By Fr. ChukwuEmekalum Nwosuh, OP
Some days ago, the social media was awash with the story of nine-year-old Oluomachi Opara, who thrilled Nigerians with his sonorous voice. The video of this young hawker which went viral elicited the love and generosity of Nigerians. For all our flaws, Nigerians can be spontaneously generous. Lots of goodwill messages and cash donations poured in from all directions. There were also promises of scholarships which were almost immediately redeemed. It would seem that there was a keen competition among individuals and groups as to whom should have the first and final say over the future of young Oluomachi.
Soon after the video went viral, the congregation of the Sons of Mary, Mother of Mercy (SMMM), offered Master Oluomachi a full scholarship to study in their Minor seminary at Bende, Abia State. This offer was followed up immediately with a visit to his home at Ahiazu Mbaise, to secure the consent of his parents, thus affirming that the promise was not a mere publicity stunt. Not long after that the governor of his home state, Uzodinma publicly adopted him, (whatever that means). But he too joined the queue of those willing to change the lot of Oluomachi. There have been other individuals and groups who have visited the home of Oluomachi and made different forms of contributions and pledges.
The story of young Oluomachi can best be described as the mysterious encounter of two dispositions: Divine and Human. It is a story that holds a lot of lessons for us. In a culture like ours that is riddled with fideism, fatalism, and superstition, it is not unlikely that the full lessons of Oluomachi’s story may be lost on many people. For most Nigerians, infected with the “God-will-do-it” and “I claim it” spirituality, I can bet that many Nigerians, literate and illiterate, educated and uneducated, would have been “tapping” into Oluomachi’s blessings and then storming heaven with their noisy prayer and asking God to also bless them as he has blessed Oluomachi.
By every standard, Oluomachi will be considered truly fortunate and blessed. It may not be totally wrong to say that, perhaps, he enjoys a certain predilection in the sight of God; after all, there are several young boys of his age or even younger who are hawkers like him, but never gained any notice. In many ways, the story of Oluomachi is reminiscent of the story of Jumoke Orisaguna, the bread seller, whose life was almost instantly turned inside out and upside down when he accidently walked into a photo shooting session. Oluomachi and Jumoke may be considered the exceptionally fortunate or lucky few on whom fortune smiled upon at the least expected moment in their lives. As many would argue, their fortunes changed because they were at the right place and at the right time, just like the fortunes of some people change for the worse because they were at the wrong place and at the wrong time.
While not completely dismissing the possibility of being exceptionally blessed, I think their stories can also be read and interpreted within the larger framework of that mysterious encounter between the divine and human. Yes, divine providence disposes all things and, in fact, makes all things work for the good of His children. Doubtlessly, divine providence could, indeed, have so arranged it that they were at the right place and at the right time. But one thing is sure, divine providence hardly discountenances the human element in such providential arrangements. God always gives sufficient room and even allows and even expects that human elements, not because he cannot accomplish his providential disposition without the human element, but rather because he expects us to be collaborators in our own destinies.
One may ask what role Oluomachi played in this story that has transformed his life. Well, speaking to a group of visitors, Oluomachi’s father noted that the boy had always loved to sing and, in fact, has been in the choir since he was four years. So, for five years, Oluomachi has been diligently attending choir practices and participating actively in his parish choir. Even though he may have been born with a good voice, there is no doubt that his diligent participation in his parish choir has helped sharpen and improve his voice and singing abilities. That is the human dimension. Would he have been in the spotlight if he never were in the choir and continually trained his voice through singing? Most likely not! What this implies, therefore, is that in doing our own little bit, we will be disposing ourselves to collaborate with God who in his divine providences disposes and dispenses all things. We must, in order words, cultivate the gifts we have been given. Such cultivations, disposes us better to encounter God’s providential disposition.
There is another human dimension to this story, and that is the role of Mr. Stanley, who brought Oluomachi to the world stage by recording and uploading the video of this young talent. What if he had ignored him? What if he had only enjoyed the boy’s sonorous singing but then did nothing about it? God does accomplish his purposes through human agents, that is, agents who are positively disposed. Each of us, therefore, must be willing to easily dispose ourselves to be instruments in the hands of God. We must not hesitate to point out opportunities and help others realize their dreams even if we get no attention or reward for doing so.
And the third human dimension are his parents. As strange as it may sound, his parents could simply have rebuffed all the offers to sponsor and train Oluomachi through school. Impossible? Never underestimate the folly of pride. But fortunately, the parents of Oluomachi were humble enough to welcome the generous offers of well-meaning Nigerians.
When we put all these together, we will discover that great things happen when divine disposition encounters human disposition. This is one of the pillars of Catholic teaching, that is, Grace builds on and, in fact, elevates nature. The Divine always seeks the willing collaboration of the human. It is a teaching that needs to be re-emphasized and revalidated in our society that thrives on a “God-will-do-it spirituality. Often, we abdicate our responsibilities, with the false assumption that God will do it. Yes, God will certainly do it when we are disposed to do our own part. God will not make things work for the better in our country, when we, the citizens, are not disposed to playing our role. God will not put food on our tables when one is unwilling to explore available opportunities even when they are not our choice options. It is absurd to ask God to provide for your needs while you refuse to even explore the opportunities that a friend, relation, or even acquaintance is presenting to you.
As we celebrate Oluomachi, we need to change our mindset. We need to realize that God is ever disposed to arranging the right circumstances for each of us. In fact, he does that daily, although they may not draw media attention like the case of Oluomachi or Jumoke. He is ever disposed to making things work for our benefits. The key question is: are we equally disposed to meet and embrace his divine disposition?
– Jun. 27, 2020 @ 10:45 GMT |