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Keep your eyes on the sparrow

Oregon dark eeyed jun

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE SPARROW

Growing up as kids in the 80s, the above words always bring to my mind of one popular musician in those days, Jimmy Cliff. I am not sure I was able to know what the lyrics were, but I was always humming along when my Uncle would be playing those big Lp record; I guess that’s what they called them then.

I believe I was not the only one, but to as many kids growing up then, especially these who love music, would remember those words; ‘Keep your eyes on the Sparrow.’

However, these days, with the society wired into Spirituality, we could rephrase the above with words from the bible book of Hebrew  12:2 that says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith………”

These words sound like a battle cry for every Christian believer whose goal is to make Heaven, the Kingdom of God. This is propelling every believer in this unending strive against principalities and powers, agents of darkness, and against the flesh crave for the mundane things and pleasure of this present world.

The bible, in Rom. 8:35-39 gave us an inkling as what to expect as believers as we navigate our way through life perilous voyage to the Promised Land. Paul put it this way; what can separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.

As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come.

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Song Sparrow

Meaning that the high way to Heaven is littered with all manner of distractions and obstacles; some capable in taken our lives, but in all. We never wavered. We have set our goal on Christ. and the Father’s Kingdom; nothing will stop us from making this life ultimate goal.

That’s what St. Paul was trying to encourage us with when he said nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

In the book of Revelation, John the beloved, revealed to us what the Lord asked him to tell mankind, that “he that endured to the end.” Again, meaning the road to Heaven calls for endurance; thus, we have to keep looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

For He was like us, tempted as we are, and persecuted, in every way, Heb. 4:15. He felt the infirmity of mortal life. Thus, we continue until the Pearly gates of Heaven opens to admit us into the splendor and glory of the Divine presence of God.

So, what has that got to do with keeping our eyes on the sparrow, I could hear someone asking.

Well, it was the sound of music flowing in the air I caught, which led me in this chain of thought to share with you. Whatever your dream in life is, hold on to it. It will always not be achieved in a wishful thinking. It must be pursued and worked out, endured and set on as a mark to attain.

American Tree Sparrow

As in spite of our sometimes, frail moral life, lustful thinking, sliding and slipping along this super highway to Heaven, and not losing focus that we are Heaven bound, so must we hold on to our dreams of what we are aspiring to be.

The road to becoming a medical doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, a chief executive, will never come in a platter of gold. There will be sleepless nights, days when there may not be dinner, or breakfast.

A time could come when you may not have the fee to pay for your course work, or the fare for the bus ride; when you will be tempted, or even goaded to jettison that dream for some seemingly fairer alternative.

But listen to what I want to share with you today, my friend. We all at some point in life made that mistake and some could not get back on track to that old dream, the vision God had shown to us in our formative years; some are now floundering in an endless labyrinth of hopelessness.

Clay-Colored Sparrow

I had a kick on my guts when I was listening to a lecture few days ago, this prompted this write up. It came in the form of a question; ‘do you have a mission statement of your life?’

Well, I had all the time assumed mission Statement has to do with my new business proposal, or a new product design; but a mission statement about my life, well that is new and I guess it’s worth exploring.

It sound like a strange question, but it is essential we have a mission statement of our life, and follow it through to its logical conclusion; putting in place all the control and coordination measures that we would have put in our project execution.

It is just another way of saying “keep your eyes on the Sparrow:”  “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”.

Le Conte's Sparrow
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The Conflicting Realities 2: My Guidance Angel 4

(Concluded)

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I looked back at the old man and continued. “What we need for the production of salt at the time of the war was a mere rectangular tin pot measuring about five feet long, three feet in width, and three feet depth. We then prepared a cooking stand with two big mangrove tree logs arranged side by side to make a fire.

“All the raw materials that we need were the salt water from the sea and a steady supply of firewood; the mangrove forest has an unlimited supply. One can prepare as many pots and fire as he is capable of managing.

“As the water dries up, the salt will be left behind as sediment in the pot. The more water one keeps filling the pot with, the larger the quantity of salt produced.

“On getting the desired amount of salt, it will be emptied into a large bamboo weaved baskets. The pot will then be filled with fresh water and the salt poured back into it.”

“Why do you need to do that?” He asked.

