By Olawale Tijani
Come let us reason together! (The Holy Bible). This statement highlights the importance of God in His majesty places on the concept of collaboration, togetherness, coordination and cooperation. God is capable and can do all things, however, He delegates and shares responsibilities to the members of His “cabinets” (Angels), expecting high performances from them in return through dedication, commitments, perseverance, and team work. The concepts of Division of labour, specialization, inter-dependence and inter-relatedness are deeply rooted in the administration of the Most High by inference from the above declaration. The existence, workings and survival of the Heaven and Earth, to the believers, is miraculous, yes it is but the sustainability and the perfection of these realities at which we all marveled is God’s way of demonstrating to all mankind, the importance of division of labour and interdependence from which calisthenics derives its philosophy. All these attributes of togetherness, collaboration, coordination, self-discipline, team-spirit, perseverance and commitment are embedded in the latest O’calisthenics initiative of the present dynamic government in the State of Osun led by her charismatic Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
The Calisthenics display by more than 8,000 young Omoluabis in the State of Osun to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the creation of the State was beautiful, colourful, thrilling and pleasing to the eye. The show brings to one’s mind, the glory of yester-years when the Nigeria’s independence /State occasions were celebrated with colourful display of calisthenics including March past and other activities in the states concerned and the nation at large.
The 2016 State of Osun anniversary was unique by every standard as it had on that parade, young Omoluabis in their tender age from across the nooks and crannies of the State who might be having their first experience as far as calisthenics is concerned at any level in that kind of environment where dignitaries including a sitting Governor and Foreign Ambassador (Cuba) would be in attendance to watch them display their skills in calisthenics.
This latest initiative by the administration of Ogbeni Rauf tagged “O’ calisthenics” has benefits and lessons for all and sundry (the young, old, private concerns, States and the Nation as a whole). The show on one part reminded us all of the good old days when States/National events like the Independence day celebrations bring people together from all works of life to witness march past, calisthenics display and any other event as may be applicable as against today’s experience where almost every form of government or privately organized have been reduced to mere talk shows.
This effort at revamping the culture of callisthenic by the Aregbesola’s administration goes beyond mere gathering together of Young Omoluabis for a-day march past and display of different colours to form different words and phrases, it is to re-awaken the culture of coordination, commitment, perseverance, collaboration, self-discipline, team spirit, selflessness and cooperation among Nigerians and to highlight the fact that, with proper collaboration among the people of this country, Nigeria will surely go a long way in her quest for excellence.
O’ Calisthenics simply involves the mixture of young ones from different backgrounds, schools, ages and heights clad in different colourful attires participating in rigorous exercise and gymnastics, marching, singing and dancing but with one goal in mind; a beautiful display. It involves rising to the occasion when duty calls, discharging ones duty with all sense of responsibilities in relation to the other members of the team to achieve the common goal within available resources. The level of concentration, collaboration, self- discipline, team-spirit, coordination, perseverance and commitment put in place during the last O’calisthenics display in Osogbo are what Nigerians require to emulate at all levels with everyone doing those little things that can add-up to give our nation the much needed lift to the greater height. As little as clapping, standing, waving or moving that the least person in a calisthenics group does amongst his peers goes a long way to affect the final presentation that we all watch, admire and cherish so much.
Beyond the beautiful and colourful display by these young Omoluabis, the benefits of the programme to the kids are enormous and unquantifiable. Aside being empowered to be developed and nurtured into professional calisthenics and gymnasts in the future, it also inculcates in them the “can do spirit” that is fast fading away among the Nigerian youth of today. The realization that hard work pays is also not lost on them. They now know that good preparation, perseverance and hard-work will surely bring successes and celebrations at the end.
Another benefit accruing to these youngsters is the scarce opportunity to exercise regularly and keep-fit by engaging in activities that can promote good and healthy living. As cheap as this seems, it is mostly needed by them. It is a known fact that the culture of exercise and grass-root sports is fading away in our public schools in the country, developmental activities are in competition with the limited spaces across educational facilities in most Nigerian cities, with O’ calisthenics in place, students in Osun now have the opportunity to gather together regularly to exercise and engage in other sporting activities of their choice thereby promoting the chance to really discover their raw talents while they are still young.
