If you’ve heard me talk about Nigeria or Africa before, then you would generally spot the trend in my thoughts. I emphasize on how Africa actually has beautiful places, talk about how we need to document our stories, and most importantly, how the western media incessantly paints biased pictures of poverty and suffering of the entire continent. You could either say I have been overly optimistic, speaking plain truth, or just chilling under a rock, completely shielded from the truth.
Earlier today, I started rethinking my position on the general wellbeing of same people. I just happened to find myself in the midst of a few every day individuals, who took usual turns in telling how worse off one was to the other. While I’ll usually not be a party to such thief of time, I was taken aback by their overall despondency.
A man, suited up, talking about his inability to afford public education for his kids, as cheap as I thought it was. A lady who could barely afford transporting herself to work every day, but had no choice anyway. A man who occasionally cuts corners and cheats his boss every once in a while, to augment his hard work and make ends meet. There are poor people; it’s a known fact. However, what bothered me was not that these people had financial challenges, but the fact that they didn’t look like people who had problems meeting basic financial needs.
So, even while it’s true that we all ‘need’ money, I didn’t think people who had jobs in the largest city of a nation, would complain about the same things the average petty trader in the villages would complain about. I guess the reason I didn’t see poverty in her wings around here, is because she had been remodelled. THE POOR PEOPLE ARE NO LONGER IN THE SLUMS.
Africa has always run on a class system. From time immemorial, we have been told that the gap between the rich and the poor was immense. While statistics seem exaggerated, the gap is undoubtedly out of this world. So, as development intensifies and creative initiatives increase the overall pocket of the nation, the rich get richer, and the poor, well, change to a finer coat of poverty.
Here’s how the class system works around here:
We’ve got the rich, the middle class, and the poor. While the gap between the rich and the middle class in Africa is wider than you think, the main magic happens within the middle class. We have the upper middle class with great jobs and the ability to meet all basic needs and attain a sustainable level of beautiful comfort; the middle middle class, who can afford certain basic needs and occasionally sacrificially afford a slight level of comfort, and we have the lower middle class. The lower middle class can barely afford anything at all, but they look comfortable.
Truth be told, the lower middle class and a part of the poor occasionally meet. Sometimes, the people we call ‘poor’ because they sell stuff by the roadside, are actually faring better than those who dress up and go to work daily. If for anything, they don’t have to spend hours in traffic trying to get to a job that barely pays enough to cover their transport and feeding needs. Talk about faking it.
Whose fault is it though? Unemployment is a serious problem. So those who have jobs, albeit collecting measly salaries, should be thankful for it? Today, poor people close deals and manage problems for their individual companies. For fear of going back to the hustle life that would probably pay them more, they enslave themselves tirelessly without any free time to find other options for survival. Ultimately, they all find ways to make ends meet the only trusted way to do so – they operate on smaller scales of corruption. There’s, however, a sect that gets skin deep in debt, hoping that a day of redemption would come.
How do you employ a graduate who has a family to fend for, and offer to pay him Thirty thousand Naira (about $85) monthly. Maybe this is a very flawed mentality on my part, but how about you close down your company if you can’t run it well enough for all parties to cope? If the company works fine, what kind of greed makes you use people as semi-slaves? Give people the opportunity to try other places, or better, force their minds to think of street smart ways to make money.
We literally have poor people going to work on a daily basis, wearing suits they cannot afford, and working for companies that cannot afford them. Maybe employers aren’t the only problem. How about people took actual efforts to surviving, rather than taking efforts to look like they’re surviving. Maybe then, we’ll have a clearer picture of who is fine and who’s not. Help or motivation, would not come to those who seem to be fine.