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To You, My Reader By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

It has been three years since I started writing a column for this web site.
What a privilege it has been!
What a humbling experience!
What a lesson in human relations!

It has been three years since I started writing a column for this web site.
What a privilege it has been!
What a humbling experience!
What a lesson in human relations!

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What started as a desire to contribute my quota to the on-going discussion about the fate and the future of our nation has been transformed into a love affair. It has become a scintillating love affair with you – the reader.
This one is a tribute to you all.
It wouldn’t be possible to keep doing this, day after day, without you. You are the reason why it is being done. It is because you are reading, sometimes complimenting, and at other times disagreeing and even scolding. That is the only reason why I do this.
Like all love affairs, it comes with its own dose of suffering. Maya Angelou wrote that those who have the courage to love must have the courage to suffer. I am learning to develop the courage to suffer. Just like I know you are.
Often, I have left you disappointed. I have made you feel like rebuking me. Some of you forgive because you remember when I made you laugh and when I made you glad.
I understand.
This experience has been enriching for me. Those who find the time to comment, write and correct my impressions and perspectives have added to my knowledge. Those who write to express their appreciation, encourage me to continue. Those who write to express their disgust, remind me of how diverse and different our views can be.
My greatest joy is in knowing that I’ve never pandered to you. I have been true to myself even when I knew that my position would not garner your acceptance. That is a win-win proposition for us all.
I write you all today just to say thank you.
I try to respond to all mails and follow up on all discussions. I am not sure I have succeeded 100% in doing that. I apologize if I left anyone’s letter unreplied. I am sorry if requests for information or contact went unanswered. It was truly an oversight. But, I will continue to do my best to see that I give each and everyone of you the attention that you deserve. I thank you for your patience.
It has been a touching experience for me. My trust in our people has been strengthened within the last three years. I have come to believe that our people are aware and awake. They are searching for something better than what we have now. They are dreaming. They are moving. And soon, they will be reaching out.
All over the globe, I have come to hear the voice of our people. I have felt their pulse and I know they are there. You all have made me believe that despite the odds, we, as a people, shall rise again.
When I read a letter from a little Nigerian boy in Egypt, a young Nigerian teacher in Portugal, an elderly Nigerian Engineer in Australia, I know that my people are awake.
I know that I have made a whole lot of booboos over the past 36 months. I have also goofed a lot. Many of you kindly pointed my mistakes to me as well as my ignorance. As I continue to make these little contributions, I will continue to learn from you all.
My motto is derived from Xerox’s ad which says, “Keep the discussion going - share the knowledge” - or the ignorance, as the case may be. This motto, I vow to uphold.
When I was growing up, all I wanted was to be like MEE - have a column in a major newspaper and tell the story of life from my own perspective. I was privileged to achieve that and thanks to Saharareporters, I have continued to perform this role for myself and for you, the reader, through this new medium. But I have since come to see that life demands more than that. More than being an armchair critic, life demands that I stand up, wear my work cloths and go to the field. I am beginning to do more of that. And I urge you to do the same. Lets talk, lets keep the discussion going, but, also, lets act more than we talk.
It is tiny drops of water that make the ocean. Make your own droplet count. Fight a battle for Nigeria. Take up a challenge for the people you care about. There are many concerns awaiting activists. If you do not do anything else, give every compatriot you meet a smile.
And tell somebody about AIDS.
One of the most common questions I have been asked is, what is it like doing this? Where do I get my inspiration? Each time such questions are posed to me, I recall what Obi E. Egbuna wrote in his novel, THE MADNESS OF DIDI, about the role of a writer. He wrote:
“Writers are men who dream impossible dreams, my boy. Anyone can be a writer, if he wants it badly enough. And if he is willing to pay the price.
“The mistake people generally make is to romanticize writers as giants with two heads: Superman, Human gods who live in a world of absolute freedom, with no master to boss them around. The truth of the matter is that this is pure fiction. The opposite is in fact the case.
“My guess is that you’ll be finding this out yourself one day, Obi, my friend. You may find from personal experience that a writer is no more free than a common laborer or a petty messenger, slaving away for a master in unquestionable obedience. It is true, Obi.
“A writer is only a typist in the employ of Truth. He takes dictation from Truth just as any other typist takes dictation from his boss. Truth is a ruthless employer who demands nothing short of everything, including your soul.
“In the writer’s job, there is nothing like clocking out, because your office is between your ears, and you can’t clock out from your head, can you, Obi? In the writer’s job, there is no resignation because the contract terminates in the grave.
“In the writer’s job, there is no real pay, or payday, for Truth is the only employer who expects payment from his employees. Some pay with their lives, some with their sanity, some with unrequited love, others with years of imprisonment. Yes, it’s true Obi, my young friend. The history of World Literature is littered with great names who have made such payments. They will do it in different ways, but they all do pay in the end.”
So my friends, remember always that, “Friendship consists of being a friend, not having a friend. And so it is that friendship means loving rather than being loved. The gifts that one receives for giving are so immeasurable that it is almost an injustice to accept them.” (Rod McKuen)
Once again, thank you all for reading, for commenting, for writing, and for being there. If you've read these words before it's because I have been thankful in the past.
Remain blessed and please do know that I love you.


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