GBAGYI UNITY: NOT JUST A DREAM
GEORGE S. KOCE
Please permit me to commence this discourse with two axioms which I consider pertinent. The first by Martin Luther King Junior is a warning when he says that “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” The other by an anonymous author is a caution which states that “The symbol in Chinese for crisis is made up of two ideographs (sign or symbol): one means danger, the other means opportunity. This symbol is a reminder that we can choose to turn a crisis into an opportunity or into a negative experience.” These maxims are highly instructive.
While considering the topic “Gbagyi Unity” a number of isues came to mind. My first consideration is peeping into the minds of my readers on their expectations and the dangers of playing to the gallery. After some introspection, the general thinking is that unity amongst Gbagyi was pathetic which was indispensable to their liberation from all sorts and forms of poverty and ignorance. Beyond this, is the conviction that Gbagyi people have a great future if they became dogged in sacrificial pursuit of unity amongst and between themselves. For this, the need to say it the way it is as much as possible became inevitabile.
Oma agbagyi aje (my fellow Gbagyi peoples), this is an opportunity to share my inner feelings, thinking and worries and if possible stimulate as well as awaken some sense of patriotism amongst Gbagyi peoples. If the discussions impel Gbagyi people to examine and appreciate themselves as well as accept other people’s perception, opportunities would have been unlocked to attaining Gbagyi unity. To my mind, by the time we are able to laugh at and deride ourselves who knows that might be our rubicon for the better. If in the course of our discourse our conscience is pricked and at the end a much more robust discussion commences towards the emergence of Gbagyi National Unity I assure you that I would be fulfilled.
THE PAINFUL TRUTH ABOUT GBAGYI MAN
At this juncture, permit me to highlight some plausibly general hard truths about Gbagyiman. Among these are;
- Gbagyi peoples tend to have created the feeling and seem to have accepted that unity amongst them is hopeless.
- The greater proportion of Gbagyiman’s time is expended on lamentation, self-pity and discouraging others directly or vicariously.
- They easily surrender when faced with a challenge. Indeed they tend to give up even when problems are only being envisaged.
- When examined against leadership qualities of vision, indomitable spirit of sacrifice, self denial, positive dreaming there is a yawning leadership vacuum.
- They are generally plausibly bereft of a conscious, supportive and determined followership as mentorship culture is virtually nonexistent.
- Gbagyi peoples level and extent of exposure, experience and indeed network is highly restricted.
Relative to the preceding, permit me to at this juncture to extensively lift from a piece posted on the face book about Gbagyiza. It reads thus;
The typical Gbagyi is affable and industrious, can be the ideal neighbor for any peace loving person. They are also deeply religious. They are very hard working, especially the women folk and do not look for trouble. They are also deeply religious.
Gbagyi, despite the trends of modernity, still retain an appealing simplicity which is not enticed by the lure of wealth and glamour: Their women are simply dressed in their traditional wrappers and for some, blouse even their young maiden, and of course the elderly men who are equally not dressed flamboyantly. Only their young men appear to be caving into modern way of life through their more glamorous life style.
Gbagyi are cultured and give respect to everyone they come across. They are not proud, and at the same time they are not to be taken for granted. You give them their respect and they respect you in return. As long as you do not stop them from going to their farms, they keep out of their way too.
Members of the tribe can be found in five states of Nigeria: Kaduna, Niger, Kogi, Nasasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory. Though not clustered, but viewed to be occupying the fifth most populated tribe in Nigeria. The Gbagyi is regarded as an ancient culture which is comparable in age and beauty to the Nok culture in Kaduna State. They have remained relatively unaffected by the attraction of modernity. Interestingly their women are known for carrying loads only on their shoulders. This has been an olden tradition which is strictly adhered to by all Gbagyi children till date. They believe that the head is the most sacred part of the body, which is already saddled with the task of thinking for the whole body, and therefore should not be overburdened.
With the Gbagyi, there is always something to celebrate. Their colorful festivals are performed to mark the burial of their loved ones, marriages, naming ceremonies and others.
