My timeline came alive last night. If you are an African in diaspora, living in the UK, chances are you were also locked to Channel 4's documentary aptly titled 'Lagos to London'. A documentary focusing on the fabulous lives of Nigeria's rich and famous as they shuttle between their extravagant homes in the two cities. This was a striking contrast to terrestrial TV's last attempt to showcase life in Nigeria in 2010's BBC documentary, 'Welcome to Lagos'. Gone were the thatched huts and flies resting upon the noses of kwasiorkor ridden kids in the village. This was quite the opposite. Decadence was an understatement for these rich kids' gadgets, cars, accessories, clothes etc they possessed. As my father grunted in distaste, I watched, stunned at how the better half live in a nation where some cannot afford to make ends meet.
Shirt : TM Lewin | Skirt : DIY Ankara | Bag : DKNY
And 'live', they surely did. Lapping up luxury and un-humbly showcasing how exactly they went about doing this took up an hour of my time. What intrigued me more, however, was the #LagosToLondon commentary running concurrently on Twitter in real time. Young, impressionable Britons were worshipping the lavish lifestyle of those portrayed, pining after their wealth, looks, and all else to be honest. It was unsettling to read how much young BAME Britons idolised money. Majority of those showcased inherited their wealth, so hard work was hardly at play at the root of their admiration. I am not here to condemn what others pine for or aspire towards, however, I was somewhat ashamed that all young BAME Britons cared about was making enough to purchase a Bugatti, or even more worryingly, the Chyna-like game plans some women were drafting online to trap the men featured in the documentary *quivers*
Chesterton's Polo in the Park
Oh, how well-timed this documentary is. After the money laundering; offshore accounting and tax evasion scandal otherwise known as 'Panama Papers', and then the UK Prime Minister David Cameron's comments about Nigeria being 'fantastically corrupt' prior to the anti-corruption summit where the President of Nigeria would speak, you would think that the corrupt embezzlers would tread carefully. Far from it. These same corrupt governors and commissioners who are redirecting state funds into the accounts of their frivolous spawn also featured, masking as proud parents of the first-world career paths their heirs and heiresses were gunning for. *sigh*
Chesterton's Polo at the Park
I may sound like a Bitter Basic Broad (post coming soon), but the fact of the matter is, the 1% exists in every country. They grew up knowing no better; the world revolves around them and just keeps spinning (like the rare diamond ring on the platinum band featured in the documentary). What is money, but a means to an end. What is money, but a sheet or card to be squandered? Its disgusting that this ethos is being put on a pedestal, and is admired by young BAME Britons as a goal. One of those showcased landed in a private jet, was chauffeur driven home in a bullet proof armoured vehicle along a pothole ridden road, past the masses vying for a better tomorrow. I understand that not everyone is socially or morally conscious, and it is not everyone that considers the headache of others as something worth devoting time, effort and resources to eradicating, but it shocked me that I was a voice in the minority even considering this.
I read Lucy Mangan's article who asked "what is the point of having loads of money if it doesn't free you to be...better?", and wonder the very same. She defines better as not compromising your ethics, but working to move steps closer to your best self now that you are effectively independent of the kind of pressures that habitually bring ordinary humanity down. I agree. This is why I admire the likes of Bill Gates, who instead of syphoning funds into the accounts of his children who have already been raised in sheer comfort, instead redirects funds to support and promote better causes through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That is not to say everyone needs to setup a charity because I am well aware that with charities not being privy to tax in the same way as companies, the very same rich and famous are using such initiatives as havens somewhat, but I will leave that to the Economists and Investors to debate and debrief. What I drew from Channel 4's programme, and the commentary that ensued is that money is not the root of all evil but the love of money is. Idolising wealth can be a driving force to success, but when you let the thirst for it plague your every move, it fails to free you as you might have thought it might but instead, will trap you in a cage of conceit.
Do not pine after the lives of the fantastically corrupt, otherwise it is the very same wealth and fame that will lead you to self-destruct