First, after writing this post on Facebook, I got a generous donation from a totally unexpected source. The note that came with the donation reads “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.”
There are a lot of people in need of help but who are too ashamed to ask for help.
One of the poorest continents, probably the poorest, is Africa. It’s also one of the most populated continents. Very simple logic or arithmetics would tell you that there’s a high possibility that every human that walks on Africa’s soil is in debts, poverty-stricken and in need of help.
But we are a proud people. We would rather let Pastors pray meaningless miracle prayers and sow seeds of cash, hoping that by some magic it will return to us.
We don’t know that we are just crowdfunding the life goals of some of these religious leaders. They have deviced a way to get the money they cannot beg for, yet you are too ashamed to beg.
We are a proud people.
Even when our passion is noble like starting a business or going to school, we would still not want people to know we are begging.
We think scholarships are better. I call scholarship holders “corporate beggars.” We are the real beggars. Those of us who contact organizations via applications or otherwise and convince them to finance our life goals, we have also begged but people think it’s more noble. Like when I got the funding from AFRES and wrote “7 Inspiring Thoughts from my Scholarship Story.”
In 2017 when I got my admission to the University of Pretoria, I had stopped receiving stipends from home for over 4 years and I knew family couldn’t even afford my schooling.
I finished with a 4.15/5.00 Second Class Upper with honours from Obafemi Awolowo University. I had two awards of the four that the department gives. My result was the second highest in that set.
Yet the doors were shut against me like the doors of heaven are shut against evil people. I worked for a company paying me 30,000 naira a month. I walked the streets of Delta and Oyo State like a reject case. It was after months of unfulfilled passion that I discovered my way back to Osogbo and started my own office. I would open my shop in the morning, write some stories, go to building sites, meet landlords and at night apply for jobs, schools using my limited data subscription.
So when I got my admission to the University of Pretoria, I knew this was the universe giving me a hint. It was going to be an expensive journey but it promised me a better opportunity to chase my dreams and live a life.
Chasing my passion, I lost my shame
I had become a bit of a storyteller on Facebook and on my blog. I never knew so many people were listening to me. My stories earned me trust and so when I had too little savings for school, I posted my need on my wall.
Within 48 hours, I had received enough to augment money saved from my various jobs as a writer and estate agent in Osogbo. Now did I feel afraid or ashamed of being a beggar? Yes, at first. I wondered how my family would see me.
I was worried my former coursemates in OAU would laugh at me. That they would mock me for having nothing to show for all my hard work in school and all my refusal to cheat my way through school. I still don’t regret making some enemies from being honest in school. At that point, I thought they would ridicule me and maybe they did. I won’t blame them, that’s human nature after all.
However, did I stop? No. My conscience was clear that I had done my best to be a better person, to give my best to society. My hard work was good enough effort. Both landlords and students used me like a tattered rag but I didn’t complain. I was Estate agent close to Osun State University, I served the students and the landlords. Meanwhile, I applied for my Masters in Real Estate, got the opportunity I wanted and needed money which I knew my family was not in a position to give.
When you have tried everything
I had also written a lot of scholarship tests in Nigeria where apparently, officials were fixing their own family and friends. One good example was the BEA awards, and recently some award in IMO state. Do I blame these people for fixing their own in the limited opportunities? No.
To be realistic, the opportunities are so few compared to the million of deserving candidates in Nigeria. This is why I won’t blame them for being selfish humans and helping their own.
What I will blame myself for is when I have an opportunity to fight for my own life and the only thing that stops me is shame. No, don’t turn begging into a habit but anyone who has worked hard should know when to stop and ask for help.
Crowdfunding is not alien to Africa
Too many people contact their active social media friends to ask for help. “Please, I have a big dream I need to pursue but I don’t want my name to be announced. I don’t want people to know I need help. They must not see me as a beggar.”
We are a proud people in Africa. It’s clear that we have forgotten the ideals of Esusu, Ajo and cooperative funding. We have forgotten that the way out of this mess is by collective effort. If I cannot ask for help, then how can I be helpful to others? If my fate does not change, how will I in the future help anyone?
There’s nothing to be ashamed of than our own cowardice. The fact that we would rather turn to cheats, yahoo boys, religious money changers who lie about miracle money. We would rather do this than crowdfund our life goals. The shame we feel is diabolical. It’s the kind of shame that makes a man leave his family hungry while distributing his meager earnings to the public. The public eye is more important to us than doing well.
A few weeks ago, I should have died. Two times a friend pulled me off the road, narrowly escaping death by car hits. A few days after this incidence, two students in my residence got killed in that same road. They were hit by a car. It was like my life was swapped for theirs.
Life doesn’t care about your shame
The point here is that, life is transient. You could be gone tomorrow. The shame you are so blinded by is not going to matter anymore. What would be left is what you’ve done with your time. Did you live passionately? Did you do your best? and Did you leave a mark?
This is all that would matter and I tell you, people are always eager to crowdfund coffins. You can wait for that time or open yourself up to being a blessing and being blessed. Work hard, ask for help when you need it, give back when you can, stop comparing your life with what your friends or family want it to be. If they are ashamed of you seeking external help, they know what to do. Young people especially, get rid of unhealthy shame. Be ashamed of fraud, be ashamed of malpractice, be ashamed of selling your votes but never be ashamed to ask for help especially when you have done your best.
Everyone needs help some times, that’s why there’s more than one finger on every hand and feet.