One Week, One Proverb #27


Pile of coins (Pic Source:
Pile of coins (Pic Source:

Case 27:

If the rat joins the lizard in getting wet, when the lizard is dry, the rat may not be.


Insight/Background Story:

It was no joke; the passport was lying on the table before me. My friend and onetime schoolmate meant what he’d said: under the pretext of a visit on a friend in Malaysia, he would have one of his kidneys surgically removed and then sold for a high price on their black market. “I go hammer mega, Uzo! See me, see dollar everywhere,” he said. Abi? While he looked eager and ready to leave the country in the coming days, I became more and more pessimistic and hopelessly afraid of the path he was about to take. Should I call his mother, his surviving parent? On several instances, she’d told me he regarded her as “old school” and so wouldn’t heed her advice. What about his elders, fellow church members, or even the immigration office? Man! I was confused. What he would be was a matter of choice. His choice alone.

It’s been five years since my friend left the country. Five years of painful waiting and increasing hardship for his mother and six siblings. As I sit with friends for lunch at Mama Patty’s, our conversation turns to work opportunities and chances of making money abroad. “Nowadays it’s very hard to get a US visa. I think they’ve tightened up. Europe is more promising,” A says. B and C agree. D, however, doesn’t share the same view. “I’ve a close friend in Salt Lake,” he says, quite proud. “He told me that all I needed to do was raise some money—a good amount. He would then take it from there. I’m seriously working toward leaving this country. Plenty wahala full Naija.” I remember my schoolmate. I can’t help but wonder if he made it to Malaysia, if he went ahead with his plan, or if he eventually changed his mind. To the common person in Nigeria, life is more than just a struggle. Some of us literally pass through the wilderness of pain and hardship in the hope of reaching Canaan.



They say luck is a lady. Do you believe in luck? If so, do you think you can be as lucky as the person next door, who pursues a certain daring activity? There is a subtle difference between taking a risk in the hope of achieving success and putting your life on the line for same purpose. Without proper consideration, one is likely to muddle these issues.

Life is a one-time ticket (unless you believe in reincarnation). Don’t throw it away.



***Some parts of this text are in pidgin English.

Abi = is that so

Naija = Nigeria

Wahala = problem

50 responses to “One Week, One Proverb #27”

  1. This proverb and your story raise a lot of issues. I’m following another blogger, Juju Films, who daily posts photos from Nigeria. Many show the poverty you speak of. But, they also show a cultural richness, a beauty, and strength in traditions that has a magnetic appeal to me. Yes, there are challenges, but the answers can be found there within the people. I don’t so much believe in luck as I do in intention and visioning what one wishes to achieve, for an individual and for a people.

    • Juju Films is doing a great job showcasing Nigeria. I’m also a follower.

      I agree with you that we, the Nigerian citizenry, are the answer to the positive change we need. Our problem, however, is that most of our politicians in power — unlike those in you country — are rarely interested in people-oriented policies. Godfather-ism and personal goals are their major concern. Most of the promises they made before assuming various offices are not met. Tenures come and go and still very little is accomplished. Can we vote them out? It’s a complex situation where we mostly have to choose between evils. Good politicians are few. Fewer have the financial might to campaign and they hardly win if they vie. I believe we are on the road to a completely transparent democracy. This may take many years. In the meantime poverty and corruption sits deep in our political system.

      I share your view about luck. It’s best to have a purpose, rather than wait on luck to come our way.

  2. First, Uzo, my heart goes out to your friend and his family–his tale is quite disturbing, as are your words about Nigerians’ struggles. Your proverb suggests a compelling possibility: that luck may work for one but not another, or at one time but not another. I agree with Skywalker about the power of visioning, intention and generating a certain energy to draw like energy. But alas, so much is a mystery….thank you for this post rich in tradition and thought-provication. I must ruminate some more and look forward to seeing what your other readers say. Blessings to you, my friend

    • You’re spot on about the meaning of the proverb.

      I also feel for my friend’s mum and siblings. It’s terrible, the things some Nigerians do just to survive. And sometimes — if not often — I blame our leaders who are not ready to point our nation in the right direction.

