“It is better to choose the devil you know than the one you do not know” that is what my mother used to say when I was a child. It just meant when faced with two extreme situations, choose the one you know you can handle. Basically, choose “the familiar". While my mum's proverbs were usually about life and philosophy, my father's proverbs were usually about morals "cut your coat according to your size", "don't behave like the joneses", "birds of the same feather fly together", etc.
Being brought up by two people who had strong principles in life meant that I too developed rather quickly, a strong sense of right and wrong. Another favourite of mine, from my mother, was "don't paint the devil on the wall" which meant do not be negative about the future. But this article is not about my mother, or my late father, or being raised by them.
It is about the fact that we have somehow forgotten why we praise people in this country. Do we praise people for achievement? For being a role model? A stand up citizen? For being a hero? For a job well done? Who is worthy to be praised?
I was never praised without a reason as a child. To get praise, I had to do something that was worthy to be praised. Good grades in school, or being helpful in the house, or being kind and decent to all those around me. Nobody praised me if i was naughty or being intolerable. The rules are simple enough. Do something that is worthy of being praised, and you shall be praised.
However, the people we “praise” in this country continue to puzzle me. Now, I do not know how others have been brought up, or what their own parents told them, but the fact that we continue to not only accept corrupt human beings but also praise them, shows very clearly how baseless our values in the society have become. Before we adorn human beings with all sorts of crowns on their head, can we not ask the simple question, “What exactly have you done that is worthy to be praised?”I am constantly astonished about the way we so easily praise dishonest and corrupt human beings in our midst.
Yet, those that live honest lives are seen as “weak”, unable to hustle for their share of the national cake. That is what the small minded would think. Unable to understand, that there are so many people still in this country that hold fast to principles and morals. The same ones we were ALL taught as children. These people are the ones that still keep our hopes for a better Nigeria alive.
Let us start celebrating those that earn their living doing an honest day’s work. Let us celebrate those that still dare to stand up and do the right thing. For the men and women in Nigeria who will probably never see a morsel of the national cake.
For those whose futures are dependent on their own abilities and not who they know.
Let us celebrate the teachers, the nurses, the doctors, the journalists, the ordinary people who work so hard for their daily bread.
Let us celebrate them because they are the ones who show our children that there is still pride in hard work.
Let us praise them, because they are worthy to be praised.