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In All Thy Getting, Get Tact

By Sayo Aluko “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction”. While this is not…

By Sayo Aluko

“He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction”.

While this is not a religious exercise, I think there shall be no better opening of this article than this Solomonic wisdom submission penned down in Proverbs 13:3.

My father was heavy on Yoruba folklore music; his favourites were Yusuf Olatunji, Ayinla Omowura Eegun-mogaji, and Sikiru Ayinde Barrister. A devout Anglican with a jealous preference for those hymnals, yet his love for this other genre was centred on the rich usage of instructive Yoruba proverbs in their lyrics.

I can’t remember which of his three favs used this proverb below in one of their songs, but it went like this: Eyín tó ta’yọ, wàhálà ẹnu ni. A protruded tooth is a problem to the mouth — the literal translation — but then, during one of his impassioned sessions to “train us” [sigh, those sessions no be here …LOL], I remember Dad saying that the figurative meaning of this particular proverb can be derived from another Yoruba phrasing – ìkó’ra ẹni ní ìjánu.
Ìkó’ra ẹni ní ìjánu is translated as knowing when to apply brakes to your speech, knowing when to bridle your lips, and having the ability to be circumspect with what you say, as your words are mostly a direct reflection of your persona and approach to things.

All of this can be summed up in one word — TACT— and over the years, I’ve learned that of the choicest set of skills needed to exist as a successful human, tact is top. When you lack tact, you lack a lot. In fact, the lack of tact, not money, is the real poverty.

I’ve seen a couple of past videos of the No. 1 pariah in the country at the moment, one Emdee Tiamiyu, and it is safe to say his current predicament is not far-fetched. Loose lips, hubris, a forceful deportment, and a propensity to overshare. It wasn’t hard to understand why the BBC spotted him as a useful pawn cum hee-diot to intimate a new policy, and why he happily mis-yarned in the clip making the rounds.

[No, don’t stretch it, Tiamuyu’s statements had no bearing on the new UK immigration policy, he just proved to be a wishful, thirsty tool to further it from an immigrant’s perspective]

Knowing what to say [or not] but not knowing WHEN and WHEN NOT to say it.

I saw his other videos, and I actually pitied him. The reek of poverty from his lack of circumspection was too strong to miss. He made and shared a video in the plane to shame sufferhead as he departed; he overshares; he wants to look-like, be-like, act-like, and feel-like; he forces the better-than visage and he exhibits exaggerated pride and pleasure. One of the latest clips on his Facebook page shows him recording himself in a hotel while he kept chanting “central landeen, h’am h’in central landeen [London]”.

As I watched him, I didn’t know when I uttered “heeyah”, followed by, “poverty of tact and of the mind na wahala sha”.

Eyín tó ta’yọ, wàhálà ẹnu ni.

A protruded tooth is a problem to the mouth.
A tactless persona is trouble to the bearer.
Tiamiyu is currently learning this the hard way.

“Forget the “bad publicity is good publicity” rationale, it doesn’t apply in situations like these as the price for self-sabotage is higher nowadays than we realise or accept.

While he must be praying that this cup passes quickly so that the public may move on to the next trending subject, I hope the lessons are learned by him and also by us, the watching public.

In this age where the thirst for clicks is endemic, tact is becoming increasingly rare, and it seems all of us run the risk of getting caught up too. In the real world, it is a skill you MUST have to thrive sustainably and last long; however, social media has also grown real enough to demand the same degree of tact in our dealings and interactions across digital spaces.

The world has become a global village with no doors; we see and access each other with the least effort, and it is not something to fear if one is able to apply the tenets of tact.

So, Sayo, don’t just stop at acquiring knowledge, get tact too, and continually update it. Over to you, friends.

Finally, apparently, British authorities must be clinking glasses that Nigerian “dependents” were done in by one of their own. While we know their decision to ban dependent immigration through the route Emdee Tiamiyu “blew the whistle” on must have been in the works for a while, it is clear they waited for the right moment that depicts “even one of your own affirmed it” to strike.

They will now need to also sleep with only one eye closed in Tiamiyu matters. Because in the words of Israelmore Ayivor”, Save your skin from the corrosive acids from the mouths of toxic people. Someone who just helped you to speak evil about another person can later help another person to speak evil about you”.

Aluko (Konisewu) ©️ Sayo Aluko

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