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A Place For Number 2?



Yah, Yah, Yah (Cane slashes)

Yah! Yah! Yah!

Father:  Junior, why did you get the second position in class?
Son:  I’m sorry Papa, the boy only passed me with one mark!
Yah, Yah, Yah! (cane slashes continue)…
Son (crying): I’m sorry Papa…

It’s left for one to wonder if in this present society and generation the Number 2 position in any given capacity has been completely wiped out.

Everyone wants to be Number 1- from the artiste racing for his song to be number 1 on the countdown, to the actor fighting to get that Oscar winning role, the mother in the park proving to the other mothers that she’s superior, the intern trying to make it as a permanent employee, an employee getting a Ph.D to become the CEO of a company, the billionaire ensuring he makes more billions to be Number 1 on the Forbes richest men list and of course the politician fighting, killing and bribing to become the President.

In this age every one is fighting to be number 1, the chosen candidate, the Number 1 citizen in his or her own world.

If I ask anyone who the first man to walk on the moon was at least a good percentage would answer Neil Armstrong. But does anyone remember the second man to walk on the moon? His name was Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr, but it seems the world has forgotten him. The society we live in puts so much pressure on everyone to be Number 1, not knowing there is still value in being second. By watching the mistakes of Number 1, Number 2 can be even better.

I still keep searching and yearning for that society that will just accept people who can’t be Number 1. Some say I’m living in an utopian world that it is impossible! Well maybe I am. Here are examples of ‘Number 2’s making a difference in the world:

Are we to totally forget Will Smith’s character in the Pursuit Of Happyness just because Forest Whitaker’s took home the Oscar for his character in the Last King of Scotland?
Or to underrate Barack Obama‘s victory as the United States’ first African-American President just because Martin Luther King Jr was the first to state that was his dream?

Of course we should not! The 1st can dream, but the 2nd can make the dream come true.

Or should we diminish the vivacity and political message of modern futuristic disco drama queen Lady Gaga because of the ever crazy styles of Madonna?

Or downplay Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie because of the great poetic writer Chinua Achebe?

No! Why hold on to past glory when Number 2 can be more relevant to today’s generation?

Society dictates that there are three kinds of people in this world – people who make things happen, people who watch things happen and people who don’t know things are happening. The cruel society we live in has classified Number 2s as those who just watch things happen as if they do not contribute positively to the society. While in the society’s so-called “sense” only Number 1s make things happen. For those that don’t even know things are happening, hmm, that will be a topic for another day o!

However, if society does not whole heartedly embrace those who watch things happen and improve on the status quo, the so-called Number 2s, then there is no hope for us.

Why? Because it seems this competition and race to be Number 1 has led to an increase in crime rate and various immoralities.

Young men kill and rob people, conduct online fee fraud, all to deceive their family and friends that they work really hard.

Young women in universities move around with “Sugar Daddies” that buy them the latest clothes and designer shoes and bags and not to forget people’s obsession with the new it-thing – the Blackberry craze – just to prove to their friends who the big girls are. They sleep with lecturers and bribe them just to get a first class degree because they do not want to settle for a second class degree on their own merit, ah O ma se o ! (What a pity !)

One wonders if there could be any place for Number 2s in this world. If the society we live in would ever acknowledge that it’s not how fast, but how well.

Until then… is there no choice but to keep fighting to be Number 1? Is there a place for Number 2?

You decide.

Photo Credit:
Bio on Damilare Aiki:
Damilare Aiki is a 17 year old graduate from Airforce Secondary School, Ikeja. He lives in Lagos state and is currently interning at He recently gained admission to the University of Lagos to study Medicine and Surgery.  His hobbies are travelling, writing and meeting exciting new people. He is a social, friendly and hardworking young man and has been a welcome addition to the BellaNaija team.


