People are still screaming in the streets, all the way to their homes as I type this. In Onitsha, of all places. Late in the night. Normally, people in my city at past ten in the night sneak under the shadow of the dark to their homes, lest they encounter the Princes of the Underworld. Not today. I’ll tell you why.
Manchester United just beat Juventus in the Champions League game played earlier in the night. Many young men had flocked to the bet shops to place bets, and in their bet slips had confidently staked their odds on the Ronaldo-led Juventus to overrun their Man Utd opponents who were starting to take on a second-half winner identity. They were in for a late, late sucker punch, as an Alex Sandro own goal fortuitously gave Man Utd a much-needed win. I’ll stop here before you start thinking I’m a sports reporter. Now to the gist.
The waters of sports betting are very murky and unpredictable. Hell, sports, nay football, is very unpredictable. But people bet anyway. They do so because one day, Mother Luck being benign, they might “wreck” these betting sites. They lose their money each week, and even though they would be crestfallen because of the loss, they would return to the bet shops with a vengeance and more fervor the next time around.
Ask them why they came back and they’ll tell you that this week is their week. That they believe Luck will smile on them. That they got their picks from the best betting experts both online and offline. Sha, check back on them at the end of the day and you will find that Mother Luck, as she is wont to do, had turned her back on them, and on the other side of the poker table, the betting organizations were smiling to the bank and maybe had given away a very, very, very, very, very (just for emphasis sha) minute fraction of their earnings to one or two lucky winners. Still they bet. Its not my business anyway, but I painted this picture to facilitate your induction into the next part of this my TED talk.
Look around you. In the cars you enter, in the shops you go to, in the doors you open and shut, in the offices or restaurants you go to. One thing, and one thing only looms ubiquitously around you. It’s the stickers. The darned “This year is my year” stickers, the “2077, The Year of My Glorious Manifestation” stickers, the “2099, The Year I Rise Like Yeast” stickers. To some people, they are stickers. To others, it is a faithful, bold and definitive declaration of future, impending happenings.
In essence, the belief that fortunes would miraculously change attract churchgoers. They pray, cast and bind with the hope (sorry, faith) that God’s blessings would fall on their laps. And so they keep praying. And praying. Without commensurate work. Somewhere else, the higher ups, their pastors and priests included, are working hard and working smart. Result? The loophole becomes a yawning gulf. The gulf grows bigger because the rich realize that in the absence of organized religion, that they are moving targets for the poor to strike down at will. Napoleon Bonaparte saw that himself.
So the poor keep hoping. And praying. Year after Year. Like the customers in a bet shop hoping for one lucky break to change their lives, poverty and hope combine to cloud their sense of judgment. They will hope for a million naira mansion while they still hawk oranges by the roadside. They believe that the rich got where they did by some miraculous happening. Unbeknownst to them, the rich tunneled their way to gold. Through the sweat and dust. Methodically.The Monk
I don’t blame the poor. I sincerely hope next year could be their year too.