Jagajaga And Battle Scars, By Usman Imanah

Jagajaga And Battle Scars, By Usman Imanah [MUST READ]

By Opinions | The Trent on June 5, 2017
Brandon Kirksey, 7, is home-schooled | Gabriella Emanuel/Michigan Radio

Usman Imanah’s son wrote jagajaga in school and got a perfect score, he writes about the lessons he learnt as a parent from the incident. 

Last week, I decided to, for the first time, attend the open day at my Children’s school. This is a day where parents are invited to come and review, on site, the progress of their wards. It is also an avenue to ask questions.

It was an eye opener for me. I learned a lot.  But the one thing I took from the experience that relates to this story came to me at a moment of shame. This moment of shame for me was at my son’s class – Lower kinder.

The teacher had shown me one of his books where he scribbled on a page or wrote jagajaga as we call it and he got 100%. I didn’t understand. What are these kids being taught? This is how someone will be deceiving himself that he is paying for “Montessori” education, meanwhile money is just going down the drain.

“How do you score this 100%?” I asked the teacher.

The teacher smiled. Too happy for the opportunity to educate my ignorance. For all the years that they had only known me as the narrative on a bank transfer SMS alert. For all the years that I had claimed to be too busy to attend PTA meetings. This is payback time.

She went on to school me on how at his age, the focus was on a certain things

The fact that the child can scribble and does so willingly.

The fact that the child can identify sounds and associate them with the appropriate letter.

The fact that they are willing to participate in activities.

She explained passionately and in a very firm voice how these traits are the building blocks to what they will face in life.

Her words educated but her eyes castigated.

For every strong point that hit home and made sense, I shrunk a size smaller in my chair.

It was a Friday, and I went in a caftan and lovely cap. By the time she finished with me, I felt like I was dressed in rags.

She must have seen my embarrassment because she rounded off by telling me how my son, apart from being very restless, was a very good student.  Then she added that restlessness at that age was not a bad thing.

I left consoling myself that while “Jagajaga” as a 2 year old in “lower kinder” as they call it will get you 100% in an exam, “Jagajaga will at the minimum, get you 1 week in the guardroom and give or take 24 strokes of the cane on your back in front of the RSMs office in Nigerian Military School.

The point I am trying to bring out here is that what is expected of us defers at different levels in our journeys. The complexity of an exam is proportional to the class or level that one is in at a particular time. And it goes beyond classroom examinations. This principle applies to business and even faith.

I had a friend back in university who lost his sister. He came from a family of 5. He had a brother and a sister. He was very close to and very proud of his sister. She was a very brilliant law student, well respected, mature for her age and a very faithful believer in God. In fact, his own faith was tied to hers. Her demise hit him hard. She just slept and never woke up. He mourned for a very long time and questioned God. The whole experience almost made him lose faith in his maker.

His parents didn’t attend the funeral. We went to visit them afterwards – they were broken.

Their silence in grief said a lot.

They didn’t say anything but we understood all they had to say.

Very difficult times…On the one hand, they tried to come to terms with the loss of their daughter, on the other, they struggled for answers to questions that could define their son’s relationship with his maker going forward.

I have seen families that have lost a child, questioned God, switched faith and lost another child. These kind of challenges are usually best read than experienced.

I was listening to a podcast from a Zimbabwean Muslim cleric – Mufti Menk, whose teachings are so different from the radical views that we have come to believe that Muslim clerics have.

He talked about serving God and avoiding the things that He has prohibited us from doing. He went on to refer a verse of the Quran where the Creator asked, “Do you think that just because you say that you hear and you believe, that We are not going to test you?”

The fact that we believe does not mean that we will not be tested.

Then he added that, sometimes, we see people who do not believe, get away with things that we have been asked not to do and we see other people of same faith with little or no challenges.

I shared this with a friend of mine who is a pastor to get his views. To share  what the bible had to say on the matter and he referred me to Acts 20:19 where Apostle Paul was speaking, James 1:2 and 2 Peter 2:9 where references were made of faiths being tested by God

I had to take from the 2 major faiths because we (Nigerians) as a people are divided along tribal and religious lines and I’d love for most people that read this piece to take the message that is being passed.

Examinations are for students. Tests are for those who have enrolled to study and the complexity of the test depends on the class or level that one finds himself. You do not get promoted to a higher class just because you tell your teacher that you understand what has been taught. You must sit for and pass an exam before you get promoted. Some people are not enrolled in school while others are in the “Jagajaga” phase. The class and tests may differ, but certain things remain the same

There will be tests. But just as with tests in lower kinder, it will be a test that you are equip to pass. You might have to stretch yourself. But be sure of one thing, you have the innate capacity to overcome any test that comes your way. You only have to apply yourself.

There will be more than one test and the complexity of the tests will continue to increase as you progress. But just like with exams in real life, once you pass a test, you move to another class. There is growth associated with overcoming a challenge.

This might sound like a cliché’ but there is no problem without a solution and there is no challenge that comes your way that you cannot overcome. The real problem is your willingness to stretch yourself to implement the solution.

In most cases, it is not that a problem does not have solutions. It is just the realization of the pain and discomfort that people have to go through to overcome the problem that bothers them. The uncertainty of the proposed solutions ability to solve the problem especially if you have to go through all that pain to implement the solution. Yes- most times, you go through discomfort, stress or pain to overcome a problem.

My question to you today is:
“Of what good is winning a war if you do not have battle scars to show for it?”

Please quote me whenever you decide to use this line… thank you

Why are you afraid of battle scars?

Battle scars are priceless. Battle scars or the learnings that we pick up while overcoming challenges are the bragging rights that we brandish when we share our experience later on to inspire others. Have you ever seen the looks of surprise, sheer admiration and respect on the face of others when people share their challenging stories and display their battle scars?

Do not be afraid of battle scars. They are only painful during the storm and for a short while.

If there is no solution to a problem then it ceases to be a problem. It becomes nature or the realities of life. But even with realities of life, the impact can be managed. Let me bring this to life with a few examples.

Menstrual cycle is not a problem. It is a way of life. The fact that it comes with a lot of pain and discomfort does not mean that people (except when they want to have babies) are not worried when the period doesn’t come.

Natural disasters happen and there is little or nothing that can be done to stop them. Developed countries have however found ways to manage the impact.

To cut the long story short, the take-away from this write up are as follows

Just because you believe in God and that you are very faithful does not mean that you will not be tested.

Tests often present themselves as challenges/ problems.

When you pass a test/ overcome a challenge, you are rewarded with increase in capacity/ level of faith

God will not give you a problem that you do not have the capacity to handle. If there is no solution to a problem, it ceases to be a problem, it is most likely a natural occurrence

You cannot change natural occurrences but you live with them and manage their impact.

I tried to make the write up as secular as possible so that people of all faith can read and relate.  I hope that this aim is achieved.

Fulfillment will come if one person can draw from this piece and overcome a difficult phase in their life.

As usual, I am open to comments, additions, “constructive” critics and “harmless” cynics as long as the goal is to expand the conversation and help readers to learn more.

Usman Imanah is a professional communications person. He is an entrepreneur. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.


Leave a Comment

To leave a comment anonymously, simple write your thoughts in the comments box below and click the ‘post comment’ button.