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Editorial

Wit of the famous

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By EMN Updated: Aug 10, 2013 11:51 pm
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here have been numerous instances when a man’s wit has not only created laughter and good will but at the same time avoided unnecessary ill will. The 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln never had a formal education. In fact, the total time he spent in any class room was just short of nine months. However, he was fortunate to have read the King James Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress and Aesop’s Fables over and over again and he ultimately mastered the English language. His speeches are still considered classics today. He studied law in his spare time and became proficient in it.Eventually, Lincoln got into local politics initially while he was earning his livelihood as a salesman in a general store. While campaigning for the local administrative body, his rival Stephen A. Douglas went to the extent of criticizing him by remarking: “Mr Lincoln sells whiskey” To this Lincoln replied in a public speech: “Yes. It is true I used to sell whiskey among many other consumer items available in a general store. And let me tell you, my friends, my worthy friend Mr Douglas was one of my best whiskey customers!”
Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa was among the victims during the Apartheid regime. However, his active fight for equality of the Blacks was eventually realized when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Thereon, he was invited everywhere. In the United States he began his speech to an audience thus: “When the White missionaries (Boers—Ditch immigrants) first came to our (Zulu)land, they had the Bible in one hand and suggested that we all pray. We bowed our heads and after we raised our heads, we had the Bible but they (Boers) had the land!”
When Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali in protest against White racism, he had also thrown his gold medal for boxing into the Mississippi River. He went to go for open championship and his career is highlighted in his autobiography, “The Greatest.” A song was also composed in his honour under the title “The Black Superman.” As is usual in America, a press conference was held and a young White reporter asked him as to why he had become a professional pugilist. Ali’s reply: “Well, I looked at my hands and they had no money!”
Similarly, Black American, Alex Haley, took ten years to write “Roots” tracing the origins of his ancestor, Kunta Kunte, who had been kidnapped in Ghana and sold to Arab traders who then sold him to pirates as a slave and destined for the cotton fields of southern USA. Haley’s last few years of research were financially sponsored by Readers’ Digest and the book became a number one bestseller. In a press conference, someone asked, “Professor Haley, it took you a decade to complete your book. Had you known that it be such a success, what would you have done?” Haley simply replied: “I would have typed faster!”
Like this, life has been made a much more enjoyable one and there is no end to such instances. Back to Lincoln, who invited a visiting Ambassador of a foreign country into his private room. The latter exclaimed. “Mr President! You are polishing your own shoes!!” Lincoln’s riposte, “And, Mr Ambassador, whose shoes do you polish?”

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By EMN Updated: Aug 10, 2013 11:51:43 pm