In the odyssey, by Homer, hospitality is portrayed as the noblest of virtues. Zeus decreed that those who wish for the favor of the Gods must welcome foreign and domestic visitors with hospitality. “A man was supposed to offer the best of his food, his home, and his knowledge before ever asking for his guest’s name or why he was there.” It was even believed that kings and men of high status are the main givers of hospitality.
In Ogoja, we were raised to honor guests. When we are expecting a guest, we clean the house like never before, we clear the bushes around the house, we cook, we take our bath and at times even go to the park to lead our guests home. We protect our guests from onlookers and from over-inquisitive neighbors. We will give up our beds or mattresses to the guests and sleep on mats or even the cold hard floor.
This is how we were raised in Ogoja. This is how we were raised in Cross River State. I believe Senator Liyel Imoke, the former Governor of Cross River State, was raised this way too. We didn’t wake up one day and just become the People’s Paradise and the most hospitable state in the country.
So, it beats hollow when I see some young people trying to mock the former Governor for being hospitable and a good host to Governor Wike of Rivers State when he visited Cross River State recently. They are sharing a picture of Liyel Imoke leading the way and gesturing for the path to be cleared for Wike to move to the podium… And somehow, they want us to be ashamed that Liyel was playing a good host.
Assuming he was truly leading the way and asking for a path to be cleared for Governor Wike, that picture shows more than humility, it encapsulates our core value of hospitality. It should be framed as a testimony of who and what we are.
If we have the time to feel any shame, it should be a shame for the erosion of our core values in the minds of some of our brothers and sisters.
When Saul died, David was shocked, that a man, a King, so anointed could just die like a slave. David wondered how a King anointed by God could throw away all his values and end up so disgraceful. He saw nothing there to celebrate.
Like David, I think there is nothing to celebrate in seeing some Cross Riverians make a mockery of our cherished value of hospitality. Like David, in 2 Samuel 1:20, I urge you all: “Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.”
So, that people won’t hear and realize that “How the mighty have fallen.”
Edit: I just saw a video that even shows clearly that the former Governor was not gesturing for the path to be cleared for Governor Wike. He was calling on someone. Choose any narrative that suits you, my intervention remains.
First Baba Isa a Legal Practitioner from Ogoja LGA, Cross River State and wrote from Abuja via email@example.com.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, First Baba Isa and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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