Have you ever seen a human who doesn’t want to be great? Although one may argue that there are such people, I doubt if it would be a personal decision of any man not to be great. Therefore greatness is a subtle wish of every being living or dead. If you ask a little child this day and age, already, with so much examples around us, such a kid would likely speak pompously of a dream lurking in the corners of his malleable heart. Being great is a driving force for the things we all engage ourselves in, whether work or play, we all try as much as we can to increase of our relevance all in the effort to bring greatness to our lives.

The most frustrating thing to any man is when he has no relevance to his given environment. Nothing is as depressing as when you come into a place and you are not even noticed or accorded any pleasantries. It reduces your feeling of self-worth and puts you in the mud of questioning your very existence. I have had a friend, when we both witnessed the above circumstance, tell me “Reggie! I have to be great oh.” I could practically feel the ooze of a strong desire from him, and I suddenly knew why many people in their quest end up on the downside of ambition. I am not immune from it, that’s why I think I have the imprimatur to break the cocoon of my thoughts on the matter.

Two men in our contemporary history present us with the two sides of greatness, as counsel to those of us who seek to walk the paths where the Lions and eagles tread. We have celebrated them and poured so much encomiums for their acts of courage in the face of defiant foreign domination and enslavement. The names Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe strike the musical notes of exemplary leadership and influence that cause a whole nation and continent to dance in a uniform manner, and get historians frantically penning down pages of rhetoric for the annals of Afro-History. The name of the latter may now provoke feelings of disdain, but nevertheless, we cannot strip him of his former accomplishments and his stumbling is a factor for the thoughts herein.

Mandela and Mugabe, at birth may never have conceptualized the extent of the relevance they would have in their generation until they picked up undying passions for freedom from oppression. Today we know that these men were in the forefront during the years of playing on the turf in the game of African renaissance against imperialistic proponents. But while one is still soaring effortlessly on the wings of greatness, the other is on a downward spiral on the broken wings of ambition. After tasting the wine of grandeur, one is done by it while the other is drunk by the same liquid. It reveals the sourness in sweetness. Reminds me of the sweetness/ bitterness of the garden egg, depending on who eats it. Now I am knowing that greatness is like wine or the garden egg, it has a varying effect on its consumer. Greatness produces both Masters and Monsters.

After watching the movie by Jim Carrey: The Mask, I am more persuaded that true greatness is first the nature of a man before an appendage. While the mask produced a sort of superhuman in one, the same mask produced a super monster in another, based on the the inherent nature of the recipients. Greatness is like this mask which some men may be given the opportunity to wear in their lifetime. What results is entirely a revelation of the hidden nature and predispositions of such a ‘lucky’ individual. Saul and David in the holy writ are also due examples of the differing outcomes of greatness. Both led by the same passion to free their people from domination, set about glorious deeds. But what resulted was that one has a name that we so eagerly give our children, while the other is a word of caution to our erring wards. In like manner, greatness has revealed what was the content of the heart of Mandela and has shown us also the motivation behind Mugabe’s actions. Therefore I am poised to be inspired by both men as I carve out my own path of relevance to a watching world.

While Mandela has shown me how greatness can make a man a living legend, Mugabe has taught me that greatness can warp the mind of a man and make him self-conceited. I have learnt that greatness is a privilege and not a right thus it cannot be forced but exuded. I am also learning that clinging onto privileges makes one an unnecessary pain and a hindrance to others as they seek to enter into the doors of opportunity. Now I know that true greatness inspires the same in others, while false greatness seeks to sap the value out of others and establish self serving interests, even if people have to sacrifice their lives for it. Today at 90 years of age Mandela is a living legend, while Mugabe at 84 is a living Brigand.

I will not be stupid enough to dwell on their achievements, but to set my own course by dealing essentially with my nature first, so that when greatness comes knocking, I will be a Master and not a Monster.




  1. taoajay says:

    This is the excellent course, i remember reading this last year, and making a commitment to doing what I have to do to build a worthy character, and reading it again brings a sense of renewed commitment to a course that would make me a master instead of the opposite as portrayed in this piece; wonderful one again, all I’ll say is “it’s up to you to be what you wanna be, but remember what you’ll be is what you’ll be remembered for and possible your generation.” Just now, an article on the national dailies comes to mind, Mohammed ABACHA to run for gubernatorial elections in 2011 in Kano State, what comes to mind?

  2. LAra says:

    Once again Reg, Great Piece. Makes me check the intents of my heart and the motive behind all my actions, desires and aspiration. And i wonder, if given this mask of greatness, what will be revealed about me? Indeed, i have to actively set my own course too, (in ur words) so that when greatness comes knocking, a Master not a Monster will be revealed. My course is CLEAR!!! Gos help n Grace is abundantly available.

    Keep up the good work Papa Reg!!!

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