By Oghene Omonisa


The mood was sombre. It was supposed to be thanksgiving celebration, but the father was turning it to something else. His eyes were watering, as if he would cry any moment. And he suddenly cried. Open cries. His two daughters and the family friends and relatives who had joined them at the front of the church could not hold back their tears.

But the pastor held back, continuing with his preaching. Then he called for their thanksgiving offerings. He prayed for them.

What had happened? The man had lost his job two years before. To make ends meet, he joined his wife at her shop. While they were picking up, the couple were involved in a motor accident in their trade. The wife and others did not survive it. Only the man did. Eventually, the man secured a good job. It was the thanksgiving service that brought those tears.

Now, should men cry? In his 1969 all-time classic novel, The Godfather, Mario Puzo created one of the most admired fictional character in human history, Don Vito Corleone.

A man of sound judgment who grew up to head one of the most powerful Mafia families in America, to Don Corleone, men should not cry. That should be for women.

In the story, a Mafia story, attempt had been made to his life. In his sick bed, his first son is gruesomely murdered. Learning of the incidence, the Don’s consigliere (adviser) could not muster the courage to go and deliver the sad news. In his bed, the Don senses that something is amiss.

He comes down to the sitting room and  accuses his consigliere of keeping something from him.

Eventually, he learns of his son’s death. He accuses his consigliere of being weak, and for not responding properly. When the corpse is delivered to the morgue, the Don opens the bullet-ridded body, and without tears, says: ‘See what they did to my boy.’

In the movie, according to Hollywood legend, filmmaker Francis Coppola and writer Mario Puzo had an argument: Should Don Corleone cry on displaying the bullet-riddled body of his son?

According to the Hollywood legend, Puzo, himself a Sicilian, the home of Mafia, had argued that in the Mafia, males have to make their bones (kill a human being) to make them hardened, to face the rigours of life.

Puzo lost! Coppola won! Don Corleone must cry. In the scene, Don Corleone, as played by Marlon Brando, contours his face into grimace and cries.

Over the years, great men of means and power have gone to betray their emotions, far beyond our expectations.
In April 2011, after three times of contesting for the office of President, an emotionally laden Muhammadu Buhari could not hold back tears as he rounded off his campaign tour with a promise that it would be his last attempt at the office.

The man that would later lead this country for the second time, broke down in tears and wept in public.

In May 2007, when vacating the Presidential Villa, President Olusegun Obasanjo was alleged to have paused, to ruminate about life: Coming to the Villa with his lovely wife, Stella, and now leaving without her was tragic. The great man was alleged to have shed tears over the irony of life.

In March 1999, during the burial ceremony of Major General Tunde Idiagbon, the late Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquaters (military equivalent of Vice President to Major General Buhari), President Ibrahim Babangida could not hold back tears as the remains were committed to Mother Earth. Babangida led this country for eight years.

In October 2004, during the burial ceremony of his late mother, former Governor of Delta State, and the man his admirers call Odidigborigbo of Africa, had paused to wipe the tears in his dark glasses when delivering his speech, with dignities present. It was understandable.

In June 1999, during one of the series of Warri crises, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, while delivering his sermon, lamented: ‘Warri! Warri! What is happening to our beloved city, that we choose where to buy and sell, and where to live? Warri! Warri!’ Then the man who would later attain the singular honour of becoming both the President of PFN and CAN, cried. Not a few members of his audience joined him in crying.

In 1995, during the funeral of NADECO chieftain, late Chief Alfred Revane, Chief Michael Ibru could not hold back the tears. He called the NADECO chieftain a mentor in business. In between sobs, the man who in his lifetime, bore the tribal honorific Olorogun and often used it as a pre-nominal style, openly shed tears.

In the military, soldiers are groomed to be hardened men to endure the challenges of the job. Crying is frowned upon. Like the Mafia, and like cultists in our campuses who are tortured in the name of initiation to avoid tears. But like the old saying goes, there is time for everything. There is time for tears, too


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