The Power of Unity in Nigeria’s Diversity

There was a story of a flock of doves that flew in search of food led by their king. One day, they had flown a long distance and were very tired. The dove king encouraged them to fly a little further. The smallest dove picked up speed and found some rice scattered beneath a banyan tree. So all the doves landed and began to eat.

Suddenly a net fell over them and they were all trapped. They saw a hunter approaching carrying a huge club. The doves desperately fluttered their wings trying to get out but to no avail. The king had an idea. He advised all the doves to fly up together carrying the net with them. He said that there was strength in unity.
Each dove picked up a portion of the net and together they flew off carrying the net with them. The hunter looked up in astonishment. He tried to follow them, but they were flying high over hills and valleys. They flew to a hill near a city of temples where there lived a mouse who could help them. He was a faithful friend of the dove king.

When the mouse heard the loud noise of their approach, he went into hiding. The dove king gently called out to him and then the mouse was happy to see him. The dove king explained that they had been caught in a trap and needed the mouse’s help to gnaw at the net with his teeth and set them free.

The word “Unity” means oneness. It is being together or at one with someone or something. Sports teams wear uniforms to show unity, and their fans wear team colors for the same reason. When a bunch of people act as one and are on the same page, they’re displaying unity. When people speak with one voice in support or against a cause, they are displaying unity. When we speak of unity in cultural diversity we are referring to the oneness or agreement that exists among people in spite of their Differences. In any group or cause, unity can be hard to find and maintain notwithstanding the powers it bears.

Man has fought thoughtlessly, throughout human history, arguing about the superiority of one race over others. Men may differ in characteristics and qualities such as calibre, caste, character, charm, cognition, colour, community, complexion, costume, courage, creed, culture, and customs. In Nigeria, the issue of tribe, religion, language, class, has made it non-viable for us to live and thrive in unity.
National unity is the strength that binds and inspires the people of our country. Thus, in reality, its protection, peace, independence, and sovereignty are directly dependent on and relative to a nation’s pride, patriotism, and social cohesion also known as unity.

Abraham Lincoln gracefully said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
There are billions of people in this world, hundreds of thousands within our nation, each with uniqueness and opposing views on fundamental aspects of life. Normally, dissimilarities create division and occasional conflict. However, we tend to forget that we all have one common goal – the betterment of our country and its people. This is what brings forth unity.

Until in the first weeks of October 2020 when the youths of our country commenced with the #endsars protest in oneness despite a mix of tribes, religion, class, values, and beliefs, we had never really experienced the power of unity in diversity as a nation.

The aftermath of this unforeseen unity is not necessarily about our failed attempt to get the government to provide us with better security that will refrain from terminating and profiling citizens based on appearance, but the sudden realization that our greatest weapon as a people is unity. Our greatest weapon does not lie in our diverse culture, language, or religion. That weapon is not in social class segregation or other fallacies we have been made to swallow by people of the older generation. The greatest weapon as we have seen lies in unity -the oneness of people irrespective of cultural diversity to demand change in their society.

Unfortunately, the government had known the power of unity in diversity and so consistently incited tribal wars to cripple, divide and single our voices while we remained a pawn in their game.

With the unity exhibited during the #Endsars protest where the Christians barricaded a space for the Muslims to say their prayers, where the Muslims churched with the Christians, where Gbenga, Chidi, Akpan, Onome and Jimoh chanted with one megaphone #endsars, when the privileged could donate money to feed protesters, we got unprecedented global audience like never before in our history.

While many factors contribute to the overall development of a country, national unity is the most vital. Let’s stay together and help support one another in times of adversities and privileges’. “Unity is Strength” and “United we stand, divided we fall”, are common phrases and are true to their every word. Can you really love a nation without loving all its citizens?

Progress of nations depends on unity because it helps better to understand the need and choices of the people by the government which will help to bring development and safety in the country. We as a nation can achieve much from diversity if the right mechanisms are adopted to blend our differences to yield positive outcomes for us. If diversity that unites us as one Nigeria, then we to embrace one another with love and respect each other’s culture, norms, values, and religion.

For us to achieve the new Nigeria we have started to fight for, we must not compromise national unity. Unity, they say, is a beast in itself. If we can look beyond our differences and focus on our main objectives, we will not only change Nigeria but Africa as a whole. We would create a history we forever will be proud of, a better government that takes accountability and is answerable to its people, and a better Nigeria for us and generations yet unborn.

Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of our civilization.

Utilizing Your Skills

I had a friend who had German and Spanish parents. They both spoke their different languages to their families and friends. My friend experienced this while growing up and as impressive as it was that he understood both languages, he had difficulty speaking them. He had acquired the knowledge but did not give himself the opportunity to utilize it hence his inability to speak languages he was used to.