      Yes, so much is a mystery … when I sit back and try to explain why misfortune sometimes occurs after one has done/given everything humanly possible, the answer hinges on various reasons including the supernatural.

      Thank you for the generous comment, Chloe.

  3. I recently met a young man living in Australia. He had Australian PR, well qualified but lacking in work experience. He remained unemployed because he didn’t like the entry level jobs that came his way. He wanted to be a manager! He would rather sponge off his older brother, also an Australian PR, who was working day and night to support the family back home.

    The young man left me speechless.

    • I’m speechless too. What’s the young man thinking? That he could effectively handle managerial duties without knowing how those companies operate? His perspective lacks good judgement. So it was with my friend at the time. He thought I was standing in the way of his progress.

      Thanks for your contribution, my dear friend.

  4. Glad to see you are back in rotation, Uzo.

    Life is what you make it. That’s not the same thing as “If you work hard enough, you’ll get what you want.” Sometimes you work hard and don’t get what you want (an actor goes to 1000 auditions without getting a part. A writer mightt write 10 novels and not get any of them published). Sometimes you get sick. Sometimes someone you depend on dies. Sometimes circumstances stop you from your goals, no matter how hard to strive. But… some poeple are always comparing themselves to someone who has more or perpetually look to some distant horizon and think “It has to be better there.” Then they do crazy things, like the person in your story, or become bitter and complain that life isn’t fair. Some things you can control, though, and that’s what you work on making better.

  5. You’ve done it again, Uzoma, served us a dish of uncompromising pain for our palates. Yet filled with the compromises people make to weave their paths through life. The proverb serves as a beacon to determine which is a path of heart.

    • Brilliantly rounded up, Cheyenne. The heart must chose between fire and water, failure and a will to succeed in a rightful manner.

  6. Living in Canada, I cannot fathom the despair of a poverty so harsh that it drives one to pursue such a drastic idea as selling a body part. My greatest desire would be to see a more equitable sharing of the world’s wealth, but I don’t believe that will ever happen because there is too much greed in too many people.

    • Sadly that’s the life most Africans face. Poverty has forced some people to do the unthinkable. At one point it was human rituals for money, now there are several more shameful acts that add to the list.

  7. Such a beautiful proverb and an apt interpretation. Because Mr A acheived ‘success’ after taking a particular risk doesn’t mean the same thing would work for Mrs B. Poverty/lack/desperation pushes a man beyond the limits of sane reasoning. The saddest thing about poverty is that most people, especially in our neck of the woods, are born into it. This usually endures for generations. People say ‘we chose our destinies’ but it’s not always that easy…. Great stuff as always Uzo.

    • Thank you, Tomi. Your words buttress the truth in general and of what we’ve come to see in Africa. And I totally agree with you on this as well: “People say ‘we chose our destinies’ but it’s not always that easy…” Yes, it’s often hard for someone with a desire to succeed to do so if his environment and the situation he finds himself in are not in his favour.

      Once again, thanks for your input.

  8. I am grateful that I have never known the desperate poverty that makes people make such choices as the one you described. However, as I read, I was left with the feeling that your friend was not desperately poor, however, he was desperate for riches. I may be wrong.

    I have heard similar stories like his, only 1% end well. I don’t hold out much hope for him. Are you still hoping to hear from him? What about his family?

    I think your proverb is telling us to take calculated risks.
    Some call it luck, others providence, still others, karma, etc, but I think that talent, hardwork, etc, are not enough. In almost every success story I’ve heard, a breakthrough or an opportunity that the individual didn’t ‘work’ for came his way. However his preparedness ensured that he was able to ride the wave.

    Uzoma, you’ve given me a lot to ponder.

    • Hello Timi,

      Your hunch is correct. Though my friend’s family were poor at the time (sadly, it’s worse now) their situation wasn’t as bad as feeding from hand to mouth. When he told me about this secret deal in Malaysia, I told him outright that I was against it. His response was that I wasn’t bold and adventurous. He also boasted that he’d have made more money than me before we both turned 40.

