Two weeks ago, my mum finally succeeded in making me come tour her newest business venture: piggery. I already told you about her, that she's a business freak. That's probably the 39th business venture she has started, and it's among the 3 she's currently doing. When she rattles off the figures and business projections, I'm very happy that I don't have enough money to be tempted to join her.
I got to see how piggeries are run. And I found out why pigs are called pigs. They have no sense of cleanliness. They will pee in the same water they drink and poo right next to the food they are eating. They are just pigs.
And that's the memory that comes up whenever I see the life below 3rd mainland bridge. My mum's pigs are even enjoying better living conditions. I see people fish and shit in the same water. It's the ultimate example of how not to live. We are humans, not pigs.
And that inspired me to make an exhaustive list of how not to live:
- Following the crowd all your life. If I was born into a family that lives in that area at the Oworonsoki end of the 3rd Mainland bridge, and things are so tough that I can't start life someplace else. I will simply quit Lagos altogether. Anyone that survives in Lagos (whether rich or poor) till his 20th birthday, will thrive anywhere else. We work terribly hard for everything in Lagos, even a breath of fresh air can be as expensive as travelling to one's village. Well, maybe, I wouldn't know any better and just keep living like a pig. Whichever the case, it's still not a way to live. It's not a poverty issue. Even in the days when there was nothing called money and we were walking around with leaves wrapped around our waist, we were not living like pigs. It's a thing of the mind, of demanding dignity from one's self. Of being human. Not a mere animal.
- Selling your soul. I believe this is the cause of our problems in Nigeria. We have people who have sold their souls for money. They would make $20 billion disappear. But it's not just the people at the Nation's top. The government school I did NYSC in had a paid librarian and no library. It was like free money. He didn't even show up at the school. Then there are civil servants who spend more time at their own business that at the job government is paying them to do. Some don't show up at work everyday. Then we've got employers that make employees sign bonds. Then we've got small business owners who can't remember the last time they told a truth. They would lie from morning till night. Every day I see people who have sold their souls for money. It's the most terrible way to live. In fact, it's not a way to live. Some have made a habit of being so untruthful that they now have strange reasons to lie; like "I just can't keep telling him the truth.", "Don't let anyone know too much about you.", "Nobody tells the truth anymore."
- Being pushed here and there. I've stopped asking people for career advice. People often project themselves and their desires, unknowingly, into every advice they craft for you. Ask for life advice from a doctor and you will get health advice. Ask for life advice from a lawyer and you will get legal advice. Ask me for advice, and you will get a crazy advice. We don't tell people what they should do, we only tell them what we would do. And if you base your life on advice from people, you'll end up being pushed here and there. Frustrated. Though not asking for advice for major life issues is equally bad; I will advice that you ask for advice just to see things from other people's perspectives and make a better informed decision rather than to adopt someone else's view and recommendation. Following everyone's advice is not a way to live.
- Having no passion. I have met with a few people who have no passion for anything. They will agree with you on anything. They let everyone have his way at their own expense. They don't have future plans. They talk very gently and dispassionately. When we are so down and everything seems to be falling apart, we love to take consolation is comparing ourselves to them. We conclude that as down as we are, there is still someone below. Too bad the few people I have met who are like this do not even know and, probably, will not know if they read this post. It's that bad. It's no way to live.