Why am I Different?

I am fascinated by the biblical character called, Ruth. She was a Moabitess who married a Jew. When her husband died, she moved to Israel with her mother-in-law, Naomi; leaving culture, family and gods behind. The last item is telling.

Those who lived in Canaan were fascinated by gods – Israelites and foreigners alike. The Israelites in particular, were willing to live without kings, but they could not live without their gods (Judges 17). Whenever their champions were absent or dead, they would quickly turn to idols and gods. (Exodus 32; Judges 8:33). Such was their fascination with deities.

At first, I thought Ruth had been influenced by her husband’s culture and god, which was why she was willing to follow Naomi. Then I remembered that her companion, Orpah, who had also been married to a son of Naomi, turned back on the journey to Israel. I thought maybe Naomi had swayed Ruth with kindness, until I read that Ruth was the one who had been kind to Naomi. Naomi testifies to it (Ruth 1:8).

So, where did Ruth’s loyalty and affinity for God come from? Rachel, another biblical character, was in a relationship with Jacob for at least 14 years. Yet, she still clung to her family’s gods (Genesis 31).

I am interested in the answer to this question, because I would like to find Nigerians who are like Ruth. Those who would turn their backs on traditions and cultural tokenism to embrace something radically new.

Exposure and education introduce us to new ideas and more importantly, to choices that are available to us. If you are not aware of alternatives, you cannot demand for something better. The rise of mobile Internet has led to increased citizen advocacy in Nigeria. People are aware of better things happening in other parts of the world.

Education and exposure also discipline minds and help people to make reasoned and logical choices. Take a prostitute, for instance.

A woman was born and bred in a brothel and she knew no other life. One day, she was given the opportunity to pursue an education and she left the brothel to explore new worlds. She realised there were other options besides prostitution. She could become a “runs girl”, a second wife, a monogamous wife or even remain single and fulfilled. Education gave her options. But it didn’t end there. Because her mind had been disciplined, she made a reasoned choice based on the pros and cons of the different options available to her. She chose to remain single.

This story still does not explain why prostitutes in similar circumstances and with similar opportunities, make different choices.

So, why was Ruth different from Orpah? To bring it closer to home, why am I the way I am? Why do I not fit the Nollywood image of a typical Nigerian woman? What is it that made me different?

I was born and raised in Nigeria. I schooled and worked here. I come from an average lower middle class family and went to a public university. I have no trace of foreign blood or international school & work experience. I was exposed to average books, music and movies. Nothing about my childhood was spectacular. So why am I not a typical Nigerian? What happened to me? What created my mind? And why did my mind readily accept the Christian God, even when I had the freedom to choose my own gods? My parents never forced me to remain Christian.

The story of Ruth fascinates me because if I can decode her, maybe I can decode me. And then maybe, I can replicate myself.

This year, in addition to helping the honest & hardworking to become wealthy; another mission of mine is to unearth Nigeria’s “special ones”. Those who reject and abhor the negatives that have become so associated with our country – lack of values, corruption and sheer evil.

I would like to identify those who are different. Not because they are trying to be, or because they have read motivational books, but because they are wired differently.

If in the process, I stumble on a methodology to help others become different, that would really be beautiful.

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