Sunday 25 June 2017

More Competition, Less Gain

The more we compete, the less we gain

I was thinking this morning...... I was in a meeting last Friday planning for a safety campaign and a colleague of mine said, 'we need to introduce some competition, because competition brings out the best in us.' When competition was mentioned, I remembered Exeter corned beef and Oxford cabin biscuit. No need asking me why, because I will tell you. 

As children in primary school, my dad will say to us that whoever comes first to third in their respective classes would have earned  a can of corned beef and packet of cabin biscuit. For us then, it was pure bliss to bite into two cabin biscuits plastered together with corned beef. But to imagine having a packet of biscuit and a full can of corned beef to yourself as a child was simply amazing. Imagine my joy when I came third one year and was rewarded as promised. Oh, it was simply divine. Trust me, I will not lie like most parents that I came first in school. My third position was good enough to give me my corned beef and cabin biscuit.

Such was the extent that competition drove us. Over the years, we are beginning to see a shift in the way schools grade children. They no longer assign position at the end of the term, and phew, I am so thankful that this system did not commence in my time, otherwise I would've missed out on the opportunity to eat a packet of cabin biscuit and corned beef. Does it mean this new system that downplays competition, does not bring out the best in our children?

As I thought of this, I recalled the statement of Peter Thiel in his book 'Zero to One.' He had said in relation to business, 'We preach competition, internalize it's necessity, and enact its commandment; and as a result, we trap ourselves within it - even though the more we compete, the less we gain.' Isn't that statement spot on in many respects?

Think about it. Siblings compete, colleagues compete, even full-time house wives with no source of income compete. Haba!!! In most organizations, the award of contracts is competitive resulting in lowest bidder phenomenon. In one organization I worked, the competition among catering firms became so stiff that the lowest bidder rate was almost ten times lower than the company estimate. The result was, abysmally poor service. The contract was eventually cancelled. The more we compete, the less we gain.

As I close my thought, I agree that competition, like in sports, is good, we should however not be competing when it comes to life issues because amid all the human drama, people lose sight of what matters and focus on their rivals instead. No wonder the Bible says in 2nd Cor 10:12, 'They that compare themselves with themselves, are not wise.' The more we compete, the less we gain.

Happy Sunday.

.......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

Sunday 18 June 2017

World's Best or World's Worst?

World Best or World's Worst?

I was thinking this morning...... about 'oscillation' as defined by my Hussey college Warri Physics teacher. He will say, 'Oscillation - the complete to and fro movement of a simple pendulum bob.' Trust me, it is not the grammar that caused the definition to stick, but the manner he said it. This definition popped in my head when I watched Kechi Okwuchi, one of the two Sosoliso plane crash survivors at the 2017 'America's Got Talent' show. Before she said a word standing before the audience, I was imagining what was going through the minds of the people. On a continuum of 'worst to best,' I am sure most people would have placed her close to worst for her looks. But after she told her story and sang her song, everyone was standing in ovation. The meter had shifted to 'best.' Their impression had oscillated. Hmm!!! Human beings!

I am thinking about the practice of qualifying people or things as the world best or worst. While referring to something or someone as the world best seems okay to me, I sometimes struggle with actually condemning a creation of God or man as being the world's worst because considerable amount of resources goes into creating anything. Recently, I became aware of how the FBI building in Washington DC was once dubbed the world's ugliest building. I am also aware that the aesthetically challenged Blobfish was named the world's ugliest animal. But until recently, I never knew there was anything like the world's ugliest colour, described as 'death,' 'dirty' and 'tar.' I was thinking, how can a colour be referred to as world's ugliest? I thought 'adding colour' to something is always positive. Think about it, if the ugliest colour in the world is used to paint the best mansion in the world, will it be the ugliest best mansion in the world? Abeg I am confused.
My emotions were still oscillating when I read of the world's ugliest woman. Why would anyone refer to God's creation as the world's ugliest when the bible says we were fearfully and wonderfully made? Though some comedians have given a negative slant to the adjective 'fearfully,' I do not think it is funny. Lizzy Velazquez was born in 1989 with a rare congenital disease that amongst other symptoms, prevents her from accumulating body fat. It is reported that she has 0% body fat, even though she eats up to 60 times a day. She was also diagnosed with Mafgan syndrome. Imagine that with all these 'wahala diseases' coupled with the unimaginable level of ridicule she goes through daily, she was in 2006 given the infamous award of the world's ugliest woman. What a world!

Think about it, how would you expect her to react? Hide, swear or cry? No, not Lizzy. Rather, like Kechi, she said 'The only way I could show those people that they weren't going to become my definition and my truth was to somehow make myself better.' Today, the world's ugliest woman is a seasoned motivational speaker and a self-professed 'pacer' while she speaks on stage. Velazquez catapulted to internet fame in 2013 when she gave a TEDx talk in Austin, Texas called 'How Do You Define Yourself?'

As I close my thoughts, I was thinking, how do I define myself? Like the Priests and Levites asked John in John 1:22, you too will be asked 'What do you say about yourself?' Kechi has defined herself after the plane crash, Lizzy Velazquez has answered the question, but truly, how do you define yourself, world's best or world's worst?