“The saltwater we got from the river carries with it a large number of residues,” I explained. “Though, we often collect the water when the river has stopped flowing in full tide or at ebb tide when all the muddy dross has settled into the depth of the river. We will still carry some along with the water to the pot; this gives the prepared salt a brownish color.

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“We, therefore, use the fresh water to wash off this brownish appearance to give it a somewhat brighter look.”

“This would be quiet a labor-intensive activity.”

“It was. The fire must be on, all day and all night until you have got the desired quantity of salt in the pot, and you want to remove it. You’ve got to have a regular supply of firewood to keep the fire burning and be filling the pot with the salt water.

“You would have to wake up in the middle of the night to make sure that the fire does not burn out, or the salt burnt black. There was also the additional labor of getting the fresh water from another fishing camp across the estuary where there was a bush, every time you need to clean the salt.”

“How do you sell off the product after this rigorous exercise?” he asked.

“There was a total trade blockade into the Eastern part of the country as a result of the war. This resulted in a lack, or shortage of the supply of salt, among other essential marine products.

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“Though the salt we produced was not of the grade of fine refined type, it was able to compensate for the total lack of the product and the resultant health effect on the people. We will then package the salt into the baskets which we take to the border market at Akpede for sale.” I concluded

“How’s that possible?” He asked.

We both turned to look away into the far southern end of the river where a flock of parrots was descending into the groove of the giant mangrove trees: their chirping sounds filling the evening air.

“After producing the salt, do you have to shut down production until after you have done the sale then you go back and start another round of cooking?” He turned to look at me inquiringly.

“You are only asking me to say how this is possible or do you truly want to know?” I asked with a smile.

“Well, you have been explaining the process, and I truly want to know how you concluded this salt production business at a time of strife.”

“While the men and the children are involved in the main working at the camp, the wives would take the finished product to the market. It was also a period when various trading activities were also going on.

“Some traders would come from the hinterlands to buy salt and other marine products to go and sell at the market; they also brought food items and other things to sell in the camps.

“Though I would want to accept your assessment to the extent that we were not directly in the epicenter of the war to have a severe effect, we, none-the-less, felt it in different ways. We exploited the situation to stay alive. Our life patterns were also greatly displaced.”

“If you have been listening to me since I came here, you would realize that is what I have been saying,” he looked at me. And now I can see the shade of weariness in his face quite plain.

“War is a dangerous adventure for anybody, people, or nation to undertake. Even now, I can hear the sound and drums of war very loud and clear all over the world.

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“It is not the sound that you hear from a distant land and would want to dismiss as tales by moonlight. I can hear it even in your country. The general meetings and assemblies of all the world organs are not meeting on global development, but about alignment, about wars, and about the production of the weapon of wars of the destruction of the human race.

“Are you paying attention to the news of the world? There is an alarming trend of events tilting into war. I am afraid your nation and the world are in the periphery of a catastrophic cauldron. And with the advancement of technology, the wars in the last century will be mere flake compared with what you will have in your hand.”

I could feel his eyes piercing into my heart as he was talking, his voice droning like a giant bird in the distance drawing my mind into a picture sometime in the past. I can see the flashing lights in the night like a dozen touch lights.

“What’s happening?” His voice cut into my thoughts. “Why are you looking as if you’ve seen a ghost?”

“I was thinking what we suffered during the war,” I looked at him as he raised his eyes inquiringly at me. “We left the village at dusk to travel to Owukubu on our salt production business.

“We were two canoes comprising the whole members of the family and some workmen of my father. He had mapped out the route we were to take as to fit with the flow of the current. His estimation was to take us to this camp at about the time when the water was to flow downstream.

“That would have given us a smooth ride down Sibokubu-bio to Juju point, then follow the current down the St. Barbara River to the estuary at Owukubu, and we would be home and dry. We would come out from that river, are you seeing that entrance upriver from here?” I pointed to the river that comes out from the midsection before the main river curves to the left.

“That point is called Okonikiri – named after a certain man that set up a fishing camp at the point.” From the fading light of evening in the distance, I could see two or three canoes returning to the camp. I looked at the old man. He was also staring at them.

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The Conflicting Realities 2: My Guidance Angel 3.

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(Contd)

Over the years, I kept on imagining the enterprising spirit of the people in those dire days of the war. The people from the riverine areas will bring goods like fish, salt, and other marine-based products to this border market to’ exchange’ for food and other product.

