On Turning Set-backs into Stepping-Stones – 1

2friendsThe ride from home was uneventful. Or almost. This afternoon there was a light-shower. Now the “bombed-out roads” are flooded. The dry season is barely over, the heavy rains are still several weeks or months away. Just a light shower and the roads are already flooded. That means we are in for a very bad ride this rainy season. Hopefully, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Less than 3 kilometers away, at the Akpajo end, the road construction work is proceeding at an uneven pace. With some bits of luck, the work will be completed successfully at the Oil Mill section of the road before the year runs out. Not until then will vehicles old or new, big or small have respite from the pot-holes bedeviled road.

I soon find myself at the Refinery junction end, close to the overhead bridge. Our people prefer to call it “fly-over”. Today is Oil-Mill market day. The double appointments couldn’t have come at the worst of time. Well, I have to make the best out of them. One never can tell what will come out of it all at the end of the day. The traffic was creeping on. Near the overhead bridge, the book-seller came by with various titles from publishers like Harvard Business Review, authors like Brian Tracy among others. The title that caught my attention was the business classic by Michael Porter – Competitive Strategy. I called the hawker’s attention. He came near to my side of the car. Meanwhile both lanes sides of the expressway are of choked up with hawkers peddling their wares – fruits, electronics, and music CDs, cakes, electronics and books. The “knowledge hawker” knows that his wares contains invaluable gems that can transform people’s lives if only they can read and apply the knowledge and insights gained from reading them. But then, how many of these books has he ever read? Who even have time to read books at all in these days of Facebook, WhatsApp and other seemingly endless Social networks “weapons of mass distraction” (a la Dr Os Guinness). Seeing this books-hawker remind me of the year 2014 when Port Harcourt was crowned the World’s Book capital. Seeing all these books hawkers, you will not agree less even though that has not transformed our city into the most knowledgeable in Nigeria. Neither has that appellation catapulted the city into the league of the advanced and forward looking cities of the world.


“How much for this book (Michael Porter – Competitive Strategy)?”

“N2500 (approximately $8)”.

“The last amount I will pay for it is N500.”

“I did not buy it for that amount oga (master).”

“OK. Bye, bye.” I bluffed, On Amazon, the Kindle e-book version goes for $27 and the paper back edition goes for $10 (excluding shipping costs to Nigeria). I already have e-copies of this and one other title by the same author. I ought to have picked up Competitive Strategy and go over it again. OK it’s not a calamity. I will search for it from among the myriads of book sellers that seem to spring up on every busy nook and cranny of Port Harcourt some other time. I saw another book hawker again. I described the book to him.

“No I don’t have the book again. If you really want to buy it from the other guy, it will cost you at least N1000 because the cost price is N900.”

“OK. Thank you.”

The traffic was still creeping on slowly. This is closing time with the attendant rush-hour traffic. The choke up not being helped by the market that has crowded out the highway and some of our people’s devil-may-care, discourteous and undisciplined way of driving. Every man for himself is the rule on our highways.


As if in answer to my earlier wish, just before I got directly below the overhead bridge, the first “books hawker” caught up with me again. Resuming our earlier bargain of the previous few minutes back, I asked him,

“Bros how much will you sell that book for me now?”

“The book will go for N1500.”

“Let’s settle for N1000 now.”

“Add N300 and take it.”

“No, I will pay you N1000.”

“The cost price for this book is N900. You know it is a big book. Bigger than the other ones.”

“Let me pay N1000. I will make you my customer.”

“OK. Have it.”

Deal done. I lovingly cradle the book between my fingers, just the way you will handle a precious jewel. This is the 1980 edition, the back cover is the same as that of the original print. The book was neat and in almost pristine condition. No marks, no worn-out or torn paged. Splendid.

The traffic was still crawling on. At long last I got to the HQ church where I was to meet with two other brethren – family members in the same church. While the discussions were on, I needed to show him my website.

“So you do websites?”

“Yes”, in response to the enquiry. I reached out to my tab to launch the site on the mobile browser. Alas, the site was gone. My homepage was taken over by a hacker. Luckily enough, the other sites were not “hacked” into. So I was able to show him another of my hosted sites. The discussions were hurriedly concluded with my two partners. On my way home, another traffic hold-up. The traffic was slow, so, I decided to call my ISPs support line even though it was past work closing time. No response.

On getting back home, I hurriedly sent a mail to my ISP in town. At least they will respond to me by tomorrow. Less than 24 hours’ time if they keep to their word.

On arriving home, I quickly set up the old computer. The adults at home soon rallied round me, even though I was not in a talking mood.

“My site has been hacked. I spent several weeks building it up. Now just as it is getting fairly decent and presentable, it has been brought down again.” Sad, sad, sad.

“Did you have backup copies?”, my wife inquired with concern.

“No I did not have backup copies even though all the write-ups are well backed up in Word.”

“My daughter asked, “don’t you have backups?” No I don’t have.

Leaning over my shoulder my son asked, “Daddy didn’t you have backup copies of the site?”

“I have backup copies of all the files but it will take time to restore them in a web-presentable format.”

“OK. What are you doing now?”

“I am trying to see if I can get a fix for the problem from the web.”

“OK. Try on. I know that you will fix this problem and it will be an opportunity for you to learn something new.” Now talk about giving advice. The young man is advising me now. Grinning demurely from ear to ear, he walked away.

“Son. You are right, but I feel very sad and depressed this very moment. I don’t even know what is present on that harmless site that somebody will think of hacking it.”

“Daddy, sorry o o.”

“Thank you.”


To all intents and purposes, a solution is not going to come up for this problem this night. Or so it seems.  My only option is to wait for my ISP feedback. I hope that they will respond quickly this time around. Sitting glued to the screen for the next two to three hours, no solution seems to be in sight. All the other sites were verified by Google except the “hacked” one. Kindly enough, after about 3 hours, the website came up again. I proceeded to quickly back it up along with the other websites again.

And so, victory was snatched out of the jaws of defeat – turning setbacks into a chance to learn a new skill. That is growth. And it’s all in you. [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””] Setbacks can be turned into stepping stones. It all depends on one’s attitude and resiliency.[/clickandtweet] [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]So keep on plugging at it. You never can tell what tomorrow may bring.[/clickandtweet]