I am not so much interested in the likes of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as I am in the deprivileged members of our society.
Someone once said that talent is universal but opportunities are not.
There could be many NOIs and CNAs out there, among the many young ladies who attend our schools and roam our streets; they have the talent but lack the opportunity to excel because they are deprivileged.
And by opportunity here I do not refer merely to the government creating an enabling environment. More than that, I refer to family background.
I have a protracted problem with poverty and a poverty mentality.
I have observed that most poor people remain poor because they have developed a poverty mentality and therefore, in their sole pursuit of money, have continued to reproduce poverty.
Poverty mentality will make you think that money is what you need to be whole, to be human, to excel, and to emerge from poverty.
But that’s a big misconception.
Money is a plus. Not the arrowhead.
What you need to emerge from poverty is an enlightened mindset.
Many of us come from homes where enlightenment does not obtain; instead, what we find there is a case of what I’ll call en-burdenment.
We are en-burdened with the sole notion of money-making to the point that we pursue money, make money, and continue to pursue money, without building any foundation for ourselves and perhaps kids upon which that money will be of sustainable development.
The moment we die, the ones we leave behind will continue the rat race of money-making, because we haven’t created value for them to harvest with their talent — we leave them at the mercy of the Nigerian harsh economic climate.
But what the parents of NOI and CNA have given them was something more. These parents were enlightened enough to send their daughters to places where their dreams (of becoming an economist and writer, respectively, not of becoming money-making machines) will come to fruition.
This is the burden of most talented people who come from poor family backgrounds.
Your people don’t care about your master’s degree scholarships, your PhD scholarships, your contract with CNN that could catapult you into a bigger position tomorrow, etc. When you travel abroad, for example, all they care about and want to hear is that you’re making money and sending cars home and building mansions like your fellow young people — who your further education help? Just join your fellow guys and do what they’re doing.
But that is not the mentality behind the success of such people like NOI and CNA that we celebrate today. If they had been burdened with the task of making money and leaving the hard task of investing in their intellectual development and careers, we will not be using them as role models to our young girls today.
And that’s where the irony lies. We use these people as role models but laugh at those who today have momentarily left the pursuit of wealth to build a future stellar career for themselves.