SOME OF THE GREAT lessons I have learned in this world are from little children. I watched my 3+ granddaughter, Lizzy, scold her grandmother as they met on the stairway for the first time in the morning. Why? Grandmother had greeted her, “Hello Lizzy.” She replied with a frown of disapproval on her face, like a little headmistress, “Grandma, this is no time for ‘Hello’. ‘It’s Good morning.” That was what she was taught; that was the law and it had to be obeyed. 

“That’s courage,’” I told myself. She was completely oblivious to the age difference and to the person she adored. And fear? Inexistent until we teach them to fear and lie! Grandma was her heroine! This is a total break-away from the traditional Yoruba maxim that it’s rude to tell a very senior person he/she is lying. I faced her and exhorted, “Lizzy, always stand by what you believe. ‘Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. Practise what you teach.” I doubt if she got the full impact of that admonition.

I watched Lizzy as she picked a broom and started to dismember it. This is very dangerous - a child playing with broomsticks. One of the most dreadful domestic injuries is the broomstick injury to the eye. It often leads to blindness after weeks of severe pain despite treatment. I have seen many children lose one or both eyes to the broomstick injury. We use the broom to sweep dirty things and it is possibly one of the dirtiest implements around next to the doorknob. The Broom is a symbol of strength while the broomstick is a symbol of destruction.

I quickly went up to Lizzy, to play with her. “Pick up a broomstick,” I commanded her. She obeyed. She picked up another and yet another until grandma, unable to bear the rapid dismemberment of her precious broom, interrupted our play. “Grandpa what type of baby play are you up to? You should know better.” I looked at her face. Lizzy without doubt inherited that assertiveness from Grandma! I froze but not ready to engage in early morning unpalatable arguments. I knew I was wrong but for a reason. “Grandma, please join us in this game,” I said to her. She shook her head in disgust, as she said, “Play? You may continue to play with her but someone has to fix you all breakfast! I know the refrain of the commonest song in this house from all of you is, ‘Grandma is the food ready?’ I shook my head in admiration, “A woman’s work is never done.”

“Lizzy, please sweep the rubbish on the floor with one of the broomsticks,” I demanded. As much as she tried, it was impossible.””Add one more stick,” she complied, it didn’t help matters. By the time she had about fifty sticks in the bunch, she swept the floor so effortlessly that I had to ask her if she had done such chores before. “Yes, grandpa, mum makes me sweep my room.

“Now Lizzy, the floor contains millions of bacteria and other germs. That is why you must always wash your hands after sweeping with the broom. The individual broomsticks carry the germs and if you accidentally stick one in your eye, the road to blindness is assured. Don’t play with the broomstick. It is dangerous!

The lecture, “Averting the Approaching Gales,” on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of my 50th Birthday (courtesy of Professor Denloye) was the most refreshing lecture I have listened to in recent times. Senator Sola Adeyeye’s incisive lecture was a product of research and erudition. If we are to make any progress in this country, we must tell the truth at all time and not be swayed by ethnicity or religious bigotry. Above all we must show good examples to the little ones because, whether we like it or not, they are the future! Let us work together, pushing personal and ethic interests and agenda aside to build a future for Nigeria. Remember, the Broomstick and the Broom.

“Alone I can Say,

But Together We can Talk........,

Alone I Can Smile,

But together We Can Laugh.........,

Alone I Can Enjoy,

But together We Can Celebrate...............,

That’s the Beauty of “WE” and Our Relationship

We Friends are Nothing without Each Other.” -Anonymous

Once again, my immense gratitude to all who worked relentlessly to make it happen. I did very little or nothing for which I was honoured. My parents and grandparents taught me like I am trying to teach Lizzy, the value of working together. It was reinforced by my teachers at all the levels of my education; my loyal and committed friends, workers and even my patients who trusted me enough to allow me to care for them. Any success is therefore theirs, they did all the work. I believe and say without any doubt that they are being honoured through me.

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