Friday, 14 August 2015

The World Is For Rich People

The truth is, as bitter a pill as it is to swallow, one cannot blame the poverty of the poor on the wealth of the rich. Except in the rare cases where the politicians get rich at the expenses of the citizens of a nation, but that's a separate conversation.

The hash tag, #NigeriaIsForRichPeople, trended on Twitter this morning. I was interested in it because I have spoken/written a lot, on this blog and everywhere else I have gotten a chance to, about Social and Societal stratifications, the immense disadvantages of the rich people being so extremely rich and poor ones being so extremely poor, and both existing within the same space, and breathing the same air, and walking/driving the same roads.

In Abuja, where I have spent a lot of time in the last year or so, I find that the only sets of people that social stratifications occur to, that are conscious about 'classism', are the poor ones. The rich people do not pay attention to the fact that such a thing even exists. They mostly just drive in their exotic cars with their windows raised and honk their horns so the boys hawking air fresheners and handkerchiefs and breath enhancers or mints could get out of their way.

It is not actually intentional, this nonchalance, this unawareness of the rich. It is not something they wake up in the morning and decide. No millionaire wakes up at 6 in the morning and goes, 'You know what, today, the woman in the market who sells a bunch of bananas to me at 100 naira, will sell them to me at 80 naira even though I can afford the extra 20 naira and I am very much aware that she needs the 20 naira a lot more than I do.' No one wakes up in the middle of the night and says 'In the morning, I will not slow down where there is a puddle of water because I intentionally want to splash muddy water on the unemployed young man by the side of the road, who is looking to flag down a taxi because he has a job interview with a multinational company in thirty minutes; a job interview that I know he will not be successful in because my son also applied for same job and I'm friend's with the company's Director.'
Do you understand?
It is not intentional, this nonchalance. It is not intentional that a woman wearing a newly made fashionable, female agbada and too much make up, and who has car keys dangling from her over-bedazzled hands, and who is on the phone commanding someone to be at a certain place at a certain time, would walk right past the long queue in the banking hall, straight to the cashier; and the cashier, who has been ordering people not to break queue all day, would smile dumbly, like she has been tranced by some exotic potion from the fifteenth century, and do everything for this woman and have that miserable smile plastered on her face throughout the transaction. It is one of those things that exist because it is the way it is, because it is what it is. I am not defending over exuberance, I am not defending the wealthy, but the world is setup in a way that allows money to speak much more than the mouth ever can. Where there's money, the mouth becomes useless. We have setup society so that the poor are condemned, not reckoned with in any instance.

Solutions? Of course, there are always solutions, but the solutions to this immense degrees of inequality would mean tearing down everything we have built, would mean unlearning everything we have learnt. Would literally mean 'CTRL Zing' the world as we know it. Nigeria is not for rich people, the world is for rich people.
This is why I keep hammering on the next generation. We cannot afford to have them think the same way as us. It would be a travesty for social inequality, in such brazen manner, to continue up until the generation that comes after ours, it would be a disaster of giant proportions. We have to change things. We must.

No comments: