My name is Gwamezioku. I lived in the city centre in a State in my country popularly called “Centre of Excellence” and close to my place was the National Stadium. Going to the stadium for fitness activities was a way of life, one which everyone in that vicinity was accustomed to.
In the mornings especially on Saturdays, You see people jogging towards and into the stadium where various sporting events are taking placing, from aerobics to athletics to swimming and then to my favourite, soccer.
“I loved” the round-leather-ball game so much that I starved myself in school to use my feeding allowance to buy soccer magazines. Since we didn’t have cable TV stations I had to go stand at the entrance of Big restaurants to watch foreign league games. Also I couldn’t go inside because I could not afford to buy anything inside the restaurant and besides they sold mainly alcohols. Also whenever local clubs were playing at the stadium, I was there and when the National Team was playing, I must certainly be there. It was a thrill, excitement unquantifiable to be there and see those “Heroes, those larger-than-life, those Demi-god” players display skills you only wish and dreamt about.. They dazzled me any day, anytime. I wanted to be like them so badly, most of my T-Shirts had theirs names on it. The dribbles, the ball passes and the set pieces made the game look like one synchronised dance concert and the scoring was the climax. When you go off to bed, you find yourself dreaming and re-living the whole experience over a thousand times.
Yes, it is not a typo error when I used the Past tense “…I loved the…”. Please don’t misunderstand me, I still love the game but not just the way I did before and it is not because I grew older or my parents packed out of the stadium vicinity. No!, . It was the event of 12th August, 1989.
That was one of the saddest days of my life, I wish that day never came. I still can remember the whole scenario, and the news afterwards that shocked everyone. I was very young then, I never understood what “being in shock and deep sense of loss and pain”. All I knew was I had uncontrollable urge to be silent and cry, my heart felt very heavy, I lost appetite for food(imagine me losing appetite for food!, wooow!!!, that must be serious). I lost interest in everything and gradually started losing interest in the game. My country was host in a soccer match against Angola at my national stadium and One of my heroes, an All-time- great player and patriot was featuring. He was a reminder of the legendary Ruud Gullit of Holland, wearing the same dreadlocks. He was simply breath-taking and gave us such confidence, that even if we lose, we will still experience beautiful and good soccer display.
Whilst the game was on, he slumped to the ground at the 77th minute. I thought he was brought down by the opponent defenders or so but he was carried out on a stretcher. Initially I was disappointed that I will not see Him ridicule and crush our opponents with his usual mastery of the game but I said to myself “…no worries, we still have other countries to meet ahead in the 1990 World Cup qualifying games, we will still see him” and then the news was announced that he was dead.
Whilst his death was devastating to me, what happened afterwards was the proverbial “straw” that broke the camel’s back.
So what was I expecting you might ask?
I really don’t know but something like immortalizing him like naming major places or institutions in his name or his image on our currency or something substantial that will outlast my generation and will be a memorial for future generations to do much more, a legacy of some sort for future footballers to aspire to be, something commensurate to his greatness.
My country did nothing of that sort for him and the people forgot about him and then I remembered Mark 8:36 “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?.” I do not know the relationship He had with Jesus but I hope he had a good one because all his efforts in this life has been abandoned, forgotten and discarded… Isaiah 40:6 says “A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.” And verse 8 says “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
Ecclesiastes 9:5 “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.”
All his Labour, struggles for himself and this country has been a waste, a pursuit in futility. A meaningless endeavour that led to nowhere especially in my country. This attitude is not peculiar to my country, it a human thing but it is worse in my country.
Am I saying it is wrong to aspire to greatness and perfection in your passion? No!!!, of course not, but pursue with an “Eternal” purpose and goal in view and in mind. Let the glory you seek be from and of Jesus and Him alone because this world is not worth giving your all and best to if Jesus is not your focus and motivation for such drive because Jesus says He will never leave us nor forsake us. Deuteronomy 31:6 and 8; 1st Chronicles 15:2; Hebrews 13:5…why will He never forsake us?….1st John4:19 “we love because He first loved us” first and also Isaiah 49:16 “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”
Selah!!!, are you pursuing self accomplishment and societal recognition? Its a dead end.