Exchange it was because most of the trade was done by batter system as the currency of exchange was not accepted as a legal tender across both sides of the border; that was long before the soldiers started converging in our villages and fishing camps, burning and destroying everything.

“Though you had a Childhood experience of the war,” he said to me patiently, “your experience could not be compared to those who lived in the epicenter of the war. For out there, it was a living hell,” he concluded, looking at me.

Though I was a little boy then, probably not more than eight years old, there were some incidents that I could still recall and shudder at the remembrance.

“Do you know that this camp is called Ikirika-kiri,” I asked him. “A name I think it derived on account of it being used in those days as a settlement for some people from Okirika; a tribe of Ijaw people that lived in the eastern part of the Niger Delta.

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“Across this river over there,” I pointed across the river to where the little canoe with the two persons had come out. “There is a river there. If you look very well, you can see the entrance from here.”

“I am seeing it,” he answered. “I think it is called Sibokubu-bio. It leads to St. Barbara River, coming out at the confluence of juju-point.”

“You are right,” I agreed, looking at him, wondering how he knows about all these things but continued instead.

“Alright, down that St, Barbara River is the estuary to the Atlantic ocean. There are some fishing camps in the area called Angbakiri, Owukubu, Akananga, and others. Angbakiri was some way up from the others.

“As a result of the war, all the fishermen in the camps up in this area have gone south to those settlements to take on any vocation that can sustain a family. Some were producing salt, hewing of the tall mangrove trees as firewood, and others for the traditional fishing.”

“How were you producing salt in a fishing settlement?” he asked,

“Do you want me to explain how we produce salt or you really want to know?” I suckled

“Do you mind telling me that without asking?” he smiled broadly.

“Okay, but that is not what I want to say. I just want to make the point that whether we were at the epicenter of the war or not, we had our fair share of it.”

He did not say anything to that, but just stared at me, so I continued. “It would take one about eight hours of paddling with a canoe to get to Owukubu following the current in an ebbing tide, and passing through Sibokubu-bio.

“It is also possible for one to go down-stream from here to get to the estuary of the Atlantic. It will take almost the same time to get there from here.

“It was in the middle of the war and the soldiers have taken over every camp within this area. We were under constant harassment in the village. My father, therefore, decided to take every member of the family to go to Owukubu to start a salt production business.”

“Did your father know how to produce salt prior to that time?”

“Em…you know that saying, ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ I think there is nobody that had to have a primary school education to know how to start fishing. We were born here to picking up our net, or hook, a canoe, and you have got a certificate to go into fishing. The rest of the technicality, you will learn on the job.”

I looked up at the sky in the far corner up-river. The night like a velvet curtain was coming very fast, covering the earth. The wind blowing in from the sea was quite refreshing, tinting the air with the smell of fresh fish and sludge.

I looked back at the old man and continued. “What we need for the production of salt at the time of the war was a mere rectangular tin pot measuring about five feet long, three feet in width, and three feet depth. We then prepared a cooking stand with two big mangrove tree logs arranged side by side to make a fire.

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The Conflicting Realities 2: My Guidance Angel 2

Conflicting Realities 2; My Guidance Angel 2

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As I looked up, I saw the old man looking away to the far southern end of the river where the mangrove trees drew a thick pattern as a well-cultured flowering garden. There is another river coming out at that point to join the main artery which tapered off into the far end as it curves off to form another stretch.

I followed his gaze and noticed that the sun has gone under a thick grey cloud casting a deep reddish appearance over the river in the western horizon. I looked up to the east, as if on cue, and saw the water blending off into the tall mangrove, curving into the left, going far away into the hinterlands.

From that end, I could notice the eastern horizon bearing the night as a sheet of the dark velvet curtain, spreading over static earth.

“War is an ominous evil that mankind has invented to solve frail egos and gain position and authority, which left in its wake despicable destruction of the divine order,” he said breaking the silence.

“Whenever I hear the sound and drums of war being played, as is the case now, I sympathize with the man. They will never learn. You cannot settle your differences by trying to kill your opponent.

“War takes away the peace of man and visits him with pain and sorrow, grief and destruction beyond his imagination. In the frenzied atmosphere of the sound of the battle drums, and war-cry, only very negligible voices will cry caution; that will easily get swallowed up in the strident sound of the drums.

“Even now, I could hear the drums of war in the distance, and rapidly getting louder,” he finished with that far away look, seeing into time beyond our realm, I guessed.

