The decision not to travel for the Sallah holiday was one I had made up my mind about long ago and I sure kept to my word – staying indoors most of the time and getting some well-deserved rest. This turned out well, until Sunday when I decided to do a bit of market visiting after service. I enjoyed every bit of my being in the market; and as I went about ticking out my laundry list of items, a particular scene occurred in a stall near me, which left me with a good mix of anger and amusement. A lady had just bought some cooking condiments, and while paying for the items, she extended the money to the seller, with her left hand. The seller refused to collect the money, insisting that the lady corrected her error and used the right hand instead, as the left hand usage meant she disrespected her. Well, the buyer would have none of it. A brief argument ensued, a few people gathered to resolve and at the end, the buyer won. As I walked away from the scene, I kept asking myself, “What really is it about the left hand?”
In trying to answer this question, I had to take my mind to my early years. Growing up in a closed community in Lagos, I knew of friends and siblings who were born south-paws (lefties), but were eventually converted to be right-handed. My younger brother for instance actually started out left-handed, with his typical left-side activities including eating, writing, playing football among others. While it was easy for my parents to eventually force his hand use to the right hand side, leaving him with a funny hand-writing in his early years, his leg were not easily converted as he currently plays football with his left leg. Asides my younger brother I had many other friends who were forced to change their hand-usage. While there seems not to appear any harm done, as they apparently didn’t turn out badly, one is perhaps left to wonder how they would have turned out if they had been allowed a free rein.
Interesting statistics indicates that 15% of the total population of the world is left-handed. These statistics further alleges much more; that left-handers are more likely to be geniuses, left-handed men are, on average 15% richer than right-handed men for those who attended college, and 26% richer if they graduated. Left-handed people tend to be more creative and entrepreneurial than right-handed people – 4 of the 5 original designers of the Mac computer were left handed.
Beyond these statistics, I have every reason to love left-handed people and sometimes wished I was one. I remember back in primary school, primary 4 to be precise, my seat partner was left-handed and for the duration of that session, he more than anything else made me wish I was. This young man was one of the best artists I had come across up until that point in time. His hand-writing could pass for a calligraphic work and he combined all this with a super brain. Fast-forward to today and I have met the most amazing left-handed people ever, with some of them combining it with delightful left-legs (remembering Dapo Kehinde, of the Ijanikin fame, tearing defences apart with his super doper left leg).
While scientists have argued that the hand-leg co-ordination/use is a function of the dominant side of the brain we use, i.e right-handed people use their right brain and left-handed folks use the left brain, this has still not served as enough justification for the right hand or nothing folks.
If statistics and science still does serve as a good educator, perhaps images of world renowned leaders and personalities strutting the use of their left-hands would work. Images of the likes of Bill Clinton, Barrack Obama and our own Babatunde Fashola penning documents with their left hands is often used by team left-handed. Just maybe the next parent wishing for his/her child taking either of their places would see that as a good enough reason not to convert their hand of use when growing up.
Inasmuch as this may not be a matter for legislation, we need to do more for ourselves, especially as Nigerians, in accepting people’s choice of hand use and not reading undue meanings to such. I remain right-handed but always wishing I was a leftie. Only if wishes were horses…
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Mark Payne