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Between Lautech and their ‘excellencies’ at Eid-el-Kabir

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LAUTECH

“Pay the worker before his sweat dries” –Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)

THESE are happy times. These are ordinarily joyous moments. Happy indeed is this season particularly for those who have money to celebrate the ‘Eid. Happy ‘Eid to those who can afford to buy rams and goats to sacrifice come on the day of ‘Eid.

The ‘Eid is indeed happy for those who can afford to buy newspapers to read. Yes.

It is he who has had enough to eat and drink and still have enough to spare that buys newspapers.

It is those who enjoy special privileges from the Almighty –privileges they do not recognize let alone appreciate- and are paid millions of naira as newspaper allowance who could afford to buy journals and magazines.

Happy indeed are those compatriots of mine who could afford to buy newspapers they cannot read; those who would purchase tabloids they would not read.

Not my colleagues in Ladoke Akintola University, (LAUTECH).

Not my compatriots who presently live on the fringe of life; not my compatriots whose dignities have been thrown into the abyss no thanks for the dehumanizing experience they have had to go consequent upon months during which their salaries have not paid; not my compatriot who has lost his masculine ego for his failure to ‘win the bread’ for his family and for his inability to buy charcoals for his homestead.

These are ordinarily happy times indeed. Yes. This city is indeed happy. It is presently under ‘invasion’. Our villages are being “occupied”.

Not by soulless spirits. Not by agents who have turned the ‘overground’ and the ‘underground’ to cathedrals; cathedrals of the faithless. No.

Rather, our cities and villages are presently playing hosts to the characters with hoofs -rams, goats, and cattle. These animals are signifiers.

The signified being the onset of the season of happiness; the season of ‘Eid el-Kabir: a season in which workers rejoice in sharing their hard-earned wealth and wages with their families, a season when we reconnect with the earth as we do with the heavens.

Unfortunately not so with my colleagues in LAUTECH.
Ironically too, this is one of their seasons. Remember the ‘other’ season too.

The seasons when we witness the pollution of the spiritual by the chimerical; seasons when politicians transact the roguish business of politics by turning distribution of Salah rams to totems of patronage. For a reason. This is their season.

This is the season when their “Excellencies’ take crumbs from the tables of plenitude to the backwaters of the poor, the deprived, the dehumanized.

A grain of rice taken from the pot of the rich often tastes better than ten pots of beans in the hungry remits of the poor. What an irony!

I cannot stop wondering and pondering. You would too.

Why is it that the poor always congregate at the doorsteps of the rich and the powerful even in the knowledge that the latter is not God?

Why do the poor push and shove one another at the courtyard of the rich despite their awareness that the latter would part only with small loaves of bread not with the “magic wand” that would set them free from bondage and servitude?

Meanwhile the cows are mooing.

The goats are bleating. The ‘Eid el-Kabir is here. The season of happiness is here. His Excellency is happy.

Even in the knowledge that the journey is coming to an end.

In their posh and luxurious encampments, they are happy that we are happy that the Eid is here once again.

But are we happy? How could I be happy in this season of happiness when my compatriots, male and female, Muslims and Christians, young and old, husband and wife have become paupers due to the refusal of the employer to pay their wages?

How could I glory in full that this season is here in truth when my compatriots have become hostage to the very state to which they dedicate their loyalty and service?

How would this festival be ‘festive’ when only ‘I’ is happy and ‘you’ are sad?

Exactly how might we begin to define and describe the sovereign who says happy Eid el-Kabir to us while some of us are down there in the abyss of penury, deprivation and abject poverty?

Such is the first lesson the Id is here to teach to us- that Islam is not about “I” but “We”, it is not about me but us, it is not only about here but there.

Such is the lesson the Id is here to teach to us- that he who works for us must be paid their wages even before the sweat dries from their brow.

Prophet Ibrahim worked and toiled; he displayed his loyalty and sincerity.

He consequently and immediately received divine comeuppance and recognition.

He was awarded divine garlands and accolade by He who loves sincere workers.

“The Almighty would never delay their recompense; that of sincere workers who serve with dignity” so says the Almighty.

Thus it became a divine injunction since the primordial times, when time was undated, that Prophets were raised not only as philosophers but also as workers and as employers of labour.

Thus it became ingrained in Islamic tradition that our identities as Muslims shall always be determined not only by how we relate to those above us but how compassionate and kind we are in our relationship with those who are below us.

The powerful in the reckoning of the Almighty is he who treats with dignity those who are powerless

Thus I seize this moment of happiness across the Muslim world to admonish those in whose custody the commonwealth is presently domiciled- please pay LAUTECH workers their wages and turn this state of hopelessness to that of hope.

Please pay these workers their wages; those whose labour adds value to life; pay that poor worker his wages for it is from what he earns that men and women, young and old in my village find succor and comfort.

Pay that poor worker his wages because his supplication is being heard in the highest heavens by He who sees and monitors the movement of the smallest ants in the darkest parts of the night.

Brother! It humbled my ego the other day, even as I am not sure whether I suffer pride and ego-love at all, that it was there in paradise that Prophet Adam and his wife (a.s) suffered tribulation.


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