By Farooq A. Kperogi
You see, I was brought up in a culturally conservative, patriarchal household in northern Nigeria where men were (and still are) supposed to conceal their emotions, where shedding of tears by a man, a full-grown man, was regarded as unacceptably sissy, as evidence of weaknesses.
I have internalized this emotionally oppressive cultural baggage from my formative years to now. However, I have had a few occasions in my life when I just couldn't hold back my emotions, when I shed tears--usually in the privacy of my room, of course.
One of such occasions was when I watched the performance by 48-year-old British lady Susan Boyle who wowed an initially cynical and snooty audience at this year's edition of "Britain's Got A Talent."
Here is a woman from a small village, who isn't exactly your specimen of stunning PHYSICAL beauty, who is unmarried (and has never been married), who lost her mother two years ago, who is unemployed, and who has never been kissed in her entire life. Yet, she embodies unbelievably enormous talents but seems innocently unaware of her rare gifts.
When I watched her perform, I couldn't hold back my emotions; I cried like a baby. I don't know why. But her story just touched me in ways words can't describe. I am still having trouble convincing myself that this is not some fairy tale--or perhaps an unreal an extension of my dreams into my wakeful moments.
Susan's humility is incredibly disarming. After her stunningly beautiful performance, she simply walked off the stage, satisfied that she had lived her lifelong dream of performing before a large audience, until she was told to return to hear the judge's verdict on her performance.
And, although she obviously enraptured everyone in the audience, including the usually fastidious judges, she seemed genuinely surprised by the well-deserved encomiums the judges lavished on her performance. Now, that's true humility.
In case you haven't watched the video before, which has now attracted more than 35 million hits on You Tube at the time of writing this blog, you can watch it here.
Each time I watch this performance, tears well up in my eyes. The innocence, rustic simplicity, authenticity and enormous musical endowments of this incredible woman inspire in me an inexplicably ethereal sensation.
Where has this singing angel been all this while? Why is the world just getting to know of her?
It has now emerged that 10 years ago, she recorded an equally moving song titled "Cry Me A River," which we are only just now discovering. Listen to it below:
In these moments of mass distress and disillusionment occasioned by the global economic crisis, diversions like this are therapeutic.