Thursday, 9 April 2015

HAPPINESS LIIKE WATER


Okparanta’s Happiness, Like Water… Distilling Echoes Of Homeland

  • By Bayo Ogunmupe on March 15, 2015
HAPPINESS, Like Water, is an original and evocative book written by Chinelo Okparanta, one of Nigeria’s few women creative writers.
In these exquisite short stories, Chinelo introduces us to families burdened equally by the past and the future. Indeed, there is a childless couple with very different desires, a university professor comforting a troubled student; a mother seeking refuge from an abusive husband and a young woman waiting to join her lover abroad. High expectations consume them altogether. Nigeria defines all of them. This is a profoundly moving novel, lucid and elegant. In it, Chinelo has distilled her experience into something crystalline, solid and luminous.
This short novel was published in 2014 by Granta Paperback Publications of Addison Avenue, London, U.K. Happiness, like water has ten chapters, 202 pages and one page of Acknowledgements.
From the first chapter: On Ohaeto Street, you smell a simple, poetic literary discourse that is painstakingly entertaining and compulsive. It is about a couple living on a street in Port Harcourt. The protagonist of the story in the chapter is an itinerant Jehovah’s Witness. Through his importunate solicitation for the acceptance of his creed, Chinwe, the family’s child eventually became a witness, marrying the itinerant witness who usually visits them every week.
Thus, the chapter is a panegyric on Pentecostal religious activities. It is a source of education and enlightenment particularly on the varying differences in Christian religious theology. Chapter two subtitled Wahala, an Hausa word meaning trouble. Therein, the author delineated a dream focused on childlessness. This chapter is a repertoire of Nigerian folklore, old wives’ tales, myths and the like. It is a typical report of attitudes, thinking patterns and behavior of Nigerians. Here, Okparanta captures the essential thinking processes of our people, our attitudes towards our neighbours and our belief systems.
Through the mother of Chinwe, the author is able to show the domineering nature of the African woman. The African woman nearly always forces her daughters to marry irrespective of compatibility or love. However, it is noteworthy that when Chinwe could no longer cope with the demands of her husband, she had to abandon her marriage vows.
In the chapter, Okparanta went ahead to demonize barrenness in the usual African parlance by showing that Ezinne’s sins were the reason for her bad manners. She is encouraged to meet a native doctor in order to cure her of barrenness. But her complaint that she is usually in pains during intercourse suggests that she is probably a lesbian. As with most women, barrenness is often attributed to misdeeds in past lives. And at the shop of the native doctor, Ezinne is compelled to stand up for cleansing. The deployment of language by the author is commendable. She makes the reader eager to read on. She discusses issues with every sentence and phrase. Our tradition’s idiosyncracies are reflected in the book. Happiness, like water is replete with African culture and history. She reminds us of our colonial past with vain hopes which characterize everyday life in colonial Nigeria. The author has an evocative and endearing style.
Surprisingly, Okparanta is shoring up female ascendancy in Nigeria’s creative writing scene. She is correcting male portrayal of our women as demanding, nagging and insatiable. Chinelo pursues the genre of how she wants women to be perceived rather than accept the norm. This book presents the alternative to other novels where women have become symbols of a continent in transition. In such societies, women have been portrayed as strong, submissive and romantic. Alternatively, our women have been shown as symbols of urban decay, luscious prostitutes and grasping ghetto dwellers vying with glamorous daughters of the elite. To my chagrin, Okparanta provides no biographical data from where we can understand her background.

