Character: A Worthy Legacy



Legacies are what people leave behind when they die. Legacies could be money, properties or even projects. But in all these, legacies are best engraved in character. Hence, a man who has character is the same whose life exudes the greatest legacies.

This, perhaps had informed the thoughtful lines of Billy Graham when he stated that “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” Of course, character is not material. One can best discard the abstraction of character to dislodge the significance it depicts, as far as human life is considered.

My years of existence on planet earth has taught me the true lessons of character. I have had cause to appreciate the substance of character. Although it is not concrete and can’t be measured in quantity or number, character weighs far more than the precious stones and golds that are highly prized. I have had occasions to gulp from the vast pool of character that my biological father has registered in the minds of people.

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The story of a broken vehicle which was freely repaired, forms one of my lessons in character. The man had said to me, “How did you end up sleeping on the road?” I had told him that my friend and I were in need and that the HOW of HOW we ended there, would surely be secondary. He was quick to note the facial semblance of my father on mine. And so he busted, “Do you know anyone by name Atainyang?” “Yes, I do”, I had answered. He quickly mentioned the complete name of my father and I admitted that he was the man who brought me here on earth.

Without further questions, the next 45 minutes witnessed the repair of our broken vehicle. The good Samaritan had used the headlamp of his vehicle to illuminate the dark strands of dusty atmosphere that had swallowed us in the bush path of my community. Long story short, my father’s legacies became the mechanic that repaired my broken vehicle. This purely portrays the excellent philosophy of Shannon Adler that we humans should “carve our names on hearts, not tombstones” and that “our legacies are etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about us.”

And so, the story of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s father comes on fresh. Although many have come to say that no living ordinarily tells the bad side of a deceased person, the story of Late Elder Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang was told by all. The Federal Capital Territory of the federation of Nigeria was momentarily uprooted from its original station. It was tentatively transfered through the waves and planted on the soil of Awa Iman, the country home of Governor Udom Emmanuel. It was the burial ceremony of his father, where the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo led the rest of eminent Nigerians to attend.

Also among the dignitaries were two former presidents of Nigeria: Dr Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr Goodluck Jonathan. Others were the instant President of the Senate, Dr Armed Lawan and his predecessor, Dr Bukola Saraki. There were about 20 sitting governors, about seven former governors and a vast array of senators, members of the House of Representatives, the royal fathers and the religious fathers. In fact, there was no difference between the grains of sand on the seashore and the human population that invaded Akwa Ibom State for that obsequies.

One thing was most important in the gathering, for we remember the dead by their deeds. And so the Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel stood out to eulogize his father. He noted that his father was a man of character. He told the story of his late father who did not joke with academics and religion. He noted that his Dad was a teacher with legacies. He reasoned that the departed elder statesman was a religious leader with legacies. He submitted that character was visible in the fruits that it bore and that this was well known of his father. “Character bears fruit, and the fruits that character brings out are sustainable.” By this statement, the Governor succeeded in telling the crowd that the virtues of his late father was found in him and others of his siblings.

Character is truly the best form of legacies. If one is honest, he must maintain his place of honesty because a time comes when honesty becomes the basis for judgement. Sincerity is a marker which demarcates people from others. It presents one as an Iroko in the forest of countless multitude of people. In society where values have greatly exhausted, one hopes to secure a place for himself so he could be counted in events where character is being sought after.

Political struggles have killed the values of character. Integrity has diminished and what remains is just a shadow that is fast fading off. People no longer trust, having had a fair share of their wild betrayal of trust. The mind is no more at peace. Ideologies have escaped the consciousness of people and what remains in present society is the fragment of distorted hope that there shall be improvement as we swaddle into the future. The future itself looks bleak but what do we do to ourselves when the Holy Book retains the instruction that we must hope for the substance of our desires, faith.

The world is settled with numerous references of those who had character. There are those well known for orderliness and fidelity to acceptable norms. The governor’s father may have held the keys of the teaching profession jealously. He may have kept the mark that attracts the accolades. He may have sown his seeds that got well geminated and the travelogue of eternity may well meet his departure, signing him onto the right gate.

Solomon was right when he taught on vanity. Of course, many mistake legacies for the wealth they accumulate. People struggle and scheme on a daily basis, just to become richer than others. Some enter into diabolic covenants, just to belong to a category of persons well recognized in society. But when the divine bell rings and sounds a note of call, shall they return with riches to the grave? The governor’s father may have gone like all mortals do, but his legacies are not the riches he acquired. They are the character he built over the years and instilled into his children. Same thing is applicable to all who must live on earth, for when they grow old, just like Late Elder Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang, they shall join the cosmic circle too, travelling the long road towards eternity.

We mortals are all indebted to our society. We owe the society our brand of legacies that shall stand the test of time. This is why Peter Strople had concluded that “Legacy is not leaving something for people”. “Legacy, he said, “is leaving something in people.” This is the character that lives beyond the wealth of life. We must strive to leave something in people which shall attract positive commentaries, even in line with divine purpose, whether we die or live.

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