There are two types of Nigeria. Two separate worlds in parallel existence, oblivious to what the other is really like. There is a Nigeria of cinemas, Domino’s and ice cream in the park. Things that are everyday elsewhere in a developed world. This is the Nigeria we love to celebrate and present to others. One of vibrant music, fashion and good food. While the other world is more silent, though they outnumber us. It is one of sweat and toil for nothing. In one, N1000 is a trifle dispensed like breathing out air. In the other, the theft of a kobo is worthy of death.
My world crossed into the other this week when N100 bridged the gap between a delivery man and me. It was change that I had decided not to collect, not thinking much about it at all. I was rewarded with heavenly blessings on my family. I looked at the money and back at the man. Is this not 20p? Turns out nothing to me is everything in that other world.
Once again, I find myself offended by poverty. Last time I wrote about it I was mocked for having ‘privileged guilt’ that only an ajebota, oyinbo girl would feel. Perhaps if many others had ‘privileged guilt’ poverty won’t be such a problem. But to set the record straight, it is not guilt that pesters me. There’s nothing to feel guilty about. None of us on Earth decide our fate before we are born. No, it is compassion that refuses to let me rest. As much as I feel like a fish out of water in this place, I cannot deny that I love this country to bits and I hate seeing its people suffer while those of us who have don’t notice at all.
I look around and wonder how we can continue going on as if nothing is happening. How we can have such lavish parties with overpriced aso ebi and way too much jollof and chicken as if there isn’t a slum across the road from our gated estates. As if there isn’t a humanitarian crisis in the north. I guess I am slowly coming to the conclusion that greed and selfishness are worse than poverty. The latter is a mostly physical ailment that can easily be remedied with love. Selfishness devours the soul. That’s a lot harder to cure.