By Pat Amobi Chukwuma
There was a certain affluent man living in a duplex with his wife and five children in Benin City. After attending church service on a Sunday morning with his family, he informed his gateman that he would be having an August visitor around 12.00 noon on that day. He instructed him to open the gate for him once he knocks and to usher him into the sitting room before coming to inform him upstairs. The gateman paid his master obeisance and promised to abide by his instructions. Around 11.50a.m, there was a big knock at the gate. The gateman opened it. He beheld an unkempt man in tattered and dirty attire with empty plastic cans tired round his waist. He asked him who he was looking for. The mad man replied, “I want to see your big Master.” The gateman asked, “Are you the august visitor?” The mad man ignorantly answered, “Yes, I am. Are we not in the month of August? Please go and call Oga quick.” The gateman ushered him into his master's prestigious sitting room and went up to inform his master. Afterwards he went out through the back door.
It happened that the mother of the house has already set some delicious dishes on the dining table beside the sitting room. In other words, lunch was ready. The mad man gladly rushed in there and started consuming the dishes quickly, one after the other. He was almost finishing a whole fried chicken when the master came down. The master was dressed in traditional agbada with cap to match. As soon as he set foot into the sitting room, he asked happily, “Where is my august visitor?” The mad man shouted from the dining table, “Oga, your august visitor is here. Come and enjoy with me!” The master went closer smiling. Immediately he saw the mad man sitting and consuming everything on the table, he was frightened. His face failed. Then he shouted, “Who brought you in here? And what kind of august visitor are you?” The mad man replied, “Na God and your gateman brought me into this place. I am a special august visitor.” The master asked with fury, “Where is that God? Where is the gateman?” He replied, “God has gone back to heaven. The gateman has returned to his office at the gate.” The master raised up his voice, calling his gateman: “Musa! Musa!! Musa!!!” The gate man answered in hoarse voice, “Oga I dey here o! I dey come!” The master shouted, “Come here with immediate effect!” He came in like lightening, breathing like a lizard that fell down from a big tree. The master furiously questioned him, “Who brought this mad man inside here?” He fearfully replied, “Oga, na me.” The master shouted, “Are you mad?” The gate man answered, “Oga, you told me that you will be having an august visitor around 12.00 noon. This mad man came around the time and I ushered him in as you said.” The master gave him three dirty slaps, asking, “Are you stupid? How can a mad man be my august visitor?” With red eyes and tears running down his cheeks the gate man said, “Oga, I thought so, because we are in the month of August.” The master was boiling like hot water. He then shouted, “Two of you are mad! Foolish gate man! Your job is terminated with immediate effect!” He drove out both the gate man and the mad man instantly. The gate man was crying and pleading for mercy while the mad man was dancing for having fed well at the master's table. The master uttered angrily, “Get away, stupid and mad gate man! Mercy is dead.” The satisfied mad man himself was jumping up and down shouting, “August visitor! August visitor!! August visitor!!!” The master banged the gate and locked it from behind. Then he went back downcast.
After about 30 minutes, the real August visitor he was expecting called on phone to inform his host that he had an accident on his way coming. He was hospitalized as a result of the serious injuries he sustained. Therefore the appointment was unavoidably terminated. The master slumped due to the sudden disappointment and the sudden appearance of the mad man who has infected his prestigious dining table with the virus of madness. His wife and children were dumbfounded as they stood helpless.
What do you think? Is the mad man who visited the big master in the month of August not an august visitor? When my brain was saturated with ignorance during my boyhood, I had thought that an august visitor is someone who visits someone in the month of August. If this definition is accepted, then we shall have variety of such visitors during the year, thus: January visitor, February visitor, March visitor, April visitor, etc. I would have been the chairman of April visitors, for being born on 1st April. August visitor does not also denote an urgent or unexpected visitors as some think.
