Permit me to begin this weeks column with a small aside. One of the things that I learnt from my late father, Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode and my leader, President Olusegun Obasanjo, is that one must never respond to the ignorant, the uncouth, the uncultured, the unlettered, the unrefined and the accursed.
They also taught me never to join issues with the embittered, the obsessed, the scorned in love, the imbecilic, the foolish, the living-dead and those that are emotionally, psychologically and intellectually challenged. Rather than a response, such sad and sorry souls are deserving only of our prayers and our pity.
It is in this context and through this prism that I view those that have of late taken pleasure in peddling the most shameful, disgusting and reprehensible type of falsehood about me and mine. Joining issues with such vermin is far below me. I do not have the time for it and I refuse to wallow in the pigsty with them. Instead I leave them to God and I pray that He visits His judgement upon them at the soonest.
They are like the stubborn fly that insists on following the corpse into the grave- the stench of death stalks them and they shall eat the bread of sorrows. Now let us get back to today’s topic which is titled ”The Way Of The Eagle, The Lion and The King”.
Eagles do not hide when they see a storm gathering, lions do not retreat when the enemy threatens and kings do not run when they hear the sound of battle. Rather the eagle flies boldly into the eye of the storm without a trace of fear but with power, majesty, grace and passion. The lion rises and roars with courage and strength as his adversary approaches.
The king does not yield one inch of the field to the enemy but rather he boldly leads his captains and princes into the thick of the battle. This surely is our calling and the essence of our lives. The Lord has given us the spirit of the eagle and the lion: the spirit of the warrior and the king. We cannot and will not be intimidated by anything, any circumstance or anyone and least of all by what we see, feel or hear.
And why should we be afraid of mere mortals, for what is man? The bible asks,”who art thou o man?” It then answers its own question by saying “thou art as the grass that withers, thou art as the flower that fadeth……..a man that is born of woman, that is today and tomorrow is no more.” Indeed that is all we are before God- withering flowers and fading grass that will one day come to an end. His word says it is He alone that has the power to “give life and to kill”. If we die tomorrow it is by His will and if we live tomorrow it is by His grace.
We must therefore humble ourselves before God and know that He alone rules in the affairs of men and determines the destiny of nations. We must fear God alone and we must strive to be the man (or woman) that He has called us to be- a prince of Heaven, a deliverer of his people, a fearless warrior and a worthy king. One of the characteristics of such a leader and king is the courage and ability to fearlessly rise up to the occasion and speak out when faced with evil, injustice and oppression. This can hardly be disputed.
Yet some people still have their reservations and often ask the following questions- ”why should we speak out? Why should we bother? What difference will it make? Why should we risk our lives? Why should we swim against the tide? Why should we bother fighting against the government or the authorities because we can never win?” These are deep and difficult questions but thankfully Dante Alighieri provided the answer to some of them when he wrote that ”the hottest place in hell is reserved for those that remain neutral in times of great moral crisis”.
This is not only true but it is also deeply profound. There is no gainsaying that when good men remain silent evil thrives in the land. That is why it saddens me when some people suggest that we should not talk about our challenges and that we should not speak out and protest against the evil and injustice that thrives in our land. Imagine what it would have been like if people had adopted that attitude all over the world and throughout the ages. What a disaster it would have been for us all. A few examples will suffice.
If people did not speak out and protest, we would still have had slavery all over the world today. If people did not speak out and protest, we would not have had democracy in the world today. If people did not speak out and protest, fascism and Hitler’s Nazis would have been alive and well today and the Aryan race would have been ruling the world with an iron fist.
If people did not speak out and protest, we would still have had the evil of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe today and worse still the communists may well have been controlling most of our planet by now. If people did not speak out and protest, a black man would not be the President of the United States of America today.
If people did not speak out and protest, every country in Africa would still be a grovelling colony today. If people did not speak out and protest, apartheid and the Boers would still have been enthroned and in power in South Africa today. If people did not speak out and protest, ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Al Shabab and Boko Haram would have taken over half of the world by today.
If people did not speak out and protest, there would have been no State of Israel or Jewish homeland today. If people did not speak out and protest, Iran would have possessed and would most likely have used nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction by today.
If people did not speak out and protest, vicious military dictatorships and unaccountable military tyrants would still have been ruling most of Africa today.
If people didn’t speak out and protest, the great monotheist faiths of Christianity, Islam and Judaism would never have been established and the world would still have been controlled by pagans, cannibals, cultists and devil worshipers till today.
If people did not speak out and protest, there would not have been a separation of power between the church and the state till today. If people did not speak out and protest, there would have been no freedom of worship today and neither would there have been any freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to share information or freedom to communicate: there would have been no civil liberties, no human rights, no right to vote and no equality of the sexes in the world till today.
If people did not speak out and protest, the United States of America would never have been founded and established as an independent nation state and she could never have become the great and powerful country that she is today.
If people did not speak out and protest, Great Britain, France, Russia and indeed the whole of Europe would still be ruled by a handful of autocratic and indolent royal families till today. If people did not speak out and protest, Africa would still be in the dark ages till today and we would still have been drowning twins at birth and selling one another into slavery. I could go on and on.
The point is that we must speak out strongly and protest against injustice and evil whenever and wherever we see it. That is why we were educated in the first place and that is what being a believer or a man or woman of faith is all about.
Dissenting, protesting and standing up for the rights of the weakest and most vulnerable in our society, even at the risk of death or our liberty, is the lifeblood of any decent and civilised community. As Martin Luther King once said, ”if we are not ready to die for something then we are not fit to live for anything”. Speaking out against injustice and vigorously opposing the abuse of power, wickedness in high places, governmental incompetence, tyranny and evil is the greatest duty that we have to posterity and to one another as human beings.
It is a sacred duty- a trust and obligation before the Living God who has explicitly commanded us in His Holy Word to ”resist evil” and to ”fight injustice”. The minute we stop talking, we stop protesting and we stop speaking out against that which is unjust and evil, that is when we are truly lost as a people. That is when we cease to be the men and women that God has ordained us to be. That is when we no longer deserve to be called human beings. That is when we must bow our heads in shame forever.