IT IS A GOAL
The population of Senegal is only 15 million.
It is less than the population of the city of Lagos alone.
But Nigeria got defeated and Senegal is the holder of the African Cup of Nations, the most prestigious trophy in soccer on the continent of Africa.
How is this possible?
How could a tiny country like Senegal defeat Nigeria, the Giant of Africa?
Sports is one of those arenas where I have learned many lessons: it is not what you have, how strong you are, and how loud you are that matters.
What matters is how resilient you are, how hard you work, how much you believe in yourself, and how well you understand that it is not over until the game is over.
I will never forget the way Mohammed Ali defeated George Foreman with just one sucker punch, in the match promoted as the Rumble in the Jungle.
Foreman was younger, stronger, and more favored to win the world heavyweight belt for which they fought in 1974 in Kinshasa, then Zaire.
Foreman had destroyed The Destroyer, Joe Frazier, knocking him down six times in the first two rounds, and incapacitated Ken Norton, all of 215 pounds of rippling muscles, in round two.
All the eight fights of Foreman ended in TKOs within the first or second round, before the fight with Ali, who was already beyond the best years of his career, following his incarceration for refusing to join the military to fight the war in Vietnam.
Everybody loved Ali more than Foreman, but we all knew Ali was no match for the destructive machine of Foreman.
But in round eight, Ali delivered a flurry of blows, together with a killer punch that sent Foreman crashing to the canvas, unable to beat the count of ten seconds in getting up.
Thus Ali won.
In basketball, however, is the principle of the buzzer-beater winning shot most demonstrated, with Michael Jordan as its greatest athlete-artist.
With Michael Jordan, I totally learned the principle of “It’s-not-over-until-it’s-over,” as he never gave up and regularly came up with unbelievable shots that won games at the last split of a second.
Life is a match, a game, in which we must be alive and alert all the time, as Ifa tells us. In Obara Meji, Ifa tells us that we must offer whatever self-sacrifice it takes to win and beat defeat.
The Africans who were enslaved and brought out of Africa and taken to strange lands in the Diasporas are the perfect examples of never giving up.
Repressed, suppressed, abused, refused for several centuries, they never gave up, and one by one, from one country to another, including Haiti, United States, the Bahamas and Cuba, these enslaved people fought until they broke and dropped the chains of oppression from their bodies.
My life is a relentless battle against all forces thrown against me to prevent me from achieving my goals and purposes.
All the time, it is not easy.
I fall. I expect to fall.
I fail. I expect to fail.
But I never fall and stay down. I sacrifice whatever is needed to rise up and keep going.
When I fail, I refuse to see myself as a failure. I consider failure an opportunity to try again, and again, sacrificing whatever it takes to succeed.
We cannot pray to never fall or fail. Falling and failing are part of being human.
We can pray for two things;
First, may we all find the strength to get up and keep going after falling.
Second, may we all be able to sacrifice all that is necessary to overcome our failures.
If the tiny country of Senegal can beat the gigantic country of Nigeria to win the trophy of Africa, you too can overcome great challenges and win against daunting odds.
The painting, titled THE PEOPLE’S PASSAGE, shows the harrowing journey of Africans crossing to the Diaspora lands. Once the colorful surface pulls your eyes into the picture, you begin to see details of the struggles of the people as they fall and fail, yet get up and keep going, until they succeed to achieve their freedom.