There’s an ancient story about a land where a magic cave existed. This cave opened up its entrance once every two years and allowed only ten men to go in. The men stayed in the cave a number of days or hours depending on the mood of the powers that guarded the cave. As the men were released, they came out with precious stones and livestock that instantly turned the beneficiaries into wealthy men. Many men biannually would flock to the entrance of the cave at the auspicious moment but only ten would be admitted. There was no favouritism; the cave had its own automatic rules for admission: a man had to be young and energetic to be admitted. He had to come straight from his own home – no one was allowed to camp anywhere close to the cave. Beneficiaries needed to come with a horse both to help them in the journey to the cave and to help them convey their loot when they came out of the cave. Lastly, he needed to be industrious and responsible.

A young man named Andu was determined to be one of the beneficiaries of this divine cave’s benevolence. From a tender age when he heard of the story of the cave, it was all he thought about. He walked several kilometres every day to get his body in shape for the journey. His community was at least 20 hours away from the cave on horseback but Andu figured that he could make the journey by foot in about 40 hours.

He was 20 years old and quite strong when he set off on this expedition. He went with bows and arrows to fight off any wild animals he may see along the way. He took a jar of water and some dried edibles to nibble on. He set off at the crack of dawn, walked all day and all night, only resting for minutes at a time because he was not allowed to sleep or get refreshed anywhere or it would be presumed that he did not set off from home. He encountered some animals and fought them off valiantly. He had walked for 46 hours when he finally got to the periphery of the cave. He was exhausted and hungry but quite excited. He was the second person to reach the cave that morning. He was quite optimistic. At last, all the people that had mocked him all those years including members of his own family would eat their words when he returned with his riches, he mused.

Unfortunately, Andu was not granted passage into the cave. Some kind people who were also rejected asked him if he was married and he said he wasn’t and they speculated that he must have been disqualified on that basis. They told him that being responsible meant being married among other things. Andu went back home dejected but he was determined to try again so he looked for a girl who could marry him on the strength of the wealth to come. Before his next trip, he was a married man and once again set off for another expedition. This time, he was unable to make it there on time. There were about twenty men ahead of him. He thought he could fight his way to the front of the queue or that some people would be disqualified and it would be his turn but it didn’t happen.

He missed the opportunity again.

He decided to wait this time around to see the selected men come out of the cave, to confirm that they did indeed come out with riches. He waited about a kilometre away from the cave and after three days, the ten men came out from the cave, looking refreshed and radiant. They had bags of goods and wore ornaments made of precious gems. Andu went home totally reinvigorated to return again in the next two years.

Andu tried to get into the cave six consecutive times. He had no sellable skills because he was just focussed on getting wealthy through the magic cave. He never took time to find out all that the qualified people had in common. He was just like an ad hoc manager. As a result, he failed again and again on the score of being irresponsible. However, Andu was determined. With each failure, he fought hard to be qualified for the next season and finally, when he was 34 years old, he was admitted into the cave. By this time, Andu already had a family of his own, a thriving business and was training boys under him. Two years after he was admitted into the cave, he sponsored two very industrious young men who had grit and brains. They also made it into the cave and came out rich. He became a mentor and benefactor to many; leading many men to the cave and helping them manage their new wealth.

In business and in relationships, there are many people that are like Andu was in his first few attempts. They like the idea of a business, are even dedicated to the business but do not take time to study what the business requires. They think they have it all figured out and never bother to look for mentors and colleagues. They are in relationships but forget to form supporting relationships. So, they fail again and again.

There is one thing Andu had going for him though and that is determination. He thought all he needed was brute energy and he trained his body to fight and to endure hardship. When he realised that he needed to get married and start a business, he implemented those. His eyes never left the target. He never gave up and finally his dedication was rewarded.

You can also get what you desire without going the very long route; just research properly, form helpful relationships and put in the work.

This new year 2024, decide how you want to reinvent yourself.

It is possible; it may take time but if you want it badly enough, you will get to your own magic cave.

This is wishing you the best.

See you in the New Year


Fatherhood with Ibe


I was seated with Jide, my friend of over twenty years, in my living room, reminiscing on 2023 and the many shocks, pains, surprises and yea, some survival stories. For me, I counted my good health, my dwindling purse and the gratitude to God for Uche’s marriage in July.  Uche is my youngest child from my union with Betty that has lasted about 38 years and still counting.

“And you celebrated another son’s marriage in 2022,” Jide reminded me.

“Yes. That was Emeka, my first son.” I replied, smiling.

“You are lucky; you are finished with weddings.” Jide said, a forlorn look on his face.

“No!” I replied. “You forget I have younger kids from another marriage.” I reminded him. “So the journey is still not over. But they are much younger.”

He took a deep breath.

“You are still lucky. My two daughters don’t seem to want to settle down. They are now in their late thirties.”

“My friend, those are not issues anymore. The world now focuses on dreams and preferences; so, to each child, his or her preferences. Besides many young marriages these days pack up before the ink from their signatures at the registry dries up. We pray that would not be our lot though.”

‘Amen!” Jide chimed. “Bunmi, my younger daughter went to Lebanon and got caught up in the crises there. We have not heard from her in the last two days so we are worried sick.”

“Lebanon? For business?”

“Yes, but primarily to take advantage of the cheap cost of cosmetic surgery.” Jide replied, pulling a wry face.

“Cosmetic surgery? What the heck?” I exclaimed involuntarily.

“You know this new rave with young girls trying to recreate their bodies. It is common among ‘influencers.’ It’s crazy.”

“You couldn’t stop her?” I asked.

“I only learnt about it after she got there. She thought the Israeli/Hamas conflict would not be severely felt in Lebanon. You know that I served in the embassy in Lebanon many years ago so I got a family friend to take her in.” He clarified.  “At least, she is safe for now though we have not heard from her or the family in last two days.”

“How will she get back?”

“We are discussing options including getting her to Egypt so she flies back from there.” Jide explained.

His mobile phone rang then and giving me an apologetic look, he picked the call.

From the wailing at the other end of the phone I could guess that all was not well. Jide listened intently, gripping the phone as if it was a life support , then the phone dropped from his hand and he slumped on the chair and began to sob. It was such a pathetic scene, I felt my own eyes start to water.

“I am finished, Ibe, I am finished,” He sobbed.  ‘She was the daughter I was hoping on to take care of me in my old age after the death of their mother. She is the one who has the love for her father at heart.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“The vehicle they were travelling in to Egypt was hit by an Israeli missile. That was my friend on the phone. He is shattered. He says she died instantly with four members of his own family!”

“Oh Lord!” I exclaimed, as I settled into a chair beside Jide. ‘Why ..why? What sort of end year bad luck is this, Lord? Why is God so wicked to his children sometimes?’ I asked aloud.

“Bad incidents are not caused by the wickedness of God but by the follies of man, Ibe.” Jide replied. He stood up and leaned on the wall, his whole six foot frame soaked in visible tension. “Sometimes, if we look well enough we can see crisis looming from a mile. I could see Bunmi’s calamitous life from miles afar. So many things she did were too hurried…too reckless…too adventurous. I wish God had asked me. I would have offered my life so she can live.” He concluded despondently and began packing up to return to his home.

I joined him to his home and in just a few fleeting minutes realised how transient our lives are and how we must never take it for granted that we will see the next minute . What a sad December for a friend who’d already suffered so much. His wife of 36 years passed two Decembers ago. Then he’d called December truly ‘dirty.’ Now he would call December devious.

Join me in holding up Jide and his family in prayers. And, for you all, we pray your December is glorious and your new year full of promise and laughter. Give your loved ones hugs for this moment.

So long!