[Typed offline, but posted today]
I’m finally on my way out of Georgia — after missing my earlier flight (a few friends know why :)), and missing my much-anticipated meetings including the Fifth Gear seminar where I’d planned to speak on The Blessing of Curses: Emergence of a New Generation of Nigerians for the Nigerian Nation and my weekly management meeting at Junior Achievement. It was funny when I was checking in (you can bet it was about 5 hours ahead of time) at the KLM counter earlier today and the guy at the desk said, “sorry you missed your earlier flight sir, but it must have been for a reason”. You can bet it was — thanks a lot, Yomi! And my sincere apologies to those who had eMailed to say that they would meet with me after the March 11 seminar.
There are tons of global snapshots of history that have come out of Georgia. Talk about the legendary Martin Luther King Jr. and Ray Charles (whose song, “Georgia On My Mind” can’t seem to escape my memory), and you remember Georgia. As I walked the streets in the evenings I had a few minutes to walk to the hotel, I felt grateful to those who made sacrifices in order to establish equality and fairness among citizens of the world. I was also chanced to see the “Class Reunion” and “Family Reunion” by Mandea, which told an excellent story of how young black men and women need to stand up to the opportunities that the earlier struggles are providing!
You can then imagine how I felt when I was on my way out (towards the Homeland Security check out kiosks) and saw items from Martin Luther King Jr.’s wardrobe — his spectacles (which were not recommended but he felt made him look distinguished), suit, church wear, and more. I asked the US Marine who was also admiring the images if it was safe to take pictures, because of an earlier experience of a friend who took pictures at another airport. He said he wasn’t the right person to know, but thought it was okay. I thought it was smart to ask him to help take the pictures 😉 He did, and I took a couple more after he walked away. It was an amazing feeling standing beside Dr. King’s suit (the one he wore during his meeting with President Lydon Baines Johnson at the White House, urging him to enforce full implementation of the Voting Rights Act that he signed during the previous year) and to see that he did spend a lot of time with his family before heading off to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
His life stands as a witness to the fact that things can change! Nigeria will change… it will only take a few young men and women (or others who are young at heart) to stand up for what needs to be, and not be subdued by what has always been — and looks like it’d never change. Coupled with the vivid images of Dr. King that I saw, the companion DVD for The 8 Habits has an amazing video on Berlin. It features the story of how East and West Berlin grew out of a united city, and how everyone almost came to accept the walls as the norm. In came Kennedy (among other effortsm, you can be sure), who said, “these walls will one day give way for freedom”. And they did… you should have seen the tears in the eyes, the wildness of joy, and the unending celebration. A few days — maybe hours — before then, the Berlin Wall was standing, immovable and unconquerable. But just like Saddam’s status in Iraq, it came down.
Many people have said that Nigeria can not change. But I wonder what their story will be when, not if, things do change. Stand in your own place… and this is true for families, organisations, nations and more that are going through troubled times. Take your eyes off the wall and discrimination, and see the dawn of a New Day. That will fuel you with enough energy to work towards the reality. Lift up your eyes and behold the New Nigeria… its coming as a reality, line upon line, brick upon brick, agency by agency, state by state, constituency by constituency, profession by profession, value by value, and with one person after the other. When next you hear someone talk about New York, smile about the emergence of a New Nigeria. When someone says (or even whispers) New Orleans, New Hampshire, New England or New Zealand, brace yourself for the New Nigeria. Though I need to move on to Ethiopia (to speak on the role of the African youth in global eTrade) the next day after I arrive Lagos, I hope to make a few calls in order to set a better date for my presentation on The Blessing of Curses. I’ll keep you posted…