  1. zeenie

    July 29, 2011 at 6:43 am

    beautiful piece.. but it is rather sad and i dont think our society will ever accept the second position because no matter how much we try to fight it, life itself is a competition . if we go back to the process of fertilization it is the first sperm that fertilizes the egg out of hundreds of sperms in a drop of semen … so really the second position doesnt really count.

    • Isley Vtania

      August 14, 2011 at 8:04 am

      Trust me, when it comes to the Sperm and egg issue, the second guy is the luckier guy…in his mind he goes “Dude, your life is gonna suck”…then dies

  2. Ada

    July 29, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Nice article! I hope readers can learn that racing to be number one doesnt make you a better person. The truth is that a lot of people hurt others, stab people in the back or go all out on the wrong track just to be number 1 at what they do. Somehow regret always comes later in life. Being number 2 does not mean that you are less important or unsuccessful as a human being.The most important thing we should remember is to be a good citizen and live life with humility and add value to the lives of people aroung us.

  3. pitchy

    July 29, 2011 at 8:00 am

    first to comment but i’ld have to admit this is a beautiful piece.

    • fokasibe

      July 29, 2011 at 10:10 am

      This is just the authors point!! SMH! First, first first syndrome!!! You weren’t even second!!

    • Shola

      July 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      abi o, every one talks about ‘i’m the first’ ‘first to post a comment’ So what? if u r the first does t change the price of crayfish in the market. we should start appreciating people who put in all their efforts to be successful and even though they dont come out tops ,they should still be encouraged to do better. Look at Omawunmi, a typical example of someone who came second in a competition but that didnt deter her from striving harder. A lot of examples out there but the koko is dat be it 2nd, 3rd , and even last…there is always an opportunity to strive harder and surpass your set goals. joor o!!

  4. Msibiyemi

    July 29, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Nice article….
    Dnt know why peeps just dnt get that there is nuffing wrong with being a number 2…
    Pressure frm parents nd extended family to be number 1….
    Its just sickening….
    Number 2 learns frm number 1’s mistakes nd does it better.

  5. lola

    July 29, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Real talk

  6. faith

    July 29, 2011 at 9:00 am

    i dont really see wats so unusuall in wanting to be number 1..we humans r naturally competitive…even u writting dis article would want to some day write something incredible dat wuld make u number 1…dats just d way it is…where i av a problem is when some individuals take d wrong route to become number 1..

  7. pynk

    July 29, 2011 at 9:26 am

    interesting article. I never see myself as number one of many, maybe its just enough to see urself as #1 of 1. simple.

  8. angel eyes

    July 29, 2011 at 9:36 am

    nice piece,very well written @ faith, yh everybody wants to be number 1, but like it or not, we cant all be number 1……but there’s enoff space for everyone to work hard and achieve wateva we wanna achieve and be contented wit it…..

  9. Jide Taiwo

    July 29, 2011 at 9:44 am

    He’s a young dude so I’ll excuse his naivete. Some folks will tell you 2nd is first on the losers’ table. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being second but why start out aiming to be second? That’s how complacency starts. The lesson is in the journey,not the destination. Aim for the moon and if you don’t get it,at least you’ll land among stars. But aim for just the clouds and Bellview will knock you out of the air…

    • Cutie Toxie

      July 29, 2011 at 11:00 am

      My thoughts exactly. I’m not gonna raise my kids telling them it’s ok to be anything but the best in whatever their doing. Plus it is wrong to allude that it’s the quest for being the first among equals that leads to crime and bad behaviour abeg!!!

    • Tiki

      July 29, 2011 at 11:14 am

      I think you hit the nail on the head Jide. Aiming at Number 2 only encouragess mediocrity. The idea is to aim for Number One, but learn to be content if you only arrive at Number 2, and however you get there, keep your hands clean.

    • Purpleicious Babe

      August 1, 2011 at 1:35 am

      I agree…

  10. kenks

    July 29, 2011 at 9:50 am

    A 17 year old wrote this????
    Wow, he sure is a number 1 to me.
    Well done Damilare.

