In the summer of 1921, Franklin D. Roosevelt and his family took a holiday to their summer home on Campobello Island, off the coast of Maine and New Brunswick. Frank needed this vacation badly, after a very hectic political adventure. In 1920, he received nomination from his party, the Democrats to run as the vice presidential candidate with, Governor James M. Cox of Ohio as the presidential candidate. Although, the Cox-Roosevelt ticket was defeated by Republican Warren G. Harding in the presidential election by a wide margin, but it was a good political point for Franklin.
On August 10, 1921, after a day spent outdoors, Roosevelt began to feel weak. He went to bed early but woke up the next day much worse, with a high fever; his temperature hovered at 102 degrees and with pain in his lower back and legs. By August 12, 1921, he could no longer stand. His wife; Eleanor called a number of doctors to come and see FDR, but it wasn’t until August 25 that Dr. Robert Lovett diagnosed him with poliomyelitis. At age 39, Roosevelt lost the use of both of his legs. It was a terrible blow to the Roosevelt family. Everybody knew that it was the end of the political career of Franklin.
Sara Roosevelt, Franklin’s mother has been Franklin’s driving force all through his life. Franklin always obeyed her commands. She was rich and very influential. Sara instructed her only son to retire from politics and return to the family estate at Hyde Park to live as a gentleman invalid. Sara Roosevelt, like most people at the time, believed that disabled persons had no place in public, and that the most appropriate future for her son was to retire quietly to Hyde Park.
Truly, Franklin would be very comfortable in the family estate; he would be well taken care of. His rich mother could support him financially and in other aspects. He would also inherit a large estate after his mother’s death. Hyde Park was the safest and most comfortable place to stay for Franklin. Venturing into politics on a wheelchair would be suicidal because opposition will capitalize on his physical challenge. If able-bodied men failed in politics what would be the fate of Franklin? After all Franklin has scored some remarkable political points. He has served as a senator for two terms and was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He has also been a Vice Presidential candidate. He could just retire from politics; continue his legal profession, business and hobby of stamp collection. This was the most convenient decision for him.
However, Franklin Roosevelt abandoned his mother’s proposed comfort zone. For seven years, Franklin stayed out of active politics. He was busy preparing himself for his re-emergence in the political world of the United States of America. Roosevelt refused to be limited by his impairment.
To overcome his lack of mobility, Roosevelt acquired steel and later duraluminun leg braces that could be locked into an upright position to keep his legs straight. With the 7lbs. apiece leg braces on under his clothes, Roosevelt could stand and slowly walk with the aid of clutches and a companion’s arm. Roosevelt even had his car adapted to his disability by installing hand controls rather than foot pedals so that he could sit behind the wheel and drive. He also maintained his political contacts largely through correspondence and through the increasing public activities of his wife. He also mended fences with the Democratic Party. He even assisted Alfred E. Smith win the election for governor of New York in 1922. He also made friends in the press.
Despite his pains, he kept his humour and charisma. In 1928, when he nominated Smith for president, he dragged himself laboriously to the podium without crutches, one hand holding a cane and the other clutching his son’s arm to give a speech. It was an important personal triumph, signaling his readiness to resume an active political career; Roosevelt knew that for him to come back to politics successful, he needed to convince the public that he was getting better. And that was exactly what he did.
Sure of his political packaging and marketability, Franklin Roosevelt re-entered politics in 1928 as a Governorship aspirant of the Democratic Party. Roosevelt won the election in 1928 for governor of New York and then won again in 1930. Roosevelt’s strong base in the most populous state made him an obvious candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. In the election of 1932, citizens were demanding change and Franklin promised it to them. In a landslide election, Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidency. Before Franklin became president, there was no limit to the number of terms a person could serve as president of the United States. He served for 12 years (four terms) until his death in 1945, the only president ever to do so, and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic depression and total war.
It was 8am, in a typical African community. Everything was stepping out of their resting place to seek for the day’s bread. Humans are seen riding or walking to their place of work. Animals were not left behind, there were domestic animals roaming around the vicinity seeking for leftover to eat.
I saw our neighbour’s hen, moving with her chicks towards the main road. She was trying to cross to the other side of the road which had a refuse dump. Suddenly, a fast-moving car hit her and three of her seven chicks. The Three chicks died on the spot, while others were unhurt. The hen also survived but with two smashed legs. I rush to the scene to confront the driver, but he zoomed off. I picked up the amputated hen, and some persons assisted me in catching the other four surviving chicks. And we took them home.
When the owner of the hen saw the magnitude of the injury, he ordered that the hen should be slaughtered immediately. It was clear that the hen would not survive the accident, even if she did, she would be useless. However, I pleaded that the hen should be taken care of, but he insisted that the hen should be used for pepper soup instantly. He was not even talking about the surviving chicks. I offered to buy the hen, and he concurred. The price was as if I was buying a dead hen, which I paid.
I had to chop off the pieces of the shattered legs to make it smooth. I kept applying traditional medicine on the hen’s amputated legs, hoping it would get better. The chicks were too young to cope without their mother’s care, so they all died few days after.
Since she couldn’t fend for herself due to her injuries, I had to feed her with crumbs of rice, bread and garri from our family rations. However, in a normal African family setting where poverty limits common men from having even two ‘unsquared’ meals, I couldn’t feed the hen consistently. How could I feed her, when my family sometimes did not have sufficient food for every member? Sometimes, the hen had to live for days without food. She kept struggling with hunger and pains, until the wound healed. She kept staying in the space that I kept her, waiting for my irregular suppliers.
My father went for a traditional marriage celebration and came back home with large chunks of rice that was served. Everyone at home ate to their satisfaction, and we still had leftover. The next morning, I happily rushed to see and feed my physically challenged hen, but I couldn’t find her in the space she occupied. I hurriedly went to the open space at the front of our house to look for her. And behold, I saw her in the mist of other fowls; she was painstakingly scraping the ground with her blunt amputated knee in search of food. My knee became weak; tears filled my eyes, and I sat on a pavement and wept slowly.
The hen was tired of my inconsistent meals. She became fed up of her over dependence on someone. She has decided to run her life regardless of the pains ahead. She discovered that it is better to die trying than to live begging. The hen also understood that comfort zone is the burial ground of champions, while battlefields are the crucible where champions are made. She finally understood that there is no celebrated beggar anywhere, but celebrated givers. She also observed that the dependent can never be greater than his provider. And the receiver will always be the slave of the giver. I think she also knew that it is more honourable to eat an earned unbalanced food than to dine with the president without charge. Maybe, she later knew that over dependence leads to brain drain and destroys ingenuity.
The hen also discovered that the receiver cannot query the giver for what he gives. The giver will only give after he has satisfied his own wants. The giver cannot give his best; you will merely receive remainders. She noticed that it is better to face the challenges of fishing than to enjoy the partial sweetness of begged fishes. The hen understood that a dollar earned is far better than ten dollars found. She knew that the pains of starting would soon be overshadowed by the joy of success.
Few weeks after, the hen became pregnant and had ten chicks. She raised eight out of the ten to maturity without assistance from anyone.