Cubano-poverty, a word coined from the aftermath of the now-infamous funeral of a woman in Nigeria, a mother to the nations’ biggest player in the entertainment industry-Obi-Cubana. This word as now popularized, depicted the poverty of a people brought about by the inability of community elites to tow the same line as him who unconventionally had put immense importance on human capital development, armed with a strong want to better his friends, relatives, and well-wishers.
The youths in my village had confided in me, saying that Orodo suffered from this poverty. They had sent me videos and publications to buttress why they had been crying wolf. They told me to disregard other news making rounds about that said funeral being a show of shame and misguided wealth. They begged me to overlook that “ogwu ego “ version, they pleaded I should put cotton buds in my ears to drown the noise. They say we had elites who were more freedom fighters than community salvagers. They tell me we had elites who enjoyed watching the big brother show in the confines of their houses but detested it in public forums. They tell me we had elites that cared more for their stomachs rather than a prosperous youth. They say I should not pay any mind to Obi-Cubana belonging to any secret cults, nor ones that said he was in never do good associations of drug dealing. They said they had waited for an alternative but had found none. They tell me that they also want to be in positions to throw money at me in appreciation and repayment of good deeds if given opportunities to shine.
Try us first …they tell me. I had jokingly reminded them of our relative who had just bought a used Toyota corolla, seemingly a proceed from some land sale, whom with a perceived new status in the kindred, now blew car horns while greeting his benefactors. What more if it were a Mercedes.
Try us first… they had maintained. They chorused that something good must come out of Jericho, if for nothing else, emulating a bonding of brothers, a synergy of men as shown by that entertainment boss and his friends, one that empowered each other for posterity sake. They also suggested we, the privileged understudied that model that threw lights on humans and their advancement.
The youths in my village had branded us as marked men, who had their days numbered, who stand to be devoured- sooner or later from our inabilities as the privileged few to empower those that we had left behind. Their anger, brewing from the fact that a majority of us had not imbibed that mentality that the big man from Oba exhibited a few weeks ago, a behavior that the youths now say we lacked, given the fact that we did not have verifiable testimonies of people empowered, given the truth that we had allowed them to rot in penury, given the obvious that we had allowed their destinies to be derailed.
I had a few chit-chats with a few, an attempt at explaining the true position, trying hard to exonerate myself. I had reminded them that I cherished education and its trappings, the same way my father did. I stood a greater chance of leaning towards any one of them that had his or her eyes on books. I also stood a chance in investing in education and education-inclined ventures given my capabilities and my antecedence. However, I had told them that I understood the interphase between foundational education and an informal one and my readiness to galvanize other Cubana-like individuals in our society, an attempt to understand where we could meet halfway. I reminded them, how I wished I could offer that which I didn't have-one that guaranteed that preference of theirs for hot money and big wealth acquisition.
The youths in my village want hot money. They want it now and fast. They had embraced the yahoo-yahoo lifestyle as an alternative. I had begged them not to use the funeral at Oba as a yardstick as the majority of the moneybags that graced that occasion had acquired some sort of education and to a large extent understood the language of money — a language that by far surpassed those elementary ways of “receiving peanuts from Vietnam and Cambodia” from dating scams. I pointed out that Obi-Cubana had gone to school and a majority of his friends did the same. Those that did not, have also surrounded themselves with those that have the clout to move the needle an inch.
I begged them to copy the best parts of success if they so desired. I reminded them that it required a certain favorable situation and laws of chance for us all to attain those heights that are expected of us. I told them about loyalty, perseverance, hard work, innovation, uprightness — all those ingredients that the entertainment boss had encouraged. They needed to change their mindset as well. They seem to have given up, they were mostly bereft of respect for the elders and the constituted authorities. They were heavily unruly. They were increasingly unteachable. They had a foul and not-so-good attitude, one that bred dissatisfaction among the willing.
I was now ready to turn the argument, my aim -making them aware that poverty was not just about lack of money and what it could purchase or acquire. I also pointed out how the youths also lacked in common aspirations as seen elsewhere in other villages. I pointed how they lacked the spirit to compete even with their peers in neighboring villages, how youths were no more youths, rather a bevy of hoodlums. The poverty of the mind.
The law school had graduated a whole batch of millennial jurists amidst pomp and pageantry, with myriads of wig-adorning photoshoots making the rounds on major social media handles. I had searched so many online forums that had Orodo people, to see if we had felicitations and well-wishing but I had seen none. No jubilations in the village
We were not celebrating. We did not have people in school anymore. We did not have youths in the village aspiring to become whomever or whoever.
A security impasse brought about a sit-at-home order that had stopped a lot of students from sitting for a mathematics examination, a determinant in ensuring spots in the university made the headlines. A lot of them in other climes and communities were expressing hurt and anger, with valid fear of a bleak future, with grave concerns on what next and what the future held but none of such expressions in Orodo-at least not visibly noticed.
Did we not have school leavers anymore? or were there a disconnect in our capabilities as chaperones or role models?
Orodo truly suffered from Cubano-poverty on both sides and we all lacked in that ingredient that promoted proper cohesion among us. We lacked that ingredient that bridged the gap between these two worlds of haves and have- nots. We lacked that ingredient that put money where our mouth laid. We lacked that ingredient that stood to reap dividends only in the years to come. We lacked that ingredient that recognized potentials, accepting them as rough edges, with an end game of attaining a polished state.
We needed thunder to strike from the top in my community if for nothing else, to shuffle a brain reset and perception, one that will improve on common lives of our people, one that will promote community love and love for one another.
We needed thunder to strike if for nothing else, to align similar people with similar visions in orodo, in a galvanized fashion to move the interest of the people a step forward.
We needed thunder to strike. if for nothing else, to unearth the Cubanas of our society, who regardless of self-worth and expected returns, will be willing to recognize potentials, pulling them through silt, mentoring, and chaperoning them from filth to shine.
We need us who will be solution-driven, result-oriented ones who regardless of constant failures in human investments, would be willing to put in more work-one that prosperity would judge rightly as sufficient.