My father was not among the 20% that controlled 80% of the wealth of his times. That automatically booked a space for us among the 80% lot controlled by the 20% elites. And that had noteworthy implications.
For instance, I had to learn to maintain my sanity the die-hard way in the midst of the insanity that typically characterizes the face-me-i-slap-u slum where I grew up. I had to be contented with walking the long distance to school in the scorching sun while I waved to the children of the 20% elites in air-conditioned luxury cars. The popular
How I Spent My Last Holidays essay was for me a sorry account of hours of tilling the soil in the remotest of villages to learn how to earn and save enough for the next academic session.
My classmates would talk about the Jos Plateau (before the era of bombing and wanton killings) while I would only talk about anthills of the southern forest. They would talk about the Borno Emirate (before
Bokoharamism became fashionable) while I would only talk about my
Baale, the head of our six-building village.
All these meant nothing to me until I grew and could fully appreciate the beauty of prosperity and the perils of poverty; until I clearly understood the difference between living and merely existing. I no longer was contented with being on the side of the poor majority because life on the other side exuded appealing fragrances.
I sought to know how to swap position to cross from the 80% that merely exist to the 20% that truly live. My restless search brought me to a three-way junction. To my left was the road that could connect me to the much-desired 20% population in the fastest of times. Problem was that I would have to pitch my tent with the merchants of undercover works. I did not know of any criminal in my lineage, and I wouldnt want to be the first. So that was a no-go road.
To my right was the road walked by Princes and Princesses those who were born with golden spoons, silver spoons and even spoons of bronze. The road was the exclusive preserve of children of the rich and the mighty. My parents had no such qualifications and so bouncers would not allow me go that direction even if I tried. So I didnt.
The only option left as it were was the road directly up north. And being up north meant I would have to work against gravity. It could take me to the desired 20% group so I learnt. But that has to come at a price. The price is called EDUCATION. That is the path taken by children like me whose parents are neither rich nor powerful, who would not engage in any undercover merchandise, but who are too frustrated on the 80% side to remain there. Education became the most potent force that held the capacity to level the playing ground. So I opted for it.
I sweated day and night reading and learning from everything and from everybody I came across. I pursued education beyond the four walls of the classroom, studying the pathway to failure and the alternative routes that can lead to success. And now, I, the son of a fufu seller, the grandson of a moinmoin seller, born to a commercial cab driver, grown in a broken home have found myself at a point where I talk and the children of the elite 20% draw inspiration and reward my honest exertion to make life better for them.
I, aided by God, nurtured in the school of hard knocks, toughened by the streets now stand before kings and still keep my cool. Surely EDUCATION is the ultimate leveler!
I came to realize that the next Emperors may not necessarily need the qualification of the royal lineage; the next commander-in-chief may not necessarily need military training. All that will decide who rules and who serves is the possession of THE RIGHT KNOWLEDGE and its appropriate application to solving the problems of mankind which by default will always increase in magnitude and intensity.
Problems await humanity at every level of advancement, and the knowledgeable few who hold the solution will profit beyond measures from the chaos of the times to come. This is deep and this is critical. I hope you understand.
Interestingly enough, the arrival of the Information Age brought with it realignment and a swapping of positions. Movement happens every second between the 20% elites and the 80% downtrodden. Some hitherto inhabitants of the 20% elites are unconsciously working hard to move to the 80% lot, while some are taking the reverse direction.
Where you will be by 2050 and beyond (if you are still around by then) depends, amongst other things, on where you are on the production-consumption equation. Consumption exists as a way of life only because production takes place somewhere else. Consumers exist solely to fund the exertions of producers. In this statement lies wisdom for the discerning 80% constituent who truly desires to cross over to the 20% elitist side.
The problem is that our young people are too focused on consumption to pay critical attention to production. The children of the rich and the powerful will always have the money to consume, whether they work for it or not. But are the children of the poor ready for production? Crazy as it may sound, the children of the poor are ironically busy trying to consume their meager resources to look like, act like, talk like and live like the children of the rich! They are missing the point on a grand scale.
Give the child of a poor man his first one hundred million. Chances are that he will rush to buy a house by the beach, three Japanese cars, an exotic clothing line and perhaps throw a lavish party to announce his arrival on the big boys scene. He probably would have forgotten that getting rich is not as much a challenge as staying rich. He ignores the wisdom of producing and he wallows in the foolishness of consuming. Down he will go again.
Whats the lesson in all of this? Keep your mind focused on production, not consumption. And you may be THE NEXT EMPEROR. Got the gist? Keep moving!