Oprah Winfrey’s last words every month in her magazine are contained in a column entitled ‘What I Know for Sure’. Those five words have become an indispensable compass in the toolkit of my life and have often helped me to find my bearing, to define my boundaries, to stay on my course and avoid diversions. Thus, while there are many things I do not know and many questions I cannot answer definitively, I can tell you what I know for sure.
I know for sure that this week, I am suffering ‘tragedy fatigue’. 100 days plus and our daughters are still missing. Assassination attempts and bombings in Kaduna just two days ago.The tragedy of MH17 precipitated by the crisis in Ukraine, and this barely four months after the disappearance of MH370. The Trans Asia Airways turboprop plane air crash in Taiwan two days ago in which 47 people were killed and the disappearance of Air Algerie Flight 5017 with at least 116 persons on board only few days later. The senseless conflict in Gaza and countless lives being lost daily… What in the world is going on?
So when a friend and mentor asked me what I would be writing about this week I replied with all honesty that I wasn’t sure. But I was absolutely certain about this: I wanted to dwell on something positive. Narrowing it down to Nigeria I asked him: “What good thing is happening in this country?” (I had been asking myself this question for days and it felt like looking for a needle in a haystack.) After giving it some thought, he replied: ‘The sun shines, every day.’The sun shines every day. How profound, and yet, how simple! I know for sure that, for me, there is comfort in certainty and safety in predictability. What can be surer and more predictable than the fact that the sun shines every day?
As a nation weighed down by incessant scandals and crises, it has become increasingly difficult to see the wood for the trees. It is very easy to get stuck in a mindset that blinds us from seeing the good, and conditions us to expect nothing good to come out of Nazareth. But the truth is, the sun does shine every day.
Therefore, today, I’m taking a very big breath and doing something I haven’t done before. I’m saying well done Mr President. I have found a couple of needles in the hay stack. And in the spirit of fairness, I say well done for the humility and wisdom you have shown this week.
Well done, Mr. President for meeting with the Chibok contingent. Yes, it came 100 days after the event, and yes, it came at the instance of a 17 year old girl from Pakistan. Yes, it is rather insulting that you could not be persuaded by your own people to host the meeting, and it took an outsider to get you to do the right thing. But you did do the right thing – in the end. I have said elsewhere that if you discover you have been travelling in the wrong direction, it doesn’t matter how far or how long you have travelled. Wisdom demands that you retrace your steps. Mr President did so this week. Well done.
Well done for having the humility to meet with the Emir of Kano and accepting the opportunity to bury the hatchet. You could have declined to meet with him. It would certainly have made you look petty and un-presidential if you had refused. But all the same, whatever your motive, you did the right thing. So, well done.
I know for sure that this week, Mr President earned the respect due his office. I know for sure that miracles can happen. I know for sure that conflict and tragedies are intrinsic to the circle of life, people do horrible things, and our girls are still missing. But I also know that weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes with the morning, and that the sun shines, every day.
Ms. Ishaya Audu is a lawyer and school administrator based in Abuja