Thursday 19 June 2014

Chronicles of Sebastian - Knowledge, Love and its Connection *Curtain Falls*

I know this blog covers a lot of 'heart things' - emotions, relationships, friendships etc.. Today, we’ll move a bit up the body towards the head, to talk about knowledge, the mind and wisdom. When it comes to knowing stuff, I observed that we tend to go into extremes - if someone knows too little, he is labeled as being an “imbecile” without having “number 6”, yet if someone knows a lot, they are sometimes accused of reading “too much book” or maybe even of being arrogant. In universities and churches people complain that there’s a wide gap between theory and practice. We know that knowledge is somehow good, but people in history and present times are often ultimately assigning more value to feelings and practical things. However, I firmly believe that it’s not “either heart or head”, but both “head and heart”. We were created to love God and people with everything in us - our heart, mind and soul (Mt 22:37). Knowledge, if dealt with properly, can actually lead to more love and affection. So let’s have a look at how this can be possible:

1. Be Curious. Some people wondered whether I really just stayed for one semester in Nigeria. Now, I no be lying, I really just spent a few months in Nigeria, although these months were really intense. I think one thing that helped me in learning much in a short time was my natural curiosity. As a small child, to the dismay of my parents, I often broke their technological things by experimenting with them. Even when we grow older, I believe we should still be curious about the world around us. Back in Naija, I asked myself questions such as: "Why are things done this way?" "What is on the mind of this gateman?" "Why do birthday guests “clean the chair” with money?" "Why do most people vote by tribe and not by party?" "How do people perceive politics?" "What is this 'NYSC' that everyone is talking about and what are they doing there?" "Why do so many sellers never have "balance" (lol)?" "What is the difference between garri, eba and fufu?".
Be inquisitive, be interested and explore the world around you with a sense of wonder - there is so much to learn if we’re willing to take the eyes off ourselves. The funny thing is that you will actually learn more about yourself by interacting with others, since contrasts help us to be aware of who we are.
Even in a relationship, curiosity is a great tool to know your partner in a better way. What does he or she like? What makes her tick? How does her family differ from mine? If you stop being curious about your spouse, you’re essentially saying “I got you, there is nothing I need to know anymore”. I always feel honored when friends ask me questions about myself, it signifies interest and care. At the same time, I don’t like people who are so sure about who I am that they put me into a box and leave me there suffocating … lol.
Education and knowledge might frighten some people in Nigeria (e.g. Boko Haram), since educated people can question the status quo and think for themselves; but as much as possible, never let anyone drown out your curiosity abeg.

2. Read non-fiction and fiction books: See these books? 

Chai! Diarris...
In order to write a term paper on my experiences in Nigeria, I went through some of them. Reading them was such an interesting and eye-opening experience! You see, if you just read news about a country on the internet, you only get a superficial view - Boko Haram, kidnapping and other catastrophes. But digging history and “yesterday talk” really helped me to see how past events impact nowadays life in Nigeria; how artificial colonial borders put together many different tribes into one country, how the discovery of oil boosted both economy and corruption and how many other things are related to history.
While non-fictional books help us to see the “big picture”, reading fiction (such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels) enabled me to enter “someone else’s mind” and see their world through their eyes. I was often so immersed in African novels that I felt I connected and sympathized with them and their way of thinking. Once you read novels, you’ll learn a lot of “emotional truths” which can shape the way you interact with real and actual human beings. I often find myself being a little less judgmental and more understanding of others when I just finish a good book.
PS: I know books can be expensive, but I borrow most of my books from the library or buy them electronically (Kindle books are far cheaper than real ones). In Nigeria I also found a lot of pirated copies to be fairly cheap, but it’s up to your conscience to decide whether you like to get them. :-)

3. Process your thoughts by presenting them to others. “Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips." Once you try to explain someone else what you think or feel, you are forced to make your foggy thoughts somehow understandable by breaking them down for others. That process is immensely helpful and reason enough for talking (and writing) openly with others and not just keeping everything for yourself. Writing these “Chronicles of Sebastian“ has helped me personally to be aware of what I’ve experienced and learnt. I had to force myself to think: “Yeah, what did I actually learn about Naija worship / love / time etc.?” The same goes for spiritual truths: I remember my own spiritual lessons best by sharing them in sermons, conversations, writings etc. If I just keep everything to myself, I’ll suffer “spiritual obesity” :-)
So I would like to encourage you to write down your experiences and thoughts (e.g. in a diary), to jot down your “spiritual takeaways” in sermons or your “quiet times” and to, if appropriate, share some of your thoughts with good friends or even publicly (e.g. on a blog). It really sharpens your thinking.

