Introduction: The book “Pillars of Greatness” by C.C. Ani was edited by Prof. C.A. Omaka of the Faculty of Law, EBSU and published by Catholic Communications Press, Abakaliki. It has a total of 181 pages and is dedicated to man’s aspirations to freedom and change.

The book is compressed into 12 chapters espousing what the author saw as the basic pillars for the attainment of greatness in man’s efforts here on the planet earth. The authors drew extensively from his knowledge of philosophy, religion, custom and natural state. Probably without meaning to, he made radical incursions into the realms of metaphysics, physiology and animism.

Chapter I - spoke about separation. Here the author extolled the virtues of solitude, cognition, soliloquy and meditation. He stressed the need to, from to time, remove yourself bodily from the vicissitudes around you and put yourself in a spiritual prison from whence you would communicate, unperturbed with nature and with God and in the process, not only see a better, new you but hear directly the voice of God.

Chapter 2 - emphasized the need to feel God’s presence and nearness through fasting and prayer. This period of submission and abstinence and denial he saw as an effective process of reconciliation with God and an opportunity to imbue you with greater power and potentials.

Chapter 3 - spoke about vision and the ability to think and look beyond the immediate. He identified vision as the compass upon which we can build foundations and structures of personal achievement and successes in all aspects of life. Here he decried the sorry state of our nation as a reflection of the visionlessness of our political leaders at all levels.

Chapter 4 - identified wisdom as the bedrock of greatness and he laid emphasis on the superior wisdom that comes from God because, for him, wisdom is the raw materials for creativity, productivity and efficiency. Drawing many illustrations from the bible, from philosophy and real life experiences, Mr. Ani submits that “Wisdom is the chief corner stone of greatness”.

Chapter 5 - here the author reminded his audience about the extraordinary components of creativity as a variant of human success. His view is that with the power of creativity and vision, man can conquer many of the incapacities there has inhibited his progress and create a better Eden for himself and those around him.

Chapter 6 - Mr. Ani spoke about interconnectedness and the wielding together of the common till. He laid emphasis on the spirit of apprenticeship and comradeship as an objective of humanity upon which progress can be built and sustained.

Chapter 7- grace of God was the issue here. He described grace as an unmerited favour and not a function of hard work. He made illustrations with the chequered lives of Joshua and Caleb, whom he described as “twins with equal opportunities”. The issue of Grace is a subject deeply enmeshed in religion, faith and dogma and I will allow each reader to follow the fluidity of his or her emotions and belief systems.

Chapter 8 - identified the various steps to greatness. From knowledge to zooming into excellence, from accepting where your are, to what he called the joyful spirit, Mr. Ani chronicled an alphabetical order of these steps. Let me remark that the author gave us a mouthful here because one has to grapple with countless, daunting, perplexing and complicated possibilities to sift through the rigors here outlined.

Chapter 9 - in this chapter the author spoke about the awesome predestined impact time plays in the life of everyone. He noted that everyone has 24 hours but what ultimately defines you is the use to which you put your own time. In the portion, “principles of time management”, he tried to set out the need for one to be austere in determining the qualitative use of his time.

Chapter 10 - here the author spoke about the need for circumspection. Captioned “the power to say No”, his emphasis dwelt on will power. Many of us glide through life as rafters tossed about by the current without our own design or purpose. Yes, one should know when to say yes, when to say no and when a middle course should be appropriate, because there are many pulls and pushes from different angles and directions.

Chapter 11 - Pillan Eleven “giving” reminds us of God’s view points on generosity and giving. Drawing extensively from the bible, he emphasized the need to “sow seeds” and warned that those who refuse to give always and up giving wrongly through some negative means which he identified.

Chapter 12 - in the last chapter “how to get what you want”, Mr. Ani told us that we should not despair in our goals no matter the impediments. He used the life of Francesca Cabrini, an Italian Nun and missionary to illustrate humanity’s doggedness and refusal to succumb to physical limitations in the quest to realize one’s potentials.

Conclusion:  Despite evident contradictions and prosythesis, Mr. Ani has done a good job here, the limitations and constraints notwithstanding. His background as a believer, a preacher and a native born is clearly underlined. That he has the zeal to be better than he is, is not in doubt. And this desire to pass it along is commendable.

However, let we say that the book was highly exoteric. It may not be so easily equated with the realities we presently face. There were so many abstract and generalizations.

Lastly, let we give a little advice to our upcoming writers and thinkers. Always take time to read Chinua Achebe’s books before you embark on any literary journey. His simplicity, use of words, aesthetic prose, elegance and coinage will serve as a beacon to guide your feet.
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