It Takes Two To Tango!

In this heartwarming and soul reflecting narrative, Gerald Eze, a renowned African folk musician and lecturer at Nnamdi Azikiwe University bares his mind on the latest partnership with Martin Beck Nworah and the Tales of Nigerians community. This story was first published on Yes! International and reproduced here with permission from Gerald Eze.

A community of healthy minds does not breed itself. The artist is ever committed to creating the conscience of his race. There are persons in the society who think out novel ideas and create activities that generate high value in the society. Eventually, such activities can become an affair beyond the person. It is therefore not by collective unconscious that philosophies are built. Values and philosophies are built deliberately and rigorously. But it takes two to tango. It is not one man’s business.

I will now introduce the business of the day. This story is about Martin Beck Nworah and Gerald Eze. Martin is a good friend of mine. We both studied at Nnamdi Azikiwe University. While Martin was a Law student “putting it to all and sundry”, I was always on the tree playing my Oja as a Music student. We both were active in the student union. Martin was an elected executive with a high sense of duty and innovation, while I was a silent operator.

Martin was raised in a Catholic secondary school like I was. In our recent conversation, we talked about this and how the Catholic Church has contributed immensely to the moral and intellectual growth of young people in Nigeria from one generation to another.

I was raised by a dedicated mother, and my father’s high sense of creativity and administrative prowess has also influenced me. Martin was raised well by amazing parents. Martin’s mother is a seasoned teacher who kept even video records of Martin’s experiences and creative outputs, including his mischief. Such thorough parenting is worthy of emulation.

It is understandable, therefore, that the two of us can start up a conversation and almost always arrive at the same conclusion. The family unit, the formation from the religious bodies, and the integration in higher institutions, if they are vibrant and positive, can provide for a working society. The questions here are: what are the family values today? Are they healthy? Are they geared towards a progressive community of humans? What is the focus of religious formations? Heaven or quality experience of life on Earth? What is the quality of Public Universities in Nigeria? Are the roads leading to the Universities well tarred and well kept, or are the gutters pouring their putrid squalor into interwoven potholes? If we get family values, religious values, and education right, be assured that the society will naturally have quality persons in larger numbers.

Martin and I experienced the poorly equipped Nigerian Universities but were taught by dedicated teachers in our respective departments and we thrived just like several Nigerian youths who thrive in our dilapidated University systems. We graduated and continued in different locations and endeavours.

I don’t speak with Martin very often, but sometime in August, I called him. That call lasted for an hour; I just wanted to reach out to ask him about his Facebook community “Tales of Nigerians”. Tales of Nigerians is a safe, creative and therapeutic environment where over 80,000 young Nigerians share stories, learn, and heal. We eventually started discussing the third anniversary of the TONers, predominantly discussing the well-being of Nigerians and human persons in general. We came up with a tag for a concert: “Cruise and Mental Health”. I am not the best at advertising. So if you did not attend the event, it will take reading the stories on the Tales of Nigerians (TONers) Facebook platform to catch up. I can only tell you it was spectacular!

I recall clearly that it was some days after we decided to engage young people in an interactive, musical and therapeutic session to energize their minds, that a student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University committed suicide.  I called Martin and told him that the universe had clearly instructed us to hold that concert. And so it happened. In the concert, Martin discussed five areas of mental health while I supplied the musical performances to each section. From Mike Ejeagha to Whitney Houston; from ancient to modern, we passed through an immersive therapeutic session. Balance is important, and this session supplied that much-needed balance in the musical experience of young Nigerians.

This event happened on 5th September. I returned home today, many weeks after the concert, and the only thing on my mind is the beautiful experience of the Cruise and Mental Health Session. I reread the messages from those who attended on how they appreciated the experience. One of them clearly stated that the session revived her life which she was about to give up. I also reread the stories people wrote on the TONers platform and I can only say, thank God I did business of value with my friend Martin.

If parents train their children aright now, we will have children who will meet up in school and change the society. The Igbo will say: “o di ka o di kpoba, o di ka o di e goru”. This simply means that people of similar values and vibrations will naturally meet up. If religious bodies stop being divisive and destructive, taking the path of creativity and love, we will have a taste of human beings of different creeds, who have a high sense of dignity, who burn to impact same on the society. If Nigerian Universities become true citadels of learning, we will have students who are not bothered about pleasing lecturers but dreamers who will lead their lives, think critically, plan for the future, and recreate their world with courage.

God bless my parents. God bless Martin’s parents. God bless parents who devote quality time to nurturing their children. Thank you so much Catholic Church for giving so generously to me and Martin in terms of education and spiritual edification. Thank you Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka for the opportunity you provide for young people to connect.

Indeed, the duo of myself and Martin approximates the tangoing of cruise and mental health; while I supplied the music for the cruise, Martin engaged the audience with the conversations relating to mental health. The overlapping of cruise and mental health is in itself a healthy form of balance as one is not supposed to heal by looking up gloomily, bound by walls of a clinic.

“Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome someday”. It will take another two to Tango; to create the next value. Let us build them now that they are still toddlers. Let us tune them now that their muscles are still flexible. Let us do something now before they become gunmen and unknown!

May another two Tango!

Gerald Eze is a folk music collector and performer.

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