Monday, 5 October 2015

The devil is most likely right-handed

I haven’t seen the devil sign his autograph and neither have I seen him throw a ball so I probably don’t know his (assuming he’s male, of course) dominant hand but what are the odds? Handedness have only been a big issue for many centuries simply because of the percentage of left-handed people. Come to think of this: supposing everyone from age to age used just either the left hand alone, or the right hand alone as their dominant hand, would there be such a thing as “handedness”?

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The use of the left hand as the dominant hand has been associated with so much negativity that a thoughtful person could not but wonder what exactly is evil about the hand. Life, as we know it, will be extremely difficult if we only had the right hand and no left hand. Suffice to say, the left hand is not made redundant by the right hand. “Sinister,” “evil” and “unlucky” are few of the words associated with the word ‘left’ from as early as the 11th century with more despicable terms following through to the 20th century. The most despicable of all would probably be the hypocritical euphemisms associated to the word in certain cultures. In ancient Greek, the word translated as left is euōnymos, meaning “of good name” and is a euphemism used in lieu for “ill-named.” In Africa, the Yoruba culture refers to the left side as owo alaafia meaning ‘peaceful side’ which is obviously a euphemism used instead of saying ‘evil side’ or ‘wrong side.’

What exactly qualifies the right hand as good and the left, evil? It is a known fact that around 8 - 10% of the world population are left-handed while around 70 – 90% are right-handed. While it remains a mystery that this 1:10 ratio is infallible and that the reason these elite 10% choose to favour the left hand over the right hand remains unknown, it is apparent that left-handedness has no evil associated with it except the one inflicted by man through discrimination, bias and unfavourable cultural associations. That only a few use the left hand does not justify others to see their uniqueness as a defect or abnormality. And the biblical association of the left side with rejection does not precede the fact that God shows no favouritism just in the same way the statement “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off” does not make the right hand evil.

In many cultures, a child who tends to favour the left hand is quickly rebuked and subjected to physical and emotional abuse in a process of trying to “correct” the child. One would think such inhumane bias had been abolished with the likes of slave trade in the 19th century but a quick reconsideration is made at the sudden awareness of the notions and beliefs still being held by people around the world. Just about two weeks ago in Oklahoma, U.S.A., a 4-year old left-handed child, Zayde*, began writing with his right hand to his mother’s shock. When asked what the reason was, he raised his left hand and said, “Teacher says this one’s bad.” The teacher’s response to a letter written by Zayde’s mother to know what was going on made reference to an article calling left-handedness “evil” as well as the belief that “the devil is often portrayed as left-handed.”

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The article referred to by the teacher in her supposedly “enlightening” response to a left-handed mother of a left-handed son appeared to be on how to recognise a child’s hand dominance and only made reference to what many cultures have associated the left hand with. The society have sold many lies to children in its inability to explain many things and the craving of laying blames, and the topic of left-handedness is no exception. In a world designed for right-handed people – considering they’re a larger population, with tools, instruments and mechanisms designed to favour them, the clumsiness and ultimately, health risks associated with left-handedness is of course not far-fetched.

Left-handed people have suffered enough discrimination and abuse for no just reason. The left hand is extremely important for right-handed people just in the same way the right hand is to left-handed people. And if no one will do away with the left hand because it is deemed evil, or render it redundant and desist from using it (Imagine an attempt to run while moving just the right hand and leaving the left hand glued to the side or use just the right hand to type on a computer keyboard while the ‘evil’ left hand lies inactive), then there is no justification to discriminating against it as the dominant hand. People have to be enlightened and do away with the erroneous ideas and beliefs associated with left-handedness.

Handedness is by no way different from skin colour or ethnicity. I believe it is a choice made for us and our only responsive choice is acceptance. If probability is anything to go by, and 70 – 90% of the people are right-handed, then the devil is most likely right-handed.

Everything is right with being left-handed; it is left to you to believe and accept it!

*The story about Zayde was learned about from anythinglefthanded website. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

"Never Give Up On A Dream and Always Give Your Best" - Speech

I have come to understand some things about dreams and why they are so important - they are real and they are a guide on the paths that lead to one's destiny.

I have heard so many stories of how people had dreams of achieving a particular feat while they were yet young, and they went on later in life to do much more than they imagined. I don't want to go on and on about this for now but I will sure return to share about the importance of dreams and their impact in helping you get to where you desire.

I recently had my graduation ceremony after working hard to obtain a degree in MSc Electrical Power from Newcastle University, UK. To God's glory, I triumphed and I am thankful to God, my friends and family without whom my success story becomes incomplete.

Before you say I didn't invite you for the graduation, relax! Graduation ceremonies in Obodo Oyinbo (White man's land) is not a gele-tying  well, with the exception of my mom who tied gele  and boxes-of-rice-and-drink-surplus occasion. In fact the whole event lasted about 45 minutes and the reception that followed only had snacks, fruits, tea and drinks offered to guests and graduates. 

Wait! Did I mention my Professor made a comment about liking my mom's hat? I couldn't help but laugh within me. Well, technically speaking, a gele is a type of hat. If I can't prove it, I know my professor can!