A curious examination of this write up highlights some home truths about Gbagyi people a number of them painful. These are that:
- They live more or less an isolated and conservative life style
- They are generally peasants, weak and gullible
- They are exploited by people who keep them weak,
- They live with a temporal time-based perspective
- They plan for defeat rather than preparing for success,
- They are governed by past pains and suffering,
- They have more or less unredeemed eyes that tend to see the worst,
- They spread despair dragging others down.
- They are fundamentally resigned to their fate
- They are overwhelmed by their inadequacies.
BENEFITS OF SELF CONSCIOUSNESS
As bitter as the preceding truths are, I have the belief that knowing oneself constitutes the appropriate starting point towards finding suitable solution. The benefits of painful experiences according to Alan Harris are “Pain kindly wakes up stupidity, lest it slumber through eternity.” Pain, unpleasant as it may be, to a larger extent is ultimately a stern benefactor. From pain one learns vital lessons. Going through pains because of the level and state of unity or disunity provides window of opportunity for soul searching. Gbagyi proverb which states that za gye azhin nu wa che i.e. it is when one suffers/experiences hardship or pain that one gets wiser is helpful. No wonder the common notion that it is usually when we hurt and really need help that opportunity to listen attentively with our mind and heart becomes of essence.
Furthermore, understanding the various sources and causes of disunity amongst Gbayi people cannot be overemphasized. Indeed the identification of various spots of disunity provides a good basis for conscious strategic effort to bury our foolish pride and learn the rudiments in the search of unity.
THE IMPERATIVE FOR UNITY
Unity is a great virtue. It gives strength. One man for example cannot drag a heavy load, but several men can do it easily. If five brothers live in a family separately and do not help one another, the probability is much higher that they may not prosper as they become weak but if there is unity among them, their adversaries will be afraid of them. Indeed quarrel among them provide antagonists with opportunities to harm and even compound their problems. You will also note that drops of water are very little things but when they are collected, they make the vast ocean. This is indeed the case for the grains of sand. Even though very little things, but the vast land is made of them. Furthermore, each grass is not a strong thing, but when a rope is made of them, an elephant can be bound. This is the case for an ant that cannot drag a dead insect or a bit of food but when many of them try together, they can drag it easily.
Invariably union is strength. Where there is unity, every work can be done by its virtue. In history, many nations have become powerful and prosperous by virtue of unity and likewise many nations have become weak for want of unity. The Romans of old for example, were very powerful when there was unity among them. They however lost their power because they lost unity among them. Muslims were able to conquer India because the Indian kings lived in disunity. The English prosperity is also traceable to their unity.
Universally, Unity is a powerful force. Unity can accomplish almost anything on the face of the earth. The united are unstoppable. Unity is a powerful tool for achieving plans and purposes. Where unity is exhibited correctly, according to Adeboye, “Unity is power; the united are adorned with exploits; they achieve what others cannot… if you are united you will stand out; where there is unity, promises will easily be fulfilled; it is unity that turns a crowd or group of people into a team”. Given the preceding undertsnding, tolerance and sacrifices are absolutely inevitable.
It can be next to impossible for an individual to accomplish something grand and epic. However, collectively, there is little that cannot be done. Behind each and every legendary name or brand, there is most often a group of people working together in absolute unity. Great achievers are seldom loners. People who have established themselves in their respective industries are generally those who were able to attract a group of people to believe in their vision and cause. Their exploits and successes were possible through unity.
For purposes of emphasis, let us examine the working of a machine comprised of many parts and components, bolts and nuts. These items are meaningless if they all exist in isolation. These items, each and every one of them, are essential for the larger machine to function effectively. If one small item is missing or unable to perform, the smooth running of that large machine can be affected; it will likely even break down entirely. It does not matter how great each bolt or nut is, what is most important is the greatness of the collective outcome which is produced. In an organisation, there is no room for individualism or heroism. The best choir in the world is not the one which has the best solo singers; it is the one which has the best collective singing.
Unity is most important for success, be it for a family, community, organization, nation or a country, region and indeed humanity. To become more successful in life leadership is inevitable. Without focused, purposeful, determined and transparent drivers i.e. leader’s, unity will remain an illusion. Leadership brings unity, and ultimately success.
