See ehn, YOU are the reason why we have stingy and tight fisted Nigerians who would rather go and bury their money in a soak away pit than be found “helping” any other Nigerian. Perhaps the day of reckoning has come and it is time we tell ourselves the truth.
YOU are the reason why every time a Nigerian is stopped at the borders of other countries, they are subjected to a thorough body cavity search and made to recite the Handel’s Messiah and Miranda Codes backwards – before they even gain admittance.
I recall once on a trip to Hungary, I stood back and watched as the hungry (no puns intended) entry clearance officer bent and twisted my passport this way and that, looking for only god knows what. He kept our family group waiting while he went for his superiors. They held a mini conference and kept whispering and pointing at our small group of black faces – tourists that just wanted to be let through so we could hit our hotel rooms and sleep off the journey.
As the conference went on, we watched as people we were sure we looked much better than, but who did not have the curse of the green passport to create a drag on their proceedings, breeze past immigrations.
We were there for all of thirty minutes before our passports were cleared for entry and returned to us. At this point, even the passports had borne the brunt of all the squeezing and twisting and God knows whether they soaked them in iodine or whatever, but they bore the signs of having passed through the proverbial eye of the needle all in a bid to give the clearance officers the assurance that the bearers had no evil intents.
We passed through, but I did not find it in my heart to be angry with them. Just a tad bit amused and pensive because a couple of days later while touristing, we ran into one of our brethren who was on the streets, pulling a fast one on anyone careless enough to allow him chop them mugu.
So when any of us encounters any profiling or inconvenience of any sort while attempting to be normal around normal people, spare the anger you plan to unleash on the person expressing an abundance of care, it is not their fault but ours.
I used to be one of those people who would feel so benevolent as I played god and actually naively accepted accolades when I was compared against those other “stingy and wicked people” who did not want to “help” anybody else up to their levels. I had the mentality of “if this thing is possible and legal, why prevent others from getting to that level if they can? This world is sufficient for all of us, there is no reason why I should want to hoard all the knowledge I have to myself, it is surely enough to go around”.
Over the last week and after some deeply hurting personal experience, I began to reach out to people and seek their stories for why they were so “wicked” as portrayed by others.
The aunty who would NEVER allow any visitor into her house but would meet you at a fast food joint, host you to all you can eat there, dash you money, lodge you in a hotel if you tell her you planned to spend a night, and then book a ticket for you to be on your way the next morning; had once opened up her heart and home to a near relative who robbed them blind, attempted to seduce her husband, since the husband didn’t fall yakata, she settled for a more willing companion in a close friend’s husband, spread rumours and started small small fires with her gossiping. Then when she left, this aunty had to battle with unravelling the mess this young lady left behind. She “forgave and forgot”, accepted a young man next, and spent almost the entirety of his stay in her house returning stolen items, visiting police stations and chasing neighborhood gangsters away from her compound.
She learnt her lesson after that, and stopped allowing overnight guests.
You’ll get a treat, but not in her space.
The other aunty whom everyone had labelled a stingy goat because she would NEVER invite anyone to the abroading where she resided, had never had more than $50 and stories of why Nigeria was better than the abroading when people asked to visit her to offer her relatives when they came begging, and who would sneak in and out of the village so that (the original and photocopy) village people would be oblivious of her whereabouts and movements; had once invited a close relative to the abroading.
Before you could say “Jack Robinson”, that one had absconded from her house in search of his “destiny”, and returned when he ran into trouble and needed a temporary place to “hide out until things had cooled off”.
You can imagine that kind of wahala from someone who had enough presence of mind to carry out a runner in the first place, and who probably thought that the abroading was like Nigeria where you can “cool off” until you can either bribe the police, or they forget about you.
Aunty turned him out of her house, directed him to wherever it was he ran to in the first place, and closed the file on any business to do with “village people” until further notice.
Last story before I sign off:
Another friend had stood surety for another “village person” to get a loan from a micro finance bank.
Seriously, that is the end of that story. What? You want to hear how the person who took the loan refused to pay and the surety was called upon to pay and when he tried to get the borrowee to pay, was insulted and given his life story and told how he was very wicked and asked what he had ever done for family since he became a big man and reminded that instead of him to ask them not to take the loan that he would dash money instead, had chosen instead to sign surety? Is that not a sign of wickedness? And village people were involved and all found a way to blame the surety for (1) signing surety in the first place instead of just dashing the money which is like “chicken change to him” and (2) calling the borrower to pay a money he could have just paid to “help his brother” after all he could afford it and all other sorts of useless tories and blackmail until he kukuma just paid off the debt learned his lesson and faced his front.
You want me to go into all that?
He simply “did the needful”, learnt his lesson, and moved on.
Proudly wearing his title of “wicked man who will never help village people”
Bottom line, before you join in maligning that one individual who has decided his immediate responsibility is to his immediate family and no one else, please ask yourself which of you has showed him pepper when he extended an arm of benevolence towards that person.
It is open and shut.
Our greed, our desperation, our impatience, our envy does not just stop at the immediate and direct recipient of our actions, it is like a stone thrown into a pond.
Then leave “wicked people” to enjoy their wickedness, stinginess and most importantly – peace of mind, in peace.
Before they became wise, they were not wicked!
PS: One or two free Igbo proverbs for you all:
- Onye anwu gbara na abu ofu okporoko ijiji, ogbawa oso (the person stung by a bee, runs for his life when he sees a tsetse fly).
- Agbusi gbaa otile, otile amuru ako (when your bumbum is once stung by an art, it learns wisdom).