THE PLACE OF STRATEGY IN ELECTION CAMPAIGN


IN your pursuit of happiness, you might find solace in an elective office, which is why you might employ military strategies to gain your wishes. Your enemies are the other candidates for the offices of governor or senator, whichever you prefer.
Your objective is victory at the polls, for the fulfillment of your goal. Your ammunitions are the pertinent guiding principles of warfare. Why apply martial principles? It is because Chairman Mao Zedong, the Chinese socialist and statesman, once said: “Politics is war without bloodshed.”
Therefore, it is in your own interest to apply military principles, so that you can win.
The principles of war have not changed. Superior weapons have always had an effect on the outcomes of a battle, but superior weapons have never guaranteed the outcome. The morale of combatants, the reason for fighting and the implementation of the principles of war are the main guarantees of victory.
The United States (US) lost the Vietnam War because of her disregard of military strategies. The US had no clear military objective; she had clear superiority in weapons, training and men. But morale was low because the men did not know why they were fighting. If they knew, Americans at home didn’t.
In contrast, the Viet Cong knew where they were going and observed the principles of war.
Indeed, the first and the most important issue is an objective of victory. You must have victory as the goal of your election campaign. In warfare, the offensive is the means by which you take the objective. It is an aggressive advance against the enemy to wrest the objective from his possession. A team on the offensive has a moral and physical advantage over the enemy at the point of contact. The offensive is an attitude, as well as an action.
The attacking commander has the advantage of making his decisions first and then carrying them out. The defender must first wait to see what his opponent does before he makes his decision and the decision the defender takes is often forced on him by the attacker.
The man on the offensive has the advantage of the initiative. He chooses when and where to attack. The defender must wait for him.
Nathan Bedford Forrest in his book, War Between the States, said: “I git thar fustest with the moistest.”
Forrest neither attended military school nor was he a college graduate, but he knew the principles of war. Certainly, this quotation emphasises several truths.
In this quotation, we find four principles of war. The word ‘mostest’ means concentration. Neither Alexander the Great nor Julius Caesar could have conquered the then known world if they had neglected concentration.
Maj-Gen. Claire Chennault, when a young Army Air Corps aviator, noted this lack of application of principles in his book, Way of a Fighter.
This failure to apply the principle of concentration continued through the Spanish Civil War and into World War II.
Chennault himself put an end to the individual tactics with his Flying Tigers when he went to fight in Burma and China. There, his pilots stuck together. Outnumbered in the air and on the ground, in planes and pilots, they destroyed 217 enemy planes and 43 more within 24 operations and 31 encounters.
Chennault’s losses were six pilots and 16 planes. In order to accomplish this, Chennault used concentration through having two planes firing at one enemy aircraft. Then, the Allies were outnumbered in the air by 10 to one.
