The Omena-Omena Principal of Living


I won’t be one to call myself a daddy’s boy. As the first child of the family and as an Igbo man’s first son, I was given the almost compulsory “Junior” tag attached to my name. I was named after my dad. Big honour I must say, considering the achievements of my old man. Very proud of him.

Daddy was and continues to be a quiet man. He never was a disciplinarian. Not his style. Dad never laid his hands on me growing up (as long as I could remember) but his style of discipline was what one would term “tongue lashing”.  Where he lacked in whips and strokes, he made up for greatly in words and advice.

Growing up, I learnt tons of words of wisdom from my old man but one stuck more than the rest. I call it the ‘Omena-Omena’ principal of living.

Sometime in 2014, dad was having a get-together with a few friends and they bought some expensive drinks and left them in his custody to refrigerate and what not.
So dad not envisioning that the ever unreliable NEPA (Never Expect Power Always) would afford us light throughout the night kept the drinks in the freezer. Instead of the fridge but the freezer with the mindset that the little light we might get from NEPA should keep the drinks cold enough for the event.

The next day, to dad’s utter dismay, the drinks had frozen and broken in the freezer. He was distraught.
If they were his drinks then he might not have felt so bad but they were drinks for his friends.
I was assigned with the task of unloading the broken bottles from the freezer and cleaning the freezer.
While cleaning, I saw my dad counting his losses (as any Igbo man would).

In his words, “these drinks are almost N200,000. What was I thinking putting them in the freezer. I should have known better”.
Then out of pity as a concerned son, I asked him “so daddy, what are you going to do? These drinks are expensive o”
He responded “Well. Omena-Omena. I will see if I can replace them with drinks I can afford and explain to the guys. There is nothing more I can do.”

Omena-Omena in Igbo language could be translated as “it has happened, it has happened”. Which means, what ever happened has happened, there is no point beating yourself up over it. It’s unwise to keeping looking back at life’s shortcomings and errors on a regular basis thinking of what might have been. There is no point asking yourself those annoying “what if” questions.
What if I didn’t do this?
What if I didn’t pay that money?
What if I didn’t date this guy?
What if I didn’t trust her?
What if I didn’t kiss him?
What if I didn’t tell him my secret?
What if I didn’t marry her?
What if I had just listened to my parents?

Only if we had a time machine, to turn back the hands of time and correct our mistakes. But we don’t!!!!!
Don’t you get it? You can’t do anything about what happened. But you can do something about how you respond to what has happened.

Omena-Omena is trying to tell you that instead of focusing on the pit or the pitfall, it’s time to get yourself out, clean yourself off and move the heck on.

Why focus on rotten eggs when there are fresh eggs out there?
Why focus on broken bottles when there are new unbroken bottles out there?
Why focus on a lost love when there are countless opportunities to fall in love again out there?
Why focus on lost money when you can make even more money out there?
Why focus on a closed door when there are countless open doors out there?
Why focus on pain when joy feels so much better?

Dad might have stylishly trying to make him self feel better after his debacle but he taught me a valuable lesson that has helped me since that day.

Next time life throws lemons your way, why make lemonade when orange juice is much sweeter. Throw those damn lemons away and get yourself oranges.

Omena-Omena. Move on.


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