Karma is one force that may not be evicted from human experience. From classical Greek literature through the Roman ages, the mediaeval, Renaissance, to the age of reason, and the modern ages, life has always been a reflection of dish-in and dish-out, a sort of the commonly known computer language of garbage in and garbage out. It has always been a common touch of lying on a bed the way one dresses it, although some men have been barred from lying on their well dressed beds.
Human experience is always replete with series of perfect stories of appeal to human conscience. Even the Roman empire who could not sustain the high spirit of classical literature and then had to proscribe them, incarcerating writers for tending to divide human attention from full concentration on the activities of the Church, had to develop the morality plays to sustain its followership. Then, conscious efforts were made to ensure production of life-touching stories that would be meaningful to human mind. The ultimate aim then, remained that of keeping man in tune with nature, the need to develop the human capital with morality.
Of course, there were infiltrations of fantasy. These only tended to offer unto man, the existence of reality beyond the physical. Call it the metaphysical or the surreal, the purpose still became sustained in giving man an absolutely magnetic attraction to the unnatural. It was an attempt to raise the human mind from the time and spatial reach, to the almost impossible. Yet, it was not without lessons of the necessity for human contentment to whatever presented itself to them.
Be that as it may, our Nation, the Oro Ukpabang, has been a stock of a premiere people. The Oro race has been an uncommon assemblage of highly thoughtful and intellectually superior set of humans. From historical migration to settlement and then development, the Oro blood has been a quintessence of a special breed whose stock would ever be envious to others. No wonder the popular slave trade was said to have been starkly resisted and rejected as the slave masters became so unfortunate for being unable to persuade or compel the Oro people into slavery.
This is one thing our time must not fail to accommodate. We must be conscious at refreshing this feat in our minds as a conscious effort towards scaring away importation of alien cultures and traditions in our clime. We should sing it as a song. We must recite it as a verse. We must sound it like a note and get our people acquainted with our courage. We must tell the world of our unmatched resilience. We must give ourselves a brand name. Indeed, the task is ours to mould our frame and hang it on our wall of fame. It is our must-do, so we may see our future well.
Oro was and should still be the land of the blessed. It is the soil of nature wonders. It is the waters that many seek. Although our infrastructure seem undone, we know that time dances and gently comes, when our faces shall shine the oil we bear. And so our low estate of today is not to be seen as a discouragement. It rather must take our minds to those glorious days of old, when our fathers came together and gave us a worthy Union, the Oron Union who today becomes an old man, being 93 years old.
Politically, many things have happened. We were the first to see the light. The light of politics and the light of education. Our heads got swollen with our exposure and our line of thought was that of accommodation, ensuring political humanitas. In fact, this was why we saw an opportunity of presiding over the then South Eastern State but gave it to our Ibibio brothers. “It was a mark of respect for elders and political maturity”, putting it in the words of Elder Enefiok Ekefre. We saw an opportunity to dominate the Cross River State but we chose to be in Akwa Ibom, offering the newly created state the wealth with which it becomes Nigeria’s richest state today, oil and otherwise.
We are the richest set of Nigerians alive. Our soil is heavy with riches. Our water is bubbling with fishes, and our brains are the greatest resource of human intellectual capital. Has Hon. Okpoyo Etifit not told us of our 565 corked wells? Has Elder Ekefre not alarmed of our “nine” (9) out of “eleven” (11) oil wells in this state? Why then shouldn’t we become leaders of Nigeria? Why should we not lead the state we share as stakers? We know the journey isn’t futile because our stars are twinkling in the sky. And so if our future seem re-twisted, leaving us in utmost despair, we can restructure our path and get to our dome by force.
There are 10 or more things we must do to give our youth a future that can’t be dimmed. These essentially become the crux of this piece. We shall therefore, turn our attention towards addressing these areas as brief as possible.
First, we must love ourselves. With love, we shall think of everybody’s progress. With love, we shall know that we are brothers from the same root. In this way, the welfare of one another shall be the burden of all. This will make us see ourselves as a unifying force that has the capacity to bulldoze all encumbrances on our ways. With strong bond of love, unity and togetherness, we shall think good collectively and work together towards realizing it for the betterment of all.
Two, we must retain our core culture and tradition. Yes, the culture of a people is their way of life. Peoples cultural heritage is their mark of identity and peculiarity. We must not be an exception in the committee of nations who must show themselves as a brand to the world at large. Our food, our dress, our language and our common values as a people must not be sacrificed for whatever reason. We are a people of common belief system, love, kindness towards men and respect for human dignity. To build our youth towards enjoying a future of excellence, we must be in tune with our culture and tradition for without which, we have no nature or form.