First and foremost we must understand and value ourselves. Gbagyi people must come to the appreciate their strengths and weaknesses; they cannot exist nor operate in a vacuum; the necessity to be appropriately identgified and located in the scheme of things; identify and properly categorize existng potentials and gBagyi peoples must start dreaming. Gbagyi peoples must identify and set their goals realistically and pragmatically design strategies to achieve them. It is inevitable to set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound targets and sacrificially as well as diligently pursue a practical course of action.
Constitutional amendments cannot abolish our mentality. Attitudinal change come from within. In this regards, Frederick Douglas’ reflective resolutions having overcome the racial barriers in USA is highly instructive when he says that “I prayed for freedom for 20 years and received no answer, until I prayed with my legs … To educate a man is to make him unfit to be a slave”. In like manner the Gbagyiman must consciously liberate himself from the shackles of all forms of poverty, act with his legs and head, take realistic but determined steps to make himself unfit for his marginalized and isolated situation. Gbagyi people must inevitably take their destiny into their hands now. Now is the time.
The necessity for mental liberated cannot be overemphasized. From share determination, Frederick Douglass an outstanding member of the Abolitionist Movement escaped slavery and spent his life thereafter helping others to do the same. Through determination he broke “steel bars”, rejected his master’s view of himself and educated himself. Through this, he liberated his mind by going to school against all odds and became a free man.Beyond this, he became a forefront abolitionist. Similarly Gbagyi people must consciously locate themselves, reject archetype mentality rebuff misery arising from disorder by deliberately charting a course of action. Like Frederick Douglas, Gbagyi people must resist the self-destructive aspects of their culture even when others say they must accept them. Proverbs 23:7 in this respect raises our consciousness to an instructive axiom which states that “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” The imperative to be positive cannot be underestimated.
Turn melodramatic situation into mellow drama. A careful examination of Gbagyi world view reveals that Gbagyi people generally tend to blow issues out of proportion by making a big deal out of little things. This perspective must change for the better. A closer assessment may bring us to the understanding that our downbeat and insecurity arises from a spiral emanating from our thoughts usually ending in the belief and conviction of hopelessness of Gbagyi unity. In this circumstance, Gbagyi people must beat themselves out of their absorbed thinking of the upset in view of the fact that the more absorbed in negative thinking, the worse the feeling which in turn leads to another and yet another pessimistic thoughts until implausible agitation sets in.
Beyond the preceding, Gbagyi peoples must get convinced that surmounting the challenges of disunity is a matter of the heart. Gbagyi peoples must come to the understanding that where “I” overwhelms the “we” spirit, this compounds the desired sustainable unity spirit. Instructively unity de-emphasizes individuals but emphasizes the group in addition to its advantages of moving individual members of the group up and forward with very little effort. Additionally, unity incorporates protecting equal rights for all, improving human relations, forging healthy relationships, striving for common grounds and mutual benefits and collaborating for the common good. Unity balances freedom and responsibility, integrates individual and collective needs and even uses conflict for creative synergy toward improvement. Inevitably, unity is both a moral imperative and a sound policy.
As much as the preceding is true, it must be understood that it goes along with responsibilities. To effectively attain unity, leadership as well succession plan is inevitable usually closely intertwined with financial, emotional, physical, spiritual and personal costs. Further to the preceding is necessary that leaders must take to heart the inevitability of dreaming, keeping focused, inescapability of sacrifice and tenacity of purpose no matter how incredibly high the price. On the flip side is the fact that leadership efforts will come to nothing unless followership is effectively mobilized, consciously fanatical and committed to their identity, enthusiastically patriotic as well as determined to attaining sustainable Gbagyi Unity. After all abwa tna ajenu bha gyi (it’s is when two hands rub each other that they can become clean) and Ogbe gnu nu kwa fyi bey (It is only when the lips come together in unity that they can whistle).
