by Odia Iyoha
I beg to point out that this is not a religious piece, neither was it written to debase any religious group. It was written from a general point of view even though reference is drawn from the Holy Bible to drive home some points.
Humans have evolved through tens of thousands of millennia, centuries and decades in an ever-changing world of diverse cultures, different personalities and varied geography. In spite of these obvious differences, one thing is common to all humans – Satan. From Ilorin down to Limpopo, to Kigali and up to Casablanca and moving through Europe, Asia and back to America and the Australia, it is the same.
Satan, what is satan or who really is satan? I will be answering what satan is by giving life narratives of day to day happenings that may have come to be accepted as the norm.
Narrative One: There is this popcorn vendor somewhere in a market close to a higher institution in one of the South-western states. When this ‘guy’ had just started his business, he was very friendly and Customer centric. He sold ‘rich’ popcorn and overtime, he had a strong customer base; this is despite the fact that he is not the only vendor trading in the same commodity in that market. One thing stood him out, he sold the best popcorn, he gave people what they wanted. He was in practical, the best around there. But this soon changed. He later relaxed and his popcorn very soon began to taste like the others. The fact that he was the best may have gotten into his head and he felt he had his customers already.
The satan here: Pride! As business continued to boom for this young man, he started to see himself as the best. “I have my customers already so there is nothing to fear, they will always come to me” must have been one of his thoughts. His very rich popcorn overnight became just about normal. There is nothing to look forward to again in his popcorn. To him, he is still the king of the business but I dare to say he may have just dug his own pit because pride has taken the better of him.
Narrative two: Sometime in 2015, I was at a Religious camp for a programme which lasted a week. I was there with my aunt and my cousins. In the camp, there are many taps where you can fetch water to use, you are allowed to fetch even from some of the Pastor’s quarters/lodge. The crowd in these tap points are usually large. Sometimes, one would have to stand on the queue through the morning service just to get water to clean up. This defeats one’s purpose of attending the program. My aunt thankfully came with her car so we always drove to a farther place in the camp to get water because the crowd is always less there. There is usually someone there to guide people who have come to get water so as to maintain order because it is an estate for Pastors. All had been going well until one fateful morning when we got there to see a small crowd gathered at the gate, arguing with a man. Upon drawing near, we discovered that the man is a Pastor and he had given instruction to the security men at the see-through gate not to allow anyone in to get water. They had obviously been begging the security men to allow them as all taps in the camp were crowded with people when the Pastor walked by, on his way to Morning Prayer meeting by Pastors in preparation for the day’s program which we all were to attend.
My aunt did not understand why he would give such an order when the program was almost coming to an end, so she sought his audience to know what was up. He did answer her but very rudely, his voice was raised. I cannot recollect his exact words. It was then someone told us that the reason why he gave his order is that the previous day, in the afternoon, two teenagers had been caught frolicking somewhere in the Pastor’s quarters while the program was on at the Auditorium. As a result of this, the pastor gave an order not to allow people fetch water there the next morning (I am still wondering why it should affect people who just want to fetch water and leave.) The time was few minutes to 6 a.m; this Pastor was on his way to a prayer meeting, his wife saw him off to the gate and handed his Bible to him while he was still shouting and reminding the security men not to open the gate for anybody to get water. Even an old woman’s plea was not enough to change his mind which was already made up. He left us there standing in the early morning cold to go prepare for a program which we were to attend. Luckily, we went through a smaller gate in the estate to get water, the security men stationed in this other gate allowed us through and another pastor’s family allowed my aunt to go even further the compound to get water when they saw the crowd that was building up. After us, they let others go in one after the other probably till the crowd dispersed.
The satan here: Pride! Power! At that moment, the pastor misused his power and authority. He allowed pride take the better of him that morning. You know, once you have power, the temptation to misuse it becomes more. Once many people have power, it gets into their heads and they begin to do things they would ordinarily not do. Power intoxicates like wine. It destroys if not properly managed. The pastor had the power to instruct the security men to coordinate the crowd while they fetched water so that no one will wander into the Estate but instead, he used his authority to do otherwise and in the end, did something wicked.