If Chennault had not applied the principle of concentration, we would not remember Flying Tigers today.
Now this principle applies in election campaigns thus: in offensive principle, we canvass in order to win and we also pray.
Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, aspirants should go out door-to-door by canvassing for votes. When Apostle Paul, the greatest preacher in Christendom, went to Athens, asking that Silas and Timothy join him with all speed, then he could not wait to concentrate his forces, so he took the city on alone. He neither had an awakening nor a riot. He preached alone without any recorded results until Silas and Timothy joined him in Corinth.
Concentration means teamwork. It achieves more than any other known method. Power of concentration was so immense that many were converted. Crispus, the ruler of the city believed with his entire household and many Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptised.
This great success caused Paul to remain in Corinth for 18 more months, preaching among the people. Which was why Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s march from Anthony Village to Thunder Balogun Stadium was all the more strategic in war, as well as in politics.
Other campaign strategies, including ability to move large numbers of supporters with a measure of speed to a chosen location helps in the battle for votes.
Being able to reach the people and protect their votes is very important. Those opposing the use of Card Readers are intent on rigging the elections.
In order to secure success, the aspirant needs intelligence, that is to say obtaining knowledge of the intentions and plans of the enemy. Obtaining the true knowledge of affairs will make you wise and be protected from the guiles of the enemy.
The good aspirant first puts himself beyond defeat, then waiting for the opportunity to defeat the enemy.
Finally, cooperation within the team ensures victory. The greatest deterrent to cooperation is pride, which says, ‘I can handle my problems alone; I don’t need any help.’
Sometimes, pride keeps us from admitting our needs even to ourselves, let alone to anyone else. Thus, knowing your objective, pursuing it offensively with concentration, mobility, intelligence and cooperation enables you to win.
Our champion this week is Loius Braille (1809- 1852), the French educator who developed a system of printing and writing that is extensively used by the blind and that was named for him.
Braille was himself blinded at the age of three in an accident that occurred while he was playing with tools in his father’s shop. An awl slipped and plunged into his eye and blindness followed.
Nevertheless, he became an excellent organist. Upon receiving scholarship in 1819 to Paris, he attended the National Institute for Blind Children and from 1826, he taught there.
Braille became interested in writing systems exhibited in the school. At 16, he worked out an adaption of these writing systems coded in dots on cardboard. He published treatises on his system in 1829 and 1837.
For the last years of his life, Braille was ill with tuberculosis. His remains, returned to his birthplace after his death, were in 1952 sent to Paris and buried in the Pantheon.