My oldest sister gave me a map before my trip to Naija :-)
4. Be an expert in one or two areas. We all know how to say a little on politics, relationships or money. In order to go beyond the superficial and the general, you might need to specialize in a few areas you care about.
You really love the dynamics of relationships? Go ahead, become an “expert” - ask people, go on conferences, read books, structure your thoughts, help others. Personally, I love everything African and I aspire to know a little more about the continent and its people than most Germans do. For example, yesterday I went to a reading of the Kenyan author Meja Mwangi, who came to my city to read from his book “Rafiki”. It was interesting to notice differences between Kenya and Nigeria. Other people might be passionate not so much about cultures, but about businesses, family, natural hair or education and that’s totally fine. Do your thing, become better in it and help people to be successful in this area. 

Be an expert in your field
5. Acknowledge your limitations. Paul warns us that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor 8:2) The more we know, the more we are prone to put our trust and our pride into our knowledge. Before going to Nigeria, I went to Senegal. Now I intentionally had to force myself to not just trust my prior experiences. I could have just said “I know now, how things work”, but it was good to admit that I needed to start afresh, to “re-depend” on God again, to come to Nigeria with a teachable attitude.
The same principle applies to the opposite sex: My lovely sisters revealed many mysteries of how women think and act. Yet, once I left my home and started talking with other girls, I noticed how different each woman still is and how I cannot really apply my general knowledge to every girl in the world. I had to learn to see each girl and each person as an individual instead of pretending to be the “know-it-all”. In Nigeria as well as in Germany I have met some people who are so sure of what they believe (about denominations, other tribes, other people) that they never even consider other voices. That’s dangerous, since the moment we stop listening to and learning from others, conflict and pride are just around the corner.
Considering all the things we don’t know yet, I believe we just have to confess that we “no sabi nothing”. This will keep us humble and teachable. Don’t trust your past, your experience, your money, your self-help books or your wisdom - be “soft clay” and trust God instead. 

My lovely sisters and I
6. Use all your knowledge and experiences to the glory of God and the good of others. You can only love someone you know. Humans naturally don’t care about strangers. Thus, the more you desire to know God, His attributes, His works, His ways, His creation and His people, the more you begin to wonder and appreciate Him for his great power, creativity and for the gifts He bestowed on us. So don’t just read the Bible, read it with a sense of expectation and amazement, just as you try to get to know a loved one :) 

With some great Nigerians I met in Germany
After coming back to Germany, my prayer was that I would be able to use my knowledge and my experience to the good of others. I am immensely grateful that He answered my prayer and opened up some doors in Germany (e.g. speaking at conferences) and led me to some really kind Nigerians in my environment. He also used Ayo to encourage me to write for this blog and I hope that my write-ups have blessed or encouraged you in one way or the other. Unfortunately, I’ve decided to “call it a day” and finish the series for now. I’ve tried to pass on some of the most important experiences, observations and lessons I’ve learnt. Recently I sensed that I’ve exhausted the little knowledge I got, so I thought it would be wise to end it here.

Once again I want to thank all of you for reading my stuff, for supporting me, for writing comments and for creating a lovely atmosphere here. Your contributions really helped me to keep up the work for three months!
I will keep on reading this blog and try to contribute to this awesome community to the best of my ability, so we won’t have to say good-bye for good :-)


So finally, let me share my last point:

7. Know what’s truly important. At the end of the day, there is a lot to know about and a lot of things we will never know. Our minds and our time are limited; so in order to live your life well, you need to know what you ought to know. So what really matters? What do we leave behind? Looking back at Nigeria, at my life; I think of the faces of people that I’ve met, the encounters we had and the memories we created. The moments of joy, the winks in class, the stories we shared, the hug in the end. Then, I think of someone less visible, of someone whose face I’ve never seen - Jesus. The man who made all this possible, who changed me into the man I am now, enabling me to meet and truly love all these people in the first place, by saving me, from my sin, my pride, my self-centeredness and my idols. Knowing Him, and knowing all those He created and loves is what really matters. To do that, we might need to read, to ask, to look and to learn – learn about all the ways in which we can know and love Him and others better. But ultimately, it’s just that: knowing Him, and knowing them. And since true, intimate and heartfelt knowledge leads to the love we were made for, the love we ought to appreciate and the love we ought to share (1 John 4:7); go for that knowledge, the knowledge that really matters.

Thank you very much and God bless you :-)



Wow.. What an amazing way to end the series Sebastian *standing ovation*.. 
I have met many great people in life and I will definitely count Sebs as one of them. Even though I have actually never met him face-to-face, I have been truly blessed to know this wonderful and kind-hearted man who is consistent in his encouragement, humble, very reliable, open and has such a heart for God.
When he told me that the series was coming to an end as really there's only so much that one can write about a 6-month experience, I sent him a one-line response "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo" lol. The answer hasn't changed but I understand the wisdom of his decision :-).. 
Thank you Sebs from the bottom of my heart for being a blessing and for yielding yourself to be used so greatly to be a blessing!


For all previous Chronicles of Sebastian posts, please click HERE
Please visit Sebastian's blog It's in German, however you can use 'Google translate' if English translation is required - Lovely lovely blog!

