Let me tell you about a guy; I shall call him Sucrutum, to hide his identity. He was a teacher I worked with. He was a very respectful person, especially indoor. Outdoor, he wasn’t very respectful. He would want to sell himself big, and he would think portraying himself bigger than everybody else would give him that. So, anytime strangers join your company, you just have to leave if you don’t want a piece of his crude primitiveness. He would become restless and begin to cast you in his shadow, by elements of speech and gestures in actions, and you’ll notice.
I’m an observant person. I noticed this the day I went to tell Sucrutum something while he was in a class. At first, he didn’t answer me. I had to go inside to tap him I came with an important message, and he was like, “Guy, wetin?” with agitation. This was someone who had always called me boss. I would later learn he had told the students he collected the highest salary in the school because he was the best, and so, he had to demonstrate that lie to them; and I was his tool by timing. When he left the class that day, he came to meet me in my cubicle trying to sell an understood innocence. I merely nodded and said it’s okay.
I watched out for him after then, as an author who naturally studies people as potential novel characters. And he did many stupid things thenceforth, trying to make himself big at people’s detriment. I always let him, because you see, I am big already and I don’t need anybody’s opinion to feel so, especially people whose opinions don’t weigh 0.5kg. So, I thought if feeling big would save him from depression, why not help a friend? God would applaud me for saving his life. I’m sure He did.
People, especially most people on this continent, usually feel inferior. No, it goes deeper than what a motivational speaker can change; it’s inborn. When I hear people say ‘Black is beautiful,’ I might be wrong, but all I see is inferiority complex. Look at it, did anyone say black isn’t beautiful to start with? Do you see whites saying white is beautiful? Or mongols saying yellow is pretty. Who cares? If you don’t have sense, are you beautiful now, my love?
Let’s look at an average guy next door now, and call him Joe. Once someone passes in the street and he’s hailed with reverence, Joe looks at him and feels inferior. So, to give himself a sense of importance, he fashions himself after that person people had hailed; outfits, dreadlocks and so on. If he doesn’t gain respect still, he establishes friendship with that guy. Weed, yahoo, clubs, Marlianship and Hushpuppism, whatever that guy does, Joe does. He has no personality or thoughts of his own. He’s empty. To find happiness in life, he needs respect of his neighbours, and that’s all that matters.
I know someone who went on to marry just so people could respect him, but when he was married, his maturity wasn’t, and when his marriage sought to win him respect, his immaturity couldn’t handle it. The marriage crashed; the respect fell in a canal and got washed away. Hush-puppy was rich, with millions of dollars. However, he still felt small. He needed to feel big, so, he started to attack celebrities, saying they wear cheap and fake outfits and he was the one wearing the real stuff. I laughed when I saw this. I said, this is a man after my friend, Sucrutum. Phyno bought a puppy that time and named him Hushpuppy to ridicule the man. If I were Phyno, I wouldn’t have replied at all anyway. With all the money, Hush-puppy feels inferior all the time. If he’s not showing his strength today by posting pictures of designer wears, he’s doing giveaways. He wants respect, badly. Without it, the money can’t make him happy. He’s living to impress people.
Most of us are like that too. Being respected (or seen big) is what we live on. We don’t have purpose in life. We just wander aimlessly seeking adulations, struggling to buy good opinions of ourselves at great discomfort.
If everybody could be like me, no one would need personality reviews to be happy. I buy ògì every morning to make pap. They say it’s sick people that drink pap, I say I’m a sick person and that’s okay. At work before closedown, I eat Amala and ewedu in plastic plates. They say I’m a typical local person, I say what I’m teaching here, I learnt it from my local environment and people who would beat me at it aren’t many, so, respect my local origin, kings are made there. I go to an interview, I speak English with accent, everybody laughs, I say if accent mattered so much to you, why don’t you go interview Victoria Island people? You know I have sense in a unique way that many fluent people don’t, and that’s why I’m here. Damn accent to hell! Bend the knee to your king.
I met someone from my street at a programme in Lagos, and I was the only person present who didn’t have a car. It was an event for big people. My street mate was surprised. Is that not the guy who carries nylon around to go buy food in our street? See ehn, I don’t live to look big to people, I am big and I’ll show you through my outputs. The output is primary, your reviews are secondary.
As long as you want to be ‘that guy’ all your life to impress people, you’ll never be happy. You drive the most expensive car in your area, you’re already rude to the chief. Before weekend, someone else could buy a costlier car and the respect would shift to him. How would you feel then, Joe? You’ll need a rope to hang yourself I suppose? Nice enough, I sell ropes and I’ll gladly sell to you. Rest In Peace, bro. You lived for others and forgot to live for yourself. We’ll remember you when we’re asked to make a list of stupid people in a WAEC exam.
– Lord eBay (and his random ruminations, 2020)