Narrative three: There is this startup in Lagos that has gone ahead to carve a name for itself in the Food industry. They have been able to brand a particular snack which has been in existence since time immemorial. They were very efficient and always on time in service delivery when they newly launched. But as time went on, their service delivery became poor, they were no longer prompt in service delivery. The quality of their product diminished. What I noticed is that when they are trying to gain market entry in a new location, they always sell special samples with better quality than what is obtainable in other locations. Then as time goes by, when their customer base increases, they reduce their product quality while they maintain the same price. Once a reseller of their product complained to me (I love the product and I buy it often from this reseller) and said they don’t deliver again like when they had just started. Now he has to chase them around for supplies unlike when they used to chase him around in the early days when they were trying to gain entry into the market. Not only do they delay in supplying him, they also reduced the quantity and quality of the product and people have been complaining. But they have refused to change because people still patronize them.
The Satan here: Pride, yet again! Right now, they are a major player in the industry and as it seems, they have become comfortable in the fact that they are the numero-uno in the business. They have dropped their good customer service; after all, people would still buy.
Narrative four: Recently, a Secondary School classmate posted on a social media platform, her bad customer service experience with a business provider she met on Instagram. She displayed their chats and from the chats, one could see that the business owner (who prior to payment for the product was all loving and sweet) was very unprofessional in her service delivery and lacked basic knowledge of customer and business ethics. The Service provider waited until her customer paid in full for the products to be delivered, then she went quiet for some time and when she would later reply her customer, the tone of the message had changed.
The satan here: Pride, again! I went through the Instagram page of the business provider and I understood the reason for her behaviour – she has a solid client base as evidenced from messages she shared of people demanding for her products.
I could go on and on with more stories but that would bore you. Many of us have at one time or the other blamed the devil for our attitude defects. We are quick to say the devil did this and that. The people in these narratives will be quick to say the devil caused it if their businesses come crashing as a result of their character fails.
We have all been guilty at different times in our lives of pointing accusing fingers at the devil but what we fail to realize is that while we point one finger outward, four fingers point back to us. This should stir up something. It is not always the devil. The real satan can come from within. It may manifest in how we transact business, treat subordinates or even equals. It may come from anywhere.
This brings me to ask, what is Satan? I would answer this by drawing reference from the Holy Bible’s stance of who Satan is. We would see what characteristic many people in power have in common with the devil – a lust for pride and power. The Bible describes devil as one who was full of wisdom, one who was perfect in beauty. He was the song leader and musician of heaven, the anointed cherub, one who covered the throne. Devil was a leader in heaven, he had more power than any other angel in heaven. This got into his head, he became proud and felt he was now equal to the Master. He sought to overthrow his Master, the Almighty which led to his being cast down. Pride marked the fall of the devil. This marked the beginning of mankind’s end according to the Holy Book.
Now, what is satan? I will define Satan as an act of pride. It is one thing to be proud of your achievement and remain humble; it is another thing to let your achievements get into your head so much that you begin to hold the belief that you are better than other people and do not need their help or support. When you begin to feel this way, you may need to run from yourself at that point because this type of pride, referencing the Holy Bible is what brought about Death (Remember satan after his fall, became a tempter and deceiver. He deceived Eve into eating from the tree of life which the Almighty told them not to eat from and she also gave Adam to eat of it. The origin of death is traced to this act of disobedience.)
The real Satan, in my opinion, is Pride. Pride begets other satans. Pride courts Power easily. Power intoxicates. Pride leads to a great fall. Pride is not the only satan plaguing mankind today – Deceits, Lies, Wickedness, Jealousy, Disobedience, Stealing, Corruption, Falsehood, Covetousness, Malice, Pretense, Hate, Murder etc. Look at Oppressors all over the world, they all have something in common, Pride. Corrupt leaders too have a common ground in Pride. Ordinary people are not left out. Just the other day, the story of a young man who got upset with his love interest and flaunted his account balance of about three million naira because she refused to come over to his place for their date, trended on Social media. Now if you ask me, I will say pride got the better of him and he gave in to it, hence the show-off. His display was full of pride. If he did not have that in his account, would he have still gone ahead to show off his account balance? With more money supposedly comes power, with power comes pride and with pride comes foolishness.
I am human, we are all humans and as humans, we are bound to make mistakes. I have made mistakes too, I have had my small moments of pride but I did not let it ever get into my head, thankfully though it is not to say I have not made mistakes that result from this deception. Many of our mistakes arise from pride. The first mistake in the world, referencing the Holy Book was borne out of deceit, an offspring of pride. It is okay to have encountered this satan at any given time in our lives. What is not okay is accommodating it.
Let us learn how to identify this satan and discard it the moment it wants to take over our reasoning because once it does, it is hard to shake off. It is everywhere, in our place of Work, Schools, Religious grounds, Markets etc. It may be in you, search your mind now and shake that satan off now.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija