I remember when I was a newbie driver some 12 years ago. I was excited; I was thrilled because finally, I could get into a car and move it on the road by myself. Without the help of a driving instructor or friend. My “learner vehicle” was an old, hitherto abandoned Mazda 626 which had to be retrieved from the mechanic’s workshop for my driving lessons. It was a car none of my siblings would touch with a long pole because it would “demarket” them. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to drive and anything on wheels was good enough.
From the moment she’s born, the odds are stacked against her. The prejudice is unending. Her life is defined by rule after rule. She’s to conduct herself with the piety of a nun. Even then, she’s an endangered species. Her body, an object of torment; her aspirations, subject to the uncertainties of treading a treacherous path. All because she’s female. Being female the world over, just like being black, is an extreme sport. It takes a miracle to go through the darts that life throws unscathed when the essence of who you are is considered a limiting factor.
The average Nigerian despises the rich. There’s a pervading belief that every well-off person is in some way responsible for the widespread poverty in the land. As a result, the masses do not care whether the wealthy inherited their fat pockets on account of a line up of affluent ancestors or as a product of some business hocus pocus. The consensus is if they aren’t gnashing their teeth to put food on the table like the majority, they must have shortchanged the rest of us to attain such status. It’s a no-win situation for the well-to-do.
Time was when we were swamped to our necks. If you stayed in any of the crazy cities of the world; the Lagos’ and Newyork’s and the Tokyo’s and the London’s, attributing every shortcoming to the lack of time was a genuine excuse. In Lagos where I live, it’s the norm to leave home as early as four in the morning and return as late as eleven at night, so yes, saying you didn’t have enough time on your hands to meet yet another deadline or take a look at your child’s homework was acceptable.
Enter COVID-19, the game-changer.
The entire world is in dire straits right now. The uncertainty is palpable and we are almost at the point of resignation to the possibility of darker days ahead. Like a meteorite, a hitherto unknown virus struck with the vengeance of a serial killer. From one country, the Coronavirus has spread its raging tentacles to more than 150. Asia, Europe, and Africa have felt the wrath of the unwanted guest and its unrelenting in its efforts to bring humanity to its knees.
He wasn’t prepared for the reaction he got when he posted the video on Twitter. The young lady in the clip needed to quench her thirst but was at a loss as to how the water dispenser worked. After trying to figure out its operation to no avail, she turned to a staff of the company with a sheepish smile to ask for help. The poster went on to body-shame the lady; alluding to her inability to operate something as uncomplicated as a water dispenser even though she had an ample derriere. But he got more than what he bargained for when commenter after commenter condemned his action.
We have been taught to be in a perpetual state of hunger for attainment. We want to be more, achieve more, get better, be wealthy, attain a higher level of influence. I can aver that this is true in my case. I plan to die empty, therefore, I am always looking to be better than I was yesterday. I also realise that life is short, there are no guarantees, and so everyone is essentially in a race against time to do what they have to do before they check out of this realm. There’s nothing wrong with ambition. To be driven is to be eager to self-actualise and contribute value. It’s not a bad thing.
I am not afraid of death. What’s more, I think it’s ridiculous for anyone to be apprehensive about a phenomenon that is inevitable. I became even more comfortable with the idea of not existing anymore when I lost my father a few months ago. It is this acquiescence to the potential visit of the grim reaper that reminds me to not take things too seriously.
The feelers we get from the new world is to be liberated in the most unconventional way. It’s the new cool; this campaign for unfettered self-expression regardless of how one is perceived or how it affects others. We are the ones without any scintilla of inhibition. We live for ourselves and ourselves only. We can stand up to anyone. We do not believe that balderdash about respecting people because they are older or on the premise of their senior citizen status. Everyone must prove themselves worthy of our regard else they will be denigrated without a second thought. What’s more, all that righteous indignation about eschewing nudity or being circumspect about divulging details of happenings in our lives are borne out of inexposure and insecurity. We will have none of it.
Na poor I poor, I no crase loosely translates to “I may be poor, but I’m not crazy.” The first time my mum said this to me while recounting an episode that happened—one in which she had refused to entertain a slight on her person; I thought it was a funny but apt expression. In essence, it means that in spite of a man’s penury, he can still muster some dignity. And more often than not, the insatiable appetite for the good life is not an aftermath of poverty, rather, it is a product of avarice along with the absence of dignity.