“The California coast was shrouded in fog the morning of July 4,
1952. Twenty-one miles to the west on Catalina Island, a thirtyfour-
year-old woman waded into the water and began swimming
toward California, determined to be the first woman to ever swim
the twenty-one-mile strait. Her name was Florence Chadwick, and
she had already been the first woman to swim the English Channel
in both directions.
The water was numbing cold that morning, and the fog was so
thick that Chadwick could hardly see the boats in her own party —
there to scare away the sharks. As the hours ticked off, she swam
on. Fatigue had never been a serious problem, it was only the bone chilling
cold of the water that was threatening. More than fifteen
hours later, numbed with the cold, the swimmer asked to be taken
out. She couldn’t go on any longer. Her mother and her trainer, in
a boat alongside her, urged Chadwick to go on as they were getting
close to the shore. Yet all she could see was dense fog. A few minutes
later, the swimmer was taken out of the water, and later, realizing
that she had been within a half-mile of the shore, she blurted
out, ‘I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the shore, I
might have made it.’
Florence Chadwick had been licked, not by the cold or even the
fatigue, but by the fog! The fog had obscured her goal; it had blinded
her reason and her eyes.”
Brethren, there is a very important lesson in this story. To us as individuals
and to our nation, Nigeria. I have seen so many angry retorts about our nation-
state and its directionless leadership, at every level. In that state our idealism
and optimism is "fogged over". Our ability to inspire or cause positive change is
hampered by our choice to see the situation and not the opportunity.
In our marriages, we see only the difficulties rather than the potentials. In our
communities, we see the challenges before we see the opportunities. We are
easily discouraged by what we chose to see rather what is possible. Our political
landscape is strewn with the bodies of failed aspirations, shortened dreams and
career assassinations. We have become angry, at no one person in particular, but
by our collective feeling of distress at the state of our nation-state.
These challenges have become a fog that has short-circuited many golden dreams
and aspirations. We quickly have excuses for failed ambitions - "it was the fog". But
we must now begin to see with eagle's eyes, we must endeavour to replace myopia
with resolute foresight. We must chose to see the Nigeria of our dreams in our mind's
eyes. We must see the beautiful woman in the nagging wife, the good soul in the
irresponsible husband and the great expectation in the wayward child. We must see
The stocky Ibo boy and the fine Fulani girl, the athletic Edo boy and the dainty Yoruba girl.
When we push and shove through these "Fogs", we will see a prize awaiting our joy.
Lets not give up hope or faith or our dreams for a great nation. Our collective greatness
will begin with our individual greatness, and these require your eye on the prize.
God bless you, and GOD BLESS NIGERIA.
George H. Ashiru