By Osa Mbonu-Amadi, Arts Editor
In keeping with the tradition which I established almost six years ago (from February 2017) when I became the editor of these arts pages, I am inspired to tell a true-life story which I have been itching to tell in the last five years but haven’t been able to for some reasons. I also believe that the story I am about to tell will bless a lot of people who are going to read it, and perhaps help them make some New Year resolutions.
I am a very happy man, perhaps the happiest person on earth. I am happy so, because my happiness is not rooted in materials things. After all, I am struggling financially. By God’s grace, I have the things I value most in life, and they are not material things.
The year 2022 was significant for me in two respects. One, by God’s grace, in 2022, I fulfilled a lifelong but elusive ambition. I became a Doctor of Philosophy in an academic discipline I cherish. Two, in 2022, I finally succeeded in repenting from murdering animals or being an accomplice by continuing to eat meat. I also stopped eating fish. So, I became a vegan, not for any health reason, but on the grounds of compassion for animals. I have always been disgusted with the violence I see in nature, and I know, from the Bible which I believe in, that God didn’t originally plan his creation to be filled with violence. I will expound on that in another essay.
Around December 2016 when I was admitted to the Lagos State University to pursue the PhD program, I met someone, a very brilliant person who became my friend. We came to LASU to run the same PhD program. He has a PhD now, so, let’s just call him Dr. B which is the first alphabet of his name. Dr. B came in as a full PhD candidate because he had up to 4.00 Grade Point Average, GPA, in his Masters. I started as an M.Phil./PhD candidate because my Masters GPA was less than 4.00. Incidentally, Dr. B and I did our masters at the same university, although I was a year or two ahead of him.
One day, I narrated to Dr. B my friend, how I, who was on top of my class, ended up with a GPA less than 4.00 in my M.Sc. I told him how I had gone to the office of the then coordinator of Post Graduate program at the university where we did our masters, in search of information about my GPA shortly after we finished the masters program. My M.Sc. supervisor, a US-based lecturer who was in the university on sabbatical, had advised me to apply for a scholarship in his university in the belief that I was brilliant enough to win it. So, while writing the proposal for the scholarship, I needed to quote my GPA somewhere. That was what took me to the office of the PG program coordinator. Let’s call the PG program coordinator Dr. A, using the first letter of his name too.
When I got to Dr. A’s office that day, he wasn’t in the school, but his secretary was there. So, I desperately explained to the secretary what I wanted. Out of sympathy, she opted to help by giving me in confidence, a photocopy of the result compilation for my set. It saddened me to learn that I was given a GPA of 3.98. I told my friend, Dr. B, that I suspected a foul play, because I knew myself and how hard I had worked.
Dr. B asked me the name of the PG program coordinator, and I mentioned Dr. A’s name. Dr. B screamed. He said he could swear with his life, based on what Dr. A did to his own result, that I must have had up to 4.00 GPA. Then Dr. B went on to tell me his story:
“One day, my lecturer friend, Dr. S asked me about my religious faith,” said Dr. B, “and I told him I was a Christian. He said I should hold on tight to the God I serve. Usually, Dr. A, after compiling the M.Sc. results, hands them over to Dr. S for submission to the Examination Board. So, that year, Dr A finished compiling the results and handed over to Dr. S.
“A few weeks later, Dr. A went back to Dr. S, confessing that he did something wrong, which he needed to correct. He asked Dr. S to give him back the results which he had submitted to him two weeks ago. Dr. S refused. ‘You had those results for more than two months. Now, after turning them in, you came back to say you want to retrieve them. I won’t allow that. Do you want to put me in trouble or something?’ Dr. S asked Dr. A. Dr. A left Dr. S’ office for that day.
“The following morning when Dr. S came to work, he was shocked to find Dr. A sitting outside his office waiting for him. As soon as Dr. S opened his office door, Dr. A came in and started saying the same things he said the previous day. He even knelt down, begging Dr. S to give the compiled results back to him. Dr. S was both alarmed and embarrassed. ‘If I may ask, what is it you want to correct in the result you have submitted to me?’ Dr. S asked him.
Then, “Dr. A dropped the bombshell. ‘There is a student who scored 4.00 GPA, but out of hatred, I cut some points out of his result, just to keep him below 4 points!’” That student was Dr. B, my friend and course mate!
Dr. S could not believe it. He no longer trusted Dr. S. It must be a plan to rope me in, Dr. S thought and tried to walk Dr. A out of his office. But Dr. A knelt down again, this time, holding Dr. S’ clothe. Dr. S himself started shaking because he had known Dr. A for a long time, and what he was doing at that time and since the previous day was incongruent with his character.
Dr. A briefly went to his office and returned to Dr. S’ office with the exam scripts of the student bearing all the marks he scored in the exam, just to prove to Dr. S that he was not lying. Dr. S became tired. ‘Look, the only way I can allow this is for you to follow me to the exam board comprising the Dean, and explain all these things to them,’ Dr. S told him.
‘I am ready to do so, and I want it immediately,’ Dr. A replied. So, Dr. S went to the Dean’s office immediately and convened a meeting of the Board of Examiners. Dr. A went there and told them everything he did, asking for forgiveness. He was forgiven, and the student’s GPA was restored to 4.00!
That was how the student, my friend, now Dr. B, came to LASU with 4.00 GPA that qualified him for a straight PhD.
Two weeks later, Dr. A died!
