A- Akure, Belo.
Once upon a time in German East Africa during World War I, there was an extraordinary man named Belo Akure. I can't begin to tell you how much this man's simple stories inspire me.
He was with the Royal West African Frontier Force (now called the Nigerian Army) fighting for King and kingdom (you can tell me Nigeria was formed on the eve of WWI, but you can't tell me the average man in Nigeria knew we were kicking the ass of the guy who shared our continent into 'unnatural' geopolitical zones...his name was Otto Von Bismark, but more on him another day).
By the end of WWI, company sergeant-major Belo Akure was awarded
(1) the West African Frontier Force medal for Distinguished conduct in the field
(2) The Military Medal (highly coveted by english officers)
(3) A clasp (I'd pretend to know what that is, but I find it hard to lie, so...)
He got medals, so what? There's got to be a medal for anything, right? Wrong.
The first medal was for being cool and courageous...essentially the average soldier, regardless of nationality, would have shit themselves before thinking about doing what he did.
Apparently the british officers made an military-miscalculation near a river and ordered him to 'retire his company' (today, we would call it a retreat).
Imagine crossing Oshodi expressway. Now imagine dodging bullets aimed at you and 7 primary school students while crossing the expressway. Your job is to get all 8 of you to the other side and then find cover. Got that image in your head? Good, because that guy did a whole different kind of brave.
He and the remaining company found a canoe which was important because the river was too deep to 'ford' to the other side (you could only swim across, you couldn't wade through it). As you can imagine, swimming makes you a sitting duck, so a canoe makes for a much 'safer' crossing.
So the men all get into the canoe and Sgt. Akure attempts climb in only to discover there is no room for him.
Pay attention because the story begins here.
He gets out, tells them to row across to the other side, when they're on their way, Akure hugs the river bank and proceeds to return fire on the advancing German forces. He gets hit in the sleeve but he continues to give cover fire to his fleeing company.
Like a mother hen, he confirms they are on the other side, he then 'orders' them into the trenches dug there.
Once they are safe and under cover, he shoulders his rifle and dives into the river to swim across. He makes it.
Maybe he had a deathwish now mistaken for a cool and courageous mien? Maybe. But before you decide, check out exploit number 2.
He captures a german officer who is being aggressively sought after by his army. 'Inspite of a determined rescue effort' was how it was described in his citation.
I still shake my head when I wonder what sort of mountains you have to defeat 'in your heart' for you take initiative intelligently and shine in such a bleak and dead era?
Have I met my own and failed without knowing? Will I want to face them again, so I too can shine, when this era is both without luster and just a few untold stories away to the coming generations?
Well, that's my 'A'.