Wednesday, August 4, 2021


I think we are all guilty of this thought. Once in a while we are tempted to see ourselves as Mr Supreme especially if and when some fortune has smiled on us and we are placed in a temporary position of power and authority. It is however when it becomes a habit that it becomes most visible, and of course seriously condemnable.


I have spoken of power, money and sex and other forces and factors that tend to becloud our humanity and our judgement. As it is often said, you can’t really and truly assess a person until such a person has come by money, power or position. There is also a saying that people tend to wear other people’s masks until money, serious money flows into their pocket. It is only then that the mask falls off and the true identity of the wearer comes to the open.


Many times you hear people say with crude authority that so, so and so cannot happen, or that come next year I will be living in Japan. The speaker is not even sure if he or she would wake up the next morning or that they would ever be given Japanese Visa or would be in good health to commence the journey to Japan even if all other conditions were met.


In ordinary day-to-day encounter a lady would boast that she would never marry such and such a person. ‘Me? God forbid. I can never marry a Christian…I can never marry a Muslim. Not in my life, be a second wife? Or marry a woman who is not a virgin, or ever migrate to another country…?’ When these pronouncements are made one is putting oneself in the position of God who is the final determinant of all things that happen in the world. Our journey through life is influenced to a great extent by vagaries and vicissitudes. But all of these are simple things that do not in any way irreparably affect the life or fortune of another person outside your immediate sphere.


It is playing God with other people’s fate and fortune that this article is meant to put in focus. Most people tend to be unduly arrogant, pompous and puffy the moment fortune smiles on them and they find themselves in position to decide the place of others under their official control or supervision.


People who play God have no thought for tomorrow, and for them all conditions are permanent. They have never heard or seen the inscription on the Mammy Wagon which our legendary Zik of Africa referred to years back that ‘No Condition is Permanent’! They trample on fellow human beings and take everybody and everything for granted. ‘After all I am in power. I have money. I hold this position’ they boast to themselves.


At the root of playing God is the monumental ego which most human beings ascribe to themselves. I am also reminded that ego plays a role in the animal kingdom, and any one in doubt is invited to watch the Lion and its fierce domination of its territory. It is not only the Leo that is territorial. Every human being is to some measure.


It is the ego, the me, me in me that makes people who have acquired some control to see themselves as equivalent to God in the eyes of their inferiors. They become condescending and exhibit nauseating air of ‘I am better than you’ in all their actions, acts and expressions.


This reminds me of a one time big man who was a Regional Minister. Every weekend this minister would visit his village and nearly half of the citizens in the town would cluster in front of his storey building.  A classmate of mine at that time went with his father to seek help from the Minister. The Minister got unto his balcony hours after the townspeople had suffered serious bashing by the sun and bellowed: “what do you want the Minister to do for you?” It was no longer ‘what do you want me to do for you?’


He was in the habit of addressing himself in the third person. My classmate’s father had gone to seek help to finance his son’s education at the Higher School Certificate level. The Minister unabashedly told off my friend’s father blaming him for being unduly ambitious in seeking to have his son go beyond West African School Certificate. ‘I am thoroughly disappointed in you. The HSC or University are not meant for children of your class. Are you trying to equate yourself with the Minister?’ the big man chided my classmate’s father with a scornful look. He had succeeded in putting my classmate’s father down and the poor man and his son left in embarrassment and hopelessness.


Exactly 19 years later the Minister who had become an Ex- went to the same boy whose father was humiliated while he played God, begging the boy, now a highly successful professional, to help him find employment for the Ex-Minister’s sons!


Examples abound of one-time bosses who turned round to become drivers to their own former drivers, or became employees in the company owned by their own former staff!


People tend to believe in their self-exaggerated self importance that without them other members of their extended family will not survive, without them their whole community is nothing to write about, without them the whole world will come to a standstill. Pshaw! Let them die and they will discover to their chagrin that life continues!


It is instructive that people in position of power and authority should always remind themselves that they are not God. They can never be God. They remain for ever and ever the poor mortals that we all are.


Whenever you proclaim that it is on your dead body certain things would happen you are merely putting a curse on your head. God, the true and only God will make sure that whatever you say will happen only at your demise happens. And if your staying alive may delay the thing from happening God will answer your prayers by making you die prematurely so that you’re being alive does not constitute an obstacle.


We must conduct our affairs with profound humility and humanity. We must treat every one in our space with respect and dignity. We must believe at all times that the difference between us and our night guard is the opportunity or lack of it that fell on our way.


You may go look yourself in the mirror after reading this column: what do you find? A being with some funny shape and contours, certainly not God!


You think you are God? Perish the thought.

Culled from Sun Newspaper, Sunday, 2nd August,  2021.

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