“We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into complacency and dependence” – Paul Ryan

“Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition” – Thomas Jefferson

“It is not inequality which is the real misfortune. It is dependence” – Voltaire


A few days before the day Our Lord Jesus was presumed to be born, I went to the market to purchase ingredients to make my favourite Oha soup. I wanted to make a new Oha soup recipe which I read about on a Nigerian Foodie website. This new recipe involved using scent leaves – Nchawu, in addition to the Oha leaves. So I set out to seek the ingredients with which to prepare this hallowed delicacy.

At the market, the smell of fresh dusty harmattan zephyr filled the air as we all struggled to fit into the single line. On either side of the line stood ashy tables on which were placed wares and goods of different varieties. In front of me was a burly woman, probably in her 40s, also struggling to fit into the single line. Thank goodness for the calories I’ve shed over the past couple of months; if not, I would have been in similar predicament, struggling with all the weight amidst the panting and sweating under the scorching sun.

Eventually, I arrived at Mama Nkiru’s shop. I greeted her promptly and quickly said yet another greeting to her neighbor, the tall and slender woman that always wore a red barret and a green coloured bib over her dress. It was obvious she was a member of Our Lord’s Chosen Ministries. She never made a complete statement without uttering the phrase “God bless you”.

“Good morning Ma, Merry Christmas o. How una dey?” I greeted.

“Nwa mu, we are fine o, my son. Kedu? How you dey? You no go travel to see your people”, Mama Nkiru asked me.

“Mba, No. Nobody go dey for hospital if I travel na. And e be like say na for this Christmas season people begin dey sick. Hospital just dey full”, I replied.

“Ehen now, why people no go sick? When they are going from house to house, dey chop anything wey dem give dem. You no know say evil people sabi give poison for Christmas season. Na why I dey tell young men like you; always dey careful anywhere wey you dey go. No collect food from person chop”, she said.

“Yes, yes, I know. I go dey very careful. Abeg, I wan buy Oha leaves, stockfish, Cameroon pepper and dry fish”, I quickly said in a bid to prevent her from dishing out one of her unending boring sermons about evil people.

Then she started getting the items I requested for.

“What of palm oil? You no go buy that one?” she asked.

“No, the one wey I get never finish”, I replied.

All the while, a young woman beside us kept lamenting and was disturbing our peace. She was purchasing fresh fish from the fish seller beside Mama Nkiru’s shop. She was saying her rich brother in-law that just came back from Obodo Oyibo didn’t bring anything for her. It wasn’t just her that was at the receiving end of his wickedness, she lamented. She claimed that all the years he was in abroad, he never sent a gift as flippant as a bottle of perfume. Now that he was back in the country, he still didn’t give them any gifts. She quickly said it shall not be well with her rich brother in-law.

I knew the gods protecting folks at the market would have become tired of her expression of grief, because she was struck with a sudden and unexpected cough that made her cease from lamenting just for a while.

And the young woman is not alone. All over communities in Africa, people have this unwritten rule that any rich and successful relative MUST be responsible for the welfare and upkeep of the members of his/her immediate family. Rich folks that engage in some form of philanthropy are quickly rebuked by the members of the immediate family. They are reminded of the needs of the members of their immediate family and are chided for focusing on people other than them.

And the worse part of the mêlée is that most folks claim it is their RIGHT to be taken care of by the rich and successful members of their family. They expect to be showered with gifts and cash every now and then. Some folks have become lazy overnight and refused to hustle hard to earn a living. I have a rich brother in township that will take care of me, they proclaim. Do these lazy slugs think there is a tree somewhere in township where people go to pluck money from every morning? Or is it not the same hustle that yields the dividends everywhere in the world?

Whenever this issue of family over-dependence on the successful relatives comes to mind, I remember the ruckus between Emmanuel Adebayor and the members of his immediate family. There are a lot of young men struggling to survive in Europe and other continents against all odds. They work under harsh conditions just to put food on the table. And what do they get in return? Their family members would sit their asses down back home, dictating to them how to manage his finances. And these lazy folks are quick to remind them of how many nights they stayed awake to pray that they would get Visa to travel abroad. I prayed the rosary five times in a day just to make sure you traveled abroad safely, they lament. No wahala…clap for yourself, Mister and Madam Prayer Warrior.

Just recently, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife announced that they would be giving away 99% of their Facebook shares to a charity trust. Other rich folks like Bill Gates contribute a large percentage of their wealth to charity as well. If it is in Africa that a rich person does that, the members of his immediate family would go ballistic. They would even go to the nearest shrine to inquire from the gods whether there is anything wrong with their rich brother. Or the deeply religious ones would organize sessions of fasting and prayer to seek the face of God in that matter.

We are in the Christmas season and it is probably the most convenient period in the year for different people all over the world to visit home. At the same time, a lot of lazy family members back home would be waiting patiently on their relatives in township to come back so they would milk them dry.

It is time for lazy folks to get their asses up and hustle hard. Food would not come down miraculously from heaven in the form of Manna. That stuff doesn’t happen anymore (I am not even sure it ever happened). You either hustle to put food on the table or you wouldn’t have food on the table to eat. It is as simple as any simple arithmetic calculation you could think of. Stop depending on that rich relative in township for your daily bread. Stop demanding cash or gifts as if it your God given right. That brother in township is not under any obligation to shower you with gifts or cash. He would only do it if he so wishes.

Unnecessary begging should stop. Get up, hustle and earn a living!



Now Playing: Unnecessary Begging by Fela Kuti

Word to Mutha: This work is STRICTLY the opinion of the writer. No Love Lost; No Love Found…It is what it is!

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