  11. ayo

    July 29, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Beautiful, well constructed, logical prose! And from a 17 year old?! Impressive

  12. fokasibe

    July 29, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Kudos Damilare on the insightful article…..I likey and I concur with your observations….We all want to be first….but I think the second is also important.

  13. emjay

    July 29, 2011 at 11:23 am

    @pitchy. its a pity u re struggling for NO. 1 ON A BLOG !get a life ! COMMENDABLE PIECE BOY! there is hope for your generation!

  14. Kolawole

    July 29, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I find it particularly interesting as well as inspiring that a 17 year old wrote such a seemingly insightful article. Impressive stuff. However, I’m sorry but I disagree with a few things you have posited in your article. First off, these are my opinions and they are to be used by young Damilola as constructive criticism:

    1. It is the way of the world to be competitive. It is how the world was designed, so to speak. Remember, Darwin and the survival of the fittest. So to give up the fight even before it has begun is akin to death before we’re born.

    2. I think it is VERY WRONG to assume that because we’re born with the craving to excel it justifies people who do bad. It is the rat race that is responsible for this anomaly – our society’s constant struggle to fulfil materialistic desires. Simple. If truly the people you’ve mentioned as examples, (yahoo boys and aristo girls) wanted to EXCEL, surely they’d do it via honest means. No matter how long it takes, history ALWAYS rewards honest hard-work.

    3. Because someone has previously exceled in an endeavor does not render such a field useless. If someone has already recorded a first as the first man on the moon, then by all means, be the first man to be on the moon with an Agbada. History rewards only excellence. YES we can’t ALL be number 1. But the reason there’s number 1 is so that number 2 can discover a new way to make number 1 irrelevant. In short, make a difference.

    In essence, as inspiring as this article is, it will niggle at the mediocrity bone in everyone of us.

    And by the way, you might want to read your MLK “I Have A Dream” speech again. Never once did Mr. King say he had a dream that a Black man would become president of America. Nor is Obama in any way a civil rights activist.

  15. Sobe

    July 29, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    abi o, every one talks about ‘i’m the first’ ‘first to post a comment’ So what? if u r the first does t change the price of crayfish in the market. we should start appreciating people who put in all their efforts to be successful and even though they dont come out tops ,they should still be encouraged to do better. Look at Omawunmi, a typical example of someone who came second in a competition but that didnt deter her from striving harder. A lot of examples out there but the koko is dat be it 2nd, 3rd , and even last…there is always an opportunity to strive harder and surpass your set goals. joor

  16. Uchechi

    July 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Well done Dami!!

  17. ojiugo

    July 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Number1, number 2 what about the others?; the 3s, the 4s?, what about the numberless? Everyone should have a chance to prove themselves number or no number. We associate everythin with numbers these days it’s like like we r prisoners to numbers.

  18. Utaefi

    July 29, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Good job, Damilare! Actually, it feels good to be number one now and then. However, I think the problem with the craze for number ‘oneism’ is that sometimes the motive behind striving to be number one is wrong, e.g. fame and fortune only, or just to prove that ‘I better pass my neighbour’. If the motive is wrong, it is highly likely that the effort might be directed in the wrong endeavour. I think the reason so many folks are frustrated is that everyone wants to get on the band wagon, but everyone can’t be number one in the same thing at the same time.

    I recommend what I’d term ‘shifting cultivation’. When you’ve tried your best in one field (for a while) but you don’t yield much, like you ”carry last’ or so (for while also… you determine how long is long enough for you), that may be a hint that you should move on to the next plot. For all you know, that next field may be your ticket to number one. Theres a problem in my opinion when folks want to kill themselves to be what they are not or may never be… ouch!

  19. MissKay

    July 29, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    AMAZING, especially coming from a person my age! i am a perfectionist! i definitely suffer from the #1 syndrome, & its hard to change even when im trying to do so, because obviously not everyone can be #1 and nobody can reach absolute perfection!. I agree with what Dami has said, & i hope the world, & myself will learn to appreciate the #2 position and other positions following when passion and work is being put into whatever position it is!