The battle is not yours. When Pharoah and his Egyptian army pursued the children of Israel to the Red Sea, the Bible recorded that Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:13-14).
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
In our personal lives, and as citizens of this troubled Nigeria, God will fight for us, especially on February 2023. For the Egyptians whom we see today, we shall see again no more forever, in Jesus’ name!
POSTSCRIPT: I drafted the following pieces for the Vanguard editorial page of Friday, December 23, 2022, and December 25, 2019. For a reason, the first was not published. The second one had already been published on December 25, 2019. I hereby serve you the dish. The two pieces have the same theme. Enjoy them:
Remember, Jesus was born in a manger
Given that Jesus is the reason for the annual season of Christmas that climaxes this year on Sunday, December 25, 2022, humanity must not lose sight of the fact that love is the overriding attribute of the person whose birth the world is celebrating.
Christ’s abundant love for mankind is so visible, even to those without deep knowledge of Him. But Christ’s love is not limited to mankind. His love extends to nature – animals, plants, water, mountains, etc.
And of course, we must not forget that Jesus was born in a manger, a shelter for animals, because no room was available in Bethlehem where accommodation was sought for his mother whose pregnancy was due.
So, apart from the few humans around the manger, animals were the first acquaintances of baby Jesus. That love for animals was to continue throughout His earthly ministry. One of the dominant images of Jesus are those that depict him as a good shepherd carrying a lamb across his shoulders.
The Scripture teaches us that the peace in nature was ruptured by sin. According to the Bible, in the Garden of Eden, humans and all animals lived in peace until sin came, and with it, violence. We began to tear one another into pieces, first as preys, in violation of God’s instruction when He said in Genesis 1:29-30: “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food…”
Nevertheless, from Isaiah 11:6-11, we learn of God’s plan to restore peace in all his creations: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them…They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain…”
As Jesus loves animals, so does he love other aspects of nature. Often, he went into the mountains and on the sea to commune with nature and pray.
Although one may argue that it was the law of the jungle – kill or be killed – that necessitated humans to prey on animals. If that is true, then we must also agree that man has conquered and won that battle with animals and nature millions of years ago.
The question now is, how fair has man’s rule over animals and nature been? Weighed on environmental scale, it will not be wrong to submit that man has been the worst kind of dictator ever.
We have not been magnanimous in victory, and we can all see where our unbridled violence against nature has landed us – climate change, resulting in extreme weather conditions, floodings, tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides, desert encroachment, soil erosions, loss of biodiversity resulting in loss of genetic capitals, novel diseases, epidemics, pandemics, etc.
However, in this compassionate philosophy, we must recognise the commendable strides some people have made, especially in the western world. For instance, there are 44,288 organisations that promote animal welfare in the United States alone. These organisations employ 135,196 people, earn more than $12 billion in revenue each year, and have a total asset of $29 billion.
Christmas, which typifies Christ’s love for all God’s creations, is an opportunity for us to reassess our relationship with nature, especially with animals. It is a time to make a decision to treat nature with a little bit of love in this part of our world, knowing that it will all come back to us.
For those who aspire to go to heaven, treating nature with love in this world is to be complaint to the Kingdom of God. From all of us at Vanguard, we wish you merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Merry Christmas, Mother Earth!
December 25, 2019
WE are dedicating this year’s hearty Christmas wishes to Mother Earth and all its living inhabitants: mankind, animals and plants.
This is our own unique way of calling special attention to the bleak future the Earth and her precious resources face unless we urgently join efforts to pull her back from the brink of imminent disaster.
In the true tradition of the Yuletide season which climaxes today, December 25 every year, the entire world, irrespective of religion, location and creed is wrapped up in the frenzy of buying, selling and getting prepared for the ultimate celebration of joy and hope as symbolised by the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Christian faithful will top off the celebrations in their churches to mark the 2019th anniversary of this divine birth.
Millions of people across the world have reunited with their families and communities to reaffirm common bonds of brotherhood and engage in myriads of festivities.
However, we are calling attention to the need for special thoughts to be dedicated to (a), the reason for the season and (b), the survival of Mother Earth.
The joy of Christmas is embedded in the advent of Christ, the source of reconciliation, forgiveness and hope for redemption as encapsulated in the Christian scriptures.
This celebration will never be complete unless we remember to share our blessings and goodwill with our neighbours irrespective of their ethnic origins or religious persuasions.
Most importantly, we must extend kindness, love and generosity to the less-privileged. Without these our celebration is empty.
We must also pay attention to the hue and cry about climate change and the great dangers the world we live in faces. On September 23, 2019 the headquarters of the United Nations, UN, hosted a universal gathering entitled: “Climate Action Summit 2019: A Race We Win, A Race We Must Win”.
The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, cried: “We are losing the race. Climate change is running faster than we are. This is getting worse by the day”.
People of the world have no choice but to jointly commit to preventing the mean temperature of the earth from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
We must limit the emission of greenhouse gases (especially hydrocarbons) while promoting renewable energy sources. If we fail to make this effort the climate balance will tip over and make life for all living things on earth nasty, brutish and short.
Our young people should wake up and join their peers around the world, rally and force our governments to join in efforts to save the Earth and ensure that future Christmas and other festivals will continue to be joyous for all.
Merry Christmas to you all, but celebrate responsibly!
The post NEW YEAR ESSAY: The Lord will fight for you appeared first on Vanguard News.
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