By Oladapo Akande
I remember the mid 1990s Pirelli advert where the world famous Italian tyre brand introduced it’s iconic slogan for the first time. The advert featured my school boy hero and one of the greatest Olympians of all time, the incomparable Carl Lewis. Not only did he sport the perfect “flat top” hairstyle, which I dutifully copied but he specialized in the same athletic events as I did, namely the 100m and 200m sprints and the Long Jump. With his perfect and effortless looking running style, “King Carl” as many of us liked to call him because of his total dominance on the world stage, was the perfect candidate for the advert.
Unleashing his explosive power and speed, he took the bends at breakneck speed and all the while maintained perfect balance. Of course, this impossible feat was only made “possible” by the Pirelli tyre thread which made up the soul of his feet, providing perfect grip. And what was the brand’s slogan? “Power is nothing without control”.
The advert was so cool. I thought so back then and I guess I still do. Then, there was another Pirelli advert which featured King Carl but this time, it was a still picture of him in a sprinter’s position at the starting block, wearing a pair of red stilettos. Weird, right? But the significance wasn’t lost on me. Without a moderating influence on power, power can be far more destructive than constructive. Even for the person wielding it.
When God says he created the woman to be a help mate to man, one of the helps I earnestly believe He has in mind, is to provide a balance. This could simply be a balanced view on issues or an alternative approach to moderate a testosterone driven rash line of action. It could mean to provide a much needed eye of compassion regarding a matter. It could on the other hand be to offer a forward focused intervention, required to nurture and build thereby countering the “grab it all now” syndrome which often besets us men. It could even be to massage our male ego while cleverly steering us away from a counter productive stance. Of course it would be foolish to say all women are the same, but with the higher propensity for women to show compassion and to care about the welfare of others, (which is what government is meant to be about). I strongly believe a government which lacks a sufficient number of women will be handicapped by having one hand tied behind it’s back.
Women by their very nature are more inclined to ensure policies are passed that will provide an enabling environment for their children and future generations to thrive. God is well aware of how boys and men will gladly scatter everything rather than be seen to step down. The intervention of women can stop us from doing what we will almost certainly regret later on, even if we’re not wise or humble enough to admit it. Without that balance in our lives, we’re almost certainly doomed, as we’ll keep taking actions which are so obviously not in anybody’s long term interest, including ours.
A help mate is not a lesser person but someone who complements you to make you more complete. For those who have watched ralley racing, you would have noticed that there are always two people in the racing cars; the driver and the navigator. Should the driver decide to go it alone, there are really only two possible outcomes. One, he would crash out of the race or two, in order to avoid crashing, he would have to drive very slowly. Either way, he can’t possibly win.
This tells us very clearly that the navigator is not superfluous. He’s neither unnecessary nor is he a passenger. He’s actually half of a team because without him both the driver’s dexterity and the car’s huge horsepower would be as good as useless. Without him, the driver wouldn’t know what’s ahead. He wouldn’t know when it’s safe to accelerate or when it’s prudent to decelerate. He wouldn’t know when a bend is coming up or where he can make up for lost time. For all intents and purposes, the power at his feet would amount to nothing if he doesn’t know how best to control it. A sudden rush of blood to the head, causing him to speed up at the wrong moment could land him in a ditch that he won’t be able to get out of. The help mate is therefore not an appendage but a crucial partner in your journey if you’re to have any hope of finishing on time or even finishing at all. She sees what you don’t see and ensures you both cross the finish line. It’s one thing to have the throttle at your feet but it’s another thing to know how to get to where you want to go.
The motive behind having women in government and in positions of authority should not be to merely play to the gallery as that doesn’t do anybody any good. Neither should it be a cosmetic gesture, as if we’re doing the womenfolk a favour. Instead, it should be because we recognize it’s necessity as we’ll merely be shooting ourselves in the foot by doing otherwise. If we genuinely desire to make progress as a nation then we must be intentional and we must take deliberate steps that will give us the best chance of success. I close with this. We should always keep in mind that with the right mindset, there can be great strength in what appears to be weakness. Equally wise is it to keep in mind, just how brittle and weak power can be when there’s an absence of restraint or a moderating influence. I couldn’t agree more with Pirelli’s submission that power really does amount to nothing without control.
Changing the nation…one mind at a time.
Oladapo Akande is a Surrey University (UK) English graduate with a Masters in Professional Ethics. He’s an alumnus of the National Institute for Transformation and a two time author; The Last Flight and Shifting Anchors. He writes from Lagos.