THE PLACE OF STRATEGY IN ELECTION CAMPAIGN


IN your pursuit of happiness, you might find solace in an elective office, which is why you might employ military strategies to gain your wishes. Your enemies are the other candidates for the offices of governor or senator, whichever you prefer.
Your objective is victory at the polls, for the fulfillment of your goal. Your ammunitions are the pertinent guiding principles of warfare. Why apply martial principles? It is because Chairman Mao Zedong, the Chinese socialist and statesman, once said: “Politics is war without bloodshed.”
Therefore, it is in your own interest to apply military principles, so that you can win.
The principles of war have not changed. Superior weapons have always had an effect on the outcomes of a battle, but superior weapons have never guaranteed the outcome. The morale of combatants, the reason for fighting and the implementation of the principles of war are the main guarantees of victory.
The United States (US) lost the Vietnam War because of her disregard of military strategies. The US had no clear military objective; she had clear superiority in weapons, training and men. But morale was low because the men did not know why they were fighting. If they knew, Americans at home didn’t.
In contrast, the Viet Cong knew where they were going and observed the principles of war.
Indeed, the first and the most important issue is an objective of victory. You must have victory as the goal of your election campaign. In warfare, the offensive is the means by which you take the objective. It is an aggressive advance against the enemy to wrest the objective from his possession. A team on the offensive has a moral and physical advantage over the enemy at the point of contact. The offensive is an attitude, as well as an action.
The attacking commander has the advantage of making his decisions first and then carrying them out. The defender must first wait to see what his opponent does before he makes his decision and the decision the defender takes is often forced on him by the attacker.
The man on the offensive has the advantage of the initiative. He chooses when and where to attack. The defender must wait for him.
Nathan Bedford Forrest in his book, War Between the States, said: “I git thar fustest with the moistest.”
Forrest neither attended military school nor was he a college graduate, but he knew the principles of war. Certainly, this quotation emphasises several truths.
In this quotation, we find four principles of war. The word ‘mostest’ means concentration. Neither Alexander the Great nor Julius Caesar could have conquered the then known world if they had neglected concentration.
Maj-Gen. Claire Chennault, when a young Army Air Corps aviator, noted this lack of application of principles in his book, Way of a Fighter.
This failure to apply the principle of concentration continued through the Spanish Civil War and into World War II.
Chennault himself put an end to the individual tactics with his Flying Tigers when he went to fight in Burma and China. There, his pilots stuck together. Outnumbered in the air and on the ground, in planes and pilots, they destroyed 217 enemy planes and 43 more within 24 operations and 31 encounters.
Chennault’s losses were six pilots and 16 planes. In order to accomplish this, Chennault used concentration through having two planes firing at one enemy aircraft. Then, the Allies were outnumbered in the air by 10 to one.
If Chennault had not applied the principle of concentration, we would not remember Flying Tigers today.
Now this principle applies in election campaigns thus: in offensive principle, we canvass in order to win and we also pray.
Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, aspirants should go out door-to-door by canvassing for votes. When Apostle Paul, the greatest preacher in Christendom, went to Athens, asking that Silas and Timothy join him with all speed, then he could not wait to concentrate his forces, so he took the city on alone. He neither had an awakening nor a riot. He preached alone without any recorded results until Silas and Timothy joined him in Corinth.
Concentration means teamwork. It achieves more than any other known method. Power of concentration was so immense that many were converted. Crispus, the ruler of the city believed with his entire household and many Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptised.
This great success caused Paul to remain in Corinth for 18 more months, preaching among the people. Which was why Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s march from Anthony Village to Thunder Balogun Stadium was all the more strategic in war, as well as in politics.
Other campaign strategies, including ability to move large numbers of supporters with a measure of speed to a chosen location helps in the battle for votes.
Being able to reach the people and protect their votes is very important. Those opposing the use of Card Readers are intent on rigging the elections.
In order to secure success, the aspirant needs intelligence, that is to say obtaining knowledge of the intentions and plans of the enemy. Obtaining the true knowledge of affairs will make you wise and be protected from the guiles of the enemy.
The good aspirant first puts himself beyond defeat, then waiting for the opportunity to defeat the enemy.
Finally, cooperation within the team ensures victory. The greatest deterrent to cooperation is pride, which says, ‘I can handle my problems alone; I don’t need any help.’
Sometimes, pride keeps us from admitting our needs even to ourselves, let alone to anyone else. Thus, knowing your objective, pursuing it offensively with concentration, mobility, intelligence and cooperation enables you to win.
Our champion this week is Loius Braille (1809- 1852), the French educator who developed a system of printing and writing that is extensively used by the blind and that was named for him.
Braille was himself blinded at the age of three in an accident that occurred while he was playing with tools in his father’s shop. An awl slipped and plunged into his eye and blindness followed.
Nevertheless, he became an excellent organist. Upon receiving scholarship in 1819 to Paris, he attended the National Institute for Blind Children and from 1826, he taught there.
Braille became interested in writing systems exhibited in the school. At 16, he worked out an adaption of these writing systems coded in dots on cardboard. He published treatises on his system in 1829 and 1837.
For the last years of his life, Braille was ill with tuberculosis. His remains, returned to his birthplace after his death, were in 1952 sent to Paris and buried in the Pantheon.

