By Mubarak Ibrahim
There is no pipe borne water. The poor can not eat three times a day. Our healthcare services and education system have long been dead. Our electricity is forever epileptic. Still, our morals are lost; our sense of belonging and of duty to the country are murdered. While corrupt, filthy rich politicians are wantonly misappropriating and embezzling the public funds, abject poverty is alarmingly on the rise. Yet, some cohorts of those in power are brainwashed to turn us, the poor, against ourselves, by taking the burden of correcting this mess off our leaders’ shoulders to rest it on ours.
Anyway, in actual sense poverty is not lacking in what to eat, rather it is being hopeless and desperate in life. Desperadoes have confirmed my claim. They kill, kidnap and vandalise remorselessly. Why? They are desperate and this means that they can do anything in order to make both ends meet. Their life is shattered. They have nothing to hold onto but the promised money after executing a heinous job. I believe that these people are today the poorest of all; impoverishedly poor at heart, poor in cash and poor in reasoning.
However, people today seem to misinterpret the obnoxious word, “poverty”. Yes, when I can’t eat, build a house, drive or ride a vehicle, I’m poor. Similarly, when I can’t pay for my school fees or that of my kids, I’m poor. Furthermore, when I can’t wear the trendy clothes, shoes or can’t hold a fashionable cellphone, computer and tablet, I’m poor. But, the question I’ve been putting to many people is, “how poor are you”? This, I know, sounds ridiculous. But, ask yourself this question several times and see whether you can come up with a reasonable answer. As for me, most of the answers I got were either subjective, lame or politically motivated. Yet, some are just young ideas that vanish at the break of maturity dawn. Dear reader! Keep on reading to know why I debunk such presuppositions.
To put it bluntly, some people assume or presuppose their poverty and so live unimaginatively, waiting for manna from philanthropists. They don’t know, don’t believe and don’t imagine themselves being rich one day. You look around in your neighbourhood and probably there’s this man who has been running a shop for decades. The shop has been the same; the commodities he sells are the same in quantity, the size of the shop remains the same. But, inside his house, the size of his family grows every year. As he marries more wives or substitutes one wife with another, his children multiply, adding more members to the family of beggars, local prostitutes, thugs, dropouts and burglars.
Hopeless people around us compound the issue of poverty in our midst. They have no job, no business and no skill. Yet, they want to live like kings or princes. Some of them have some skills but they are dangerously lazy or ill – advised. They, therefore, resort to political kowtowing, bootlicking, and toadying to others in the society. You see them greeting you in super kind manner, stooping so low as if to worship you. Oh no! Don’t you wrongly think, reader, that I hate them! No! I rather hate the system that hatches them. The system that disenfranchises them, deprives them of privileges, rights and grants. I hate the system so much for it leaves us in squalor and destitution, with growing slums and ghettos all over. Crimes of all sort- like mutilating babys’ private parts by sorrowfully frustrated step mothers and ritualists, incest, parricide and so on- are necessitated by the system. It is a very unjust system indeed that neglects us to live base on our individual value system not national or any systematic standard that supersedes our egoistic lifestyle.
To revert to the topic, this poor system stages this national poverty but not, what I call, individual poverty. This, in case you are confused, is the death of dream, spirit and hope. So, let us refuse to die spiritually. Let us refuse to be despairingly dispirited and diffident. Rather, we should rise to appreciate the God-given health and do something for our lives.
Mubarak Ibrahim is a budding writer, radio presenter and an enthusiastic teacher of Literature.