Victor Ehikhamenor: My mother’s second letter to the President
Concentrate on finding a solution, for the gods will always steady the hands of a good servant when he is shaving a wicked king’s beard.
It is not too much to say congratulations once again. I have decided to write you this letter, on this important day of your coronation, because now that the farmer’s cutlass has defeated the forest, the hoe can concentrate on the soil. I will not waste your time; I just have a few words for you to remember throughout the course of your journey. Son, I am old and I used to think there is nothing new under the sun but you have proven that there are few things I have not seen yet. So, I thank the gods for your life and the load they have put on your head, but you can no longer dig crickets with your toes. You must move fast, which is why I won’t waste your time. Just a few things to remember and I will let you go.
I am told you are the only one that has ever had the opportunity to practice for this position before the real thing. If that is true, then the tongue cannot be a stranger to the mouth anymore. You must have learnt one or two things by now. First of all, do not surround yourself with a crowd; don’t think like the millipede who thought speed has to do with the number of legs, only to see the snake that has none speeding off to catch its prey. In the face of tribulation, be calm and shut out the many voices of confusion. Concentrate on finding a solution, for the gods will always steady the hands of a good servant when he is shaving a wicked king’s beard. A lot of people will proffer solutions, be sure to distil the best out of them because out of the bees’ buzzing comes honey.
It is madness and not abundance that makes one cook palm kernel with palm oil, please be wise and do not waste the land’s resources on useless endeavours. Focus on one problem at a time like the woodpecker that concentrates on one tree at a time in order to achieve a deep hole. When you were campaigning I saw you changing from one attire to another but, my son, those days are over. The beautiful multi-coloured feathers of a peacock do not make it an eagle. Roll up your sleeves and get to work, for weeds have almost swallowed our farm.
A man without a plan cannot succeed in anything, I cannot say this enough. You must plan very well before execution—the monkey that does not plan properly before jumping from one tree to the other will smash its head on a tree trunk. Do not be deceived by men with lofty ideas, learn to dig deeper because the seeds of pepper that matter lie beneath the pepper’s bright skin.
You have a very limited time to wake up this slumbering giant. Yes, you will need lots of help. Whoever is not helping you is hurting you, and it is only a foolish man that leaves a stone inside his shoes despite the torment. My boy, they told me you are the Okakulo, Commander-in-Chief, of the entire land; therefore you must remember an Oba doesn’t behave as if he is slave or else his crown will be used to gather dirt. So, justice must be swift but let truth and equity guide your hand. Anybody who does not perform his duties should be discharged immediately; the rotten tooth that subjects the mouth to soreness must be removed without delay.
Son, beware of friends that no longer point out wrongdoings but sing your praises day and night, remember you are still human. Say thank you to the praise singers and listen more to the calm and sober voices because while the noisy weaverbirds only make temporary nests, the quiet ants build long lasting hills.
Remember this land is not going anywhere and you will meet it after your tenure, you must make your bed properly today if you are to have a peaceful sleep tomorrow. Don’t be like the foolish market woman that defecates in her shed forgetting she would have to come back the next day to sell her wares. There are many things to learn from those that have sat on your throne in the past; some of them refused to masticate while they had teeth, now they are suffering indigestion. Talking of indigestion, do not eat the entire barn no matter how tempting, remember to reserve some for the planting season. Be like the wise farmer whose eyes are not only fixed on a bumper harvest, but on the prudence and hard work that leads to it.
Do not neglect the small things in life, the needle maybe small but it is what sews the cloth that covers nakedness. There are those who don’t have the shoes or the hat to come to your palace, you must meet them at the point of their needs. The land you rule goes beyond the big glowing cities beckoning like flame to the moth; do not forget those in the fringes who helped you ascend the throne, their hopes are on you.
Finally, may you reign wisely and achieve widely.
– Victor Ekikhamenor