It was a sunny afternoon, I looked through my window and watched as flocks of people came in and out of the motor park; some were hawkers, calling attention to their wares in loud voices, others were everyday people, just like me, who were seeking to move from one place to another. Another set of individuals just lumbered around, with no apparent aim or goal.
The bus that I boarded was almost full, and it was at this time that a strange man came into the bus and stood at the front of the rows of seats, in plain sight of everyone in the bus. The man’s feet were completely dusty, like he had spent three straight months wandering in the Sahara. His trouser was about twice his size; it would conveniently fit him and another smaller individual. The material was visibly old and threadbare. His shirt also, just like his trouser, was very much larger than him and made it seem like he was swimming in the fabric. His cheeks had so emaciated you could almost see the outline of his jaw and teeth through them. His large eyeballs were bulging out from their sockets. The man was carrying a stack of books by his side.
It’s a usual occurrence for traders to come into buses and advertise their wares, so I was not overly bothered by the presence of the man upfront, but I was definitely not prepared for what he was about to say.
“I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, as you go out you will also come back home safely”
Some people replied Amen. I had, by then, returned back to looking out the window, continuing my observation.
“Today I have with me a special book, this book once you buy it and read it your life will definitely change. The title of the book is ‘How to become a millionaire’, most of you just keep working everyday, you don’t know how to become millionaires; this book will teach you all you need to know to become a millionaire”
Immediately I heard this, my head swung back instantly. I stared dumbly at him, I could almost sense as my eyes widened to three times its normal size, my jaws almost dropping to the floor of the bus. What did he just say???
“Most of you don’t know how to be rich, this is the right book for you, it will teach you all you need to know, just buy it, if it does not work you can come back and get your money, the price is just 100 naira, a trial will convince you” He said, as he limped down the aisle.
It was funny and at the same time ridiculously shocking, I didn’t know which emotion to go with. He said we could get our money back if the book ‘does not work’, like it was a piece of electronics. Besides, where on God’s Earth are we to find him after this day’s encounter? And the most important question; if this book of his is so magically transformative how come he is still what he is? Looks, they say, could be deceptive but this one was categorically not deceptive, rather it was revelatory.
But my greatest shocker that afternoon came when one man signaled that he needed a copy of the wonder book, and then another person, and then another! I was aghast! I almost stood up and screamed; what are you people thinking? That this man could actually make you millionaires by what he is selling?! If that was possible he wouldn’t be here selling it here. I was astonished by their gullibility. There is this local saying where I come from; if a man intends to clothe you firstly you have to look at what he is wearing. My co-passengers had obviously not considered the nature of the man offering them this wonder.
A funnier example that I heard of is that of another man who, in a bus like mine, was selling drugs that he claimed could cure ALL ailments. This man had a cough. Half-way into his advertising the cough got so bad it sent him into a coughing fit, almost doubling him over. The passengers in the bus were the ones that eventually advised him to seek proper help.
In Africa the belief in mysticism and fetishism still holds sway, countless of people each day still troop to see one old man in one hut or one jungle who would give them some special potions or incantations that would make them rich, give them a child or fulfill any other desire that they may have. Most times, however, it is all about getting rich. They are instructed to perform several appalling and diabolic rituals, including murder, just to get wealth. Most of which they do. And then the question again; the man who had promised to help you get wealthy how wealthy is he? He lives in a hut with leaking thatched roof in one jungle and he is promising to help you build mansions, do you not think? I know at this point some people would want to say; ‘I know of this person and that person who performed such rituals and eventually got rich’, yeah, I have seen a couple of them too, but what is the longevity of that wealth? Did it actually bring comfort to them or nightmares? If that old man in the jungle has chosen to remain in penury despite knowing the process of making magic wealth, shouldn’t that be a mighty SIGN IN CAPITAL LETTERS that there is something else behind the veil? But of course they don’t think so much, and even if they do they just don’t care, they have been doubly blinded by their lust for instant wealth and fame.
Ironies unfold around us every single day, some humorous and lighthearted, others serious and troubling. The world is as a mighty theater with each man his role, there are no rehearsals, no auditions, no cuts, just straight up acting, in the end it all lies in our hands if we would exit the grand stage a fulfilled, successful actor with applause from fellow actors or we would just be some laughable ridiculous character who made little, or no impact.