Tuesday, May 25, 2021 5:14 pm
By Kunle Ojeleye
I was in Form 2. I got placement in the boarding house. During one of the vacations, I went to my Dad asking for money to buy boxer shorts.
My father asked what was wrong with the stringed briefs, “pata olokun”, that I had, and I explained being made jest of in school by boarding colleagues.
He told me I should be proud of what I had, that some did not even have clothes to wear, to talk less of stringed briefs.
I heard stories of how he and many of his friends who had become Professors by 1978: only had a rubber slippers when they got into university in the early 1960s; trekked miles to and back from university; and were not ashamed to carry their portmanteaus on their heads.
I went back to school and learnt to live my life by my standards.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐊𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐝𝐨𝐦. 𝐂𝐢𝐫𝐜𝐚 𝟏𝟗𝟗𝟒.
“Iwọ ṣaa fẹran iṣẹ ṣa.
A ni ki a fi ọna ati l’owo han ọ.
Irọ. A fi iṣẹ. Bẹẹ, o ni good tastes.”
The above remark was made to me, by an older cousin’s acquaintance, during one of his many trips into the UK from Nigeria.
He had severally asked me to invest in a business that would yield me 100% profit every two weeks.
So, I enquired about ‘this business’.
I was informed they dealt in ‘Ofi’, sold by ‘ọpa’.
I wondered quietly how ‘Ofi’ could be so profitable as to yield such a considerable amount of profit in the London of the 1990s at such an astonishing rate.
My crude understanding was that the businesses with the most incredible profitability also entails the greatest risks.
I thanked them profusely for their interest in wanting to make me rich, told them I was happy with my life as it was and that I was not interested in their business.
After that, I ensured my link to the circle was cut off.
I faced my cabbing plus other odd jobs to survive, help those at home, and save towards my master’s degree education.
I was, and still in many respect, naïve.
A few years later, when ‘kasala’ burst and the chaps were rounded up after being trailed by narcotics agents for many months, I knew ‘Ofi’ to be cocaine whose unit of measurement and sale was ‘ọpa’.
𝐈 𝐀𝐦 𝐌𝐞
My life experiences have taught me to scrutinise the source of a man’s wealth.
If I am in any doubt as to the legitimacy of your income, I keep myself away.
Our paths in life are different.
So, I don’t envy any legally and legitimately successful man or woman.
For those who genuinely became wealthy through hard work and sweat, I praise God for them.
With such people, I would comfortably ride with them in their Bugattis, have unconcerned fun in their mansions, and proudly drive back home in my five-year-old Renault Safrane to have a peaceful and restful night in my single bed in my two-bedroom apartment.
Happiness is being contented with what God has legally, legitimately and morally blessed you with.
–Kunle Ojeleye (PhD) is a consultant in education, training and learning technology