How To Get What You Want


How To Get What You Want

BY BAYO OGUNMUPE
THE surest way to get discouraged is to compare yourself with others. The scripture says don’t compare yourself because some people will look like they are doing better than you and you will get disheartened, while others won’t be as effective as you. The best is for you to concentrate on doing your best. That way you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and won’t need to compare yourself with anyone.
  All the apples on a tree don’t ripen at the same time. Apostle Paul says: ‘Knowledge and understanding take time. When I began writing, I found myself fumbling. But I want to become a writer and get three books published in a year and get good reviews. It can take years and many challenges in any new area before we can confidently say to others: ‘‘I am what Jehovah called me to do.” Don’t wait until you are successful, start now by saying you are what you want to become. Yes, you have much to learn and you may not be an expert but you don’t have to be an expert to write. So push ahead, cut yourself some slack for you are a work-in-progress.
  Thus, the way to defeat your detractor is to confront him. You are not unique, because your temptations are no different from what others experience. Goliath was not always a giant. He was fed and nurtured until he became one. Our detractors are usually little sins we overlook and indulge until they assume a life of their own and come back to haunt us. Even then, you cannot do it alone. Your detractor will defeat you anytime you tackle him by your own strength. David told Goliath: ‘‘This is Jehovah’s battle and He will give you to us,” 1 Samuel 17:47. This means, you need divine help to overcome old habits and establish new patterns of behavior.
  Therefore, you must confront your detractor head-on. As Goliath moved to attack, David quickly ran to meet him. Which is why you don’t run away, don’t negotiate, don’t compromise; no excuses. Force your detractor out into the light and don’t let him get back into your life. Establish boundaries and make yourself accountable. Stay out of wrong company, above all, don’t look at your detractor in the light of the divine. Place all things according to their limits.
  For you to gain what you want from life, you must have a cause greater than yourself. That was why David could stand up to a Goliath that everybody was running away from. Because Israelites were being threatened and everybody around was afraid to tackle the problem. David submitted himself into tackling the menace. When you are confronted with a situation that needs to be changed, you just must take up the gautlet. Having a cause greater than yourself forces you out of a trapped lifestyle. A survey among people who lived to be over 100 years was conducted. Now you might read about health diets, miracle drugs and strenuous exercise. But what these centenarians had in common was purpose. They had a compelling reason to get up in the morning. For you to get the best out of life, you must have a cause greater than yourself. You must have a cause great enough to focus your energies and strong enough to keep you going when the odds are stacked against you.
  Jehovah created you for a mission. At 12, Jesus said I must be about my father’s business. Twenty-one years later, dying at the stake, he announced: ‘‘it is finished. Those statements framed a totally fulfilled life. Until you fulfilled your purpose on earth, you are not ready for a transition into a higher dimension of existence. Asked how long it would take to bring a ship to a stop, a captain replied: ‘‘A good captain thinks at least a mile ahead.” Your success in any venture is determined by how important it is to you and your ability to prepare for it. ‘‘Any enterprise built by wise planning becomes strong through common sense and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.” Alexander Hamilton, a founding father and America’s first secretary of the Treasury said: ‘‘Men give me credit for genius, but all the genius I have lies in this: when I have a subject at hand, I study it profoundly,” so if you want to get what you want, prepare adequately.
  Our champion this week is Niccolo Machiavelli, the Italian writer and statesman, an original political theorist whose principal work, The Prince, brought him fame. Born and died in Florence between May 1469 and June 1527, this Florentine patriot hailed from a wealthy family in the city, on occasion holding the most important offices in Florence. Machiavelli’s father was a doctor of laws but among the poorest of the city’s lawyers. However he lived frugally, administering his landed estates near Florence. Niccolo became a historian, humanist and philosopher during the Renaissance. He was for many years an official in the Florentine Republic. He was a founder of the political ethics genre of modern political science. He also wrote comedies, carnival songs and poetry. He was secretary to the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512.
  Machiavelli retired to his estate in Percussina and devoted himself to study and the writing of treatises that earned him a place in the intellectual development of political ethics and philosophy. Machiavelli died in 1527 at the age of 58. He was buried at the Church of Santa Croce in Florence. An epitaph honoring him is inscribed on his monument. It read: so great a name. it has neither adequate praise nor eulogy to such a name. Machiavelli’s book, The Prince is thought to be based on the life of Cesare Borgia, whom he served as an adviser. The Prince is a manual to acquiring and keeping power. He introduced a break between political realism and political idealism. In contrast with Plato and Aristotle, Machiavelli insisted that an imaginary ideal society is not a model by which a politician should orient himself. Machiavelli’s thought has had a profound impact on the politics of the modern world and it is reflected in the hate campaigns and thuggery in Nigeria’s 2015 elections.