      Honestly I think his trip went sideways. He’d have love to prove me and doubters wrong, if he succeeded. All the same, I still think about him. One thing about living in this country is that you need to be full optimism even when it’s obvious that the day is grey. Someone one made a joke about having wealth in Nigeria. He said, “You’re either making more and more money, or you are riding down into a well of poverty.”

      As much I won’t wait on luck, I’ve to confess that there are times when it’s the logical answer to a certain outcome. And I love how you analyzed it. That preparedness is ensures that one is able to ride the wave.

      Thanks for your contribution. We are on the same page.

    • Hello Juliana,

      I think believing in luck makes one lazy. So when you said outright that you didn’t believe in it, I nodded in agreement. It’s down to the choices we make. Those who often make the right choices are regarded as lucky by some other people. But in truth, this goes beyond luck.

      Thanks for your input.

  9. First of all, let me just tell you that I really enjoyed reading this post. It really makes me think about the values that people have and how some really do believe that “the grass is greener on the other side.” Oh, if people could only see that life is so much more than just ‘being rich’ and acquiring things. I believe there is a vacuum/emptiness in the heart of all people and everyone is trying to fill it up with something. For some it’s moving to the States to have ‘the American dream’. For others, it’s finding security and ‘love’ in the arms of a man/woman. And still others try and escape ‘thinking’ with busyness and ‘trying not to think’.

    As for luck, I’m not a believer in it. I believe that people can be at the right place, at the right time and that an opportunity can open up. But pure luck, nope. I believe also in divine providence, but I also believe in hard work. I take the example of my husband. He had a dream to be a filmmaker/cinematographer. He had nothing. Just an old camera donated by a fellow filmmaker from our organization. He delved in and studied on his own. His first works were a couple of documentaries, then we went to Afghanistan and did a documentary there. A couple of short films. Then led a video production course/seminar. A bit of training in Argentina and India, but no formal university. Then produced his first feature-length film, “The Value of a Dream”, 100 % with volunteers. This caused him to achieve 7 awards at the national Christian film festival, including Best film, script and direction. Now we’ve just released the trailer to our most recent film, “Internal Mazes”, which will be used to combat the issue of prostitution, human trafficking and tourism. This project started out with nothing. $0. Zip. Today, people all over Brazil are waiting for its release. For me, this is what I believe. One has a dream or calling. With that, they start to work. And as they step forward, divine providence comes in and makes one thing happen after another.

    So, my friend, that’s my two cents worth. Thank you for an excellent post.

    • Staci, your words resonate deeply. And I was nodding my head in agreement every step of way.

      In Africa, it’s regrettable to say that poverty stares at us everyday. It mocks us at every turn and forces many to do a lot of things. Terrible things. But then, some of us have learned believe in ourselves and our abilities to make genuine money here.

      I’m inspired by your husband’s story and the achievements you both have made. I can confidently say that you two are very talented and determine. See where it has brought you people. I’m currently trying to go into soap production. Here, there are a lot of soaps. Well packaged. I don’t have the resources at the moment to be at their level of production but I have the knowledge and trust that people will find favor in what I’ve to offer. Reading your story gives me a lot of hope and courage and I’m grateful you shared this bit with me.

      Thank you for contributing immensely to this topic. You’re indeed a wise woman.

      • I’m so glad that my comment was able to be an encouragement to you Uzoma.

        Soaps are really big here in Brazil too and we see a lot of poverty here in the North east of Brazil as well.

        You are too kind Uzoma. Thank you for your sweet words. I don’t know if I’m really all that wise, but I’m trying to grow in wisdom at least.


  10. Chance, luck, and the fates, two worlds exist out and around us. The known, and the unknown, but both are still dependent on how high one is willing to raise the stakes to change, or whether to remain inside a chosen/unchosen situation. Choice with it’s weights and measures will always have and generate weather, a thing to consider, is how well has one built their decision inside of changing variables. The people around us, will always be the biggest variable. Mostly just a ramble Uzoma, in the contemplation to, in, and about luck and her companions.

    I say, it’s a good day when one can walk away from the dark depths to a 32 foot deep dry well, and wake again to find another sunrise in the morning.

