Life Lessons from Mudipapa: A True Life Guide for the Young and Unmarried
By Jeremiah Agada
It was German-born theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, one of the two pillars of modern physics, who once said wisdom is not a product of schooling, but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it. In retrospect, wisdom and understanding can only become the possession of individuals by travelling the old road of observation, attention, perseverance and industry. This wisdom and understanding can be had from experience or learnt from other people’s experience. A wise man once noted that it is always better to learn from the experience of others in order to create a better one or avoid unpleasant occurrences entirely.
From young people in adolescence at the threshold of adulthood to those at the level of readiness to start a family of their own, there is no better place to learn valuable lessons and ‘experiences’ than at the feet of Chief (Sir) Julius Ferdinand Mudiaga Orien, Ph.D., aka Mudipapa, a man in his twilight years, who can rightly boast of having seen it all, done it all, and is now in the best position to tell it all.
Of course, Mudipapa is a 65-year-old fictional character in Francis Ewherido’s first major literary work, ‘Life Lessons from Mudipapa’. The prolific writer with over 500 published works on marriage, family, youth, gender issues, politics, culture, insurance and business, tells Mudipapa’s interesting story in 256 pages of words spread across 31 chapters.
Although with a focus on the family life, marriage, parenting, career, business, retirement among others, a look at the book shows that it is a rich guide for all young people who have to grapple with the exigencies of living as they journey through life. It is also a minefield for singles who have intention of starting their own families someday and for young married couples just starting their family life as well. For the purpose of clarification and for this review, ‘single’ here means someone that is unmarried. This class of people is composed of young adults in their adolescents; those in various forms of relationships with the opposite gender (even those cohabiting, engaged) and even single parents.
The importance of a book like this in the life of these class of people is captured by Dwight L. Moody who once said, “Preparation for old age should begin no later than one’s teens. He had further stressed that a life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement. Life Lessons from Mudipapa, therefore, is a compendium of reference on dating, making difficult choices, courtship, marriage, parenting – all life stages the main character and chief protagonist, Mudipapa, passed through.
Life Lessons from Mudipapa is a mixture of fact and fiction, a genre commonly known as faction. It is a faction because some realities in the life of Mudiapapa intersects with that of the author, Mr. Francis, as well as other characters, places, experiences and aspirations in the book. Interestingly, young people get to learn a lot from the life of Mudipapa as a young man in relationships before his marriage and from the lives of three out of his five children: Oghenetejiri Barbara Orien, Emisiri Michael Orien, Gabriel Oghenemado Orien and Edirinverere Orien. Not much lessons can be gleamed from the life of Mudipapa’s last son, Edirin. Same goes for his last child, Omoghene Orien, whose conception was in a “fortuitous circumstances” which the author termed “a moment of madness.” She was too young, still in secondary school to have done much.
Written in free flowing, easy to read and understand diction, the language is simple and uncluttered. The omniscient narrative asides from giving a broad view into each character’s life, guides the reader on a journey of discovery of new terms, concepts, knowledge, even languages, cultures and places. Terms like SWOT, SMART, TEAM; concepts like Electra Complex, Knowledge like naturally determinining a baby’s sex, languages like French, cultures like that of the Urhobos, Itsekiris and the Isokos and interesting places like the Champs Elysees in Paris France, Florida in the US among others.
Interestingly and worthy of mention is the fact that the end of each chapter, and on few occasions, in the middle of the story, the author chips in a nugget, two or more on vital life lessons the reader can have as a takeaway from the chapter in focus.
The story of Mudipapa begins from the first chapter, as a flashback from the present in his expansive sitting room, down to his early days as a young man in chapter two, floundering in relationships, a common phenomenon with people at that stage in life, on his way to marital El Dorado. Here, the many challenges that young people in relationships face were explored and dealt with accordingly. From having issues around trust, ego, obsession, disappointment, disagreements, etc., the young Mudipapa after searching for long, discovered his missing “rib” and got married to her in a marriage that has been quite fruitful.
