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The Value of My “Widow’s Mite”



Last week, I was on my early morning stroll around the Naija Blogosphere and I saw a feature on a Nigerian business mogul’s house. I finished perusing the pictures, and the comments section caught my eye. There was a common thread that ran through the comments and it was something along the lines that there was a lot of poverty in Nigeria and the business mogul had no reason to live in such an edifice. They wanted to know why rich men aren’t charitable, why they preferred to amass wealth instead of giving to the poor and all I could think of was the fact that human beings are weird.

Let’s take a step back and look at the definition of ‘Charity’ -When you type “Charity” into Encarta Dictionaries this is what comes out.

The voluntary provision of money, materials or help to people in need” /
“money, materials or help voluntarily given to people in need”/ “the impartial love of other people, especially as a Christian virtue”/ “An organization that collects and other voluntary contributions of help for the people in need”

From this definition, it is clear that there’s a confusion by my people as to what it means to be charitable or where the responsibility of giving lies. Giving isn’t something that is prescribed or compulsory. None of the definitions of charity states that one has to have bucket loads of money in order to be charitable. In fact, the word “voluntary” pops out ever so often when you talk about charity. So it’s safe to conclude that irrespective of your financial strength the concept of charity is something that you can CHOOSE to embark on with or without financial resources. Thankfully, giving is not limited to money and the best type of the gifts are those that keep giving.

It is said that if a man asks you for fish, you can keep giving him the fish or you can teach him how to get the fish. That way, he can go on to give another person who is in need and subsequently, teach the next man how to fish.  It feels like we’re too busy waiting to be millionaires in order to give to the person in need that we fail to realize that the girl who runs errands for us in our office doesn’t have good shoes.  We’re too busy waiting for that big contract of a million dollars to help with one large project with widows that we fail to realize that your driver has been sleeping in a shed behind your house because he has been evicted from his. The girl who brings fruits to your spa isn’t looking for 400,000 Naira, she just needs someone to teach her in the evenings so she can finally pass the University Matriculation Examinations.

Many times we are so focused on looking at the big picture that we fail to see that which is right before our eyes. There’s no place it is written that a person who has any kind of earnings is under an obligation not to spend his earnings as he likes. There’s no requirement that being a sugar or petroleum magnate means you’re mandated to feed homeless people.  There’s also no law saying that you can’t be charitable even if you earn #5,000 per month. It’s a function of the heart and not necessarily your financial capacity. Giving to someone who doesn’t have doesn’t strictly involve money.

We all have a part to play in society irrespective of what class of society we are; we all have a role to play but there are no compulsions because we have different backgrounds and different experiences that have formed who we are today. Should a person apologize for not being poor? Don’t we all aspire for the future to be better than the past?

Let’s refrain from being too quick to  begrudge a person who is perceived to have a fat bank balance, take a minute to ask yourself – “Am I brightening the corner where I am?”

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. ToBechistyle

    January 16, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Uplifting words. Change starts with self- bloom where you are planted.

  2. wakapass

    January 16, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    “When one gets angry at what God does in another’s life saying they don’t deserve it u allow a “worm” eat up all unmerited favors in ur life”

    Way to go…Thanks Toke.

  3. Misi

    January 16, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Brilliant piece …

  4. jeun

    January 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I would like to clarify the meaning of widows mite as I feel it is not used in the correct context. Widows mite means ALL you’ve got. Not the little you can spare. Just wanted to clear up the trifle. Bless ya..

    • Italian Princess

      January 16, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      wid·ow’s mite (wdz)
      A small contribution made by one who has little.



    January 16, 2013 at 1:30 pm


  6. nita

    January 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    @JEUN I agree wit u. The title is misleading…. Nice write up sha

  7. dee

    January 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    very lovely write-up, got me thinking…….

  8. @miss_nwawe

    January 16, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    atoke, thanks for hitting the nail on the head. i think that in this part of the world, most people think things should be handed down to them, for e.g one can say bcos my brother works in an oil company he is meant to be giving me money any how but he doesn’t. At the end i think it boils down to the need to feel pitied.

  9. Deee

    January 16, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    God bless you for this article. I am so sick and tired of people thinking only the rich are responsible for giving to charity. Before you start asking what another person has given look inwards.

  10. pynk

    January 16, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    People just need to learn to share. If its sweets, bring them into your office once a week, let your coworkers dig into the bowl. Its the simple things that truly make life grand.

  11. Benson

    January 16, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Beautiful write up.Charity is a good thing,and i also agree with the dictionary meaning of what the dictionary said, voluntary giving.I also what to say that in as much it is good to be charitable,it is also important to teach people how to catch fish in other to get the desire chain reaction.Good write up though.

  12. Ella

    January 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm


  13. yewande

    January 16, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    well said!!!!!!!!

  14. Imported

    January 16, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Wonderful write up!
    I’m glad u put this out so people will realize charity is not meant for the rich alone cos there is always a misconception about who should give and how much should they give but the truth about it is that we should always give to those around us in need in the measures we receive from God.

  15. Gracie

    January 16, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    I quite appreciate the enlightment you brought. That your uncle, cousin, senator, pastor, brother, niece etc is earning a fat salary or rich does not leave the “giving” to them alone, you also have a role to play even in your little. Stop getting yourself worked up over their inadequacies. I have the well-to-do all over me and even if they don’t give me i won’t get mad at them rather i’ll find out good means to make ends meet. Hardwork does not kill.

  16. damidee

    January 16, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Excellent Piece Atoke. ilove!

  17. Myne Whitman

    January 16, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I like this, well written, Atoke.

  18. notaplayerhater

    January 17, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Two thumbs up Atoke! Some things just need to be said…………..

  19. Chi

    January 20, 2013 at 4:00 am

    Be the change you want to see! Love your write up Dear!

  20. Shobby

    January 29, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Atoke you rock! this is a great sermon,you just made my day. God bless u! ” wealth does not change a man, it only amplifies what is in a man”

  21. Omote

    February 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    I love this. Little drops of water makes a mighty ocean. U give + I give = surplus. God help us to change our sense of reasoning.

  22. Iamme

    February 26, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    “Am I brightening the corner where I am?”… #Deep #Food for thought!

  23. tunrayo timehin

    June 5, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    GOD bless u sister toke,,iam a teenager and i pray always to be a source of blessing to people i believe GOD will held me ,thank u. from motunrayo oguntimehin.

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