We cannot make heaven here on earth but we can at least take a positive step in the right direction. We can all rest in the next life but not now. We have a lot to do and everyone must just do his part. Nothing heroic is needed. In the path forward there may be false steps and mistakes but we should not despair in the process. All we have to do is to continually pick ourselves up and move forward. The first virtue needed is appreciating our identity and boldly identifying with our roots. One advantage we can take is the remarkable family and traditional bonding evident in the fact that Gbagyi people no matter what, hark back to their roots where ties to family remain strong and enduring regardless of the many things that divide us. Paradoxically our source and basis of unity comes from our sad experiences. What we need is to maximize benefits from these experiences. Even though there are already many who are doing their part, we need more and more and more efforts and more sacrifices in this direction.
Relative to the preceding, we must be conscious of the fact according to John F. Kennedy that “The unity of freedom has never relied on uniformity of opinion”. And be cognizant of the fact according to Rod Williams that “Weakness is nothing more than an opportunity to grow.” Invariably, Gbagyi people must note and be aware that unity lies in sharing and exchanging ideas, seeing openings, taking advantage and seizing opportunities offered by our weaknesses and challenges. Our challenges can be a source and opportunity for unity if only and if only we individually and collectively resolve to genuinely and sacrificially contribute our own quota in the process with the realization that there are no short cuts to success.
We need unity, discipline and the inevitability to keep that common goal in mind all the time. We can do it. We just must keep our goals in front of us all the time. We must base our decisions on principles and never on the basis of convenience or the ephemeral. Each and every Gbagyiman and woman has a stake in the Gbagyi Unity project. Individuals, groups, associations, communities and indeed the Gbagyi nation must act as if everything depended on them.
Gbagyi people have a story to tell in view of the fact that they are a suffering lot. At this political era the Gbagyiman is confronted with existential threat. This is manifest in apparent divide and rule at the state and Local Government/Area Council levels where Gbagyi people are found. This is manifest in political manipulation, marginalization and isolation traceable to various forms of ignorance and poverty. It is rather unfortunate that due to the unbending and uncompromising attitude to let go off the past and forge ahead, the quest for unity has remained a mirage amongst the Gbagyi people. As a result this has taken its toll as they continue to wallow in economic deprivation, degeneration into political irrelevance and retrogression. Furthermore, in the face of socio-economic balkanization, dialectical irredentism, ego tripping, self adulation, the quest for unity of the Gbagyi people becomes imperative and urgent.
Oma gbagyaje (my fellow Gbagyi peoples), in Albert Einstein’s words let me remind us of the immutable truth of interdependence of human beings when he says;
“When we survey our lives and endeavors, we soon observe that almost the whole of our action and desires is bound up by with the existence of other human beings…we eat food that others have produced, wear clothes that others have made, live in houses that others have built…..The individual is what he is and has the significance that he has not so much in virtue of his individuality, but rather as a member of a great human community, which directs his material and spiritual existence from the cradle to the grave.”
My brothers and sisters, Gbagyi peoples must resolve to take action towards a sustainable unity with a dream because according to Dennis Whitley“… You’ve got to have a dream, if you want to have a dream come true.” This is indeed so because according to James Allen, “…You cannot escape the results of your thoughts. Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain or rise with your thoughts, your vision, and you’re ideal. You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration”.
All said and done, it is the responsibility of the leadership to wake up to some realities of the Gbagyi peoples plight regardless of the dialect, religion, geographic or political location to bridge the existing gaps and engrain social justice. In times like this the role of leaders assumes great importance. Even though most of our leaders have exhibited lack of leadership qualities and virtually devoid of vision, statesmanship and prescience, we should never give up and it is never too late to start something positive. Unless the leaders are endowed with vision, wisdom and courage they cannot see the intense conflict between the dynamic reality and static forms to keep pace with the rapidity of the history. We must be guided by and come to the understanding according to Martin Luther King Junior that, “All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem”.
To my mind, unity is the key to the survival of the Gbagyi. To be liberated from the shackles of deprivation, dispossession, stunted socio-economic growth and lack of political relevance in the polity, Gbagyi peoples must ensure to find a consensus voice for the Gbagyi nation. It is time for the Gbagyi people to say that the unity of the Gbagyi people is not negotiable because in unity, we lose nothing, in unity we gain everything.
Thank you and God Bless
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