A ki je meji po, l’aba Alade: Re-understanding Yoruba Philosophical Thought on Scarcity and Resource Allocation

Eunice, Precious and Taofeeq are friends whose certain challenges in life endeavours –what my other spiritual friends will call trials –propelled the need to re-understand “A ki je meji po, l’aba Alade” Yoruba philosophical thought. Eunice and Precious’ cases are similar, though with different causative factors. Taofeeq’s was quite different. But all are unified at a point where lessons on scarcity and resources allocation are indispensable.

Eunice is a slim lady, elegant, intelligent and with an impeccable command of English language. Many would like to attribute her communication prowess to her field of study: Eunice is a graduate of Mass Communication with Second Class Upper Division grade. I disagree because I have seen a graduate of English language who could not write complainant statement in pure English language without giving a substantial part to Pidgin. I believe Eunice is just a language nerd. Eunice would be 40 years old this year. To her, because she is still single, she is facing trial. May be from certain spiritual principalities! Precious’ body structure is the opposite of Eunice’s. She is a typical example of what is called, in street lingo, “Orobo to cute”. She manages to balance between being plump and sporty. Precious will be having her PhD in Human Development in few months. Similar to Eunice, Precious will be 43 years old in May, this year. She is also single. From my close interaction with both ladies, their morals – cultural and Christian faith-driven –are worthwhile, and their credibility is not in doubt.

Taofeeq, being a guy, probably wouldn’t be enlisting late marriage (or being single) as trial. He is married, though, and the marriage is blessed with kids. He controls a small enterprise of 20 – 25 employees. At an age of 36 years, the confectionery company he laboured to build from scratch, staring from years of baking apprenticeship, now fetches him an annual net profit of Five Million Naira. His fixed assets –building, machines and bakery equipment –value at Ten Million Naira. Taofeeq is a secondary school leaver. He could not afford a university education when he ought to, and this necessitated his exploration of other means of livelihood. To him, his inability to get a degree when his mates did is a trial, on which he still groans.

In all my respective discussions with these three persons –Eunice, Precious, and Taofeeq –I had ensured we re-engaged and re-understood “A ki je meji po, l’aba Alade” Yoruba philosophical thought on scarcity and resource allocation, in view of demystifying the spiritual attachment they have given to their scarcity-induced experiences. These are experiences they all do not want to take responsibilities, or accept fate, for their resources’ allocation preferences.

Eunice, a Nigerian, in the midst of blacks, has always been dreaming of marrying a White guy. When the dream of leaving the shores of Nigeria, at least to afford her the opportunity of meeting Oyinbo, becomes bleaker, she resolved to “manage” a black guy, but one that is lanky, tall, and preferably with “six packs” abs. Eunice has now resorted to fate; she is ready to go for “anything husband”, in as much she will be loved. But at 40, her chances of marrying a single guy are almost non-existent. She is not yet in term with polygamy, nor has she agreed to marry a widower or divorcee, who, most likely, would have had children from previous relationship. She never prayed for step-children. In all, Eunice has achieved being a dream pursuer.

Precious had advances from men expressing their love and intentions of marriage immediately she completed her first degree. She turned all offers down. She was afraid of dream killers. She wanted to be a scholar, an academic, and a human development expert of international repute. She believed marriage, especially with men of superiority complex, would defeat her dream.  As she is now rounding up her PhD, with fair number of academic journals and conference proceedings to her resume, and with a teaching job in a university, Precious is living up to her dream, but she still alleges that inability to marry till now is a trial caused by certain principalities.

Taofeeq wouldn’t want to appraise the progress he has made from another perspective: one that compares his financial status and standard of living with that of his mates who got their degrees when they ought to. Taofeeq was learning bread baking, while his mates were learning binomials. His mates are either employed, or unemployed. In Nigeria, few of his age mates could match his financial strength through legitimate earnings. Still, Taofeeq is bothered of being one that has no degree appellation to flaunt.

To the Eunice, Precious and Taofeeq: A ki je meji po, l’aba Alade. You cannot eat your cake and still have it. Aba Alade (Alade’s village) is a metaphor for a livelihood with limited resources. If our lesson in elementary Economics is still valid, the insatiability of human wants and the limitations of resources (material and immaterial) will always be responsible for scarcity. This will require systematic allocation of your resources. You probably will not be able to have it two ways. You will have to set your scale of preference; you will have to choose what your forgone alternative will be. You must be happy with your decision. You must not place responsibility of innocent principalities.

A ki je meji po, l’aba Alade is a Yoruba philosophical thought on scarcity and resource allocation that echoes the indispensability of these human and social (economic) principles. It tells you to choose one, you may not have both!