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Rich man’s money, poor man’s mouth

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Perhaps as much as Nigerians, us Turks love our proverbs – something that I always feel is sorely missing from English.

When someone encounters some kind of a misfortune after committing evil – say a man kicks a harmless dog while walking down the street, then not even a couple of hundred metres after, he trips and falls down.

“God doesn’t have a rod” would be the first proverb that a Turk would utter.

You bump into one of the ugliest guys you’ve ever laid eyes on, you went to school with years ago, and meet his wife. They seem a suitable match, even though you’re still shocked that he even managed to find a girl.

“Every limping seller will have a blind buyer,” a Turk will most likely say.

One of my favourite proverbs, funnily one I didn’t get right during a pop quiz in secondary school, and haven’t forgotten since.

Imagine a struggling family expecting a baby, worried about how they will make ends meet to feed, clothe and look after their new arrival.

“When a lamb is born in the barn, its grass will grow on the field,” is how a Turk would encourage the family, meaning everyone’s portion is prepared before they even know it.

Another favourite of mine, triggered this week by the news of Femi Otedola’s gifts to his daughters:

“Rich man’s money tires poor man’s mouth.”

This one doesn’t even require any further elaboration, does it? Because every poor man’s mouth was over-worked this week talking on and offline about how the Nigerian tycoon had gifted his three daughters Tolani Otedola, Temi Otedola, and Florence Otedola (DJ Cuppy) with brand new Ferraris for an estimated princely sum of $697,389 (N 320,798,940).

“Papa took us shopping and bought one of each!” she added.

“Brand new!” “In this pandemic?!” “Kai” were just some of the exclamations when DJ Cuppy shared the photos on her Twitter. Typical Naija! Woe betide a rich man or woman that dares flash the cash whether it is a luxury mansion on Banana Island, a flashy yacht at the marina or the newest whip in town. Online abuse is all quick to follow – often from those who can’t find two kobos to rub together.

Some, like one @Abu_swag, were quick to judge Otedola for spoiling his daughters:

“In a middle of a Pandemic when many people are unemployed and currently struggling to survive? Do you know how many families he can lift out of poverty or how many hospitals, schools would be well equipped with this money? Absolute waste of resources!”

Others bemoaned their fate, wondering why their dads weren’t buying them Ferraris. Nigerian author Reno Omokri was one of the voices of sanity, who urged people not to measure their own fathers with Otedola’s yardstick.

On a social media post, Omokri wrote: Your dad is not less than @realFemiOtedola because he did not buy you a @Ferrari. The cost of 3 Ferraris is less than 1 per cent of Otedola’s worth. If your dad spent 5 per cent of his net worth educating you, he did more than Otedola. Remember the widow’s mite?”

This may seem ironic – seeing I am writing these very words after all continuing the gist – but I can’t quite comprehend how us, the poor (Yes, comparing our bank balances to the top 1 per cent of Nigeria, the Otedolas, the Dangotes, the Adenugas, we are all poor, no offence!) insist on exhausting out mouths to the point of fatigue over rich man’s money.

Can we not leave it at the headline – ‘Rich Man buys Daughters Ferraris’ or ‘Rich Socialite Celebrates Another Year with a G-Wagon’ – and not gist about it? Can we refrain from judging a man for how he chooses to spend his money or dictate what he should have done instead? Can we stop setting impossibly high bars for our parents or future partners to reach? Can we not speculate about the source of his wealth?

‘Rich Father Treats Daughters to Ferraris.’ Full stop. Zip it. Move on. It is not easy, but it is possible.


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