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The Daily Vulnerable by Chude Jideonwo: Come and carry your Pedestal Biko



When others respect you or love you, or in other ways hold you in esteem, there is always the temptation for them to idolize you, to put you on a pedestal.

That’s because people like things that they can aspire to. People want to be perfect, they want to be without blemish, or weakness, or fear, and they want people who have reached that ideal to anchor them. They want saints.

It is a very easy, convenient place to be. Because you get a lot of benefits – respect, adoration, admiration, reverence. And you can fall into the trap of presenting yourself as a saint rather than human – lapping up the praising and worship, pretending to be all strength and little weakness. Even when you speak of ‘weakness’, it’s like the blessed Apostle Paul, so abstract that they really think you are just being metaphorical, when you are really being deadly serious about what you’re saying.

Sometimes, I understand, it’s because you don’t want to disappoint them – these people who look up to you. Well, for your own sake, it’s best you do. You’re doing them a favor when you let them know what it really means to be a human being – literally, authentically flawed.

People who like you because they think you’re perfect do not like you for who you are, they like you for what they want you to be. And if you’re going to be my partner on my journeys, you have to commit to receiving me as I am, not as you imagine me to be.

Like my issues with anger. On most days I succeed, mostly because I avoid the triggers for my anger. But when you see me, in full-decibel anger, like the other day when I was shooting my TV show, and this old tormentor snuck into my emotions, and lodged there, and I was observing myself letting loose, wearing rage like a comfortable sweater, you may be as alarmed as I was at how much work remains to be done there.

Or my cursing. Not at others. Just random, let-loose conversation-sweeteners! Once in a while, I like to use the F-word, and ‘hell’, and ‘damn’ and ‘dang’. It happens to rub a lot of people the wrong way, and I don’t see why it does. But it’s a good thing I am not all about it every day because if I were, you’d have to deal with it as it is.

Or that I am so terribly lazy around the house. I hate kitchens, I run away from dirty laundry and dishes (including mine!), and I can send people on errands for Africa. I am your stereotypical Nigerian elder brother – I am so reluctant to even lift myself up from the chair to pick the remote control from the console.

Atink those three should be enough for you for this one, today.

Enough for me to let you know that, if you kept a pedestal for me somewhere to come and sit on, biko come and carry your pedestal and be going. I have seen too many people I love and respect fall down flat on their faces from such unnecessarily high chairs.

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Jideonwo is a storyteller, using the research and evidence on human flourishing to inspire new narratives about politics, markets, faith, identity and society in Africa. He is a co-founder of RED, which he ran for 13 years before stepping down in December 2017. One of its companies, StateCraft Inc. handled communication for the Muhammadu Buhari campaign in 2015 and has worked in elections in Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.


  1. Bijoux

    September 15, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    I know I’m supposed to understand and be sympathetic to you but pls pick up a broom for f**ks sake.
    My elder bro is like that and sometimes he drives me crazy cos we live with our parents and have no house help. It’s like I know you don’t like it but pls pick up a broom or a brush or a hammer, geez.
    But you’re not my bro and you have no idea who this crazy commenter is so…what am I even saying sef?

  2. Nifemi Olusegun

    September 16, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    Brava! Very well said Jude.

  3. Teris

    September 16, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Bros, I totally get this. I wish I had the words.

    @Bijoux: LOL!!! I know, right?

  4. 56789ghr

    September 18, 2018 at 5:24 am

    In light of the recent happenings with Kemi Adeosun, you are spot on! Nobody is perfect.

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