Utilization simply means to make practical and effective use of something. It is the ability to use one’s knowledge, skills, talents, expertise effectively and readily in execution or performance. Utilization is important because it equals action, and action is the universal language of success.
Utilization helps you put to practice and master the skills, abilities, or information you already have.

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do”

While the majority of people have skills, talents, abilities that they developed over time, just a few of them utilize it. In reality, people have information they do not use, skills they are ignorant of, and talents they trivialize. We have people who know a bit of everything but never really a master of anything. This is because they put more effort into acquiring knowledge than they utilize the knowledge they already have one at a time.
Too much information you have these days and still acquire without putting the ones you have to use is a futile effort that materializes to being a jack of all trades, master of none. A term used to reference a person who has dabbled in many skills, rather than gaining expertise by focusing on one.
Success is the maximum utilization of the ability that you have. It is less about how much you know and more about how well you use what you know.

Have you identified your skill, talents, and abilities? How well do you utilize them?
Each of us has unique skills and abilities to contribute to humanity. Despite knowing this, it can be difficult to realize what those skills are and how to use them well. Whether you’re a numbers whiz, you do embroidery, or you excel socially, there are ways to put your skills to use rather than pile them and let them become a waste. Diamonds are attractive because of their appearance and the value they carry. If one discovers acres of diamonds, the person can vastly accumulate great wealth.

The great thing is that we all can find diamonds. They exist everywhere. The surprising thing is that most of the time, they are just close to us. We don’t get to see them because we ignore their existence.
You will need to find out how to find your diamonds that can offer you the wealth you desire. Provided you find the right one, and act on different ways to increase its value. It seems like it’s common knowledge for all of us to use our strengths or talents, but the sad thing is, lots of people still set them aside. They do not see the need to build on any of these skills; rather they go on and acquire little knowledge about other skills. We must realize that knowledge becomes power only if we put it to use.

As we approach 2021, you need to be intentional about utilizing your skills and knowledge. There are skills you have that others are willing to pay for,
information you have that can be impactful to others if shared. These skills and information are such that you can leverage to give yourself a better life.
All the information and skills you have acquired needs to be put to good use.

To be able to utilize your skills, you need to first recognize the skills that you have. Start by creating a list on a piece of paper of what you believe you are good at. Do this by reviewing your current and previous jobs or tasks you have done before that people commended you for including things you naturally excel at. You can have many types of skills and not even know it. Skills aren’t just knowledge but are ways of relating to information and people. Skill types can include technical, transferable, and personal skills. Technical skills are the “how-to’s”, such as fixing or creating things, and administering or following protocols, such as being a mechanic, nurse, or artist. Transferable skills are skills that can help in many situations, such as organization, customer service, teamwork, and leadership, and can be helpful across many professions or activities. Personal skills include being reliable, having initiative, listening to your gut/intuition, and being self-motivated. Reflect on your skills and recognize that you have many skills. Remember how your skills have helped you in the past and brainstorm ways to use your skills.

Secondly, identify which skill you excel more at and passionate about. Identifying your strength, weaknesses, and passion helps you determine which skill -out of your skill box- you could easily build on. Knowing your strengths can be a game-changer for your life and career. Your biggest personal strength would be something that comes very easily for you. Take some time and think about what comes naturally to you. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses gives you a better understanding of yourself and how you function.
Understanding your strengths keeps you ahead in a lot of things. For instance, if you are looking at career options, you would be able to narrow down specific job scopes based on the things you know you are good at.
Knowing what you can excel at enables you to aim higher and achieve much more. Identifying your weaknesses gives you a clearer understanding of things that may be holding you back, and you can then work around finding ways to not let your weaknesses pull you behind.

Also, build a platform where you can express these skills, display the talent, or share the information you excel at. To utilize your skills, you need to create platforms that are easiest for you to share your knowledge with the world. One such platform that can be created at no cost is Social media. Social media is important because it allows you to reach, nurture, and engages with your target audience -no matter their location. When a business can use social media to connect with its audience, it can use social media to generate brand awareness, leads, sales, and revenue. It could give you global recognition for what you do. Leveraging your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms to showcase a piece of art, a song you wrote, a dress you sew, a poem, or content you developed can expose your talent to your community and a global audience.

Acquiring skills and information you do not use is a wasted effort, and anything that is a wasted effort represents wasted time. The best management of our time thus becomes inseparably linked with the best utilization of our efforts.

On Being A Less Judgmental Person

There lived a man by himself who couldn’t see. He was blind. Yet, he carried a lighted lamp with him whenever he went out at night.
One night as he was coming home after having dinner outside, he came across a group of young travelers. They saw that he was blind, yet carrying a lighted lamp. They started passing comments on him and made fun of him. One of them asked him, “Hey Man! You are blind and can’t see anything! Why do you carry the lamp then?!”