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“Sir, there has always been a war fought in one part of the world or the other. Which one are you referring to here? There is already a war in Nigeria. Isn’t there?” I asked.

“There is a war being fought now which you hear on the News wave. They still consider it a distant tale from a fairyland. For those that have not experienced war first hand, it sounds like an adventure that one could pursue.

“But what they did not realize is that only a few come back to tell tales of their experience, and even those lives a nightmarish life for a considerable part of their remaining life. War bears in its wings tales an observer can tell that.” He looked at me sullenly with a suppressed grin and patted my shoulder.

“You had a childhood experience of your old war.”

“Yes I do,” I agreed, my thoughts going back to the first soldier I ever saw in my life.

A fat-bellied man, wielding a long rifle; he appeared from the corner of a building, looking grim and threatening. I have gone with my mother to Akpede market in the heat of the war to sell fish on a particular market day.

This fat soldier also came to the market with some of his colleagues to buy things. When I saw him, I exclaimed at his appearance. My mother had to slap my mouth shut with the back of her left hand.

Over the years, I kept on imagining the enterprising spirit of the people in those dire days of the war. The people from the riverine areas will bring goods like fish, salt, and other marine-based products to this border market to’ exchange’ for food and other product.

Exchange it was because most of the trade was done by batter system as the currency of exchange was not accepted as a legal tender across both sides of the border; that was long before the soldiers started converging in our villages and fishing camps, burning and destroying everything.

(To be continued)

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Sweet Memories Linger

 

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We all had good times and bad times. I had mine when I lost a loved one some years past. I have gone over the pain. Recently, I reflected on that moment and how I put my thoughts into lyrics then. Here were my thoughts in lyrics.

SWEET MEMORY LINGERS
Sweet memories of years gone by
Assails my thoughts these days,
They were memories of fishing,
Of farming, and of salting farming;
Of so many things to say.
But above all, is the memory
Of the one who called me, ‘son.’

It is a sweet memory that lingers.
It follows me everywhere.
The love and joy it gives
Is evergreen.
Sweet memory lingers.

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I recall memories of the camps,
The fishing settlements and huts;
The rivers and the sea, as constant friends.
The toy boats and the mud,
Where we ran and played.
But above all, is the memory
Of the one who called me, ‘son.’

How could the past be in the present?
How could I touch, smell and feel
All those things which only lingers now
In the past’s memory.
Of the things, I love so much.
But above all, is the memory
Of the one who called me, ‘son’.

It is a sweet memory that lingers.
It follows me everywhere.
The love and joy it gives
Is evergreen.
Sweet memory lingers.

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The Blurring Shadow of the Past

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For a million years of history

Lays the foundation of humanity

It’s laid in unending pages of

Decaying and, sometimes rusty

Relics hinging on treacherous foils

 

The past tells the story of our life

It reveals the errors and success made

Hanging to the past would result to

Discouragement and fear, hatred, and dismay

For the past littered with the stories of

What we should have better let go

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The future is the hope for a better t’moro

It’s the aspiration and the way to a greater height;

And a glory that is attainable when pursued,

That pales the past to an insignificant blurry dream:

The future expands to infinite possibilities

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It is the success of past failure

The attainment of the lessons learned

It is the vision we set and twigs to build

Our dreams to come to reality

Dreams realizable only in fairy climes

Yet we bring to our new world order

 

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The Success Highway

The Success Highway

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Like a blank page before a writer

The way opens to the wayfarer

On his earthly voyage through life

His defined goal in life; to make

the success of his life while time last:

Never knowing People United are

reaching everywhere

How does he define success in life?

What measures the scale of success in life?

To attain worthy contentment;

But the success he attains at a point

Starts a new phase of this unending

Labyrinth of the pilgrim’s voyage

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Life isn’t playing fair to him, he’d argue

For the path to success is slippery as an eel

And they strew his way with thorns and briers

While snares litter every turn of the way;

For many are the foes striving for every crown:

Yet people united are reaching everywhere

But he would, like a flint set his gaze on his goal

Taking every obstacle for encouragement

And every fault as a lesson learned

For success comes to him who defies

All odd and never quit when others would

and in unity he could reach everywhere

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He smiles at his travails, and they are many

Yet he doesn’t slack on his set purpose;

For in the gloom he sees a silver lining:

of sanitly people are united  reaching everywhere

even to him.

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