Heart of Arts

Orí ẹ ti gbá’lẹ̀

Toyin Falola


The other day, on the plane, two ladies sat behind me. I was minding my own business, re-reading one of my pieces, “Mummy let the Singles Breathe” (https://www.newtimes.com.ng/mummy-let-the-singles-breathe/). However, the conversation between these two women, whom I will call Miss A and Miss B here, distracted me and captured my attention. Trust me, I always mind my business, and I tried my best to turn a deaf ear to them, but you know how some people talk; their voices are loud.

Miss A was loud enough that you would think she had swallowed a JBL speaker. She laughed out loud hysterically, and they literally got everyone’s attention on the plane. So, I took a break from reading and decided to listen in silence to what the conversation was about. You know, as a writer, you never can tell where your inspiration to write could come from. The conversation was about a boyfriend who did not give one of them N500,000 to buy artificial hair because he thought the price was outrageous.

According to Miss A, her boyfriend earns so much, turning in millions of naira every year, but spends very little on her. In fact, he recently bought the latest SUV for his mother, yet he has not replaced the car he bought for her last year, despite her pleas for a new one. Eh yah! Wahala for who no get rich man to bill. She complained about many other things, and in response to all her laments, Miss B asked if she was sure she was not feeling entitled to the man’s money.

“No o, entitled kẹ̀! I am just saying I deserve more than that. If he truly loves me, his money will also be mine. How can he buy his mother a new car and refuse to change mine?”

Miss B tried to argue further, to which Miss A replied, “Ehn, even if it is an entitlement, am I not his babe?” Thank God I don’t have a babe!

This conversation got me angry. I did not know when I exclaimed,  “Orí ẹ ti gbá ‘lè̀!”  I adjusted my glasses and tried to concentrate on the Tribune newspaper I wanted to read before they distracted me. Listening to them was not exactly a waste of time, as the conversation did not stop in my head. I thought about the number of people who have expressed a sense of entitlement to the little money and influence I have. “Falola is a renowned professor, but he cannot even dash me N500,000 and forget about it.” Ẹ gbà mí! How much do I even earn that I will become everyone’s destiny helper? I do not have money stored up in a Storex tank in my backyard or buried in my soak away. If I give everyone N500,000 and forget about it, will the bank not also forget that I ever opened an account with them when all the money has been dashed out because my name is Falola and I am a nice man?

I do not mean to insult your pedigree, but is it not unreasonable for you to have such high expectations that you deserve certain privileges from people as though you co-own their bank accounts and their contents? Very many people feel entitled to other people’s money just because they are associated with them in one way or another. You will find the sense of entitlement dripping from how people react when, for genuine reasons, you are unable to solve their financial problems. Nobody is obliged to give you part of their money, no matter who you are to them. And when they do, consider it a favour rather than a duty they owe you.

Even your president, the As̩íwájú of Èmi ló kàn dynasty, demonstrated a sense of entitlement when he told his fellow politicians to “gbé kiní yìí wá, èmi ló kàn” – a catchphrase that became his selling point during the elections. A manifesto of entitlement. Since he has godfathered some young men and given them a chance to sit on the throne, he is also entitled to sit on it. A kingmaker must as well become the king! No doubt, democracy is the government of the politicians, by the politicians, and for the politicians. Politics is now a game of entitlement where it is about whose turn it is to have a share of the cake and not about who is next to serve the people. A bunch of politicians using the nation’s throne to settle scores! But do I have the audacity to say that orí As̩íwájú ti gbá’lẹ̀?

Simbi, there you are, praying for a “helper” who will wire you N450,000 to buy human hair or hand you the key to an apartment in Lekki without any effort, just like that! You have forgotten the part of the scripture that says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NIV)

I am still trying to understand this set of humans who believe that their money is theirs to spend alone, but another man’s money is for “all of us.” You are only privileged to enjoy another man’s money, the money he laboured and worked hard for. Even if it is ritual money, at least he did something to get it. You open the slaughterhouse that you call a mouth to rain insults on the CEO of your company because he travels abroad every three months for a vacation. Ahn ahn!

You say, “All these rich people sef, they are just wasting money. If he donates the money he spends on vacation to people who are in need, their creator will bless him.”

Monalisa, no, he does not need your Ẹlẹ́dàá to bless him. He needs the vacation to wherever he wants! He has worked for his money; no be you go tell am wetin he go use the money do. You can see how his home and office space are packed with awards and recognition of various kinds as if he is selling them. Every single one of them was earned. Instead of drawing inspiration from him, you would say, “An award is nothing, he is just lucky. Vanity upon vanity.”

Slay queen, let me tell you what an award is. An award is a testament that you have paid your dues, and the world, even though selfish, has been compelled to recognise it. Aunty, do am if e easy!

Someone takes care of you, pays your school fees, sends you money you did not work for, and after two days, you reply with a one-word SMS, “Thanks.” He pays another one, and again, it’s just “Thanks,” as if you kept the money in his bank account. The day he does not send money as usual, you will send him an epistle of how sápá has almost finished you, that he must do something about it. If he does not, you change his contact’s name from “Rich Uncle Femi” to “Greedy Femi.” Ah! Your bad manners are only exceeded by your bad manners. That is why you do not know that gratitude is proof of honour. When you believe you are entitled to something, you cannot truly be grateful for it. Entitled fool, orí ẹ ti gbá’lẹ̀!

Entitled girlfriends, like Miss A, let me talk to you. It is madness to think that a man’s money is your money, especially when you are not yet joined in matrimony. It is his money, not yours, and he has the freedom to spend it however he wants. If he chooses to spend everything on you, good for you! But do not be a mad girlfriend (má jẹ́ kí orí ẹ gbá’lẹ̀). Make your own money and spend it as you wish; he would be wrong to feel entitled to it, too. Regular financial gifts and spoiling of various kinds are not obligatory; they are only acts of kindness. You must have the sense to appreciate them rather than feel entitled.

Entitlement is one reason generous persons tend to withdraw their kindness. You will pray to God to bring destiny helpers your way, but you will use excessive billing and a sense of entitlement to chase them away. Can you see that there is little help God himself can offer you if you do not change your ways? I can see that you need a renewed orientation.

Obinna, the fact that you share the same surname with your siblings or rich family members does not mean that you must have a share of their money. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the truth remains that nobody owes you anything. Nobody will go to hellfire for not paying your rent or giving you a job in their company. Nobody merely exists just to serve your needs and wants. Nobody owes you anything!

Know your position in people’s lives and stop imposing unrealistic demands and expectations on them. You must learn that when people agree to your demands, it is a responsibility, and when they refuse, it is a decision. Stop the pity party that you throw when they are unable to help. Should they cut their throats for you so that you can be comfortable? Nobody will die for you to be alive. Life itself is already a survival of the fittest. Appreciate the favours, the gifts, or any form of philanthropy people extend to you. Jẹ́ kí orí ẹ pé!

To Miss A, who inspired this piece, in case you come across this on the internet, I apologise for exclaiming “orí ẹ ti gbá’lẹ̀,” but I advise you to change your ways if you want your rich boyfriend to put a ring on it.

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