  20. Socris

    July 30, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    “Young women in universities move around with “Sugar Daddies”. Its not only girls in the universities that move around with sugar daddies. There are also girls in secondary schools, girls working and even some married women. We’ve stereotyped girls in the universities as the only ones that move with sugar daddies……….

  21. Cherry

    July 30, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Beautifully written! You guys are obviously missing the sense of humour in pitchy’s comment. Anyways back to the piece. I can assure you that the first 100 in the world actually aimed at being number 1 so we all should do nothing less if not you may not even be amongst the first 100,000. Believe me, in our world today there are places for not just number one and that is why we have competing brands for everything. If you put your best into something and come out successful, you would definitely have a comfortable place that doesn’t have to be number one.

  22. oge ezinne

    July 30, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    My God a 17 years old boy wrote this! God bless you dami this piece is beautiful

  23. molarah

    July 31, 2011 at 12:21 am

    Nice piece. But like an earlier comment read, I don’t think needing to be ‘number 1’ is the basis for societal vices – that comes from the much baser and infamous need of wanting to ‘keep up with the joneses’. And will you all stop making references to his age? (Methinks its kinda embarrassing, and just stems from the popular cultural ‘agbalagba’ mindset – wisdom is not for the aged alone). BTW, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Adrin is not forgotten, he is immortalized in many aspects of popular media (and trivia questions on game shows)

  24. Lola X

    July 31, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Great read!!!

    Lola x, London

  25. Lola X

    July 31, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    LMAO @ pitchy and fokasibe! Gotta love the banter on BN! Great article though!

    Lola x, London

  26. Purpleicious Babe

    August 1, 2011 at 1:51 am

    To be honest… the article didn’t point anything new… Just analysis on how society is just like with everything i.e. looks, beauty etc. I do admire that he is young and already insightful. KEEP IT UP.

    MY point: who cares??????? seriously who cares that society is mad about 1st or 2nd, 3rd,4th. well in this part of the world I live we do not care about anything (I do care about alot of things, education is the least on their mind boi…). But in an African culture, emphasis placed on Nigerians shows getting the 1st is the way forward (na lie). Some people get the 1st, they die tomorrow and someone else takes the touch, even in Eccles, it discusses how rich a man money will be spent by poopers…. Moving on, sometimes pple make no1 and never enjoy due to some many reasons…

    My point is I am competitive, I want to get 1st in everything not for society but because it reinforces my values that whenever I put my mind to do something I can do it. I am also aware that if I do not make number 1 it does not make me less intelligent, driven or ambitious.. If anything its teaches me something about myself and helps me to acquire new strength and quality to develop and maintain. So all am saying is u can want the 1st but want it for positive reasons and its not a bad thing to work hard for the right reasons to get ur rewards. If u got 2nd or in 2nd place u are not crap or even last position u are not stupid, just allow yourselves to learn from the situation and be better…

    I know a saying that says from my guy JESUS: THE FIRST SHALL BE THE LAST, AND THE LAST SHALL BE THE FIRST…..


  27. lammy

    August 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Truth about life is,that’s just the way life is,Neil wasn’t the 1st to land on the moon(it was a Russian)forgive me but I’m to lazy to google his name…And that exactly is my point the American society we immitate in a lot of ways is biult on this come 1st attitude,that why you will read history and be told Mungo Park discovered the Niger river and Christopher Columbus discovered america like its goats they there…since our lives r immitated after their livestyles your guess is as good as mine we forget our proverbs,adages and values “there’s plenty of room in the cloud for all the birds” or “its not how far but how well”.Nice to see we are impressed at his age cos we reason “wow at his age,that’s a 1st”. My point exactly it is in us all…but hey darling I will rather be 1st than 2nd cos I was born this way…

  28. rebecca beckybliss

    August 1, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    d fact there is that everyone strives for the top, whether u come second doesn’t mean you haven’t tried… Our society today are after your first class, but i think they should learn how to consider 2nd class cos they too tried their best its not easy….

