HMMMM….A NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER

by Ayo Tunde
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I am not one of those who celebrates days, weeks and months. I have a particular species of followers and acquaintances who make a habit of giving the ‘Happy New Month’ greeting on the first day of every month!

After the usual Happy New Year at the start of a year, a Happy Birthday to commemorate the start of that person’s year, I always felt that a ‘Happy New Month’ was taking things a tad too far!

Why can’t we just wish each other a happy day? Better still, why can’t we be joined in the belief that all days, all weeks and all months will be a happy one and not bother with the wishes?

That way, if a day, week or month turns out in a way short of ‘happy’, we can then reflect on that particular time and wish each other a better one than the previous.

It is that mindset that makes me come on to talk about the month that is just leaving us……a month I definitely would not want to see again, and thankfully, I can’t. Because there can never be another November 2020 again….and good riddance too.

It was an unforgettable November, one that I have coined a ‘November to Remember’ (note the use of the letters and the rhyme at the end of each word), and I have made a commitment to share with all, how it was for me….as a lesson on how to fix the mindset from such a month, if ever you get one like this in future.

It is amazing how fate and events shape the mind of the individual. The highlight of the month was to be from early on….when we were all looking forward to events around the US Elections which were to take place and climax on the 3rd of November.

We watched the drama unfold – the entertainment around the elections, the drama in the immediate aftermath thereof. We had a good laugh at the childish tantrum of a grown man who was staring at defeat and refused to accept what was very obvious. And the drama played out and we all felt it was going on for too long…but yet it kept going, on and on, and it is still on till today!

If anyone thought that was to be the highlight of the month, then they had another think coming. Because it was only the highlight for me, because there seemed to be little else to make headlines in TundeLand, or so it seemed.

So I made USA my business as I watched November seep steadily past, slowly and marginally uneventfully like most months of this Corona-riddled year have done.

With the USA thing though, it was just a November of the expected, and there was little else to it than that, which we all know will fizzle out eventually, and the sulking old man will definitely be put in his place ultimately.

But then TundeWorld was about to get explosive and eventful.

And so it happened, mid-month.

In 1989, I was watching on TV how a Nigerian youth football team comprising some players with whom I grew up went for the U20 World Cup in Saudi Arabia, and in the quarter finals against the then USSR, capitulated completely and went 0-4 down in the game. And slowly but surely, revived themselves from it. Scores became 1-4, then 2-4, then 3-4 and then it happened! Nigeria equalised from 0-4 down, and my boys got to 4-4 and went on to win the game on penalties! Now that was sweet!

I was on the giving end of a sweet resurgence over the Soviets and it felt good.

I have had a few more comeback triumphs like that, and it always felt great.

Few weeks ago, my beloved Chelsea went down 0-3 in half an hour at West Bromwich and I was downcast. But somehow they clawed it back (0-3, to 1-3, then 2-3 and then 3-3) and….well, perhaps I was not elated, but I also was not downbeat over it.

But what made November a month to remember for me was that on the fate-ridden Friday the 13th (and all the superstitious myths around it), I was on the receiving end of that revival. My Nigeria team (Super Eagles) went 4-0 up in half an hour against Sierra Leone, and….the scoreline went 4-0, then 4-1, 4-2, to 4-3 and before my very own eyes, unbelievably 4-4!

And I will never forget that experience. The shouts and cheers and celebration of the Sierra Leonians in the changing room not far from ours still rings in my ears till this moment!

What followed was not unexpected. Reprisals…recriminations, from outside but also from within.

I have someone who I see (and I am sure who also sees me) as a really good friend. We have a super healthy relationship and mutual respect for each other. This guy….regardless of what many say about him, is loyal…loyal to a fault sometimes as long as he believes in what he follows. We will come to him tomorrow.

On the day of this remarkable Sierra Leone humiliation, he came down on everyone, said some really harsh stuff and I never saw him that way before. He was hurt…and so were we all.

That was child’s play. It went on and on. It looked like the Sword of Damocles was hanging over yours-truly.

And November became more of one to remember, not only for the unforgettable reaction of the authorities to what happened, but also to the revelation of what it actually meant to see the true colours of fellow humans when faced with challenges.

It is never a new thing to see back-biting and back-stabbing in this world, but it is not something I have come to associate with the close environment in which I have worked for four years. November 2020 showed me that there is fragility in that resolve, and it might have been shaken by buttons being pressed, perhaps in panic at the situation at hand. But it was there, and it made it even more of a month to remember as we went along.

Meanwhile, as if that was not enough, my passion in African football took a huge hit. The President of African football (CAF) was handed a five-year ban for inappropriate behaviour and abuse of office. Does Africa really need this kind of negativity in this period that is bad enough for every sector in the world?

That made me sad. A disgraceful end to a tenure of a CAF President that I personally fronted and ushered in with huge hope for better things to come – in 2017.

Today African football is not growing, is on the verge of bankruptcy; and intellectually and in areas of governance, there are big issues that might call into question, the long-term survival of the game on the continent.

It truly has been a November to Remember and one in which there is need for reflection.

We always talk about positive mindset with a view to achieving progress and success. This is very important. However, more is needed when faced with months like November 2020, and it is not peculiar to TundeWorld alone.

It applies to everyone – a need to have a STRONG mindset, one that is always focused on doing that which is right, and allowing posterity to judge one’s effort.

The year 2020 has dealt with us all. The pandemic is the unseen enemy. But some of us have also experienced SEEN enemies and adversaries. Situations and people who make the most efforts at thwarting, frustrating and demeaning every good intention of ours. It happened, and if you are going through it, you are not alone.

This is why you need a strong mindset, a sense of focus and a forward-facing dispensation that will see you remain fulfilled, successful and accomplished.

So….I am gladly wishing November away, never to see another like that of 2020 ever again…but contrary to what many will say: that we forget it, put it behind us and go again next month, I will say I want to Remember November 2020 with a view to appreciating how far I have come, and how farther away from the happenings of the month I want my fortunes to be in subsequent months.

I am even tempted to break Tunde-tradition and join my special species of followers and acquaintances in saying to everyone for this coming month – as a will to wish away the forgettable November to Remember – Happy New Month of December.

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