Review of the Book: ‘Foot-Prints of 50 Great Nigerians’ by Tafa Osisiye.
Title: Footprints of 50 Great Nigerians. A motivational and documentary book on the lives of 50 Great Nigerians.
Authors: Chambers Umezulike and Tochukwu Nwoye.
Publisher: Joromi Museum (Revelation Tourist Palazzo) ‘Sir Victor Uwaifo’s museum,’ Benin City, Nigeria.
Foreword: Prof Sir Victor Uwaifo.
Reviewer: Osisiye Tafa (Writer, Essayist and Political Scientist).
‘One man of courage makes a majority.’ – Andrew Jackson
I have a problem with Western motivational books; you bring a story of a man who has power twenty four hours a day, whose mental capacity has not been impaired by sleeping and waking to the sound of a running 2.5 KV generator and you want me to toe his lines? No, we do not have the same conditions and owing to the difference in places of birth, we started the race of life at a different pace. Show me a book of a great Nigerian, who made gold using our extant conditions, and I will Appreciate, Learn and Believe. I think I have finally found such a ‘book’.
The text, ‘Footprints of 50 Great Nigerians’ is divided into two sections. The first part concentrates on setting forth a philosophy of success using a potpourri of a dozen enviable attitudes such as concentration, the law of attraction…. The second part goes a step further to give detailed life histories of fifty great individuals in our nation, individuals like Bukola Elemide (‘Asa’), Philip Emeagwali, Victor Uwaifo and many others. In the pages that follow, the authors attempts to set forth their lives-the ideals they lived for, the principles they fought for, their virtues and sins, their dreams and disillusionments, prizes earned and abuses endured. He chronicles a plethora of other things-big and small-as he reflects what is the best in the human being. All this was set down on the printed page. It is ours to read about.
Reading through this chronicle of legendary predecessors, one gets the feeling that history is not a dull, dry affair, but a constant source of inspiration. Whatever their differences, the Nigerians whose stories are retold share one heroic quality-greatness. One sees that there are truly heroes and we all can learn from their example. These are men and women who were willing to risk their lives, public opprobrium and circles of influence to do what is right.
These days, you listen in on a conversation and all you hear are tales of woe about this great nation. One begins to wonder if the time when men did acts that portrayed service, sacrifice and intellectual independence, in one word-greatness, have passed. I am convinced that the decline has been less in the polity than in the public’s appreciation of acts of greatness.
The simple acts of telling stories of those who act on principle regardless of the cost will inspire future generations to follow their example. This is not just a book to be placed on the shelves to gather dust; it is a call to action.
Francis Bacon said ‘It is left only to God and to the angels to be lookers on’. This portrayal of the people who went out into the field and acted manfully is didactic. At the end of the day-in the lives of the characters portrayed-they pass across to us that the capacity for greatness is within us all. Each one of us must find the gift we have to give. Looking at the diversity of great personalities in this text, one gets the feeling that you don’t have to have a college degree, make your subject and your verb agree, or know about Plato and Aristotle to be great. What you truly need is within you-the drive and concentration.
Greatness is a virtue portrayed in this book. The writers sought out people who had demonstrated that in government, the corporate sector and the arts. It shows greatness to sift the lives of people to find those that shine brightly amongst others. For this, I celebrate the text and its authors.
This book is not just the stories of the past. It is a book of hope and confidence for the future. What happens to the country and the world at large depends on what we do with what others have left us. In my village-Ogori Magongo in Kogi State-they say ‘You are never too old for greatness’. This rings true today as it has from the beginning of time. I therefore recommend this text to everyone-youth and old-who desires greatness.
Writer, Essayist and Political Scientist.