Tuesday, August 6, 2019 8:18 am
It was not an unusual call. But there was an unusual tinge of urgency, even desperation to it. It was a call from my wife that afternoon and all she said was, ‘Bobo, please check your WhatsApp. I’m sending you a video’. My heart skipped a bit because she cut the call before I could ask any question. A few seconds later, a video dropped. It was a video recording of a young crippled beggar crawling on all fours in Balogun market. My wife went to the market for some purchases and saw the young fellow. She recorded the video herself. Just as I finished watching the video, another text dropped, ‘How much is a wheelchair?’ That was not too long ago.
I called her immediately. She was in tears. She was still at the market and told me she spoke to the young man. It was harrowing watching him crawl on his belly with some kind of rubber protection on his shrivelled knee caps and some rubber slippers on his hands. I couldn’t watch the video more than once. The thought of what he has to go through daily especially in a crowded market like Balogun was distressing. He is daily at the mercy of everyone- cars, traders, customers- everyone. People took pity on him and dropped money in a bowl he carried. My wife asked him if a wheelchair would help his condition. She got the security guard of a nearby bank to take his details and promised to come back. Obviously, the cripple is a very familiar face in that market. She also took the guard’s details.
She asked me to get a motorized wheelchair that doesn’t need anyone to push so the guy can help himself around. I got a brand new one at Ibadan and took it to Lagos. She contacted the guard and asked him to inform the fellow of her coming the next day. I decided to go with her. We got to the agreed spot at the agreed time but the guy was nowhere to be found. The security guard had looked for him to no avail. We drove round the market and asked after the guy- no one had seen him. His phone was off. After a few hours, we left. My wife would come back to look for him again another day. He was missing. The security guard tried a lot also.
One day, after an unsuccessful bid to locate him, the guard told my wife something I had a tough time swallowing. He commended my wife and said she should quit looking for the guy and trying to help him. He doesn’t want to be helped. He loved his condition that way because it made people pity him and drop pittance for him. If he gets a wheelchair, alms may not flow again like before. So, he dodged us. Shocking.
It was then I came to a realization- not everyone that needs help wants to be helped. It’s not everyone that can be helped. You can’t help someone who doesn’t see he needs help. It takes a willingness to be helped to meet with a desire to help for change to occur. The needer of help must realize his state before the helper can do anything tangible. The Lord desires all men to be saved but not all men will be saved. There must be an offer of help and an acceptance of the help. Without an acceptance, the offer is invalid.
That’s the situation with Nigeria. Those who need help are even poking fun at those who are trying to help them. They are satisfied with their current state. In our country, the blind laughs at the sighted. The dumb ridicules the one with the gift of the garb. The lame makes the physically fit the butt of his jokes. They can analyze why they are in that situation but they mock anyone who stands up with a semblance of a solution. They even rationalize their situation rather than do something to break free. They view every one who offers to help from a prism of mischief, distrust or plain bufoonery. The blind are even wiser than the sighted. They love their situation. They may complain once in a while but they are willing accomplices in their obvious disabilities- economic, infrastructure and others. They don’t mind creeping into your inbox periodically to ask for crumbs but they’ll evade you if you try to suggest ways to lift them. They are perpetual pessimists and according to Will Harvey, every pessimist who ever lived has been buried in an unmarked grave. Hiding behind virtual walls, they laugh at your offer. But then, they’re laughing at themselves. The joke is on them.
What happened to the wheelchair? I saw someone on tweeter who needed it and sent it to him in Benue State.
-Bayo Adeyinka, a banker, motivational speaker, social entrepreneur and critic, writes from Lagos.