My mother, Sylvia George Akpan, was born during the colonial era in Nigeria. She sang “Britannia rules the waves” in primary school. A bosom friend of hers in secondary school presented the bouquet to Princess Elizabeth in Enugu, when she visited Nigeria in 1956.
Nicknamed ‘the world’ in secondary school, destiny took my mother to Blackpool in England, and Modena in Italy for A levels and medical studies respectively.
Between 1963 and 2007 she had severally been in Great Britain for postgraduate studies, conferences, and holiday. During this period, she and some of her children and grandchildren had toured London, visited Buckingham palace, and Windsor castle.
She and her eldest son, my brother, were also at Windsor Castle as tourists in 1981, the year of the Royal Wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales.
On April 29, 2011, during the Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, I was interviewed by The Observer Newspaper. I remembered to mention that like my mother Sylvia, I was in England when a wedding involving the British Royal Family occurred.
Life— a Baton Hand Over:
July 29, 1981
April 29, 2011
May 19, 2018.
Four numbers partake in the coincidental occurrences. 1,2, 8 and 9 feature in the years of the weddings of the Prince and Princess of Wales, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Number 1 passes the baton to 2 and 9 receives the baton from 8.
A fun analysis, one may say or think. The order of life sets the inevitable stage for continuity.
We are running races to arrive at different destinations. These races are not competitive. There are commencement lines, hurdles, determination, strength, courage, the crowd, the spectators, and the finish lines.
Power resides in every person. The way we exercise our powers affects the present, and the future. Often, the quality of leadership reflects on the governed, the led, or followers. Power with integrity, power with fairness, kind power, just power, peaceful power, honorable power, empower a hopeful generation with the stamina and will to continue the life race. Ennobled by a worthy system, power transfers smoothly to the next generation of rulers, and life racers.
The aficionados of history can attest to the rulership tradition. Sometimes uncertain, transition of power is certain. Often possible, power is not guaranteed. Where power is unyielding to a transfer, the transience of power, and the nature of nature’s quest for a step-down in due course are inevitable.
A percipient coach understands that performance is determined by a player’s staying power. This emphasizes the role of resoluteness in the dynamics of life. Reports about amazing relay races abound. An inspiring story about a girl who recovered from fall to win on the line was reported by The Telegraph.
“University of Minnesota student Heather Dorniden was leading a four-woman race during the final heat of her 600m race at the Big Ten Indoor Track Championships.
With about 200m to go Dorniden tripped and landed hard on her face. But rather than give up and pull out of the race, she got up and gave chase with a 50m gap left to make up.
Incredibly, Dorniden made up the ground on her competitors before beating them in a photo finish on the line”.
We are in the race of life, with intrinsic power to run a good race, and finish honorably. We play roles that facilitate fair play, strength and resilience.
I received the baton of merit from my parents. I aspire to hand over lessons from the heart to my children, and all I interact with. In the race called life, we are encouraged to pass on good values to our successors, and to humanity and the Earth System.
In Alfred Tennyson’s words, “The old order changeth, yielding place to new…”