How To Walk In Lifelong Prosperity


On The Path Of Winners
BY BAYO OGUNMUPE

How To Walk In Lifelong Prosperity

APOSTLE Paul said in 2 Corinthians 9: 6-11: ‘‘But this I say: He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully. Everyman according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.” That encampsulate the promise of God for a lifelong prosperity for man.
  Thus, God is able to make all grace, every favour and earthly blessing, come to you in abundance, so that you may always be self sufficiently – possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every work and charitable donation. The lesson from this Bible interpretation is that God has shown the way man can prosper throughout life. Observing and learning the rules is what is lacking among the poor people of this world. It means if you give generously, God will cause every blessing to come to you. Jehovah wants you to be able to give to others.
  The very first rule about believing God is faith by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Acting on God’s word brings instant results. Just act on His word as quickly as you would on the words on your doctor or lawyer. Your prayer will be answered regardless of your circumstances and regardless of what your physical senses tell you. Acting on God’s word brings forth faith and faith comes into action, causing the laws of the world to function and bring results. In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught us how the word bears fruit.
  We have discussed the importance of keeping strife out of your life. Let us see how this enters into your efforts to gain financial freedom. Jesus taught his these things in Luke Chapter six. He said: Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. Bless them that curse you. Give to every man that asketh of thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And you would others should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Jesus taught us disciples how to stay out of trouble. That was not a Christian doctrine. It was designed to keep you connected with the power of God, so you can live an overcoming life. Love stops the work and effect of strife by building a protective shield around you. The shield of faith keeps satan from having access to what you do, what you think and what you are, see First John Chapters four and five.
  What does walking in prosperity mean to you? Does it mean driving the fastest car, owning the biggest house, wearing the latest clothes and having the most prestigious job? God’s concept of prosperity is very different. Jesus said: ‘‘Guard against greed. Life is not measured by how much you own,” Luke 12:15. Indeed, there are two ways to get enough of your wants. One is to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less and less. People today are obsessed by possessions as no other generation. The more complex life becomes, the more convinced we are that we need more to be happy. Having obtained what we think we need, we soon become unhappy because a model with more bells and whistles come out, it takes far less than we think to discover happiness if it comes from within and we break the stranglehold things have on our lives. Which is why Jesus told the rich young ruler who wrestled with that questions: ‘‘Sell your possessions, give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me,” Mat. 19: 21. Does that mean God is opposed to being rich. No. he is just against anything taking His place in your life. He knows your heart will be where your treasure is.
  Indeed, God holds back no good from those who do what is right. But it is important to acknowledge Him as the source of all your blessings. And on that we all fall short. Moreover, more isn’t always better. In fact, your dependence on God lessens as your dependence on money increases. That is why Levitical law discouraged empire building. In the Torah, loans to the poor were to be interest free, outstanding debts cancelled every seven years; slaves freed and given the means to start over and property that was sold or lost and not redeemed, returned to its original owner, Leviticus 25: 14-17. This is because God wanted His people to depend on Him, not possessions. So, He cautioned them: ‘‘When all you have is multiplied, you may say, my power and strength have produced this. Remember the Lord gives you the ability to produce wealth,” Deut 8: 13-18. God’s principles haven’t changed. The Bible didn’t say that God is a rewarder of those diligently seeking things. No, it says, ‘‘He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, Heb. 11: 6. Thus, don’t ever depend on others,” your heavenly Father already knows and will give you everything you need,” Mat 6:31.
  Our champion this week is Sir Isaac Newton, the English physicist and mathematician who invented the calculus, laid the foundations of optics and formulated three laws of motion that became basic principles of modern physics and led to his theory of universal gravitation. He is regarded as one of the greatest scientists of all time.
  Born on Christmas day 1642 in England and died on March 20, 1727 in London. After a bachelor’s degree at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1665, the Cambridge University was closed for two years because of plague. He returned in 1667 as fellow to Trinity College where he became Lucasian professor of Mathematics in 1669. Newton discovered the nature of white light in 1666 and invented the calculus in 1669 but did not formally publish his ideas until 35 years later. He built the first reflecting telescope in 1668. Newton’s most famous publication, the Principia Mathematica, 1687: The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy contains his work on the laws of motion, the theory of tides and the theory of gravitation. His laws of motion laid the foundation for classical mechanics and the theory of gravitation. The principia has been called the most important works of science ever written. Newton served as the warden of the Royal Mint from 1696 and became president of the Royal Society in 1703 holding this office until his death. In 1705, he became the first British scientist to receive a knighthood for his works.