Nigerian “Bad Bele” Syndrome and Forbes’ Africa’s 40 Richest

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Uncle Aliko

“Bad Bele” is a Nigerian Pidgin term that refers to jealousy, it is the Nigerian equivalent of playa hating. It literally translates to a bad stomach. The interesting thing is that in hausa sadness is bakin ciki which means black stomach. Playa hating is when someone is unhappy about someone elses success. Peep the video below.

So Forbes released the list of 40 richest Africans and the list included a few Nigerians, actually 8. The top three Nigerians on the List were, Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga and Jim Ovia. Now I know that the problem of player hating isn’t a uniquely Nigerian phenomenon but damn everytime a list of Richest anything is released and Nigerians see a fellow Nigerian especially Mr Dangote, there tends to be a lot of reactions along the lines that the man was given a monopoly by the government of Obasanjo and he wont be rich if he didnt trample on the dignity of ordinary Nigerians to get where he is. They typical tirade goes on to imply that it was easy for the man to make the wealth he has made because he was helped by the government. When it comes to Adenuga, people come up with things to say such as he is a front for IBB and so on. It is hard to find a case of a person who is wealthy in our country where people haven’t cooked up a story of how he committed rituals to get his wealth and so on.

I blame poverty of the mind, plain old poverty, nollywood and a general propensity to engage in discussions based on unsubstantiated facts and superstition. Can I also blame colonialism? Probably not. There is a level of self hate involved if you ask me. Isn’t it messed up that many of the Nigerians who insult Dangote or speculate to his wealth being ill gotten, have no problem with a white man say Bill Gates. In fact when many of these people talk about their role models of how to make wealth, they will point to Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or any of the non-Nigerian billionaires out there. Many times when I write, I know that I am oversimplifying or generalizing. I m not an idiot most of the time. I do know that there might be some basis to the tales told of our rich men. I am just amazed how we dont seem to appreciate our rich men who if common sense were to prevail are the blueprint albeit imperfect blueprint of how to make it in Nigeria or Africa. Its like if I was an American rapper and I wanted to be successful, would it make sense to look up to Tim Mcgraw who is a country musician or to look up to Jay-Z who has turned his hip hop career into a million dollar industry. Think about it.

So I mentioned poverty of the mind, nollywood and a general propensity to engage in discussions based on unsubstantiated facts and superstition as possible culprits for this string of player hater-ness going on in our country.

Poverty of the Mind

In the context of this discussion, I m not referring to education. There are educated people who are impoverished in the mind. Poverty of the mind makes you hate on someone’s wealth when you cant seem to wrap your mind around how the person could possibly make so much wealth and as such you resort to believing wives tales about how homeboy cut off his genitals in sacrifice to some evil spirits to get his wealth.

Nollywood and the media

Nollywood IS the source of these superstitious tales or wives tales. I grew up watching in Nigerian home videos and movies that people perform rituals to get wealthy. The go see a babalawo who asks them for a three eyed goat to bring so they can become wealthy. Sometimes in these movies they sacrifice members of their families. So if you feed yourself a steady diet of such hogwash, it will be near impossible for you to imagine anyone getting rich because of any other reason that is not evil. I mentioned media here because as someone who for most of my life read newspapers because my dad brought one home everyday, I did come across stories of people caught with human body parts on their way to make wealth or to sell them to make wealth. Damn shame this, I dont care how much money you offer me, I am not holding another man’s dismembered genitalia in my hands

General Propensity to Engage in Discussions based on Unsubstantiated Facts

Like honestly, I would have thought after leaving secondary school I would stop having arguments with people where the only facts that win the argument are the number of people who agree with said person’s theories or how loud a person can shout their point of view or make it sound like they sincerely believe the crap they are saying. Alas such arguments are alive and well, stroll through our Nigerian discussion boards and see people discuss politics with no regard for facts on the ground and without even providing a disclaimer. I am occasionally guilty of this but I do provide a disclaimer when I make a general statement, I will tell you I am generalizing or that what I am saying hasn’t been proven or it is a theory of mine.

Tribalism/Ethnic Beef or General Dislike for a group of people

Like my statement above, I am going to provide a disclaimer here. This is a theory of mine. It might not hold out in a court of law. Actually, the views expressed on my blog are my theories and personal opinion and are in no way supposed to be based on fact (this makes me less liable to a lawsuit, no be so my lawyer friends). I have often observed when the disagreement about the wealth of Dangote comes up, the discussion is split along a north south divide with the occasional person daring to cross the bridge on either side. Of course my sampling for this conclusion is a group of comments on Sahara Reporters and Nigeria Village Square. The thing I find interesting is that most of Mr Dangote’s assets are in the southern part of the country as far as I know with regards to plants and so on but of course to the tribalistic mind he will forever remain a bloody “aboki”. I do find the term aboki offensive in the sense that people have taken a term that means friend and used it as a derogatory term for anyone who hails from above the river Niger. Go figure.

All in all, I chose to celebrate the rich men who come from my country, not only Dangote. I am proud of Adenuga, if it werent for Glo, MTN would have kept the call tariffs so high and we would all be suffering. Even if these men got their wealth in not wholly pure ways, they hire millions of Nigerians and didnt decide to put their money in Swiss banks. Shouldn’t you be happy as a Nigerian that a list of richest Africans is published and the only Nigerian in it is not a dictator? Shouldn’t you be happy that a Nigerian has made such a list? The assertion that we should not celebrate these men is false in my opinion, is it easy to make such a stupendous amount of wealth even if it was with government help without some business knowledge or a brilliant sense of networking to be able to reach the leaders who would grant you such a favor? Riddle me that.

In conclusion, I think in general if you are wealthy or famous or both, some sort of negative rumor will surface about you. Personally, I think hating on someone else’s wealth or fame is a waste of time. I can sit from today till the end of time insulting the Adenugas, Ovias, Dangotes of the world but it wont change the price of garri on the street. In reality, it is these men that do determine the price of garri on the street, not my insults. They will still be enjoying their kudi, ego, owo. If anything, I should spend my time studying how these people made it and try to replicate their success in the cleanest way possible and hopefully someday when I am on the Forbes list, someone on a website I have never been to starts a rumor about how I sold my “blokos” for money. It would be lie but I wont care, I will be off somewhere providing a village with electricity with my “ill gotten wealth” so player hate all you want.

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3 thoughts on “Nigerian “Bad Bele” Syndrome and Forbes’ Africa’s 40 Richest

    Tunji said:
    November 17, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Very very true

    A.D said:
    November 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    …….You know no matter how ‘clean’ a Nigerian makes his wealth, fellow Nigerians will still player hate cauz, Whereas the western world embraced technology, we embraced religion and so, most often than not, we over analyze simple success laws spiritually, and when we cant find any reasonable answer, or when we who claim to be the Holy and perfect ones cant do just as well, we go all ‘na-babalawo’ on them……Naija, I love this country!

    Sir Brainy said:
    May 16, 2013 at 6:45 am

    Letz jst stop doin finz dat wl brin us shame

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