Who are you?

Wilson Orhiunu

First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu

Email: babawill2000@gmail.com Twitter: @Babawilly

It is so much easier to know who others are than it is to know ourselves. If you do not know who you are, it is hard to tell others who you are. This weekend, I have been watching a video about a Catholic priest called Brother Colm O’Connell who arrived Iten Village in Kenya in 1976 from Ireland as a geography teacher and has since produced Olympic champion runners among whom is the great David Rudisha.

One strange thing is that Brother Colm does not leave Kenya to watch the international races of his athletes but stays back in Iten and watches these world-class races on TV like the rest of us. He obviously does not do it for the glory but rather as service to mankind.

Now it is plain to see why some people are easy to describe. Once a person is focussed on one thing and achieves success in that field after many years of applying focus, a brand is formed.

Even if you said “that Irish priest in Kenya who trains Olympic athletes”, people will tell you who you are talking about. One needs to know one’s calling in life to be able to risk working all year in an unknown part of the world fully satisfied with the work for the Lord’s sake. Work that has no promise of immediate rewards. This is a deep confidence that breeds greatness but for many this risk is too great. Many want greatness without sacrifice so they see what great people are doing and start to copy. A copycat soon loses personal identity and becomes confused. Some great people are easy to copy in summer but by winter when their gruelling routines are revealed people run away to seek an easier hero to copy.

The lion is no copycat. The King of the Jungle strides in confidence and emulates no one. Partial to a bit of grooming usually performed by members of the pride, they always look confident. No trips to the barber’s salon or plastic surgeon’s clinic is on the schedule. They know who they are and their behaviours tell the story. They are not trying to be elephants or tigers. They roar the same way they have done through the ages and people travel for miles to look at them.

People who are true to themselves always stand out and usually get sought out. They are too busy being themselves to study how to be someone else or get depressed about not being someone else. People who know who they are and what they do sometimes are not even allowed to answer when asked to introduce themselves. Others answer for them. No lion distributes a CV or business card yet many people talk about lions all day long. Countries where lions are not native have them on their flags and numerous coats of arms.

An individual with a predictable character maintained over the years is in some way is telling everyone who he is. Actions they say speaks louder than words.

The late Rev. Fr. Denis J. Slattery, who founded the secondary school I attended from 1975-1980; St Finbarr’s College Akoka Yaba arrived Nigeria on the 17th of June 1941 and went on to found the school in 1955. Father Slattery spent his working life in Lagos developing both the secondary school and its footballing culture as well as founding various other schools and churches. This is a man that needs no introduction for his numerous former students worldwide speak for him and are a testament to what he lived and stood for. The school, St Finbarr’s College Akoka stands today in an area of Lagos called Yaba which should have become Nigeria’s Silicon Valley if not for the arrested development that Nigeria was cursed with from successive Military Governments without strong visions for education. It was Father Slattery who first came to Akoka before the nearby University of Lagos was founded. The Yaba College of Technology had been founded in 1947 and the WAEC office was in Yaba. More elite schools sprang up in the Yaba area but the potential for the area was lost. I digress. Trying to introduce some people sometimes can be hard. A Chelsea supporter who spends time on Instagram and Twitter doesn’t quite explain the measure of a man.

Many now describe themselves along lines of which football club they support, which politician they dislike and which musician they love. Then there is a list of who they follow on Twitter.

Old school role models stood for something and devoted their lives to it. They learn about themselves as they become immersed in their lives work and polished the essential qualities needed for an effective life working on the job.

No one is going to embark on a meaningful journey of self-discovery watching entertainers or visiting beauticians or plastic surgeons. There is a gem inside all of us waiting to come out but the problem is that most gems need to be mined first and then polished to perfection over time.