I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never seen a statue of a critic. – Leonard Bernstein
I highlighted from the campus shuttle at the jibowu terminal after a hectic day at school and sat in silence with my earphones plugged in my ears about to go through another ritual of waiting for the bus to complete its passengers before we move. Everything seems normal. The conductor continued his “keja’ Maryland” chant as he tries to outsmart other colleagues of his and though I had a Grisham which I try to convince myself that I am reading, I knew I was only faking it because I was seriously famished and was just trying to distract myself from my ordeal.
At that moment I wished by some magical powers I could just meet myself at home. After sitting in the bus for a little less than ten minutes that seemed like a day in hell which was evident from the hot boils of sweats dripping down my temples, I mean save for the fact that I wasn’t perspiring you could have mistaken me for a guy who just had a marathon sex with an Italian whore and you won’t be incorrect. That was the state I was when the last passenger boarded the bus. I sighed that at last I will get some breeze to at least relieve me of the inconvenience I was as the heat was getting unbearable but little did I know that I will still spend another quarter of an hour in the horrible condition. Just as the driver makes attempt to move he was unruly stopped by the infamous but not the least unpopular lout always at that bus stop. As usual the ‘messenger of doom’ demanded for his tax or maybe tithe would be the right word, that’s not new and the conductor gave him fifty naira the but the former insisted his wage for a work I can’t put myself to understand is hundred naira and that’s how the infamous conductor- agbero brawl which I was not new to started and it might have ended almost as it started just as it always has but for my uncalled for intervention which I don’t do normally but probably because I was under duress I spoke out of anger words so incoherent I can’t make meaning out them myself because I mumbled and jumbled out the words like I had a score to settle with the agbero and was just waiting for the perfect opportunity to tongue lash him and that was it, he yelled, cursed and swore he will collect his hundred naira before we can move an inch. After all his threats (though not empty ones) he finally let us go but not until he had his hundred naira and we had spent more than the time it took to get us all on board settling the brawl. Painful but was surprised by my own action and that of my fellow comrades on the bus that day, as much as I dislike conductors though not to mean I scorn the work they do but I just could not believe I could take sides with them and I believe it’s the same for most of the passengers but as I thought about it on my way home I found out that as dirty, undignified and repelling their work is, we still respect them for at least doing something rather than steal or wait to rip off from those toiling hard for their living. This is why I call them (agberos) the never ‘dos ’.Unfortunately, agberos aren’t the only never dos.
The never dos are the opposition and their comrades who criticized the ousted government day and night for sixteen years without ever getting to power and when they got their victory in less than a tenth the time their adversary used in power they are on the verge of breaking. How will a party which can’t keep its house in order lead a nation? I leave you to ruminate and answer for yourself. Alas Shannon Alders not drunk when he said “Often those that criticize others reveal what he himself lacks.” The never dos are also those who strove so hard that the GMB would lose the election only for them after losing badly expect him to achieve what they couldn’t achieve over a decade in less than six months.
In his book “this book has no title” Jarod Kintz said and I quote “It’s easier to pick apart what is, than put together what isn’t” and I find no better description than that. The never dos, they are all around us, we see them every day, they are our friends, our colleagues, our neighbor’s. They never propose neither do they support you save to always find faults in what another person has done. They forget it’s easy to pull down a house than it is to build.
The never dos are respected men and women in our society who to them government can do no good but can tear down an administration from their respective domiciles. Many have abandoned their chosen careers to delve into politics of criticism and are even famous than the government in power by criticizing it. They obviously know too much, what I can’t understand is why people like professor Soyinka won’t run for political post despite all their supposed experience and instead of lending their so call wisdom to those who need it prefer to gain cheap popularity by fault finding. The popular saying says if you can’t beat them, you join them, but as a liberal person I would love to propose that if you can’t beat them and you can’t join them then let them be! And I cannot agree with Pollock more who said “a critic is a legless man who teaches other people to run” Channing Pollock
It was Elvis Presley that said “don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.” The never dos are your colleagues who has never been a class captain all their lives but find fault with their course rep every time. You have no idea what those in authority goes through little wonder you lay siege on them to commit an error so you can vote them out. The LSS to you is anything but working, to you all the executives do is sit in the lounge and plan how to organize activities that is intended for their own profits. Of course criticism can be a force for good but hear what Criss Jami said in killosophy “The motive behind criticism often determines its validity. Those who care criticize where necessary. Those who envy criticize the moment they think that they have found a weak spot.” If you are still in this latter group then you need to hear this “any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” ― Dale Carnegie,( How to Win Friends and Influence People). If you must criticize at all let your motive be a noble one but hey..that’s not for the never dos. Anyways its always the never dos that have time to criticize another man’s work when they themselves have nothing that can be criticized.
Finally, the never dos are those who will not read and instead of letting their friends who are ready be, would subtly lure them to their side until they both fail. From such please turn away because they are the never dos. They are also those who cannot stand in front of the class to give a three minutes speech but will wait for the lecturer make a blunder so they can have something to post on the social media. The never dos are the lazy bones who will not work but will see what their friend does as disgusting.the never dos are all of us who forgets that we aren’t so different and will most likely act in similar ways if we are confronted with similar situation. So next time you want to condemn that guy or girl for an action or inaction remember the words of the sixteenth president of America – Abraham Lincoln when he said “don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.” But to unrepentant critics I have this closing piece by Leonard Bernstein for you “I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never seen a statue of a critic.” Thank you .
By Onakomaiya Kolawole
Published by Teni Akeju