I was going to do a blogpost about my exciting discoveries as I go about my conversion to a purely natural skincare regimen but something else came up. That blogpost will follow this shortly.
I went out yesterday night, to a lovely hang out organized by my friend. It was in a lovely café in the middle of Victoria Island, great ambience, great food, lovely looking people. I got there a little late and when I did, I walked into a conversation about Nigeria.
Now this gathering was composed of young middle class Nigerians, working across industries from entertainment and media to telecoms to oil and gas. People with a diverse range of accents, divulging the obvious fact that most have lived abroad and/or schooled abroad or at the very least are well travelled; pretty much ‘posh’ people, the educated intellectuals, very eloquent, representative of the quite small percentage of Nigerians in this class.
And the entire conversation about Nigeria, passionate, loud, intense, was just one thing: COMPLAINTS. And it went on and on until the topic was forcibly changed. It baffled me.
How do people who have so much more compared to the vast majority of hungry, poor, suffering Nigerians still complain this much? A country where 70% of the population is below the poverty line and try as we may, the poverty is in our face, in the middle of the ‘affluence’ we surround ourselves with.
The complaints ranged from disgust with the way security guards ‘beg’ for money to street urchins who broke into cars to the truly sad police force and of course to the hopeless government. All the while, comparison was being made with other countries. There was a lot of, ‘in America, this is how xyz is done,’ ‘in the UK, this is what the government does’
I’m not bashing the event at all, I honestly had plenty laughs and a lot of fun but as everyone got into their nice looking cars, windows all wound up and proceeded to drive home, I found myself thinking, ‘we the ‘privileged’ few in Nigeria are a selfish bunch.’ I remembered yet again the article I read a while a back (I can’t seem to find the link anymore) where an American was chiding his seat mate, a Gambian man on a plane ride. Part of what he said was that the intellectuals have failed Africa because most of them want to serve and satisfy themselves only. They do nothing to help the poor majority who are not as empowered, they contribute nothing to development, they do nothing to alleviate hunger and suffering. They just sell their expertise to the highest bidder and then travel round the world, hang out in clubs, buy designer clothes and show off to each other.
Interestingly, as I wrote this post, someone came to see me and started talking about this same thing! He termed the middle class in Nigeria, the missing middle, lol. It was uncanny, like he knew the issue burning on my mind. The term missing middle means the middle class is missing in social and economic development, they only work for the good of themselves and maybe their families and that’s it.
Now, it will be unfair for me to generalize this because a few people are doing something. This same guy told me about a young man, Otto Orondaam, who started an initiative called Slum to School, enabling kids from poor neighborhoods get an education by getting them enrolled in school and giving them needed resources.
My friend Aderonke of This Is How We Do has organized several soup kitchen initiatives in poor neighbourhoods as well.
There are a few people identifying needs and doing something about it for sure but the vast majority just complain and criticize the government.
The crux of my long tale today is that we all should just shut it, stop complaining and DO something. It doesn’t have to be anything great and mighty, just get a bowl of rice from your kitchen and donate it to the poor family next to you. And when next that security man says, ‘happy weekend,’ if you have the N200, give it to him, you were going to buy Orbit sugar free gum with it anyway, that might be his entire meal for the day!
Let’s stop being selfish, and it’s passé to blame the government, don’t you even sound like a broken record when you do? We have been blessed with plenty, we’re not part of the 70% below the poverty line, we must do something to help. If all our education and lofty knowledge is only to earn a fat salary and live la vida loca then boy, we are of all men most miserable and we are living on the highway to emptiness and zero fulfilment.
My brain is buzzing with ideas, I’m thinking of what I can do. Let’s think, what can we begin to do?