian national team. Though they played good football but many lovers of African football never believed that the uncolourful side, lacking big players and stars would make it to the finals of the competition not to talk of lifting the trophy; outwitting the tournament favourites, Ghana and Ivory Coast who are strong forces in African football.

Like their name, 'chipolopolo' which means copper bullets.The Zambian players who are little known, except for their long standing dedicated captain, Chris Katongo(Most Valuable Player of the 2012 AFCON), pelted the Ghanain and Ivorian teams with bullets, even 'shooting out' the biggest African players such as Asamoah Gyan, John Mensah, Didier Drogba and current African footballer of the year, Yaya Toure in the semi-finals and finals of the competition. The Zambian footballers had played together for several years, the likes of Chris Katongo, Kennedy Mweena, Joseph Musonda, Rainford Kalaba, Clifford Mulenga and others having played in the last four CAF African Nation's cup.This enabled them to understand themselves and play as a team instead of appearing as a disjointed side with players of individual brilliance.

Indeed, this underdog players proved book makers and analysts wrong. They do not need to be playing top-flight football in Europe and parade six figure earning players who have won many laurels before they can get to the top of African football.

While their story is a testimony of dedication, determination and a 'never say never spirit,' the pains that entire Zambian nation felt in April, 1993 after they lost a generation of promising footballers of the national team in an air crash soon after the air craft conveying 30 passengers including 18 players exploded after taking off from a stop in the Gabon capital of Libreville en route a world cup qualifying game with Senegal. 19 years after, the memories of the huge loss was still at the back of the mind of Zambians including the chipolopolo players, many of whom were school boys when the sad event occurred.

Zambia played all three group games, plus its quarterfinal and semifinal of the 2012 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea. They needed to get to the finals in order to play in Libreville, Gabon, just miles away from the spot where they lost their 1993 squad.

“There was just something about it,” goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene said. “With the tournament being here in Gabon we wanted to take part to honor those who were lost to our country. That made it extra special.”

“We could only get to Libreville by reaching the final, so we did it,” Coach Herve Renard told the Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson after an upset 1-0 win against Ghana in the semifinal. “There is something written that we have to go to play to honor the memories of the Zambia national team that died in 1993. It was catastrophic for the nation. The 12 million people of Zambia are waiting for us to go back to Libreville; immediately after we arrive, we will go to the place.”

And the Chipolopolo of Zambia, not only played in the finals of the 2012 AFCON in Libreville, Gabon; they took out time to visit the site of the 1993 crash, said prayers, laid flowers and derived some strength. To cap it all they lifted the the trophy of the competition that shows the best of African football. They wiped the tears their nation shed 19 years ago by tenaciously playing out their hearts on the pitch and wining after a penalty shoot out with Ivory Coast.

“This is magical, magical,” yelled striker Emmanuel Mayuka, one of only two Zambian players to ply his trade in Europe. The players knelt down forming a circle, sang praises and offered a prayer of thanksgiving immediately after they emerged victorious in the penalty shootout. Coach Renard carried injured Joseph Musonda in his arms from the sides and placed him beside other players to join in the prayers. Musonda shed tears when substituted in the early minutes of the finals after he sustained an injury. It was the most important game in his long standing career.

The players celebrated and hugged their mentor and 1993 veteran Kalusha Bwalya(the only member of the 1993 squad whose life was spared because he chose to fly from his base to join the squad for the game before the ill-fated air crash), now president of the nation’s soccer federation.

In one of the most touching moments of the final, Zambian coach Hervé Renard gave his winners medal to Zambian FA president Kalusha Bwalya. The Football Association of Zambian(FAZ) president, Kalusha Bwalya had implemented a long term vision, poling players from the under 20 and Under 23 sides to form the core of players of the future. He was undaunted by first round eliminations in the 2006 and 2008 AFCON. Today, his original four year plan for success has paid off.

Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene of Free State Stars in South Africa, strikers Emmanuel Mayuka of Swiss side Young Boys and CAF Player of the tournament Christopher Katongo from Henan FC in China were named into the team. TP Mazemba defender, Stoppila Sunzu was also named in the team. Mayuka also won the 2012 Africa Cup top scorers award on three goals based on assists.

The Zambian national football team moved 23 places up in the current Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) ranking to the 43rd in the world and 4th in Africa behind Ivory Coast, Ghana and Algeria.

