By Hope Nwawolo
“Things (or people) are not always as they seem, the first appearance deceives many”, ( Phaedrus)
The media was agog recently with the issue of the young girl and her JAMB result that was eventually found out to be fake after several arguments and call for official recognition from different segments of the public. Based on the opening quote, it means that someone’s physical appearance or outward demeanor may not accurately reflect his true capabilities or knowledge.
This piece is not to repeat all that have been said about the issue, ranging from immediate support, sponsorship, and unwarranted ethnic bashings. Many people have had to swallow their words in shame and regret after her confession. It is not also to further blame her for what she did. The final shame of it all will haunt her all through her life but with hope she will find succor in the peace that only God can give after a genuine confession and repentance. No doubt, there are so many people with secret grievous offenses that are still waiting to be exposed or at least confessed.
This piece is all about the deception that can come from the look of a person. When the young lady’s case hit the media, so many people concluded she did not look like a person that would forge her result. They could not be far from right at that time because, truly, she looked so innocent that the thought of conceiving that crime was unthinkable to her supporters, then. Except her father was in the know of the deed, he also swore to her innocence, citing her intelligence right from nursery school, In the same way many notable and respected people had their instincts mislead them to draw wrong conclusions only based on the young girl’s look. To this end, there were calls for litigations against JAMB, without actually taking time to look beyond the girl’s innocent look.
In a slight diversion from the JAMB saga, there are some other instances where a person’s look can be deceptive. For instance, a lady meets a man with friendly demeanor and agrees to spend the rest of her life with him. Immediately after marriage, he turns around and become a marital lion that roars at the slightest disappointment. On the other hand a man marries a seemingly timid and soft-spoken lady who transforms soon after marriage to a troublesome and nagging. No doubt, marital problems could have affected the spouses to radical changes, but the fact still remains that their looks at the initial stage were deceptive.
Even in the religious sector, there have been cases of men of God who warmed their ways into the hearts of their church members but ended up committing atrocities that could only be imagined with someone who never had a spiritual encounter with God. Some of these so called religious men of God have been known to impregnate female members or even taken over the wives of their members. Appearances therefore, can be deceptive and misleading and someone may not just be as he looks. Looking beyond the facial appearance requires curiosity and an open mind. Attempts must be made to avoid snap judgments based on sentiments with an effort to see beyond the looks. This is the only way to uncover the truth and embrace a more nuanced understanding of a situation or person. Beyond this, caution, inquisitiveness and willingness to dig deeper when claims are made by people with facial calm, are encouraged.
Luckily, the young girl with the genuine highest JAMB score also has an innocent look, meaning that it is not all innocent looks that are deceptive. No wonder Williams Shakespeare in his book, Macbeth, said, “There is no art to find the mind’s construction on the face”. Moving forward, management of schools should emphasize the importance of examination integrity to the students. It is necessary to state that academic honesty is crucial for personal growth, fair competition, and the pursuit of knowledge. They must also be made to appreciate that achievement of genuine success comes fromhard work, study and adequate preparationfor examinations. They should be encouraged to come up with their concerns and difficulties as well as seek appropriate assistance from their teachers, tutors or even classmates.
Finally, it may be necessary to carry out a psychological examination on the trending young lady to ascertain what led her to such criminal act of forgery, after eliminating any adult involvement. The implication of the public bashing may have a negative psychological effect on her, and with hope that she does not trip over mentally and probably harm herself to escape public sneers and shame. At this stage she needs urgent help to still make something out of her life after the unfortunate saga. Above all, her parents must keep a close watch over her.
Hope Nwawolo, PhD