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Random Reflections With Okafor: Thank You Very Much, Our Pathfinders

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"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal." – Albert Pike
 
Whatever you have become and any height you have attained or whatever you would be, there are undeniable hands that shaped and made you. And those hands, apart from God and your parents, are worthy of your celebration at all times. 
 
Unfortunately, we hardly appreciate those great hands once our business with them ends; we wrongly think that their contributions, toils and sweat are commiserate with the little token we chipped into their pockets during the course of our tutelage. 
 
Those great hands belong to the most important profession the world can boost of- teaching; but in our clime, their lives are synonymous with wretchedness as a result of under-employment, under payment and government/employers inability to pay them their salaries as at when due. 
 
But we cannot possibly deny the fact that as kids although our parents provided us with shelter, clothing and food, we were actually molded by our teachers. The teachers created the platform which defined our future and indeed provided the utmost food which brightens us today. Little wonder the Great Aristotle chorused: "Those who educate children well are more to be honored than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well."
 
Indeed we derive our breathe from God through our parents who He used as vessels to bring us into this world; and aside the provision of bread, the glory of our success goes to our teachers who took it upon themselves to shape our future just as they impacted western knowledge in us. In reality, their affectionate mentoring, teaching, attention and monitoring were all the ingredients we needed to be great. 
 
Luckily, I have come to hold some facts as true and unquestionable. One of these facts is that our teachers are our greater parents. Although they may not be affluent, they freely gave us gold in form of knowledge, mores and foresight. And the token which our parents paid as our tuition fees pale into insignificance to the pains, discomfort, sweat and commitment which our teachers invested in making us a beautiful generation today. 
 
In a way, what money can compensate for the burdens and toils of changing the diaper and napkins of kids who are not biologically yours in Pre-Nursery and Nursery schools? What tuition fees or gift are enough to numb the hearts of those brave hearts who by-passed accumulation of earthly wealth and volunteered to take care of us as we learnt to speak and took our very first steps as kids? Put in another way, what is the price of lulling kids to sleep by humming sweet lullaby as our teachers did for us in those early days we went to school?
 
As Henry Brooks Adams affirmed, "a teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." In the same vein, Ever Garrison argues that "a teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge and wisdom in the pupils." Interestingly, the work of the teacher does not start and end in Nursery schools; in fact, it actually starts from there and get more strenuous as the day passes. The very first test of the teachers' handiwork comes in form of Common Entrance Examinations. Amidst all our preferences for the playgrounds against the classrooms, in love and dedication the teacher prepares us to emerge with flying colors in our Common Entrance Examinations so that we can graduate into Post-primary schools. 
 
At Post-primary schools, the teachers become more awesome, inspiring, nice and caring as they diligently clip our undesirable traits and replace them with great virtues and unshakeable patriotism. 
 
It was in the Secondary schools that most of us attained puberty age. Away from home with no parental guide, the teachers were there to teach and direct us in love; they taught us how our bodies work but most importantly ingrained in us the supremacy of chastity and godliness. 
 
When Post-primary school days were over, we stepped up into higher institutions of learning to be loved and taught by great minds even though the foundation of our lives had be well laid by those tireless and hard working teachers who taught us in Nursery, Primary and Post-primary schools. 
 
Indeed, the impacts of teachers in making us are enormous; as Carl Jung noted, "One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child." 
 
Thus, I have elected to dedicate this day to my wonderfully beautiful teachers and thank them for all they did for me; you nurtured me into the man I am today and gave me the biceps to philosophize and invariably provide food on my table today.
 
Dear teachers, as role models your patience was unrivalled; your love was immutable; your kind understanding was awesome; your care was so amazingly great and your perseverance in building a man out of a stubborn lad is unmatchable. You gave me confidence, strength and courage; you also propped me to see what I could see. And as candles, you burnt that I might see and be comfortable today. Frankly, I am not sure I can thank you enough for all you did for me. 
 
However, it is my fervent hope and ardent wish that sooner than later, Nigeria would wake up to reality and start rewarding you adequately here on earth as it should be; we cannot continue to urge that the teachers reward is in heaven. No! Our teachers reward must start from earth so that God would have no job paying for our inadequacies and inhumanity to the teacher. Teachers should be properly paid as government functionaries after all the teacher makes us all. 
 
By and large, we need to start cultivating an attitude which is appreciative of our teachers at all times; a little gratitude to those who made us who we are today would not kill us but enlarge our blessings and fortunes. Let us learn to love and appreciate our teachers just as we do love our parents, siblings, friends and families. 
 
A resounding thank you to all my teachers; you are indeed awesome. And whatever be the tide of life, I would always have a word of gratitude for you: a song of blessings and a prayer of best wishes for you always.  
 
God bless you all, my teachers and indeed all teachers. 
 
Man of the Year 2014
 
Just like a dream, 2014 has gone forever and we are lucky to welcome 2015. Indeed 2014 was a year filled with thorns and hooks which inconvenienced the steady sail of the ship of the state: local terrorism grew astronomically and became fearless, our economy starting failing once we rebased it just as unemployment, inequality, crimes, poverty and restiveness threatened to assault the dignity of Nigerians. 
 
But beyond all the challenges and imps of distractions plaguing our advancement, some Nigerians were exemplary and radiated light in 2014 which gave us hope that indeed tomorrow shall be better. 
 
And these Nigerians were led by former Governor Peter Onwubuasi O bi whose tenure in office pulled Anambra from the abyss of plainlessness, rascality, arson, godfatherism and shame into the status of a model state in Nigeria. The success Obi recorded in changing the psyche of his people, combating poverty as well as leaving Anambra State coffers with N85 billion in cash and assets are worthy of commendation and recommendation to all elected and appointed government functionaries in Nigeria. 
 
Also the medical and health staff of First Consultants Hospital led by late Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh may not know what favor they did for Nigeria through the successful pinning down of bio-weaponized Patrick Sawyerr; but we know what they did for us and we cannot thank them enough. Although some of them lost their lives to Ebola Virus Disease in active duty, they were able to save millions of Nigerians through their gallantry. 
 
And our soldiers, intelligence and security operatives who were/are in the field battling to uproot terrorism in Nigeria, words are not enough to describe you. 
 
For showing the light in a country in need of models, Obi, team Adadevoh and soldiers walk away with Random Reflection Man of the Year 2014. And may God continue to give consolation to the families of those gallant Nigerians that lost their lives saving us from terrorism and Ebola and continue to rest the souls of their beloved departed ones in peace.
 
PS: As we welcome 2015 of great promise and fulfillment, this is thanking you for your readership and support all through 2014; may God be with you and beloved one always. And may peace, joy, health, hope, progress, prosperity and best wishes be ours and Nigeria's in the year that is new. 
 
Happy New Year, dear readers!
 
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