Again, apart from a rude reminder of what we were used to in the long forgotten past, this O’calisthenics initiative is a laudable programme in that it is an example of how youth energies can best be channeled into a positive and useful venture. How best can you engage the youth in a programme with such attendant benefits? Gathering Youths together in their thousands to learn the basic principles of collaboration, coordination and responsibilities and responsiveness in a single atmosphere with greater emphasis on division of labour and specialization. It is also an empowerment with a difference which can be harnessed into a life-long career that may take some of the participants up to the Olympics games and other International events in the nearest future.
On the other hand, Nigerians as a people must learn from this calisthenics experience that, indeed everyone and anyone is capable of attaining his/her potentials in an atmosphere that is conducive and devoid of any suspicious and rancor as we now have in the country today where ethnic suspicion is the order of the day and violence now becomes a weapon for demanding equality of opportunity from the authority at every levels by her citizens.
Another lesson from the calisthenics display is the realization that, hard work, selflessness, perseverance and dedication to duty and state really pays. The last beautiful calisthenics display lasted for few hours which were cherished by all. But it was a show involving a lot of background preparations, painstaking activities, relentless efforts, endurance and paying necessary attention to details when it matters. All these are the ingredients imbedded in the calisthenics display that a Nation building requires; preparation; endurance and the participation of every stakeholder. The sacrifices towards a nation building and its result are like the calisthenics display that requires the participation of every stakeholder on a day when the occasion demands. Nigerians (followers and leaders alike) must know that whatever developmental efforts we are putting-in today will be measured by one parameter i.e. peoples’ welfare.
Nigeria and indeed the Yoruba’s are endowed with a lot from their history. Everything about the tribe’s culture and traditions are geared towards producing and promoting the concept of “Omoluabi’. Highly promoted is the communal style of living among the tribe before the advent of the colonial era. This communal way of life is seen in every facet of live from Economy to Social and even Religious activities. Our society of the old rested on the philosophy of collaboration like the calisthenics, where required attention is paid to details at every stage for the colourful display of societal goals and achievements. What made our society of old better than now is just the high esteem placed on the spirit of calisthenics where you perform your duties as at when due with the expectation that the next person will not perform less.
The advanced countries that our leaders cherish and frequent so much these days owing to their economic advances and the orderliness that has been entrenched in their societies just as calisthenics display by the pupils but what are unseen are the numbers of practice hours, trials, errors, commitment, dedication and selflessness that went into it to have that much cherished colourful display of societal orderliness and advancement.
Every Nigerians should see the Nigeria project like a calisthenics display which requires the full participation, concentration, coordination and commitment of everyone for us to have the much desired colourful display we will be proud of in the comity of Nations. Our responsibilities in the Nigerian project are different and comes at different levels, for some, it is street cleaning, for others, it is about economic sustenance while some are in-charge of security, other persons are saddled with the responsibilities of educating the younger ones in the society. It is then clear that, everyone’s contribution is required if the Nigeria of our dream must come to reality. We must recognize that the little details that makes a beautiful calisthenics show successful, if left out, may turn the show into a mere parade of individuals rather than a piece of whole as the case is in the present day Nigeria. For Nigeria to move-up the ladder and join the countries of the world that has gotten it right in their quest for economic and social development, we sure have a lot to learn from the concept of O’ calisthenics that was showcased by the Governor of the State of Osun recently.
Nigeria and Nigerians at different levels need to inculcate in themselves once again, the spirit of calisthenics in all works of our lives, from Politics; Education; Economy; Education; Religion and other facets of our National life. Imagine the O’ Calisthenics display without those colourful dresses, imagine what a show it would have been without the leadership provided by their conductor, imagine how it will seem on a windy and rainy day!.
We should all realize that the society is like a calisthenics display, when everyone does it right, we will surely have a beautiful piece, and when one person gets less committed and gets it wrong, everything won’t add up. Long live Nigeria! Long live State of Osun! Long live Aregbesola! Long live O’calisthenics. Osun tin dara!
Dr Olawale Tijani, Public affairs commentator writes in from Osogbo