Friday, 6 September 2013

You have done What Napoleon Could not do.

You have done What Napoleon Could not do.

Ever wondered why people use the above phrase to connote a splendid deed by somebody?After using this phrase this evening which i have always used when expressing  gratitude,i could not resist the temptation to indulge in some research and here is what i found......Enjoy.

Napoleon Bonaparte, a formidable French General, bulldozed and silenced all nations in the known world during his time. His bitter Achilles’ heel was England and his rival foe was their military tactician, the Duke of Wellington. The irresistible and irrepressible Duke was as much a terror to other nations as he was the hero of England. Unlike the battles settled at Zama, the encounter of the two Generals ended unpleasantly in deadlock.

Theirs was a war of domination, not only for the two powerful nations but also for the two contesting Generals. Obviously, one was World hero number one and the other number two. While the underlying problem was in their ranking, it remained however indisputable that no other person in the wide world could defeat any of them.

One day, the Duke was forced to a retreat in a place and by a person neither he nor any other person ever imagined: in England and by an ‘idle’ civilian. Yes, the noble Duke and pride of England was turned back, not with the weapons of warfare, which the Bible says, are carnal and not also ‘mighty through God’. Who could it be? Where and how could it be possible?

England had been agog that their indefatigable General and army were not after all crushed by Napoleon and that they were returning home to their embrace. Right from the frontiers, the ovation was high. Their General was not a person to be mistaken for some one else: his military medals dangling over him, the respect and honour, which always follow a hero, loudly made the distinction. From France to England, he had ridden through macadamized roads but had to pass through a cornfield, a shortcut, which unknown to him, had been fenced by the owner because trespassers were trampling upon his crops. The farmer also employed a mai guardi, with strict instructions never to allow any person to pass through the gate.

Bad enough, the instruction did not provide for exceptions for the likes of the Duke. Bad enough, it was not in Nigeria where compliance to law is selective and restricted to the downtrodden. Bad enough, the mai guardi was not a Nigerian, who would have made his fortune from the gate. Arriving at the cornfield, the champion and his soldiers were surprised that the servant had not opened the gate for them. Generals…Colonels…Majors…Captains… Lieutenants… other ranks! The humble Duke pleaded the lad to open the gate but he would not. A General?

‘I’m the Duke of Wellington?’ Yes, the Duke himself speaking, the pride of the realm, an unstoppable soldier, and a household name, even by those who had not been privileged to meet him.
‘I’m sorry, sir. I received instructions from my massa not to open to any person.’
Any person? Was the Duke any person? Imagine a hero, the servant’s boss was not worthy to untie his shoe latchet! Were his master to join the army, would he even qualify to be the Duke’s batman? Were it in my country, would not the soldiers have carried away the gate, servant, his master any unfortunate farmer who was around, all passersby…?

Defeated, deflated and dejected, the warrior retreated with his belligerent army while the faithful and excited servant, in a victor’s voice, called his Oga, ‘Massa, massa …come… I have done what Napoleon could not do. I have turned back the Duke of Wellington.’ As he heard this, the Duke muttered in-between his teeth, ‘If I have half a dozen soldiers like this servant, I will conquer the whole world.’

So when next you are expressiing gratitude u may want to add the phrase

So, thanks folks for your time.........You have done what Napoleon could not do.

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