Before I go on and on about the ceremony, and make this article excessively long, I'll talk about the Student Orator's speech of the day. A Student Orator is the graduating student given the opportunity to give an uplifting speech during the ceremony. I was privileged to be given the role. I was allotted 5 minutes to deliver the speech so I had to make it as concise and relevant as possible. I personally feel the speech could have been better if I had more time but then, the shorter the better.

Anyway, here is the speech below and this is the link to watch the video of the entire ceremony. Graduation Ceremony Video

******************************** SPEECH **********************************

Graduates, guests and esteemed scholars of Newcastle University.

I am thankful for the opportunity to address you today on behalf of my fellow graduating students.

I believe dreams are a window through which we can have a view of the future we would like to feature in. Coming to Newcastle University is a proof of this as I had actually seen myself through my dream window studying for an MSc degree in a UK university over a decade ago.

As my dream was becoming reality, the window became covered in mist: the mist of financial support as I almost wouldn’t have made it here were I not to have received the Newcastle University Nigeria Scholarship; the mist of doubt and wonder if I’ll ever meet the standards of a top-ranking global university and the mist of coping outside the shores of the only environment I know as home. I never gave up on wiping off that mist so as to retain my vision through this dream window and that’s why I’m here today.

The past year studying with different people of different backgrounds gave me the opportunity to learn, relearn and unlearn. We shared ideas on different issues as we spent long hours either sitting behind computers in cluster rooms or in the library devouring textbooks and lecture notes. We pitched our tents in different corners in the library, sometimes ate our meals with one eye whilst trying to read through a book with the other.

We also learned and experimented beyond the walls of our lecture rooms. I personally learned to try out new dishes as I dined with my friends from different parts of the world. I would greet my Chinese friends saying, “nín hǎo,” and thank them by saying “xiè xie. It is only when they want to keep talking in Chinese they realise I had literally exhausted my Chinese vocabulary. All of these experiences have formed who we are today.

Having now graduated, I reflect upon my time here at Newcastle University and how much impact it will have in my future undertakings. I may have doubts as to where the paths I choose to tread may lead me and I am sure the same applies to some of my fellow graduating students seated here. One reassuring quote that clears that doubt, ironically, is printed on the Hadrian Bridge linking Robinsons Library which I have always walked past throughout the year without understanding. It reads, “Listen - Time may sing you like spring, leaves, where ever you are and spin you there. Inside out.”

I still do not fully understand the quote but it inspired a few thoughts: If time swings you to pursue your Ph.D., be the one to have that ground-breaking achievement that will contribute to the technological advancement of humanity. If you are spun to starting your own company, spin the industry to make a lasting impression; and if you’re taking a dream job, be the change agent in that organisation. As Earl Nightingale once said, “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”

Mists may cover our dream windows in forms of disappointments, lack of opportunities, failures and set-backs but we must remain focused on where we want to be and not where we temporarily find ourselves. We must take up similar mottos to that of Walt Disney as he famously said, “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Many of us may have come here to Newcastle University to get a degree but we have gotten more than we bargained for. Our curiosity have led us down the paths of greater challenges and it has made us better versions of ourselves. We have been intellectually and academically moulded, morally equipped, socially and culturally empowered. These are the tools required to face our individual futures and we must make the best use of them. Our global perspectives have been changed and we have taken up new dreams. To achieve these dreams, we must keep moving forward. We are only allowed to look back for one reason – not for regret, but to remember the lessons we have learned and how they can help shape our future.

Wherever our dreams take us from here, Newcastle University and all the people gathered here today will form a huge part of the success we achieve. We owe that success to our friends seated here today. We owe it to the supportive lecturers who imparted knowledge in us. And more importantly, we owe it to our families who have not only held our hands through this journey but are here today to share of our success and joy. And for these, we will remain eternally grateful.

And finally, to my fellow graduating students: I will like to see the parchments we receive today as passports. Passports to visit our future and explore the options life has to offer – the attractions and the beauty that aligns with our passions, goals and aspirations in life. As we march on in this journey of life, I implore you to keep dreaming and always give your best shot when every opportunity to achieve your dreams comes knocking. Remain curious and there will be no bounds to what you can achieve. As Zig Ziglar said, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

Thank you very much.

***************************** END OF SPEECH *****************************

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

This is For You.

Standing here close from afar,
That child lost in existence
With no strength left to spar
And staring into the gloomy distance,
This is for you…

To the dying, starved, lifeless one;
The abused, slaved, abandoned kid,
Whose tears and pain can’t be undone,
And face, gloom and sorrow has hid,
This is for you…

And to that one whose eyes’ dry
For no more tears can make its way;
No more strength to make a sigh
And hope never coming by,
This is for you…

The lost souls who stare from above
With pity for mates here left for dead,
Warning the child unborn with love,
“Earth is not a place to tread!”
This is for you…

This is for you to keep within your fist:
Never is hope lost though could tarry;
Death and strife may not desist
And this burden for longer you may carry.

But only for a little time more…
Hope has set sail and soon to dock
With only a moment arriving at shore
And finally all your pains no more to stock.

Dark as it may be, the dawn is nigh;
And just when the time is right
All you’ll see is light in the sky.
This is for you: Just hold on tight!

*Dedicated to the millions of starving children all over the world and the thousands being abused daily. To the kidnapped Chibok girls in Nigeria who are not celebrating Children's day in their homes, and the slaved child whose future is bleak; all of whom cannot access the internet.

- Ayodeji Omole

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