About eight young men sat round a wooden table in one of the dirty neighbourhoods of Nigeria’s federal capital Abuja. On the table was just a bottleful of a local gin surrounded by two or three small tumblers. Not far from there was a local bar. Aged between 15 and 23, by my estimate, the young men were sipping their gin one after the other, singing and dancing happily.

It was on Thursday evening that I saw those happy young men. As I watched them while having a haircut, I felt like spending a few minutes with them. Their smiling faces, the boisterous laughter, the music they made by beating empty cans and chairs – their happiness could hardly be hidden. I saw contentment: They were enjoying the drink they could afford and which would keep them “high” [intoxicated] for the better part of the day. Even though they would have gladly accepted beer as free gift, they didn’t ask for it from the local bar where delicacies including bush meat and goat meat packaged as “pepper-soup” were sold at moderate prices.

On Friday I visited a typical “big man”, also in the FCT. All manner of drinks was available. If you wanted to eat, you went to the dining section and took as much of any dish as you liked. But I didn’t see much happiness on the faces of our host and his friends. There was no laughter. The state of the nation dominated conversations.

I noticed also that our host wasn’t taking any of the drinks available. After he had eaten a little food, an aide promptly delivered to him a small paper bag containing his medicines. I suspect they were for the treatment of hypertension and diabetes: our host was about 70 and weighty.

The additional lesson I learned from the two encounters is this: Happiness is an attitude of the mind. Money doesn’t bring joy. And only those who feel contented with what they have can be joyful.

Every December evokes in me moments of happiness. I don’t know if it’s because of the Christian festival that is always observed in this month. It could also be because the year is coming to an end. I used to take “New Year resolutions” every December 31. Not anymore. At my age, I can’t change my behaviour. But for human weaknesses, I won’t need to go to confession anymore!

I learned this lesson in contentment a long time ago. And I’ve written about it:  I said if I could get N50million at once, I would retire and yet live “happily ever after”. An impoverished reader who has never seen a million naira, much less touch it, would think I’m overambitious. But if the reader was one of those oppressors, he would say something like, “Poor guy, what’s he talking about? That’s what I spend on one vacation abroad.”

So there are two worlds in Nigeria, just like the two groups of people I met enjoying themselves in different ways. Happiness is not something anyone should expect to get from any government. And it’s not because those in government are sadists; no, they are rather helpless. No leader would be happy to see other people suffering or unhappy.

We’ve got to change our lifestyles. We’ve got to be contented with the little we have and not be overly ambitious. In the end, everyone will die and leave every property behind. See why we should seek happiness now? If poor Nigerians would decide to be happy henceforth, they could “end” the recession in their country. All the worries would be gone.

The rich protect each other. Even what we know as government is a gang-up. That’s why Nigerian law itself is meant to protect the aristocrats, and then punish the poor. If only the poor knew this secret, they wouldn’t be burning petty thieves alive in the marketplace. They would understand that it’s hunger that is forcing some to steal, and that many are poor because the mega-thieves have been stealing from them.

Should a sane person own N1billion in one lifetime? Unless one is corrupt, greedy and selfish, one can’t have N1billion in today’s Nigeria.  How does one hope to spend and enjoy N1billion in this short life anyway? The lifespan of a Nigerian is about 49 years.

Only fools have refused to learn the lesson that death teaches us. That’s why many of today’s billionaires are without heirs. Yes, the billions have been accumulated, but his children are wasting it and even destroying themselves with it. Some of their children are drug addicts; their daughters cannot live with husbands.

So, what makes the billionaire father happy? It can’t be food or drinks. Besides, he may be diabetic, hypertensive or both; the doctor says he should avoid pounded yam, meat, eggs, alcoholic drinks, beverages and certain fruit. She has to burn fats at the gym – or do tummy-tuck like a former first lady who lost her life in the process.

A dead billionaire is not more valuable than a dead dog. The millions and billions of naira and dollars would be mocking him when he could no longer spend even a dime. The deposits in European and American banks might be lost forever. And what could be more shameful than losing most of the acquired or stolen assets to erstwhile enemies?

Atheists and their kind deserve pity. What makes them think there can be a design without a designer? Man’s Maker must have foreseen the wickedness of his creature when He created death. Without death, the life of man would have been most boring and most nasty.

Today is a day for merrymaking. Those who want to be happy should create their own happiness. Nobody else will create it for them. So, roll out the drums and let’s celebrate, my compatriots. We only need to change our attitude in order to be happy. Recession or no recession, everyone that is alive and well will have something to eat today. Merry Christmas Nigeria!


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