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Opinion: Lethbridge- Celebration of Human Ingenuity, Hard Work; By Prof John Abhuere


Dateline: Lethbridge, Alberta Canada- 9-9-2019

As you would have observed my Dateline has changed. I am writing from Lethbridge Alberta, Canada, about two and half hours drive from Calgary. My original plan today was to write about Xenophobia as recently provoked in South Africa – a serious a global phenomenon, but now being reduced to a regional issue. Don’t worry. In a small contribution published earlier, I advised against mob retaliation against South Africa in Nigeria, destruction of their business or nationalization of their outfits.Truly the South Africa youth have been ungrateful to Nigeria but they should be forgiven In the manner of Jesus Christ because “they know not what they do”. They lack due knowledge and understanding of the sacrifice Nigeria made for their freedom. Nigerians had suffered enough for South Africa& co. The nationalization of their enterprises will hurt our economy the more. We shall return to this later for now let me say a word or more about Lethbridge in continuation of our dialogue on nation building.

Lethbridge seems to me a mountainous or hilly area with very extensive green fields. The hills what they call “coolies” are natural. The vast green field is the outcome of dedicated human efforts. Such human touch made town really beautiful .Lethbridge can be described as an education city with a famous university where my daughter is studying.At Calgary I was made to understand that Lethbridge was a rural place. But what I have seen so far is far beyond rural settlement. In short it is true that I have not really gone round the town fully they say is rural but l can report that I have not seen what makes it a rural place because it has all the economic features such as banks big shops and social amenities of the big cities- a very functional public service that keeps public utilities- electricity, water, housing, telecommunications roads ,law and order especially on the road working fine. The towns North America are almost same in terms infrastructure and attended by regular maintenance. In a word what I see here is that man can urbanize his rural areas by wearing it some urban apparels. Given its mountains,hills and valleys, it must have been pretty difficult to build these wide roads and other big structures here. I am impressed with the the human imagination and efforts that conquered nature here and fascinated by the outcome . Nigerians can do as well.

Oh my God, I am seeing a very well kept cemetery- all green from one end to the other
And there are people with flowers to lay on the sides of the graves of their loved ones. But are the dead aware of the visits of the living? Not sure but people are there to show love and perhaps keep company…. It makes meaning to them otherwise they would be visiting. I am deeply fascinated first by its solemn beauty and curious about its true nature because of its tourist value. It is like a tourist destination given the large number of people streaming in not to bury but to bond spiritually with the departed souls. I moved to its entrance and read the instructions one which forbids the entry into the the cemetery at night. Let their souls rest in peace. And I went into reflection.

I confess. The cemetery like the mortuary has always had both humbling and inspiring effect on me. This is not different. Now I am reflecting and searching for the real meaning f life. Why are we wicked, poor, and lack respect for the lives of other knowing that for all what we think we are the grave is the final destination. Oh thou pride and hatred vanish from thy sight. Those who think they own the world are advised to visit the cemetery, read some epitaphs to understand the essence of life- love and selfless service.

And those who are healthy but down because they think they are not doing well should also visit there to appreciate how lucky they are to be alive. Billionaires had gone below…. Why do we kill for power and wealth?

Don’t blame me but I believe that the cemetery has some salutary effect and extra ordinary meaning for man. It reminds us that Life is a journey to our creator and we are nearer to where you’re going to with every passing moment t. Thus we got to make some repairs , make sound decisions including forgiveness of sins against us, do more good work for which we ‘ll be remembered when we are gone. I have a feeling that armed robbers,terrorists, ritualist and such dangerous people could do self corrections by visiting the prison. It is not about age but about life well spent in the love and service of humanity.

There is always some kind of spiritual reinforcement especially on the need to lead good, and altruistic life. For me the cemetery is a toner, leveler, a pointer to the end of the road, a solemn reminder of the power of love as expressed on the epitaphs, the strong family and spiritual bond between the living and the dead, the continuing dialogue between the two, the closeness between death and life and and the need to be humble and to do the best while alive with the chilling knowledge that the cemetery is the final destination. Its cold awaits everyone -if one is lucky for one’s body to be recovered from the angry, hostile and barbaric xenophobic attacks.

In Nigeria most of our cemeteries are bushy, dirty, unkempt and unattractive. The elite here In Lethbridge seem to have time to plan for everything including the interest of the dead and the unborn. At home we don’t plan far enough. This is a serious problem.Truly the beauty of the cemetery is no use to the dead. It is for the joy and good health of the living.

The Lethbridge’s cemetery is extremely fine..but I shall discuss it no more for as a friend reproached me many years ago when I exclaimed that the coffin conveying our friends home was beautiful:Don’t hail the coffin and graveyard. They are gifts you don’t want for yourself except you are a ritualist. ‘I am not’ I told him . ‘Then why the hailing knowing that no matter how fine, they are end of time stuffs that many are unwilling to kiss. . .that remind you of your nothingness. My take here here is the humbling and salutary effects of the cemetery on the living. It seems to say: man do not be too proud of your achievements for I have equal space for both the poor and the rich, the high and the low and it is small- just 6by 6 feet. So learn to do good in the service of others for when you’re gone and alone in the cemetery you’ll only be remembered for the good you’ve done over there.This is the soberIng message from the grave yard to all comers.

On whole Lethbridge teaches us that man central to the development of his community no matter how difficult- it may seem initially .Who planted the green grass here especially over the hills? For sure I am impressed with the human imagination and efforts, the ingenuity of man, his technical, organizational and administrative skills and ability to establish the law and order and infrastructure that had made this place clean, beautiful and relatively safe to live. This is a call to action and for all hands on deck. We could start off small with even crude implement. As I have suggested elsewhere, the starting point could be environment cleaning.Henceforth I shall join efforts in cleaning and greening Nigeria because a clean and green environment is the hallmark of human development. And we have abundant human resource to do this today with basic tools – starting from our own corners of the the country.

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