Interestingly, from the travails of Mudipapa in his quest for his soul mate, the author makes a strong case for the place of God in relationships and the choice of a life partner. As he holds as a belief, which is, God is a giver of good spouses.
Fast forward to chapter thirteen, the author espouses the importance of marrying early and the advantages of that to young people. As Mudipapa talks to his eldest children on early marriage, he reasoned that marrying early or late has its advantages but marrying early is more preferable. He rationalized that marrying early helps couples start and finish giving to birth to and nurturing their children early enough to settle down to a life of retirement among other advantages.
Oghenetejiri’s relationship with Swanky highlights chapter 14 of the book. Tejiri, as she is known for short, had a rather ‘reclusive’ approach to social life growing up as she was focused more on her academic pursuit of excellence to the detriment of her social life. She therefore lacked the emotional intelligence and experience in the department of dating, hence, fell into the dubious Swanky’s trap that almost got her sensitive images exposed online and her family’s name tarnished. The wise counsel from father to daughter during a trip to France is a wholesome nugget to many young people who at different points in time may have found themselves in her shoes. Her subsequent recovery and discovery is a lesson to remember.
From Mudipapa’s interaction with Tejiri and her husband-to-be, Tosan, the reader gets an in-depth exposition from relationship issues like jealousy, how it is different from envy and the fact that jealousy in its moderate form is actually a good thing. He noted, “Jealousy started running into trouble when it started mixing up with bad boys and girls like anger, ego, envy, murderous rage, revenge, sin and others.”
Chapters 22 and 23 of the book centre on individual differences in relationships which is a major theme from the adulthood and relationships of Mudipapa’s first son, Emisiri, especially with his heartthrob, Uzoezi. Here, the importance of finding a common ground in relationship, forgiveness, reaching a compromise, settling problems and accommodating our partners and potential spouse was emphasized. The clear difference between interference and intervention was outlined and the Paretto Principle in relationships, explained. Emisiri, a Catholic, could not find a common ground with Uzoezi, a Pentecostal from an Anglican home until Mudipapa helped both reach a compromise before they wedded.
Chapter 23 also focuses on Mado, Mudipapa’ second son and a single father who became a parent before finishing his secondary school education. The blight of having one of his child become a father outside wedlock as portrayed by the author is indicative of the fact that there is no utopian family, rather, all strive for perfection. Mado’s life after putting Cynthia in the family way shows that anyone can always rise to their zenith irrespective of earlier mistakes and failings. Quite unexpectedly, Mado became the person who carried on with the family investment despite prior disappointments. Mado’s relationship with Lydia beams the light on toxicity in relationships. The author posits in the book that it is always better to end such relationships and move on in life than end up on page three of national dailies as horror stories.
More practically, Mudipapa’s footnotes centred on topical issues pertinent to the young and unmarried. Mudipapa’s note on courtship stands out here. He enumerated and explained core areas in courtship that young people should focus on. They include God, core values, assets and liabilities and friendships, among others.
The issue of sex during courtship, length of courtship, family/family involvement, disclosure of fundamental conditions, health status, counselling, even co-habitation, etc., were also treated by the author.
Written as a novel with plenty elements of an autobiography, this guide to marital Eldorado has achieved the purpose of providing information, unquantifiable education, hilarious entertainment and a pure realistic elucidation to the institution of marriage to the young and the unmarried.
Having read this book, I will advise parents to purchase it for children in secondary school. The diction as earlier stated is simple enough. Valuable lessons from the lives of Mudipapa’s children, especially Mado, characters like Cynthia, and others will prove very useful to them. The content of the book is decent enough for their age. At a younger age bracket than theirs, I have read things that would have given my parents instant heart attack if they had any idea.
For the unmarried, a group I belong to, Life Lessons from Mudipapa is a must have. The stories there will challenge you, the conflicts will resonate with you and the resolutions of all the conflicts will give you a clear guide on your journey to starting your family.