The blind man replied, “Yes, unfortunately, I am blind and I can’t see anything but a lighted lamp which I am carrying is for the people like you who can see. You may not see the blind man coming and end up pushing me. That is why I carry a lighted lamp”. The group of travelers felt ashamed and apologized for their behaviors.

Just like these groups of travelers, the majority of people in the world today are judgmental. It is human nature to be. We form lots of harsh and critical opinions about other people and judge them based on that. “Judgmental” is a negative word to describe someone who often rushes to judgment without reason. Mostly, these people operate on opinions and not facts. They make snap decisions about people based on their looks, race, nationality, wealth, job, fame, and even small choices like choosing what to wear.

Being a judgmental person essentially means thinking, speaking, or behaving in a manner that reflects a critical and condemnatory point of view. When we are judgmental, we are critically nitpicking and finding fault with another person, group of people, idea, or situation. In a nutshell, we are seeing through the filter of our black/white beliefs, condemning something or someone as “bad, stupid, unworthy.

There is a big difference between making judgments and being judgmental. Making judgments comes from a balanced and neutral mind. On the other hand, judgmentalism comes from an imbalanced and reactive mind that is seeking to protect itself from being hurt by others. We could, therefore, say that judgmentalism is a defense mechanism.
People are usually judgmental as a defense mechanism to gain and protect their self-worth. They judge people, entertain gossip, and make downward social comparisons to give themselves an ego boost. Judgmental people feel the need to be regarded highly and respected so they will tear everyone else down to push themselves up. It stems from narrow-mindedness.

In Nigeria, judgmentalism is a way of life. Like a culture, we feel it is in our right to judge others based on religion, tribe, sex orientation, and even appearance. For instance, women who wear revealing dresses or can afford a comfortable lifestyle are judged to be prostitutes. Men who keep full or dyed hair are termed a never-do-well. When you appear to be too successful, you are easily misjudged as a fraudster, and when you are having trouble conceiving, it is because you ruptured your womb in abortion during your university days. That is how quickly we make false judgments concerning others in this society.

Think about it for a second: we see someone, and based on their looks or actions, we pass judgment on them. Not good judgment, either. Usually without even knowing the person. And that’s it — that’s usually the extent of our interaction with that person. We don’t make an effort to get to know the person, or understand them, or see whether our judgment was right or not.
And let’s consider what happens when we pass judgment on people we do know. We see something they do, and get angry at it, or disappointed in the person, or think worse of them. We judge, without understanding. And that’s the end of it — we don’t try to find out more, and through communication begin to understand, and through understanding begin to build a bridge between two human beings.

We find it interesting when we make up these baseless opinions about people and it gets better when we can convince others to share in that unrealistic opinion. But, ironically, when you judge another, you don’t define them, you define yourself.

When you judge someone, it affects you more than the other person. It says more about you than the other person. You convey how you perceive the world. It shows the pre-conceptions your mind has. People are judgmental because whatever quality they see in someone else speaks to how they feel about themselves in some way. To a great extent, judgmental actions are a projection of our insecurities.

Judgmental people are very unforgiving. If someone makes a mistake, they will hold them to their mistake forever! Even when the person makes amends, they will never be able to view that person separate from their mistakes. Judgmental people also have amnesia to their own past mistakes and faults. They are delusional and the only thing they care to do is build themselves up by tearing other people down. The journey to being less judgmental is a gradual one. No one wakes up and stops being judgmental overnight, however, there are ways to restrict ourselves from making up opinions about others. First, try to understand people rather than judging them first off. When we judge others, we tend to do so quickly as a result of our beliefs and misconceptions. But jumping to conclusions blinds us, causing us to quickly shut off and ignore the complexity of others. For example, people who are mean, cruel, shallow, untrustworthy, or unfriendly almost always act from some kind of inner pain – usually fear or sadness. By looking beneath the facade and immediate appearance of a person, we often find very human and tragic struggles. This, in turn, helps us to show compassion.

Secondly, practice self-acceptance. Since judgmental actions are a projection of our insecurities, we need to learn to accept ourselves for the good, bad, and ugly that we are. That way, we will become less critical of others as well. Self-acceptance is about honoring and allowing space for all that it means to be human. Instead of putting yourself up to high standards, self-acceptance is about realistically looking at yourself, understanding why you are the way you are, and embracing who you are at a core level. This way, you can easily accept others without judging them as well.

Also, Notice when you are judging others. If you find yourself being judgmental, stop yourself. This takes a greater awareness than we usually have, so the first step (and an important one) is to observe your thoughts for a few days, trying to notice when you’re being judgmental. This can be a difficult step. Remind yourself to observe. Once you’re more aware, you can then stop yourself when you feel yourself being judgmental. Rather than being judgmental, always stay curious.