Note To The Human In Tinted Glasses As I Turn Three Decades And Eight By Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni

Note To The Human In Tinted Glasses As I Turn Three Decades And Eight By Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni


“I don’t want to be a great leader; I want to be a man who goes around with a little oil can and when he sees a breakdown, offers his help. To me, the man who does that is greater than any holy man in saffron-coloured robes. The mechanic with the oilcan: that is my ideal in life.” – Baba Amte, social worker and activist (1914 – 2008)

Woke up today with deep thoughts, days are counting so are the years; unceremoniously, the grey hairs are arriving and I am looking at just around the corner to the proverbial year we are either bound by foolery or we disentangle ourselves thereof. Even though nobody can determine how tomorrow breaks, if the moon continues to orbit around the earth and the sun in its magnificent radiants remains constant, soon enough I shall join the quadrennial. So as much as I might not want to openly admit it, like every living soul, I am also living in hope of the coming days, but what bothers me is what impact I have made out of the life freely given.

For 38 years, I have lived not in absolute abundance nor derelict want. From the age I could conveniently identify myself, I do not think I have been completely in need without reassurance from nearby. Even though I cannot claim to be rich materially, I have never been in absolute poverty going by United Nations standards of measurement – when a man is unable to meet basic needs of food, water, shelter and clothing. Theoretically, there are four typically discussed forms of poverty; absolute, relative, situational and generational.

For context, when a person lacks the resources to meet their necessities, they are considered to be in absolute poverty. One type of absolute poverty is extreme poverty, in which having even $2.15 a day is not assured. Relative poverty, on the other hand, is when a person’s income is below the average for their community but still meets their necessities. For instance, individuals might have access to food, water, and housing, but they lack the resources to socialize with others, such poverty can be considered relative to the standard they wish to live.

While situational poverty is considered to have been necessitated by a specific set of circumstances, such as divorce, death, or serious sickness. In contrast, situational poverty has a clear end in sight—the impoverishment will only endure temporarily before people recover, which frequently gives those who are affected some optimism. But poverty that persists for two or more generations is known as generational poverty.

Beyond the above illustrations, what I consider most worrisome is the poverty of the mind – when you lack even amidst abundance and you are every day consumed by the hunger to acquire even when you cannot spend. When you are clothed in an illusion of authority and self-preservation thus, seeing yourself above others by virtue of acquired wealth or position. Oftentimes I am always afraid of being consumed by poverty of the mind because there is a thin line between asserting your authority or knowledge or wealth and arrogance.

Growing up, I abhorred those who drive in tinted glasses because I found it difficult to understand what they were running from. Over the years, I learnt some people are constrained to drive in tinted glasses for medical and environmental reasons but most largely for social leverage particularly elected officials who use open-roof cars doing campaigns but hide behind tinted glasses after the election forgetting that life is ephemeral: all that has a beginning must have an end. No doubt wisdom comes with age, experience, learning and unlearning.

I acknowledge that not all politicians are guilty, some are constrained by circumstances and pressure of demands to hide. But the question would be who impoverished the people and made them miserable that they now have to live on crumbs? An average citizen has an ego and wants to look self-sufficient hoping the system and institutions of government would create an enabling environment for him/her to strive. However, when institutions fail, the prevailing situation pushes the populace to put pressure on their representatives  (politicians) to achieve the desired social good often embedded in their social contract with the state institutions.

Though human needs are insatiable, some basic needs like food, shelter, education, healthcare and security take precedence in the daily struggles of every individual. Citizens expect the government (whichever form is in practice) to either provide these basic needs in part or make the environment conducive for citizens to source these needs themselves within the ambit of the laws of the land. By the broad construct of the term government, it ought to be absolutely responsible to its people through its institutions.

In my few months out of Nigeria, I have come to the complete realization that there is nothing wrong with the people of Nigeria. We go abroad and flourish. Even more, many flourish despite the institutional decay they are confronted with at home. The simple solution is for the government to be more responsible to its people and politicians – many in tinted glasses – must know that politics is business and their performance is Corporate Social Responsibility to the people. It is the personal change in the circumstances of the people that would breed the desired social and political change those in government are looking for.

So to the human in tinted glasses, know the burden you carry on your shoulder, the burden of you seeing them toil under the scorching sun while they look at you in wonderment, hoping one day they too will share in the grace and if not, at least their poverty should not be generational. Remember, even when they cannot see you, somebody sees us all. For me, as I count the days, I just want to be the man who keeps the light on for others and who does not need to hide from humanity. Because in truth, when there is grace in abundance, who am I not to share?

Generally, I know we aren’t where we hope to be but we aren’t where we used to be. As individuals and as a people, we must understand every day brings fresh opportunities and continuous longing for a better tomorrow. We should endeavour to live the life we have now, for what can be guaranteed is what we are currently spending in our time.

Here is me saying thank you for all the wishes, I couldn’t have asked for better people to live among. Thank you all.


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