Happy Sunday.

.......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

Sunday 11 June 2017



I was thinking this morning..... about ceremonies. Birthdays, marriage and wedding. No, I am not thinking about getting married because that ship sailed over 15 years ago. Yes, birthday is somewhat on my mind, because it's my wife's birthday today. Where I sat at the beauty salon the other day, I saw a sign on the mirror that says 'For your events such as marriage, wedding, birthdays, naming ceremony and burial ceremony, call the DJ on 080x xxx xxx.' For some seconds I was trying to make sense of the difference between marriage and wedding ceremonies. In trying to do so, I asked my barber the difference between marriage and wedding as contained in the advert and he answered in pidgin English, 'you know say some people go do marriage and no go do wedding.' At that point I knew I was looking for snow in Warri on the sunny February afternoon.

The response of this young man exposed how confused so many are about the difference between marriage and wedding. For this group, traditional wedding is 'marriage' while the joining in church is 'wedding.' So for those of you that did only 'marriage' and did not do 'wedding,' you are on your own. Lol......

When I left the salon and sat in my car, the thought lingered. I wondered why anyone will not understand that wedding is the collective name used for all the ceremonies and rituals that take place to give social acceptance to the relationship between two people while marriage is the name of a lifelong institution, which starts after the wedding. I was thinking, If a typical Warri boy that was brought up to reason in pidgin English can understand this, why are some struggling?

As I thought to know why, I noticed that I had written 'beauty saloon' in the first paragraph and it didn't look right to me. I considered whether the right word should be 'salon' or 'saloon.' When I couldn't come up with a clear answer without calling a friend called 'Google,' I accepted that it will be hypocritical to blame my barber or the DJ that put the advert in his salon, for not knowing the difference between marriage and wedding.

With my tail inbetween my legs, I called my friend, Google and found out that saloon is a room or establishment where alcoholic beverages are served over the counter, while a salon (as in beauty salon) is a shop where hairdressers and beauticians work, and where people go to avail beauty treatments and other services. Saloon is also used to describe a type of car. A saloon in US means a sedan. I also discovered that salon and saloon have the same origin, and they come from French Salon meaning a large room. Why then are they confusing everyone with the extra 'o,' I had thought.

Having made peace with myself that I had not judged the barber and DJ, I decided it was time to go home. But wait a minute! Should I be going home or to my house? I know that house refers to a building in which someone lives, while a home can refer either to a building or any location that a person thinks of as the place where he lives and that belongs to him. At this point my confusion was spilling over and surely it's more than enough thinking for one day. As I thought on this, I was reminded of the admonition of Matthew 7:1, 'Judge not, that ye be not judge.' But as I run home or to the house, all I can say is 'Abe mi kin Orente O' even as we thank God for birthdays, wedding and marriage.

Happy Sunday.

.....Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

Sunday 4 June 2017



I was thinking this morning..... about an experience I had while in a commercial bus recently. While enroute, the driver was playing the music of Lucky Dube, the reggae music legend. I usually don't subscribe to such music because gospel music is my genre. However, when one of the more popular songs of the artiste filled the airwaves, I saw myself tapping my feet and shaking my head. Pronto, I silently screamed 'I bind it' and had a serious conversation with both my hands and feet, to the effect that they must behave. At that moment, I understood the song of the Nigerian gospel artiste Samsung that goes 'Turn me around, Make me wanna dance; Even though I nor wan dance; Body go dey move me.' As I pondered on what just happened, I recalled a statement I read in the book 'Zero to One' by Peter Thiel. He said, 'But It's hard to blame people for dancing when the music was playing.'

I decided to reflect on that experience. Yes, I understand that with a good meaningful and edifying music, one should dance, but I shudder at the fact that many are dancing to the music of death.
Think about it. In the years past, the eighties, when our leaders started killing our economy with the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), the 'Andrews' responded by checking out through the airports. But these days, with our economy battered by the recent past governments and made worse by the present government, that escorted it like chief bridesmaid into recession, many were thrown out of jobs and our youths are leaving in droves, not through the airports but through Libya and the Mediterranean sea. Thousands have died while trying to cross that deadly sea to Europe. As I was asking why, It occurred to me that there is a music playing and 'It's hard to blame people for dancing when the music was playing.'

If you frequently travel by road in Nigeria, you would have noticed some reactive developments. I noticed that between Warri in Delta state and Yenagoa in Bayelsa state, there are no emergency response service to attend to the injured in the event of road traffic accidents. With a high mortality rate from a combination of reckless driving and non-existent rescue service, the indigenes have set up multiple mortuary and embalming service (undertakers) stations along the route. The music of death was playing and they are dancing. 'But It's hard to blame people for dancing when the music was playing.'
In your office where it seems the management is not committed to the welfare of staff: the music is playing. At home, your spouse is behaving suspicious and annoyingly unromantic: the music is playing. The question is, are you dancing? There will always be music, some times the wrong music with wonderful beats, that may want to move you to the dance floor. I urge you not to be moved and please do not dance because Prov 1:10 says 'My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
Happy Sunday.
.....Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.