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"How to Win Friends and Influence People"

By Odimegwu Onwumere
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One of the canons my grandparents and the entire Onwumere Dynasty set as a system-of-belief when I was growing was, you must chew your words before using them. Some persons, who do not observe this creed, were said to have unbridled tongue (ona ekwu orighoro onu). They are still around today.

I grew up with this and people that know me today would attest to this training in my life. Some say that I do not probe into issues affecting me, whether I am right or wrong. Others say that I am a very quiet person. They say a lot of things --- a recluse, introvert. In short, they say that books have retarded me.

I have heard a lot of things. But one thing remains sacrosanct with me, I have the inner peace not minding some punches on my mind, on how to be who I have always wanted to be, without knocking on the neighbour's door for help. Well, onye ka ozuru? the Igbo would ask.

While I endured what was taken then as a harsh training from my grandparents and my people, it is paying off today when I look around, how people behave and talk anyhow, without any form of maturity. The worse is betrayal in the name of politics or another.

People no longer have shame. Remember that it was as a result of the same training like my grandparents’ that made Lieutenant Colonel Francis Adekunle Fajuyi (26 June 1926 – 29 July 1966)not to abandon his friend, General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, the Head of State and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who had arrived in Ibadan on July 28, 1966 to address a conference of natural rulers of Western Nigeria but was assassinated by, according to Wikipedia, the revenge seeking counter-coupists led by Major T. Y Danjuma on July 29, 1966.

If it were today, Fajuyi would have abandoned Ironsi on the premise of politics just as a Gbenga Daniel, a Nigerian politician and ex-Governor of Ogun State from 29 May 2003 to 29 May 2011, according to the source, making him the longest-serving governor of the state, has abandoned Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for the lucre of material acquisition.

Daniel was of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and Director-General of Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation in the just concluded 2019 presidential election. Today, Daniel has barefacedly genuflected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) without any expression of shame, except his unbridled tongue on how he would pull his supporters to his new party.

My grandparents and their contemporaries did not read "How To Win Friends And Influence People" authored by Dale Carnegie before they inculcated values and integrity in us.

We had a concept which was our way of life before we derailed to believe that one can do whatever that pleases him or her and after, should go on his or her knee and ask for forgiveness. We showed integrity before people in every of our conducts because of the immediate consequences that evolved around us then.

After reading the famous book by Carnegie in 2010 as an adult, I remembered my grandparents for their hyper-sincerity in every of their conducts. They shared whatever that could be shared with their contemporaries without reservation. Gossip was not in their dictionary and they hardly criticize or condemn people. They did everything possible to win the affection of their beloved ones and people from far and near, by showing honest and sincere appreciation and in so doing, people flocked around each other without a blink. There was love!

Today, love is dead. And people do not know how to win people around them anymore, because they are not genuinely interested in other people. They do not value their fellow human beings, even when you are very honest and sincere to them.

Amongst many things that Carnegie taught me is that, I should show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”How many people care about this in the modern times? We have people who don't care how they hurt you with their gutter words and statements. Theirs is to open their mouths and see words running out of them.

We have many people who do not admit they are wrong immediately and ardently.They hardly begin a conversation with you in a friendly way and they are not sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.Carnegie strongly warns against such behaviour.

Have you not read a famous quote by Thomas Carlyle which states, “A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men”?

To sum this piece up, Carnegie says -- On dealing with people -- "let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity."

It is hoped that mankind would learn that, "If there is any one secret of success, says Carnegie, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own."

Let's learn how to influence people with kind words, right attitude, and eschew pride and vanity that make people talk to people carelessly. I remember my great grandparents a lot!

Odimegwu Onwumere is a multiple-award winning journalist based in Rivers State. E-mail: [email protected]