Revenge: Message from the Morning Man by Kojo Yankson


Revenge: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson

27th July 2015

You know they say you’re never too old to learn something new? Well, last Friday, something rather significant happened to teach me an important life lesson that I didn’t realise I needed, but am so grateful I received.

A very influential man called me on Friday morning and asked if I could help a nephew of his solve a rather delicate problem. I had only met this man once, and didn’t know him very well, but I promised I would do my best, and agreed to meet with his nephew later that afternoon. As soon as the nephew walked into the room, I realised I knew him, and as soon as I recognised him, my blood started to boil.

It must have been just a week or two after I moved to Accra last year, and I needed … well, if I tell you what I needed, some of you might guess which organisation I visited, and figure out who this man is, so let’s just say I went to the organisation where this man works, to take care of a routine administrative issue. I was sent to this person’s office, where there were dozens of others waiting to be seen. I duly waited my turn, and was called up to his desk.

To this day, I don’t know what it was about me that upset this man, but for whatever reason, he treated me with such scorn and disrespect, berating me at the top of his voice for not understanding some procedure that nobody had bothered to explain to me. He ended by telling me to get out of his sight, and so, feeling utterly humiliated, I turned on my heels and left.

I remember saying a silent prayer as I got into my car; “God, please deliver this man into my hands someday, so I can give him a taste of his own medicine”.

And now, here he was, standing before me, needing my help. I could already tell from the way he was squirming uncomfortably, that he had recognised me. As he nervously spluttered out his request, I sat there thanking God for answering my prayers, and fantasizing about the dozens of ways I could teach this guy a lesson.

Suddenly, a weirdly random thought entered my mind from nowhere at all. It was the memory of a joke I read somewhere, many years ago, when I was still in secondary school. A joke which I had not thought of even once since I read it, up until that very moment. Here’s how it goes.

A man once walked into a brothel and requested a woman with AIDS. The brothel owner was concerned and wondered why on earth a young man in his prime would want to contract AIDS, but the man was insistent, so his wish was granted, and an appropriately infected lady was provided for him. After he had done the deed, and was leaving, the brothel owner called him to one side, and said, “Young man, I really don’t mean to pry, but you’ve got to tell me why you wanted a woman with AIDS”.

“Hm. Madam”. the man smirked with a knowing glint in his eye. “When I go home, I’m going to sleep with the maid. Then she will sleep with the watchman. He will then sleep with the babysitter, who will in turn, sleep with the driver. The driver will then sleep with my wife, who is having an affair with my next-door neighbour – that idiot who ran over my dog!”

This is the joke that randomly popped into my head as I sat there dreaming of my well-earned and much-deserved vengeance on this rude, disrespectful man that God had now placed before me on a silver platter. It took a few moments for the significance of this joke to dawn on me, and as soon as I figured it out, I started to laugh – much to the man’s further discomfort. God indeed has a sense of humour.

My friends, revenge is expensive. It often costs more to the avenger than the avengee (is that even a word? Well, it is now…). I was sitting there imagining the millions of ways I could get back at this man for humiliating me – all of which would cost me time and effort, and would do absolutely nothing to erase what he had done to me. Besides, if I believed what he had done was wrong, why did I want to do the same thing? The more I thought about it, the clearer it became to me that if I felt I was right to do the same thing he did to me, then he was also right to have done what he did in the first place. And if he was right, then why did I want revenge?

Last week, I shared with you the importance of apologies. I believe God also wanted me to realise the importance of forgiveness too – even in the absence of an apology.

I listened intently to the man’s problem and gave him exactly what he needed to solve it. Later that evening, I called him to make sure that he was alright, and the matter had been resolved. He said yes, and then he added (in Twi, so I will paraphrase in English), “Kojo, I’m sorry about the way I treated you in my office. You have taught me that in life, you never know when you will need someone, so it’s best to treat everyone well. I will never forget your kindness to me”. I can tell you, no amount of vengeance could ever have made me feel half as good as those words did.

My people, they say you’re never too old to learn something new, so whatever your age, I would like you to know that in this world, not everyone will like you. Not everyone will treat you well. But revenge is expensive. You can’t afford to spend even a moment of your time wronging people the same way they wronged you. If what they did was wrong, then why would you want to do it too?

My name is Kojo Yankson, and if I went around paying everybody back in their own coin, I’d soon have no coins left.