The best thing about our setting in Nigeria is how important family is to us.
We take care of each other.
The most successful in the family has an unspoken mandate to help the others. Nieces and nephews are all over the place collecting school fees from uncles and aunties. Cousins are squatting with cousins. Sisters send their kids to each other for them to be cared for. Family ties mean responsibilities.
But this is a forked tongue.
While it is humane to help people, the flipside is the sense of entitlement it creates. We burden people just because and are ungrateful and entitled in a manner that is just mind boggling.
I sat down and listened to a friend berate an in law. Apparently he is rich and had his family abroad while he worked a high profile job in a multinational.
“He is so stingy!!!”
She said to me.
“When he travels, he brings ordinary chocolate that he bought at the airport. ORDINARY chocolate. What will I do with chocolate? I just dump the chocolate in the fridge. He knows the ages of my children. He cannot even buy small cloth for them. I blame his wife. If a man does not know what to do, you help him. If she gives him clothes, he will bring it now… That is how he was supposed to set up his sister, he gave her ORDINARY N200, OOO pere. If not that people will talk, she wanted to fling the money in his face. I told him I wanted to start a business, he said I should finish giving birth first. Can you imagine…”
I cringed at the sense of entitlement.
Why must anyone do anything to you? You are all adults. Why should a person burden his present and future on another person?
A close relative once got a political appointment. A big one. His house turned into something else. Every time he was in town, delegates from his village would arrive. His own relatives moved to his house and friends found ways to keep tabs on his movement. He contracted cooking out to a caterer. It was political suicide not to entertain guests. The delegates would come with tonnes of CVs and a list of the things that the village needed as a community.
As if this wasn’t enough, people would bring CVs to my mother’s house to forward to this my relative. When people needed money for weddings, funerals and medical treatment, they would come asking.
This my relative did his best. Got jobs for those that he could. Did the projects he could afford to put influence on. It was all never enough.
He got a job for one of my cousins and could not get for his brother. He even part sponsored their dad’s funeral. But the night he lost elections, the cousin that did not get a job sent an sms mocking my relative and accusing him of not helping anyone.
This experience taught me a lot about politics and corruption. A decent politician will never be loved by his people. They only want one that will share the purse of whatever office he is holding.
Thinking again, what do we expect? In a country with institutions that are barely functional. Where we are our own government, we are always seeking help from those slightly luckier than us. We depend on ourselves for everything… healthcare, education, employment…
But all of that is no excuse. If you have the privilege of having someone that is willing to listen to your problems and help, be appreciative. When people can’t help you, rather than rant about how your father sponsored their father’s education, simply accept it and move on.
I once had a driver who lived in people’s pockets. He was always angry at what people did with money. He knew the best way to spend money.
If we passed a street with potholes, he would say
“And see the big big houses that are here. Can’t they fix this road?”
I would counter and tell him that it wasn’t their responsibility to fix the road.
He would complain about some rich relative that refused to sponsor him.
I would tell him that asides from his folks (that were still alive) he could not beef anyone else.
If I had to stock up on groceries, his eyes would go round at the items I bought and for sure, he would ask me for ‘his own’ that day. Like I had to give him something because I was buying things for myself and my family. I even started feeling guilty and would find ways to help him.
Then one day he walked away without so much as a phone call to say he was resigning. A few days before he left, he came and told me his mom was sick and needed him to rush back home… I gave him some money (I suspected he was looking for another job.). He left without a word to me.
One year later, I am ignoring his attempts to reconnect.
Do I sound privileged? Like I have never needed anyone’s help? That is not the case. I have needed help. I make it a point of duty to ask respectfully and manage expectations. I say thank you and I never bad mouth someone that was unable or refused to help me. It did not come naturally. I cultivated it.
Lastly, I went for a conference in a church back in 2010. A woman asked how many women were grateful for the things their husbands did at home. She said that there were so many deadbeat fathers that abdicate responsibility for the families and no one could force them to change.
“If you have a man that does his best. Do not berate him. Remember, while he should do things, if he didn’t, ultimately, you would not be able to do much about it.”
It struck me. Women in traditional marriages where the man has the whole burden of the family are rarely appreciative of such men. It comes from this same sense of entitlement. “Why should I thank him, he is the man, let him do it.”
Very dangerous way of thinking.
If he fell down and died nko? Can you get a dead body to pay rent?
We need to begin to cut certain ropes. Love and help people within reason. And when you sense entitlement, do not respond to it.
My people, be appreciative and allow yourself be responsible for yourself. If you are an adult, it is not anyone’s responsibility to do anything for you (except your government) just like that.
- Receive sense!!!