When I attended primary school,the pattern of after school lessons was different. Children were not kept in school continuously in order to attend extra classes.
Most schools closed at 1 pm and for those who wanted after school lessons for their wards, they had to employ the services of extra mural organizations. I was enrolled for extra mural lessons by my parents and these lessons were held closer to my home.
Looking back now,I appreciate those lessons as the students came from different schools. This meant meeting a different set of brains which afforded a different kind of competition. It also broke the monotony of still being with your normal classmates.
But it also meant meeting children from a different social class which in itself was not a bad thing.
However several decades later, I still remember vividly one day in this extra mural classes.
We had finished and were returning home and some of my friends began to talk about evil spirits.These spirits could come and catch you especially when you are alone. They spoke with so much conviction and although I did not really contribute, I soaked in all the other children said with a paralysing fear I had never experienced before.
I managed to walk down home but could not live normally for a while. I could only enter the kitchen if someone else was there. Washing plates was a chore I began to dread because I would be alone & the evil spirits would catch me.
I look back now and marvel at how I eventually went through that period. I do not think I spoke to my parents or elder siblings of the fear I was experiencing, just because I had listened to something.
It was quite frightening for me and you know, those children were lying, lying and acting like they were telling the truth.
Fast forward to almost a decade later and this time around, fear was brought about by widespread claims of an impending war.
It was in my home country.
There was an election which was annulled although it appeared there was already an acclaimed winner.
Several riots and protests took place all over the country and although I cannot remember how the date came along, but there was a date being rumoured as the date the country would break up. People spread it and people especially from the Eastern part of my home country recounted how the Biafran war had been.
Never again, they chanted, the war would not meet them outside their villages..
And so they packed, many of them who lived in the city of Lagos.
Almost every day, it looked like the city of Lagos was turning into a ghost town as the Ibo people packed, some men sent their wives and children ahead of them, while they waited to round up all other businesses.
The transporters also made good use of the situation and the hike in fare prices was ridiculous but many were undeterred. They had to go, and go they went, because some of them never arrived.
The days drew and with every day was mounting pressure on our government.
Eventually one day to the said date, our then President stepped aside and handed over to an interim government.
I sat down recently and thought about the many lives that were lost because people acted on a Lie and on rumours.
You see, this rumour thing can cause a national disaster. The country did not go to war, and yesterday made it 27 years after the 27.08.1993 threat.
Back to the drawing board again… Our words, we must constantly watch them. A wise person once said that when words are spoken. They are like an egg that has become broken, never to be gathered fully together again.
So regardless of whether it is spoken to a child, an adolescent or a mature person, we will all agree that the words we speak can have lasting effects on others.
Let us determine to ensure that our words are not idle, careless or untrue as they could mar or make relationships.