By Apostle Sonpie Kpone-Tonwe, PhD
We are now living in the age of community spirit. Community spirit means a situation in which different people come together to do things for the common good.
Such situations exist in sports, in economics, in education, in communication, in trade, etc. in football, for example, all countries of the world have come together to organize the world cup. We all have seen it, and no one can deny the good impact the world cup has brought to the world. Because of it every country has organized their own team in order to participate. As they take part, they also produce world class footballers.
In economics, we have economic community of west African States (ECOWAS). This is an organization of all the countries in West Africa coming together to work in order to improve the economic standard of the member states. For example, my international passport shows that Nigerian, I can travel to any of the West African countries, say Ghana or Sierra Leone, and do business there without needing a visa.
In Europe, they have the European community or European union, which serves the same purpose for all the European countries who are members. I recall that in 2013, three of my youngest children who are studying in the UK, were able to travel as tourists from London to Holland and from Holland to Germany, France, Spain and Italy, during their summer vacation of that year without needing a visa. The British Visa which they had was sufficient for them to make the trip to all those countries. There are similar economic organizations in different parts of the world working for the common good of their peoples.
In education, the university system is a perfect example. If you attend any world class University, like the University of London I attended or the University of Minnesota, where I had my second degree and my son Tedumbari also attended, or the university of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, where my last born son is graduating for his second degree this year, you will find that a university is really a universe city, where people from all countries of the world meet to work together, play together and study together in harmony and peace for the common good of mankind.
In communication, the GSM, the internet, the facebook, etc have brought the world closer together. You can scan a letter from Nigeria to the United State or UK and get your reply in just 5 minutes. You can even see and talk to your friend who is anywhere in the world by skype. Mr. David Ideele will confirm to you that the first meeting by the Boue boys in the United States held with me in 2012, concerning this meeting, was done by conference telephone without meeting face to face.
I was visiting in Florida then, and Mr. Ideele was in North Dakota, while my son, Tedumbari who co-ordinated the meeting was in Chicago; and other Boue boys, who participated were in different states. Men like Atangsi Anue, Nekaoloo Kanamue, and Life Kaanagbara were in St. Louis, while many Uwegwere boys whose names I cannot recall now were all over America in different states.
It was in that meeting that our boys abroad asked me to call this meeting, which we are holding today, because they wanted me to bring our people together again. They were anxious that Boue should be united again as it used to be before crisis came in to disrupt the peace, unity and progress of the area. I am grateful to God that we are finally here today.
Now what is the way forward? I do not believe in just talk, I believe in doing the things we talk. So, in my view, the way forward is to develop the youths of Boue, because the youths are the leaders of tomorrow. One of the successful ways the youths are developed in the world today is through football. In Boue, we must start in a small way and from there we can grow big. It is not wise to start something in a big way only to collapse after a short time because the burden is too heavy to bear.
I have started a small football club called the OBEYE FOOTBALL CUP. Obeye is the name of my elder brother who is late. My son, Tedumbari bought the cup and provided some money in support of the competition. There are four teams competing for the cup. TEGO, NOBANA, KWAKWAA, and EEPIE. The cup is not named after any town.
Therefore, any Boue youth, whether from Kono, Uwegwere, Gbam, Keneke or Nokwuri can register in any of the four teams, or form a different tournament with appropriate names.
The purpose is youth development though football, who knows whether we can discover a world-class footballer from Boue area? In today's world, football is the best for youth development and community spirit. While one man cannot play football and become developed, an individual can become developed by joining a community team.
It encourages community spirit and team spirit, which in turn encourages progress. For every team there are also supporters club, which support and encourage the team. Thus in football, whole communities are involved, which means unity and progress. Therefore, let us state with football.
Another area of development of our youths is in education. It is not enough to merely go to school but going to school with a planned focus and direction. What is your purpose? What do you want to become in life? In that regard, let me share with you SIX KEY SLOGANS, which I learned very early in my educational career.
- Knowledge is power
- The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge
- Learning is better than silver and gold
- With God all things are possible
- What man has done, man can do
- Laborare est orare (To work is to pray)
I memorized these slogans very early in my primary school days; and I still remember them today. Education is the passport to better life and it is competitive, just as football is competitive. You cannot benefit from education unless you stated to work hard for it from early. In the days of our forefather, the way to better life was the Yaag tradition, because the youths of that day were trained to work hard which the matchet (gԑ) in order to succeed in life.
Today, it is Yaa-Tekpa (to Yaapen) because a successful youth of today is trained to achieve the better life through his or her pen. Parents who want their children to benefit from education must fully support their children from nursery through primary, secondary and university. In our own case, since our parents do not quite understand this, we must start to be self-reliant, we must help ourselves.
In our days, that was what we did. We helped ourselves. During the holidays, we went to Gokana or anywhere else and did manual labour on the farms to earn some money. I, in particular, traded on garri and kerosene in addition to manual labour on the farms. We earned some money but we made sure that we did not spend the money we made on ourselves. Our school fees and books were our priority before anything else. We were the first to arrive in school on the opening day, and we did not miss a day in school and were determined to be early in school each day.
We were sometimes ahead of our teachers in our lessons, so that we were able to put the teacher on course if he deviated from our lessons or lagged behind the lesson schedule. That was why our teachers used to love and respect us and if we became sick and missed a day's lesson, our teachers used to come and look for us. We made their work easier by responding positively to their demands, whether it was assignments, or fetching water or firewood for them.
The same opportunity is available to you today, even better opportunities. If you expect you parents to do everything for your education, you will not make it to the desired level. You must help yourselves by being hardworking and school friendly. Avoid friends who idle away precious time.
When you make money think of your school fees and books first. Remember Solomon, he got knowledge first, then luxury was given to him in addition as a prize (1 Kings 3:5-14). Do not make your schooling too expensive or too burdensome for your parents. If you do, you will discourage them, and you will be the loser.
Some of you can make some money by going to help where they are building new houses. Many school boys from Kono and Kwuri were earning up to N9,000.00 per week for helping the builders at the site of my house or for scattering sand in my premises last year at the rate of N1,500.00 per day. Those students could use such money to settle their school fees and books without reference to their parents.
A Boue boy or girl must remember that there are many road blocks on the way to the top or the better life. Such road blocks are:
- Wrong choice of priority
- Pride, over confidence or insubordination
- Early pursuit of sex or comfort
- Procrastination or shirking of responsibilities when due
- Reliance on a false doctrine of “half bread if better than none
It is a wrong philosophy of life to compare one's self to those who have nothing. Let the 21st Century Boue youth struggle to close the gap with those higher up or those who have, through hardwork self-discipline and determination. If possible, overtake them, because what man has done, man can do, and that man, or that woman is you!
No matter how long it takes or how difficult, we are on our way to Abuja, Lagos, London, New York, Shanghai etc, with the machete (Yaagԑ), our forefathers conquered the bush. Today, God being on our side, with the pen (Yaa-Tekpa), we will assail the capitals of the world through hardwork self discipline and determination.
Be prepared to overcome the road blocks on your way. Do not underestimate the hazards, the wilderness, the cunningness and the wickedness of the world before you. On your side, all things are possible. That means you must keep tightly close to the Almighty God always. Be an active member of a good Bible teaching Church. Do not be a slave to just any religious church or Mega Church. Be wise. With these few words, may God bless you all.