Updated: Jul 7, 2020
| This is the 202nd story of Our Life Logs |
I am the middle child of three, born in 1980 in a small village called Ibogun in Nigeria. I had a loving mother and a strict father who raised his children with the toxic mentality that being rich was a sin, and being rich would eventually lead one to hell. My father refused to work because he believed if we had too much money, we would be damned, so my mother and I would cut dry wood to sell in the market to put food on the table. As young as age six, I began selling logs of cooking wood in the market. If we didn’t make sales, we wouldn’t eat. Getting food to eat was a great achievement.
On my way to sell firewood in the village market one beautiful morning in 1990, I came across an enlightened man who lived in the city of Lagos but was visiting his grandfather in the village. He saw me walk by as I carried heavy logs of wood on my head. He stopped me with a worried gaze and asked me if I was okay and if I had a family. I responded with polite, eloquent answers, and he commented how intelligent I was for my age. The man paid for the wood and asked me to take him to see my parents.
I took him to my home, and he began conversing with my parents. He asked them if he could bring me with him back to the city so that I could have a better life. My mother agreed, thrilled for the opportunity, but my father refused the man’s offer. He believed that if I went to the city, I would be negatively influenced by city life and abandon the lessons he had taught me. He feared that I wouldn’t make it to heaven if I went to Lagos and became rich.
The man left, and my mother was furious. She began listing reasons for why my father should allow me to go. My mother and siblings cried and begged for him to let me go, even going as extreme as refusing to eat until he changed his mind. But it was of no use.
It wasn’t until five years later that he finally agreed to let me go to stay with the man in the city. However, the day before I left, my father woke me up in the middle of the night so he could preach the bible verses he lived by. “Wealth is a sin that will lead you straight to hell,” he warned with wide eyes. I was young and brought up to rely on his knowledge, so my father’s view about wealth stayed in my mind when I went to the city. I began to see rich people as wicked sinners who were destined for hell.
And so, at 15, I came to Lagos to stay with the man I’d met five years ago. All I had to do was help his family with housework to have a place to sleep. I would sweep the compound, clean the rooms, and wash the dishes.
The city had so many things I’d never seen before. New technologies, entertainment centers, exciting social gatherings, and an orderly way of living. While it was all exciting and new, the darkness my father implanted in me did not go away. I still had the fear and hatred towards riches in my heart.
The man I stayed with was kind and generous. He would often bring home new clothes for me from his travels. I was very grateful but also afraid to use them because of the strong feelings of guilt I felt wearing them. At the time, I felt that I’d rather use my old clothes than risking going to hell.
I was in a lively city, but I did not enjoy much of it because I was living a restricted life. I had a hard time keeping friends because people saw me as naive and odd. While kids were dreaming of finding financial success, I was trying to decide how much money I could make without getting damned to hell for eternity. It was very lonely, and I began to develop depression. As crazy as it sounds, I even dreamed of a way for me to go back to the village so I could at least be around people who understood me.
The man refused to give up on me or send me back to the village. Instead, he enrolled me in Brilliant Legacy School. Despite my strong feeling of isolation from classmates, I did very well in school. My only friend was my book, but that was okay with me.
Then my life changed forever after I came across a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad when I was in high school. I wanted so badly to know what would happen to the dads, and if it reflected my father’s philosophies. I pleaded with the owner to let me borrow it for a few days, and he agreed. As I began to read the motivational book, I read a quote that shocked me. It said, “The single most powerful asset we all have is our mind. If it’s trained well, it can create enormous wealth.” After reading this, a light switched on inside me, and I began to see life more clearly. I realized that wealth is all about determination to better yourself and escape your situation. The philosophy my father had imprinted in my heart began to fizzle out. Being rich wasn’t bad if you kept a level head. It was all coming together now, and I wanted to learn more.
I acquired two more books on the subject called The Richest Man in Babylon and Think Big. The transforming knowledge I acquired from those motivational books led me to completely change my outlook on life. I had found a purpose with a sense of direction. For the first time, the desire to become a wealthy person woke up in me and guilt wasn’t attached to it. I looked back and saw every good thing that I had lost due to ignorance, and I regretted being so brainwashed. To turn a new leaf, I started taking hold of opportunities to be successful and I restored my relationships with others. I was a brand-new girl.
As I found success, I traveled back to the village so that I could talk to my father. I tried to change his misunderstood view about wealth using Biblical scriptures about how God blessed the Israelites in the book of Deuteronomy, and how God delights in the prosperity of his servants. Despite my valid points, nothing could convince him.
Nevertheless, I did not relent in whatever I needed to do to acquire money to continue my education at university. I worked for years, saving up for the hope of a wealthy mind. At 25, I secured a scholarship to study religions at Obafemi Awolowo University. I thrived in the program and graduated with pride.
Two months after my graduation in 2010, I received a call from my mother that my father was severely sick. I rushed down to the village to see my father along with my friend who was a medical doctor. We placed my father in my friend’s car so we could rush him to the hospital to receive proper care.
Thankfully, my father fully recovered from his sickness. When he was well enough to speak, I spoke with him about his view on wealth. I wanted him to let go his anger. I told him that if my friend was not wealthy enough to have a car, how would we have been able to take him to the hospital? He stared at me with a timid and sad countenance. He told me in tears that he had wasted a greater part of his life believing a false doctrine, and he blessed me. I had finally gotten through to him.
Life continued, and I began my career and got married. Then in early 2018, my father passed away in his sleep at the age of 78, wearing the most expensive clothes I had bought for him. I cried bitterly because my father did not get to enjoy his life on earth.
It was hard to accept my father’s death, but I knew I had to move on and embrace life