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Dialogue of the privileged and less privileged

This column wishes you a prosperous new year. This is a dialogue. Let’s see what the privileged and the less privileged have to tell each other in a united, indivisible country. The less privileged are variously called the poor, the ordinary man, the man in the street and the useless, good-for-nothing people. Sometimes he may be located as the rural man or villager. He has found his way however to the town or city. There, he is a slum dweller.
These are not privileged dwelling places. He can neither live nor do business in privileged areas. Now he is being prevented from visiting those privileged areas under the Rescue Mission government of Imo state. That’s how big the gulf between them can be. Of course he is limited by lack of money to get near those places where the privileged people stay. He is limited by circumstances, means, knowledge and education. Even the cheap, dirty clothes he wears separates him from other people that dress up and smell fine. No matter how he strives, he cannot have a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Prices have been pushed beyond his reach. Last year was the worst for him. 2018 may be something else.
Christmases of impossible prices, lack of transportation and dry fuel stations is now the order of the day.
Actually the less privileged people in our society can be less than human. They are virtual animals compared to the privileged people. They have been circumscribed as such and their condition is more or less permanent. Nobody thinks of them as people to be saved or rescued. If the country has any immediate challenge, it is what to do about people regarded as less privileged in the society. It has come to the point where they are being segregated. The less privileged people are practically people of their own separate country within a buoyant country. They cannot mix freely with others. It’s as bad as that. That makes them feel inadequate and unworthy as expressed in this dialogue.
The dialogue:
Less Privileged (LP): I wonder how I found myself as a god-forsaken less privileged person in this country.
Privileged (P):      How? How do you mean?
Less Privileged:     Am I part of this country? You talk of less privileged, it is getting to a situation of no privilege at all. People like you have all the privileges! What do you mean? Are you blind?
Privileged:   Oh, are you less privileged? Do you just feel so, or somebody told you that? It is just how you feel. You can help yourself like others, my friend.
LP:   It is wicked to say so. If I can help myself why have I not done so? Anybody who can help himself will not waste time or delay one minute in doing so. I can’t help myself. That’s the truth of the matter.
P:    I don’t pity people like you who are poor and actually feel so, but do nothing.  People are what they are by their own effort or lack of it. If you are a lazy person, you will be poor. No two ways about. It starts with when you give up and begin to feel helpless in life. Heaven helps those who help themselves.
LP:   In Igbo we also have a saying that omemere chi ekwegh, onye uta atakwala ya.
P:     That’s how the Igbo instituted poverty in their society. Why should heaven support some to succeed and not others? The latter go home and relax feeling permanently handicapped? I don’t agree with that.
LP:    That way of thinking is unfortunate. And I think it is the attitude of the Nigerian government that is running a country of the privileged and the less privileged and still talking of a united and indivisible country. Why not start by uniting these two people? What can ever unite these two groups of people? Is it not the same inequality that divides the world in haves and have-nots? By your own thesis the poor parts of the world are lazy and must be left to die in their laziness. Is that what you are saying?
P:     No, that’s not what I am saying. I am saying that to some degree all of us a poor. To some degree also, all are less privileged.
LP:    If the duty of humanity is to equitably distribute privileges, have we done well in that? Have we even done anything in that regard? Let’s be honest to ourselves. Who and which Agency is seriously doing the job of fair and equitable distribution of privileges. And if unity should be a serious issue wouldn’t equalization be a significant part of it? If we should think aloud and out of the box integration and assimilation should also be part of it. Is there a time when the less privileged and the privileged will be united, equalized, integrated and assimilated into each other. If this is not considered possible, the practical thing is to give the less privileged a country of their own and the aim of such a country from day one would be to banish poverty whereby nobody is more or less privileged than the other.
P:      Utopia. That’s what we call that. How can you have a society where all are equal? Are all fingers equal?
LP:    What are they, if they are not equal? What does equal mean? They are not of the same height and size. But they have the same privilege, in that they are served by the same blood stream, perhaps to the same measure. None is starved of blood, nutrition and other liquids of the body. None is less or more privileged in terms of supply of blood. That’s what we must do to all human beings to have a healthy and just society. Why are we not reasoning this way in this society?
P:        This is a superhuman reasoning. If you are waiting for when this will happen, you will die in your condition of poverty and less privilege. Reach out and grab your own privilege as I do; as most people do. Nobody will bring your privilege to you in this country. Your privilege I’m afraid, is there waiting to be collected. The society expects you to go for it, if possible scramble for it. Otherwise people will pick it. That’s how unfair your society is. Even the president with all the privileges stacked in his favor has to go grabbing what else is within reach because he cannot get it, waiting for it to be delivered. If he fails to do that, he will claim to be less privileged on that score.
LP:      I think the society must by law compensate the less privileged. The Law should describe the condition of less privilege and enable one who can prove he is less privileged to go to court and sue for a redress. In so doing the society is held liable for anybody’s condition of less privilege or poverty. You are prescribing a society of the survival of the fittest, which it is what it is now. This has to change.
P:        That will be a tall order. A president must then emerge from a political party that believes in this type of unusual social justice. I agree that the government must mobilize all its citizens to believe in themselves and in their country.

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