  29. Opeyemmy

    August 2, 2011 at 11:32 am

    9ice talk,d point is evrybdy wnt 2 b no 1,ask d dullest person in d world dat wat position does he/she wnts 2 b n hear d respnds of dat person.Belve me evry soul wnts 2 b no 1 n doesnt care d route or length 2 b dat no1,i can rememba a day i was at a bank wantin 2 use d atm machine n i ask dis man dat is he d last person on d queue n he replied dat wat type of ?was dat,dat God 4bid him b d last person dat he is d no1 bt if i wnt 2 use d atm i il use it afta him.So u see dat evrybdy wnt 2 b no1.

  30. oyinda

    August 2, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    nice article
    makes a lot of sense but life is really not about who’s no1 or no woteva
    to me the most important thing really is achieving the purpose for which God sent you.
    The bible says that the creation eagerly waits for the sons of God to be revealed.

  31. Godlovesme4me

    August 3, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Great Piece Dami!! Very Impressive in fact.
    As much as we all strive to be number 1…somebody has to be number 2 etc. That somebody could be me or you. However the position we attain doesnt necessarily define who we are or who will in the long run. Dami is right, number 1 sees the vision and number 2 accomplishes…in the end they both win and technically number 2 gets the recognition for it…anyways 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. As long as we always strive to be our best at anything we do…we r all number 1 in our individual eyes. Looking forward to reading more post from you Dami.

  32. Sucozanthin

    August 4, 2011 at 12:23 am

    I luv dis article……quite inspiring

  33. sucozanthin

    August 4, 2011 at 12:59 am

    i luv dis piece…………quite interesting

  34. ami

    August 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    lol…..cuz theres only one place for number one in every position so all others wud b losers includin me,but i like being a loser if thats the case,im content being second at anything.

  35. Babe

    August 4, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Great article Dami. Very articulate. Keep0 writing

  36. Oluwapeluwa

    August 6, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Quite thoughtful, kudos to you. Don’t worry dami, you will chase the 1st position unconsciously, in due time or are you getting frustrated already by high expectations and demands? that’s by the way.
    I stumbled on a write up on a shirt years back and it goes somehow this way “IT GOOD TO BE A CHAMPION, ONLY A LOSER WILL SAY IT DOES NOT MATTER IF YOU DON’T WIN!” We are who we are as a result of our participation in Life’s competition.
    whether you are the 1st, 2nd or other positions, life will not be what it is. Just do the best you can as you prepare to accept what it throws back at you. Forget all the saying “Aim for the moon and if you don’t get it,at least you’ll land among stars. But aim for just the clouds and you’ll get knocked out. Forget! nobody set standards, you define them yourself and if there is any then who sets the standards for them?
    I’ll suggest we all see this movie “THREE IDIOTS” focus on yourself and not the competition only then will you become better.

  37. foluke

    August 10, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Good one from Dami. But I’ll have to agree with Jide Taiwo that aiming for the second position encourages complacency.

  38. Tino

    August 10, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    My Papa once said to me, In all you do, try and aim for the sky so that at least you ll reach the tree top…………..

  39. Elva

    August 14, 2011 at 10:05 am

    My Papa once said to me, In all you do, try and aim for the sky so that at least you ll reach the tree top…………..

  40. Jim

    August 14, 2011 at 10:05 am

    lol…..cuz theres only one place for number one in every position so all others wud b losers includin me,but i like being a loser if thats the case,im content being second at anything.

  41. Ifeoma

    August 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Why strive to relax at number two if you can be first. In cases you mentioned, it’s obvious that we can’t forget the seconds but if for any reason you settle your mind to believe that being second’s just as good. The first place might be elusive. Attain perfection and avoid complacency

  42. Lyza

    August 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    I really appreciate this piece and I ope everyone’s learning.

  43. Bimpe

    September 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm


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