Remember you can send an email:
Follow on Twitter: @1plustheone


  1. I'm screaming along side you Ayo.....NOOOOOOOOOOOO!
    Be an expert in one or two areas! Reminds me of something we use to say as children- 'don't be jack of all trade, master of none'!
    You've lit up this community with your positivity and kind words! Thanks for being real and true! I've learnt a lot seeing Nigeria through your expressions so thank you again!
    Many applause and God bless you!

  2. Thank you Sebastian for sharing your experiences with us. Your posts were always insightful, entertaining, they always carried good and positive messages. God bless you.
    Ayo thanks for offering Sebastian a platform to touch our lives.
    Sebastian your sisters are so cute :)

  3. Lovely and Insightful as usual. I can't believe this is the end, I'm going to miss your writeups Sebastian, they really inspire me. Thanks for taking your time to share your thoughts, thank you!

  4. @Isioma: Ha I like that quote, I just added it to my quote collection! I'm glad you learnt some things. I also learnt a lot through interacting with all of you :) And I think the positivity around here sparked my own positivity.

    @Sharon: Thank you very much! Yeah all my efforts would have reached no one without this wonderful platform. Keep it up Ayo and btw thank you Ayo also for your kind additions and sorry for not changing my mind. But I did once, you remember? :D

    @Ronii: Thank you, too! Thank God he helped me to put the inspiration I received in Nigeria into words that made sense to some people.

    I'm going to miss all of you too, but as I promised, I will still be around for comments and maybe a guest post later in the future! :) God bless all of you richly!!!!

    Bye :-(

  5. Nooooooooooo!

    Sigh. It was interesting seeing Nigeria through your eyes though. Have a nice life and enjoy your other endeavours *hugs*

  6. Enjoyed reading your features Sebastian! God bless you in your lifes journey.

  7. Sebastian,lols ur smtyn else,lols God bless U

  8. Adios!sebastian!
    Thanks to God for bringing you our way.God bless you and make you a blessing to your generation,christians and non christians alike in Jesus Name.
    I pray you find joy. i pray you find fulfillment,i pray you encounter Christ even more personally,i pray that you shall reap heavenly and physical rewards from teaching.
    Bye for now!

  9. I won't say goodbye....but I'm rather emotional about the end of this series...

  10. The series was really eye-opening and I absolutely enjoyed reading. Sebastian, you will be missed!

  11. @Isioma, lol.. Sebs has been a rel blessing..
    @Sharon, that's what I thought to when I saw the pictures of his sisters. very cute!
    @Ronii, We will sure miss his write-ups but I know that as he as promised he will still be very much around (I know because he is a man of integrity who keeps to his promises)
    @Sebs, I am glad that it is obvious how much you have been a blessing to us!
    @Toin, it was really nice seeing it from his view
    @HF, Amen and amen!
    @Abarosi, lol he is!
    @Bisolar, Amen! That's really lovely, thanks!
    @Naijawife, when I was publishing this post, you were one of the people that came to my mind because I know how much you really liked reading his posts :-) xx
    @NS, Thanks a lot... xx

  12. Aww! Nooo! I really loved the series. Thank you Sebastian for sharing yourself with us.

  13. This was a beautiful closing post, inspiring too. Thank you, Sebastian for sharing your experience and for encouraging me to be my best self. God bless you!

  14. Take several bows Sebs, you deserve it. It has been a blessing, entertaining, hilarious, enlightening and a real pleasure. Do come back often. Thanks

  15. God bless you Sebastian. :)

  16. God bless you Sebastian. :)

  17. Oh my dear ones, I don't even know how to thank all of you, but let me just make it clear that I feel very much encouraged and blessed by you people - you definitely made ending the series not easy!! ;)

    I'm grateful. God bless you all of you with his presence, love and hope in all your unique circumstances. He's a brilliant story writer and I'm sure he will write some very special Chronicles with each one of you :)

  18. Sebastian is going???? I gonna cry. *waaaaaaaiiiiiillllllllssssssss*

    So sad.

    But I was blessed by his column sha, kai. Anyway, always best to bow out while the ovation is loudest.

    Thanks Sebastian. I will tell Ayo to hook me up, if I am ever coming over to Germany.

  19. @ilola, Yes oh :-(... But like he has said, he's still very much 'around' xx

  20. Sebastain, nooooooooooooooo!
    I've read this before,gleaned from the wisdom,felt sad and read this again today and still felt sad,same response too-noooo.
    But thank you for blessing us with your experiences,with lessons learnt..God go bless you yanfu yanfu

  21. Amen Frances!! May God bless Sabba real good!

  22. @Iola: Thank you, I am also sad. This was the 1st non-Chronicles week for me and it felt somehow weird! Thank you being part of the "ovation". You're right, finding the time to move on with / or quit a job, project, ministry is not always easy, I hope this was not too soon sha.

    @Frances: Thank you my dear. btw your two other BN-posts were awesome, you're such a brilliant writer. If I ever get into legal trouble, you'll be my woman to go to! :D

    @Ayo: Thank you again :) Yes-o, I will be around, this content and these people are far too interesting to just leave. Have a splendid weekend!


You know you want to say something :-)