Now, who is actually an august visitor? Having made a deep research, I became convinced that an August visitor is a distinguished, highly regarded and respected visitor. Was the mad man not a distinguished and highly regarded person in the world of madness? I remember again the funny episode that happened many years ago when I was a semi finalist in the secondary school. My bosom friend and I attended the inter-house sports competition in the Community Secondary School in my town uninvited. We went on our immaculate white shirts and white trousers with white handkerchiefs neatly and conspicuously hanging on our breast pockets. By the time we arrived, seats and tables had been orderly arranged. We proudly went and sat on the VIP section; thinking we were very important persons in immaculate white up and down. Without any premonition, the male teacher who was the Master of Ceremony (MC) came from behind and embarrassed us by pulling our seats up with extraordinary force. Instantly both of us fell down on the muddy wet soil. He shouted, “Get away! Who invited you to this occasion?” We looked at him furiously. Then we shamefully left the school through the forest. The reminiscence remains. We were treated like March visitors instead of August visitors.
The origin of the real meaning of august visitor is traced to the naming of the month of August after Augustus Caesar who was an important and regal person. Also, the month of August in Europe is regarded as the peak of Summer season, which is seen as the most comfortable month of hospitality. Hospitality is different from hospitalization. A certain semi illiterate but a good man hosted me in his house. After a delicious banquet and nourishing drinks, I stood up in appreciation. Smilingly I said, “Thank you so much for your hospitality.” Immediately he heard the last word, the man chipped in, “God forbid! Please, my house is not a hospital but a home. In addition you are not sick. I didn't give you injection or tablets but food and drinks.” I pulled the trigger of laughter which threw my host into more confusion. I explained to him that hospitality means having a welcoming heart and lavishing a visitor with goodies. The man who dropped out of school due to lack of sponsorship exclaimed, “Oh, half education is dangerous!”
In actual fact, everybody has dignity. Each person's dignity stems from the fact that we were all created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26). No one should be treated inhumanly. Even a mad man has dignity because he has the image of God in him, even though he is mentally deranged. A poor man or a beggar has dignity. The less privileged persons in our society have dignity. As the creatures of God, they should be highly regarded. They are also distinguished in one way or the other. They have respect. Everyone is also very important. So, never treat anyone, high or low, rich or poor, sane or insane with disrespect. Remember what Jesus Christ will say to those on his right hand on the judgment seat: “Come blessed of my Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me into your house. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to see me” (Mtt. 25:34-36). The righteous will then ask him when they did all these. Jesus Christ will reply: “Truly, I say to you: whenever you did this to these little ones who are my brothers and sisters, you did it to me” (Mtt. 25:40). To those on his left hand who neglected all the above charitable deeds he will say: “Depart from me into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels!” (Mtt. 25:41).
The die is cast. Discrimination brings unrest. I exhort the present Federal Government of Nigeria at this moment led by President Muhammadu Buhari to treat all Nigerians with dignity and equality. No tribe or religion should be preferred above others. Nigeria is a multi tribal and multi religious country. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The adherents of the two major Religions, Christianity and Islam, must enjoy freedom of worship and practice. Appointments should not be based on religion or tribe. The federal character must be taken into consideration in making national appointments. The purported Islamization and Fulanization agenda should not see the light of the day. The Fulani tribe should never lord it over others or be treated with kid gloves. The bloody Fulani herdsmen should be declared terrorists and proscribed as well. They ought to be arrested and punished accordingly.
Finally, the month of August is really a special month of events. Many towns in South East of Nigeria will be celebrating their New Yam festivals to thank God for bumper harvest and to eat together as lovely brothers and sisters. If the herdsmen freely take their cows into the farms, then no harvest can be made. The South East is densely populated and it lacks massive land unlike the North. Hence, reserved grazing land or Ruga settlement is not possible here.
In this August, the Christian Women and town Women will be going for their August meetings. It is a time of fraternal reunion with God and one another. I wish them God's guidance, journey mercies and successful deliberations for the good of the Church, Town, State and Nation. Let us open warm arms to welcome our august visitors: rich or poor, able or disabled, low or high, Christian or Muslim. In God we trust!