“May Your Roads Be Rough”. That was the title of a controversial article by the late Nigerian educationist and social critic, Tai Solarin. It was a New Year massage in which he wished the reader plenty of troubles, plenty of obstacles and tough challenges. He wished the reader a rough, bumpy road in the New Year. For those who interpreted his wish to mean a curse, he asked them to wish him the same. For Tai Solarin, only rough roads lead to great progress, great accomplishments and a prominent place of mention in history’s hall of fame. Great men traveled through rough roads. But their accomplishments justified their pain.
Rough Roads. Tai Solarin seems to be echoing Robert Frost who wrote a poem in 1916, titled, The Road Not Taken. It reads:
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was greasy and wanted wear
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads onto way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by;
And that has made all the difference.
The persona took the road less traveled, a path less trodden; perhaps with thorns and grasses that tore into his skin. He was bruised and bloodied. But he kept on the rough road. At last “that has made all the difference”! He is happy he took the rough road and not the smooth path chosen by the multitude; the smooth path that is too easy, too used that it leads to no hidden treasures, too comfortable that it is sans glory. The rough road is chosen by only the few, the elect, the brave-hearted adventure-some who know that precious stones must go through the furnace or be condemned to their base, blunt, and banal form and fail to grace the necks, wrists, fingers, heads, ears and even noses, navels and toes of potentates, principalities and powers of great kingdoms, crème de la crème of society, the rich and powerful; the bold, the brave, the beautiful; the luscious, sumptuous buxom and personable perfect specimens that conquer the hearts of warriors, princes, the powerful and even plebs.
Rough Road. It is the familiar path of the mighty and famous. It has been from ancient days the lot of men and women who have defined world history, those we wish we were. But we couldn’t be them because it is in our nature as ordinary people to live in the peace of our comfort zones rather than exert ourselves and dare the perilous world of the unknown.
Rough Road. Abraham (born Abram) was called by God and told to leave his country, his people and his household and go to a promised land, a land he had never been. An unbeaten path, a rough road. But the road eventually led him to not just the promised land but also a prominent place in history, to last for eternity which is the longest time there is – as well as mention around the world daily, for all times.
Rough Road. Moses, having survived threats of death at birth, miraculously became a prince in the household of Pharaoh who sought his liquidation. But rather than enjoy the pleasures of Egypt with undiluted comfort, ease of life and assurance of anything that caught his fancy, he chose the rough road and began what would become one of the greatest supernatural commissions and struggle there ever was and perhaps ever will be in human history. Moses, through the rough road earned himself a comfortable place in history. Even his people for whose good he set out on the enervating ride through rough roads, almost abandoned him and made reference to their jolly pleasures in slavery back in Egypt! Such was the pain Moses had to bear traveling his rough road.
Rough Road. Jesus Christ left his heavenly glory and came to earth to endure humiliation by the plebeian with the connivance of pliable Roman officials. His rough road led to his crucifixion but through it earned a greater glory than he left in heaven and by his vicarious sacrifice that gave salvation, became for billions of believers, the Advocate, Redeemer and Messiah. Paul, who was perhaps the greatest Apostle of Christ, traveled the rough road. So did Napoleon, Alexander The Great and Julius Ceasar – the greatest soldiers the world has ever known.
Rough Road. It was the choice of many many more remarkable men and women in ancient and modern history who though lived in days long past, are for us today role models whose lives were in themselves landmarks of history. Like our own Nelson Mandela.
Rough Road. The great King Jaja of Opobo started life as an ordinary boy in an obscure community. He was stolen and sold into slavery. But he would distinguish himself and secure relative freedom from his owners and later walk the rough road to kingship and international acclaim almost a century before CNN.
Rough Road. Professor Kay Williamson was born into wealth and power. Royal blood flowed in her veins. But rather than live in the comfort she was guaranteed by her environment all her life, she chose the rough road. The passion to serve and help burned in her bones and led her to Africa, to a remote community in Nigeria called Kaiama which lacked even the least of conveniences and infrastructure that were taken for granted in her native Hereford, in England. She chose the rough road, braved mosquitoes that were the nemesis of white residents in Africa and adopted Kaiama as her community; she developed the language (Ijo) and lifted hundreds from poverty to plenty, from weakness to power, from ignorance to knowledge, from pain to gain, from shame to fame, from lack to laughter. She gave scholarships, built houses for the homeless and gave succour to the hurting. She trained students (some are now distinguished professors), gave scholarships to the indigent, and helped provide jobs for the unemployed. She gave even onto death. Her collection of over 40,000 volumes of books she donated to libraries in her will to help the ignorant gain knowledge. And her heart was in Africa; in her will she chose to be buried in her adopted community, kaiama. She chose the rough road and through that found the path to heaven and to the hearts and minds of millions whose lives she touched.
Rough Road. His Royal Highness, Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye lived his life fighting the cause of the oppressed minority. He was induced (a euphemism for “bribed”) to abandon the struggle. But he would not be bought. He was threatened with bodily harm. But that would not sway him. He held tenaciously to his goal and compelled even colonial authorities to provide protection for the minorities, on the eve of Nigeria’s political independence. His efforts culminated in the Willink’s Commission on Minority Rights. But he never relented until the Regional geo-political structure which he believed worked against the minorities, was pulled down to give way to states. Even so, he focused his energies on the Niger Delta question and championed their cause until his last breath. Biriye traveled the rough road. … Read More