A Tale of Two Good People

AI generated images of 2 key characters at the Karim Adeyemi Foundation Essay Competition Scholarship Award 2023

“A man is a still a man
Whether him be wear jacket and tie
Or walk barefoot
The only difference is whether him good or evil
Oh, a man is still a man
Whether him rich or poor
Black or White for sure
The only difference is whether him good or evil.”

The opening lyrics of Morgan Heritage’s hit song, A man still a man, offers one of the most intuitive insight into how best to be regarded. The song which was released in 2003 was introduced to me by my boss just last year. I took a quick liking to the song because it emphasises that what separates a man from the other is whether he is good or bad and not whether he is poor or rich.

I’ve always connected with the song because it addresses a fundamental issue. The only justifiable basis for which a man should be regarded should be his character. Is he good or bad? Not, is he rich or poor? Or in some very weird cases in pretentious secularist nations like Nigeria, is he religious or agnostic?

The nongovernmental organisation I work with recently organised an essay writing competition among public secondary schools in Oyo state, Nigeria to commemorate this year’s International Day of Sport for Peace and Development. I flew in from the UK to attend the competition’s award ceremony. When the judges provided us with the list of top entries and winners were contacted, one of the winners’ parent had asked for the disqualification of her son, *Richard. It was inconceivable that a parent in an underserved community like where our beneficiaries come from would reject the prize on offer. A six figure and a handshake with Karim’s dad!

Now what was her reason? She explained to our staff over the phone that her son did not write the winning entry by himself. It was written by his older sister who was ineligible but submitted under the younger brother’s name. She didn’t think her son deserves the award so they won’t be attending the ceremony.

We had a quick top management meeting following the development. While It was not difficult to replace Richard with the next best entry in the Judges list, still the strangeness of everything left us all in a wonder. However our President who also flew in from Germany for the ceremony insisted we get Richard’s mother to come for the event. He wanted to meet her.

Richard’s mum by all estimation was the type you’d lazily regard as over-religious just from her appearance. She came with Richard’s sister, the one who wrote the essay for him.

The President of Karim Adeyemi Foundation live at the award ceremony hosted for essay competition winners for the International Day of Sports for Peace and Development at the foundation's headquarters in Ibadan.
The President of Karim Adeyemi Foundation live at the award ceremony hosted for essay competition winners for the International Day of Sports for Peace and Development at the foundation’s headquarters in Ibadan.

Our President in his closing remark at the occasion doubled the overall prize money for winners and also announced fully funded scholarships till the end of their secondary school education. This was aside promising to make a donation to the schools they emerged from. At this point, I wonder what must have been going on in the mind of Richard’s mum and her daughter in the gathering.

But before the end of his speech, Our President recognised the woman and singled her out for special praise. He gave a cash gift reward in the sum Richard would have won for her honesty and forthrightness. He also awarded Richard a fully funded scholarship till the end of his secondary school. And perhaps most importantly, gave her a handshake.

At that moment, I saw two good people. One was fighting for good. And the other was rewarding goodness. Our President is well-off and irreligious while Richard’s mum is deprived and religious. If truly a man is still a man whether they are poor or rich, religious or irreligious, and the only difference is whether they are good or evil; then these are two good people.

*not real name.

OlaOlu Adedayo is the Chief Operating Officer of Karim Adeyemi Foundation. He lives in Southampton with his favourite housemates, Fola and ESL.

Scroll to Top