A couple of really interesting events took place during these past days that I just can't seem to ignore. Firstly my favourite team in the Champions league and in Europe as a whole, Real Madrid, defeated Manchester United in the Champion leagues match. I know several Man-U fans are going to have comments about this blog. But like you know, it is not every day that you have the privilege of writing about Real Madrid beating Man-United. Interestingly I love both teams; I recently decamped from Chelsea (after I got tired of them losing) and became a "fan" of Man-U in the Premiership. But, I am also a die-hard Mourinho fan. I have often wondered why. But I guess the question answers itself. Mourinho is full of drama, and I love drama! Bland is not my style. Cool and comfortable may be okay, but drama. . . .Drama is exciting. Only Mourinho can beat Ferguson's team, and have the guts to tell the world "the better team lost". I can't wait for Real Madrid to win the Champions league and the Copa Del Rey, and of course, I am sure the "Special One" will not be without drama.
Then Hugo Chavez, the psychedelic president of Venezuela, passed away from cancer. As the story happened, while he battled, his cronies held the country to ransom even when they knew he was incapacitated, much like the story in Nigeria, everything the same, except for the characters. By the way, when will these our leaders in the 3rd world countries ever learn? History keeps repeating itself. Recall Nigeria's late ex-president's story, he took ill, disappeared to another country, stayed there for God knows how long, then they refused to swear in the vice president, then they told us he was fine and well, but no one ever saw him, one day he came back to the country at mid-night, and everyone was told he came back to continue to be president, and after all the cover ups, he died, and what they said no one should hear, everyone finally knew. Now see Hugo Chavez, the same exact story, falls ill, goes out of the country, everyone complains about cover ups, then he take "proof of life" pictures with his daughters, returns one day, and the cover up continues, and then he dies, and everything comes to the public. You know I have this thought, that somehow, these leaders court the bad-will of the people when they hold them to ransom like this. The leaders, they never learn. Maybe if they did, they would have brought their countries out of the 3rd world. Just that the Queen had stomach flu, the whole world was abuzz. Hillary Clinton had small clot and swelling, the whole world knew. The Pope, 85 years old, says he is too old for the job, retires from ministry and hands over the papacy, or like the news people say, abdicates the throne, but Mugabe, almost 90 years, has refused to handover to another person, even when the country is in deep poverty. He is still intending to contest the upcoming election in Zimbabwe. Shame!
Talking about the Pope, you know already, He abdicated "his throne". Whether the word should be abdicate or retire would be left to who you are talking to and their point of view. Come to think of it, maybe I agree with abdicate because the Vatican is a country of its own, a sovereign city state with its own laws and governments, not subject to the Italian government's laws and the Pope is the "ruler" of the Vatican (you can Google it). But as priest, for me, I say he has retired from active ministry. In his words, he has started the last phase of his pilgrimage on earth as Pope Emeritus. I like his choice of words -" "Last phase of Pilgrimage", we are all on pilgrimage in the earth, whether we like it or not, a day will come when we will all give account of whatever we did and how we lived here.
So the Pope, at age 85, going on 86, he has been wise and caring enough to toe the path of honour and move on. But you know what intrigues me? The orderliness of that retirement and of the event that succeeds it - the election of a new Pope. The structure is that the Cardinals will gather in a meeting called a conclave, then they will nominate a set of people and then vote to elect a new Pope. Everyone else follows the proceeding by observing the smoke from the Sistine Chapel. They burn the voting papers and the smoke will go through a chimney, if it is black smoke, they have not agreed, but if the smoke is white, then the eagle has landed (again, Google it). Another thing that equally trips me is the priesthood. Say what you may, I have often wondered how these men and women (Priest and Nun or sisters as we call them) have continued to work hard to spread the good news of Christ across the nations. Before I go on, I am not Catholic by any means, and obviously so, so no bias. Anyway, I did my youth service up north, and one of the best run orphanages we visited often was the Zawan Orphanage Home in Jos, managed by some precious Nuns. Those sisters' works were really admirable, their dedication, selflessness and sacrifice. These sisters are just completely sold out, that is why they are so effective. Then the Paccelli School for the Blind in Lagos, a special school for sight impaired children, is another one, of course the only people that can run such a tedious outfit with such dedication and efficiency are catholic sisters. I always told people that if not for the catholic nuns and priests that came to Africa and that dedicated their lives to the service of God and humanity, a lot of us would probably have died as kids. Look at it, if you were born in Ibadan in the seventies, when I was born, you would have been born at the catholic hospital in Oluyoro Oke-Offa. You most likely would have attended many of the Catholics primary and secondary schools that dotted the whole city - St. Theresa, Our Lay of Apostle, Mary-Way Annex, Sacred Heart, Loyola, CKC Eleja etc. Today, some of the best run schools in the country are those managed by catholic fathers and sisters - Loyola Jesuit for one. In my opinion, a lot of us owe our lives and wellbeing today to the Catholic Church and all the efforts those gentlemen Reverend Fathers and sisters who by their selfless and complete dedication ensured our well-being.
To say again, I am Pentecostal, my concern is that we spend all the time criticizing other people just because they are different from us, Anglican criticizing Catholics and vice-versa, both criticizing the Pentecostals, people of one colour criticizing others of different origin, short people criticizing tall one, tall criticizing mid-heights, without ever considering what additions they are to the system and how that the world is more beautiful and complete because of our differences. We are all different, and there is beauty in that difference. The other person does not have to look like us; neither do we have to look like them. Each and every one of us is fearfully and wonderful made. I have wondered oftentimes what it would be if we all looked alike. Just Imagine if we all looked like Segun Arinze or OBJ, what will be world be like? But. . . Maybe I wouldn't mind if all of us guys looked like Denzel and the ladies, - like Omotola!
We are all different, in colour, in skill, in abilities, in strength, in language, in our calling etc., and our differences are important to our survival. Instead of being critical of each other, we need to begin to celebrate each of our differences a little more. We are all members of one body, some are the eyes, some the mouth, some the kidney, some the legs. If the leg looks at the kidney and criticizes it, the day the kidney stops, the leg will be dead. It is the contribution of each one member that makes our system work well. Everyone is important in the scheme of things, even the bad child has his own day. We need to celebrate our differences more, become more embracing, more accepting and less critical of people who don't look like us, and realize that one man can ever make a nation, no one denomination can ever make the church, no one tribe can ever make up the world. Selah!
Welcome, the new Pope - Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, the Bishop of Rome. As you requested, May the Lord bless you, guide you, lead you and strengthen your hands to lead the church to fulfil her purpose on the earth, in the name of Jesus.