Indeed the victory of the Chipolopolo of Zambia would remain one of those magical moments in African football.

Picture, courtesy: Associated Press


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Let Our Children Dream Again


Today, I choose to dwell my thoughts on children. The leaders of tomorrow-the future! The reason many parents run helter skelter everyday to make ends meet. They allow us see the good side of life and take each day with a smile. They are gifts from God.

Children are the often forgotten prides of a nation. They are the reason why governments of nations should consider the long time effects of their policies. But, sadly many world leaders especially those in the third world often forget about them in the scheme of things.

No wonder you do not need to look out of you car to see them hovering all around you at major roads whenever your car is forced to slow down because of potholes or traffic congestion. They stick their wares right into your car if your windows are open, urging you to buy their goods. And in the course of trying to exchange your money for their goods, if your driver is impatient and accelerates the car, you see them chasing the car to collect their money or catch it if it is thrown out from a high vehicle.

But I choose not to dwell my thoughts on sour experiences of children. My mind darts back to some merry experiences I had as a child. One that I look back and say, “If any child can dream big dreams and believe it, he or she can ‘work it’ and achieve it irrespective of challenges.” Then, we were still boys and we were proud that either one or both of our parents were staff of Federal School of Arts and Science, Ogoja.

We played football on the roads near the college’s sports centre. Two remnants from broken cement blocks placed ten paces of my foot apart formed the goal posts. They occupied the spots that the upright of a goal post would have been. Giggling, panting, focusing, kicking and aiming we chased around the round rubber which we fondly called flying carpet. We had no choice but to use the roads as our elder ones played their soccer games on the pitch nearby.

Nicknaming ourselves, we took names of local stars in our area or big stars we admired and this made us feel on top of the world. Hence, we screamed as we ran around the portion of the road serving as a soccer pitch calling out our adopted names. Popular names like Pele, Etim Esin, Goalkeeper Chukwuma, Shumaker, Maradona, Ruggeri, Chairman Christian Chukwu, Sam Okwaraji and other identities of reigning football stars and legends rent the air. The two opposing sides in the games were distinguished by those who wore shirts and those who wore none.

We abruptly stopped the soccer game when there was an oncoming car or motorcycle. If someone we liked was in the car, we saluted and cheered him or her, if it were someone we disliked we simply frowned or booed. Those who never allowed their kids to join us in a game, or those we considered stingy or strict never got our salutation. This added to the excitement as we played football with all our hearts on the road.

I could remember the day I sat on the gutter, close to a major road where boys often played soccer in the evening with a school mate in the Unity school I later attended. We talked about soccer stars and the big club sides and he clearly stated his desire for a big break, he said, “Okey, I dream of the day that I will play in the World cup, I love the quality of football there...I tell you, I will play in the World Cup one day”. He shook his head as he made that comment and I could see the burning passion in his eyes. Something in me believed him as I could recollect how he shined in soccer even back in our Primary school days.

I almost shed tears with joy when I saw the same schoolmate of mine, Bartholomew Ogbeche, in the starting line up of the Super Eagles in the Japan-Korea 2002 FIFA World cup game against Argentina. In a flash, I remembered that fateful afternoon. I saw a dream born, I saw a dream lived. Bartho, as we fondly call him may not be in the Super Eagles line up at the moment but he will always be a motivation. With such a zeal that catapulted him to stardom, I do not doubt his ability to bounce back to the highest echelon of soccer in the nearest future.

There are many children out there with dreams. But most of their dreams die and they fail to dream again because they are either talked out of it or fail to go far in its pursuit because of difficulties.

In our African society where mediocre leadership continues to exist, the future of our children is continually jeopardized. And their lives become full of turmoil as global population increases in our fast changing world.

Imagine a world without children. It will be a place where we would lack the innocence and cheerfulness of infants. It would be a world that would be devoid of continuity. It would be a boring place.

The challenge today, is for you and I. Let us become more interested in the plight of disadvantaged children. Let us show them a little kindness. A word of encouragement, taking out time to review their school work with them, teaching them good manners, giving them a gift that would add value to them would not cost us too much.

By doing so, we would be sowing good seeds into their future and it would be a step in tackling the woes of our children.

This post is part of a series inspired by the Prevent Abuse of Children Today (PACT) campaign, hosted by Stepping Stones Nigeria. Please add your name to the PACT petition to prevent abuse of innocent children in the Niger Delta and visit the site to find out more: www.makeapact.org