    • Your words are from a ramble, Sean. You made a good point about man’s will to achieve success. And I completely agree with you that “The known, and the unknown, but both are still dependent on how high one is willing to raise the stakes to change, or whether to remain inside a chosen/unchosen situation.” Another Igbo proverb that does back up your statement goes like this: “If a man agree upon a certain path, his gods will do same.” That means, we all have a big role to play before any other thing comes into play.

      Thanks for the input.

  11. What a beautiful post! There is so much we do not know or understand, yet when we FLOW with LIFE, Lady Luck does seem to shine. It has everything to do with the energy we radiate as to what we attract to ourselves. So what some coin “luck” I believe has everything to do on the person. Just some thoughts….. (((HUGS))) Amy

  12. Great post and proverb.

    The reality is ‘Luck’ as we know it may work for our friend, but that doesn’t mean it will work for us – why it’s called luck I suppose.

    I prefer not to leave such things up to luck, Living life is not like playing a game, where the outcome of our decisions are short lived and have little impact.
    Some risks we can take are calculated risks, We have thought about the decisions we need to make, we have weighed up the potential risks and consequences.

    If the weigh up results in less risk, low consequence and greater good, that’s a sensible outcome.

    The costs of some risks are too high, though I do understand that desperation can lead us to do what many consider a foolish thing.

    I too hope that you friend is safe.


    • Hello Lou,

      Welcome on board. And what a wise and generous comment you’ve made!

      I love that you made this truth even simplier by talking about calculated risks. A true economist, you are! Yes, if the outcome is so terrible, there is no need for one to try. Less terrible consequence and great gain is worth exploring, on the other hand.

      Here in my part of the world, desperation taunts many of us, pushes us to the edge that we do terrible things. For my friend, it’s a combination of frustration and a desire to make money in dollars. Like you, I hold on to the hope–though I must confess that mine gets smaller each year–that he’s still alive.

      Thank you for coming by my blog. I really appreciate the visit and wish you do again — that is, whenever you have the chance.


  13. Sorry to be so late in reading this. I was in Greece while my father recuperated from surgery. Nice job, my blogging friend! Much love and hugs! 🙂

    • I’m glad your father is recovering from surgery. Good thing you traveled to be with him — every person would love that.

      Please no need to apologize. Your family comes first before any other thing and for the fact you still dropped by, gives me greater joy than you can imagine.

      My regards to your father. I wish him quick recovery.

      • Thank you, my blogging brother, for your concern for my father. I’ll relay the wishes. Much love and naked hugs! 🙂

  14. First, I’m glad to see that you’re back. I hope all is well.

    Second. I’m sorry to hear about your friend. I hope and pray that he’s safe.

    Third. I understand that life can be hard, no matter where you are in the world. We all make choices that ultimately decide our fate. But when you are poor, your resources become less about things and more about survival at any cost.
    Most people want to work and provided for them and their families. That’s innate in most of us to work for what we get, but when there are no jobs, even low paying jobs, what is a person to do to put food on the table and clothes on their backs?
    We are always talking about immigrants problem here in America and Europe.That they are taking our jobs, but most of the jobs these people do Americans and Europeans think we’re too good to do. This ” I’m better than this job” mentality is prevalent among most Western societies. Its not all of us mind you, but most.
    I knew this person who was successful in every way, then he loss his job. He tried to find work but was told he had too much education for the low paying jobs and the jobs he was qualified for they wanted younger less experienced workers.
    He lost everything home, car reputation in the community. Then his wife got sick, they had no money or health care he was left with only one choice. He stole the medicine she needed to live.
    I’m not saying its right, I’m saying he did what he had to do for his wife to survive.
    Life isn’t fair, nor is it kind, people do what they can to survive in this life even if that means breaking the law or risk their lives.
    Well that’s my two cents.
    Again I’m glad you’re back Uzoma 🙂

    • You’re absolutely right and your comment reminds me of another friend of mine, whose brothers work in the US. There, they do three jobs and one of them is working for an undertaker. They say the undertaker job isn’t that acceptable to most citizens, but they do it anyway because of the money — which is obviously meaningful when currencies are changed.

      I appreciate you took time to relate a similiar story. In all, you are spot on.

      Thanks for the welcome back.

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