-Ocholi Okutepa, Esq.
I have had the luxury of sitting with the rich so many times. I mean billionaires and millionaires.
I have mixed with those who by a wave of hand could ‘change my economic life’. Those whose current economic worth is at best a dream to you.
I have also had the Holy ‘misfortune’ of being suspected to be extremely rich. I mean, walking through airport terminals in Nigeria for example, you get enough begging to last a lifetime. Everyone assumes that catching a flight means you can afford to dole out cash to people for the mere asking. “Oga, your boy dey o” and I am wondering, search me, scan the passport or do your job and let me go please.
Don’t even talk about the volume of DMs you get on social media soliciting for help. Genuine as most are, you just can’t afford to help all.
Then off course, you deal with people who are outrightly lazy and who find vocation in begging.
I cannot forget to mention those who despitefuy use and dupe you after gaining your trust because they believe that somehow, they deserve something from life no matter who gets hurt in the process.
In all of these, you are at home with your own needs and wants. You are reminded of your own bills and pressures. Your level of poverty or lack slaps you directly in the face.
First, I have learnt not to deploy begging as a strategy for navigating poverty. It may work temporarily but it will ultimately diminish, undermine and position you to be despised.
Secondly, I realised that economic poverty is a by-product of other patterns of poverty. Poverty of ideas, of effort (I mean dignity of labour). Poverty of strategy, then of relationships. You can name them.
In 2013, I was at Boston. This young man stood up at the African forum. He had 5 minutes to speak and he wasted it. I was so sad for him. Fashola the then Governor of Lagos State was in the forum. Rather than make a point that will make him notable on the subject, he spent his 5 minutes begging Fashola to give him 20 minutes private audience to show him some “amazing ideas” that could revolutionize Lagos State. He was shut down by the chairman of the forum. Missed shot!
So, we must be careful not to be caught in the web of the actual poverty that causes economic poverty. We must make effort to be rich in ideas, in strategy, in presentation, in approach, in diligence, in patience and long-suffering and in all the necessary ingredients of making anything succesful!
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