THE PURSUIT OF HAPP‘Y’NESS: a never ending story

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” – Thomas Jefferson

“It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment; it is in the happiness of the pursuit” – Denis Waitley

“The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase: if you pursue happiness, you’ll never find it” – Carrie Snow


I was riding in a keke towards the market. I needed to purchase the groceries for the month. I also planned to visit my Surebet agent afterwards to make my predictions for the weekend matches. Pharrell’s hit song Happy was playing on the stereo. I put my hands over my ears. I hated that song. According to a friend, Gerald, that song is just an adult version of the song kids sing while growing up: “…if you are happy and you know it clap your hands”. I couldn’t agree more. HAPP‘Y’NESS! I mean, what the phuck is happiness?

The pursuit of happiness is a never-ending story. We all hope to be happy. Get a good job with an air-conditioned office overlying the Atlantic, marry a big booty yet successful chick like Serena Williams, have a personality like Marlon Brando’s in the movie The Godfather, take a trip to the Bahamas yearly, have a rich pastor like T.D. Jakes, give birth to a brilliant kid like Mark Zuckerberg…bla bla bla. No one wants to support a flopping team like Arsenal, no one wants to live in a lawless nation like Somalia, no one wants to be shot by a snitch like Jesse James, no one wants a dumb wife like Kim Kardashian…bla bla bla. But the fact is: we all get what we don’t want at some point in time. Happiness is a state of the mind; therefore, we are happy when we choose to be.

A rich child is born to rich parents. Everyone is happy. The naming ceremony is attended by both friends and foes. Daddy Showkey delivers a special performance on this special day. Celebrities also gather at the expansive country home to rejoice with the happy family. A flamboyant pastor delivers a well rehearsed short sermon and prays for the welfare of the family and the goodwill of the new baby.

Ironically, somewhere in the slum, a struggling couple manages to organize a meager birthday ceremony for their kid. The other poor kids around the area show up (both invited and uninvited ones), cabin biscuits, sweets, groundnuts and popcorn are put inside a tray neatly placed on a table at the center. One bottle of Fanta, one bottle of Coke and then another bottle of Sprite are also neatly placed beside the tray with the contents. The kids surround the birthday boy. The photographer asks everyone to say Cheese and a picture is taken.

Back to the rich kid! She grows up, with healthy set of teeth. She learns how to speak English like an oyinbo pikin. The parents frown at people that try to teach her the indigenous mother tongue. She does well academically. She is always the first in a class of fifty kids. The mother brags that she could play the piano at the age of three and her dad brags to his friends that the daughter could recite Kipling’s If by the age of four.

At the age of ten, she gets admitted into a high profile school meant only for the rich. She doesn’t get to see any sons or daughters of a poor fellow. She doesn’t know what it is to experience hunger first hand. She doesn’t need to cheat in the exams to get a good grade. All her classmates talk about is God and their studies.

Meanwhile, the poor kid is holed up somewhere in Orile. He sells rat poison during the day and sells weed plus cheap alcohol at night to the hood rats in the streets. They discuss football and argue why Mikel Obi should have passed the ball to Oscar instead of aiming for the post himself. Attending school is definitely out of the question. He is first child and has three other siblings relying on him for their daily bread.

The rich girl gets admitted into a private university. She studies either Medicine or Law. There, she meets a wealthy boy who is equally studying Medicine or Law. They only discuss about God and their studies. And in addition, they picture themselves in a city called Utopia with their lovely kids living in an exquisite mansion, with butlers and cooks serving them.

She gets her wish though. They get married after graduation; she gets a lovely job while the hubby works in an equally lovely place. They have beautiful kids with nice set of teeth like their mama. They take family vacations to exotic spots around the world. They are all healthy and everyone is happy.

On the other hand, poor guy plays a game with a neighbor’s daughter without protection. Nine months later, he is a father. This translates to more hustle. He increases his distribution network. He no longer supplies to the guys in the streets; he goes to other neighborhoods to supply the merchandise. Not everyone is happy.

Fast forward to many years later, both the rich and the poor are old folks. They spend more time in the hospitals for checkups than they spend with their kids. A heart attack occurs and they exchange their earthly lives for eternity. They are jubilating on the idea of going to paradise. Hold up! They are stopped on the way by an angel. The angel reminds the rich girl she forgot to pay her tithe sometime in her 30s. The poor guy stands as his own records are read out. They are given razor blades and sent to purgatory for absolution……

Ok, I am awoken from my silly thoughts by a tap on my shoulder. “Oga, we don reach market o…make you comot. Other people don comot finish”, the driver says. “How much be your money?”, I ask. “Na 100 naira”. I put my hand inside my pocket. My wallet no dey again! Kai, yawa don gas! As I was lost in my thoughts, someone must have taken it. TRAGIC!

We all wish to be happy in life. A young lady nearing her thirties only bothers herself with settling down with the right man. She spends endless hours fasting and praying. The church becomes her second home; the altar her second room. She envies her friends that are married with kids. She has lost 20kg from fasting every month. But she doesn’t realize that beneath those smiles and laughter her friends exhibit, lie cocoons of self-pity and grief. Behind those Facebook and Instagram updates, lie holes and craters of unhappiness.

Our time is running out. We all would face a similar fate – Death. No matter what we do in life, no matter what the odds are, whether we succeed or not, what matters in the end is doing good to all men. Never envy anyone because every single human being has battles they fight secretly and thorns that make them grow weary. The special moments we spend with loved ones, sharing a joke with a friend, lending a helping hand to someone, sharing boiled corn and peer with an enemy…these moments count as happy ones.

Now and then, it is good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. The pursuit of happYness is an endless journey; so no matter what life throws at us, we only end up being happy if we choose to. Life is not a bed of roses. So feel good! Because it is the memory of these happy times that would give us the strength and willpower to go through the evil times that lurk ahead and come out unscathed.

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