We must not be cultists. Yes, cultism has been the alien force that has threatened our core belief in natural justice. It has threatened our existence, getting us boxed to a corner like a people without conscience. We aren’t cultists. We are a peace loving people. Cultism will get us addicted to two things, drugs and blood. If we are cultists, we may not escape the grave consequences of common attraction to drugs and blood. We shall drink, smoke and get a life as cultists. We shall maim, kill and destroy as cultists. We can attest to the woes the menace has given to us as a people. It is our duty to eschew cultism so that our blinking future may come smiling at us.
Oro youth must go to school. We must learn and be enlightened. Our age is that of enlightenment. Many fortunes have made our age a plus. Education is brought to our doorsteps. Our forebears were not fools when they did everything to secure scholarships to bright students of Oro extraction. They knew the value of education and of course, the story of the late Chief Mfon Amana’s academic exploit is well retold in all seasons. Education will open our eyes to see how our brothers are cheating us. We will, if we are educated, be sharp to know how they suck our wealth away and come to us sneezing with their nose. Prominent elders, politicians, groups and individuals must learn from our premiere Union who knew the value of scholarship and made it available to us. Our youth must know that he who sends a person to school is not the one to be educated. It is he who goes to school that gets education. We must study hard and break existing records, like the recent story of Miss Christiana Esio Oquong Udoh, a proud daughter of Urue Offong/Oruko in Oro Nation who broke the age-long academic record in Imperial College, London early this year, bagging the Dudley Newitt Award.
We must be politically inclined and alert. Yes, both our youth and our elders must be politically curious at all times. No matter what we do, no matter what occupies us, we must have an eye in the politics of our land and society. In this way, we shall get to know when our own leader would advertise employment for five thousand (5,000) and end up absorbing three thousand (3,000) of his people, leaving just two thousand (2,000) for the rest of other interests. We sure do remember how a former ‘partner in crime’, who in an attempt to terminate such an engagement, raised an alarm that the processes of such ‘daylight recruitment’ was fraudulent. Being politically inclined will help us know how we have nine out of 11 oil wells in our state, but end up not being enlisted as core oil producing community in the same state.
We must frequently interact with our elders. The immediate past leadership of Oron Union had introduced the Oro Leadership and Business Round Table, where the youths and the elders share the same table of thought. This kind of forum must be encouraged as it serves as a platform for cross-pollination between the youth and the elders. Meanwhile, it should be noted that such an avenue shall help to reveal certain truths and propel ideas that shall help in easier transition of authority and knowledge. Our elders must not scare us. They must open their alms and cage us in their lines of wisdom so we can have a straight and promising future.
We must not insult our elders or tarnish their image to the outside world. It is no evidence of resilience. To me, this is the highest way of lynching a reputation. Of course, people think differently and for sure, many do not need to agree with me. The then trending story of one of the high chiefs of Oro who was slaughtered on the social media was a slap on us. Must we wash our dirty linens in public? This may be the only red spot in this piece. But I insist that we needed not to have done so. Of course, we are all Christians. The story of Noah in Genesis 9:22-27 who drank wine, got drunk and became naked is well known to all. Ham saw his father’s nakedness and went proclaiming it in public, but Shem and Japheth went backwards with a garment and covered their father. We know the rest of the story, curses and blessings. By the way, have we heard the latest about the East-West Road and its contract? We all have a huge lesson to learn of how not to be patriots in man slaughter.
Oro youth must not be afraid to say the truth. “And thou shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”, the scripture says. In whatever manner of challenge we find ourselves, we must be ready at all cost to say the truth. In politics, economy, governance, social or legal issues, we must learn to say the truth. This is the only factor that shall give us a retained virtue as a people, a people highly respected for their regard for justice.
We must resist strange attacks and undue exploitation. Yes, people who think they have money or name in politics have stretched too far for encroachment. They have threatened too severe intimidation, attacking us with our God’s given manna. The divine knew we were a few people, very unique in our own way. He gave to us all that we have. But some persons feel they can exploit us without a price. We are a people with the vibes, courage and confidence for resistance. We should refuse to be unduly exploited so that our youth would have a sure future.
Ultimately, it is our duty as a people to know God. We must seek the face of God as the alpha and the omega. He is the beginning and the end. He knows our end from our beginning and knows the thoughts that He thinks towards us. His mind towards us is that of good and not evil, to give us an expected end. We must know God, fear God and keep his commandments for this is our whole duty on earth. We must take solace in the word of the Lord that in seeking God and His kingdom, all other things shall be added unto us.
In inference, the task of raising Oro youth is not one person’s. It is a thing we must all do. The youth, the elders, our mothers, the learned and all others must join hands in building the youth, for as the saying goes, we build the future when building the youth. By so doing, we shall be sure to secure a future for our youth, a shining future that must not dim.
This article was first published in ECKO Magazine, 2018, a publication of National Association of Akpakip Oro Students, University of Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. Atainyang, a journalist and public affairs commentator can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07036964637