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The Poverty Advantage



Poverty is one dreadful thing that no one would want to have anything to do with. But there is something about poverty that drives slumber from the eyes of its victim, propelling them to keep wake and strive while all else lay fast asleep.

Like a leech it would stick unrepentantly to its victim hoping death alone would do them part. So long is its tentacle and domineering that once it takes holds of an individual, its ugly influence would be seen and felt in all facets of the individual’s life, including his thinking processes.

As ugly and heartless poverty may be, there is something interesting about it. Like a large billyclub positioned somewhat above the individual’s head, hitting it with all its might, with a stinging but mild touch, nudging him to act. With hunger, want and untold reproach, poverty will send its victim to bed many a sleepless nights, nudging them to abandon sleep and act.

Many a days of untold hardship and helplessness has propelled many invalids and cripples to leap over obstacles that men of stature could not bring themselves to face simply because years of study in the school poverty has strengthened their willpower and determination to pursue their dreams. There is a determination to succeed in man that is triggered by nothing but lack and hardship.

Ouida was not the least wrong when he submitted that Poverty is very terrible, and sometimes kills the very soul within us, but it is the north wind that lashes men into Vikings; it is the soft, luscious south wind which lulls them to lotus dreams.

Little Cosmas Maduka had thought that the world had ended when he learnt that his father had passed away. The seven-year-old, being the first child, soon finds himself in apposition where he had to drop out of school to hawk akara to support his poor mother and help pay his siblings’ school fees. Life was rough and painful but he had no much trouble coping until his former schoolmates came around, taunting and calling him all sorts of derogatory names. It was at this point that something in him was triggered and he promised himself that no matter how rough the road may be, that his riches would transcend that of they all. His path was laden with seemingly insurmountable obstacles; for he had to leave for Lagos to become an apprentice who would eventually serve his master dutifully for years and would be rudely dismissed for no cogent reason. Times and times again he started out with nothing, trying his hands on all manner of businesses until he began to diligently grow in wealth and today you may not count five top businessmen in our country before Dr. Maduka’s name would surface.

Olaudah Equiano was about twelve years old when he was kidnapped and sold to slave traders. As with other slaves in those days the day eventually came when he was to meet the white man chained like a captured animal to other slaves on the coast for examination and eventual transportation across the Atlantic. A broken Equiano watched in indescribable horror, pain and agony as they were bundled into their various cells in a manner not much different how soft drink bottles are packed into crates. These alone were enough to make a man go through life with his head buried somewhere in his stomach beaten and left for dead by the billy club of cruelty and blaming all on some fate he had no control over but Olaudah began to master his circumstances. As the days went by, the little Nigerian slave had his name changed over and again as owners came and went but he would not give up. He told himself that those that are free are not better than he is and with great determination he worked hard till he began to earn allowances, saving all he could lay his hands on until he was able to procure back his freedom. Not only did he work hard till he became free, he taught himself until he gave England and the wider world his autobiography, one of the earliest by not just a black man but a one-time slave and fought to see the abolition of slave trade.
Scarcely would anyone read these lines who would ever be poorer than Olaudah, but he allowed his condition to inspire him to take action. You can either choose to blame everybody else for your poverty, play the denial game or be inspired to work hard until you have something to show for all the trouble.

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Ifeanyi J. Igbokwe is a seasoned writer, motivational speaker, consultant and an action coach with special interest with personal and corporate growth and effectiveness. Twitter: @igbokwe_ifeanyi E: [email protected]


  1. That african chic

    September 18, 2013 at 9:11 am

    I think it is this same drive that makes immigrants achieve a lot in the Diaspora. In America with all the opportunities for its citizens, some of them are really relaxed and their drive is zero. However with immigrants knowing where we are coming from, there is just this zeal to succeed. I find a lot of Ericans complaining that immigrants are too over ambitious

    • Joan85

      September 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      I definitely agree with you on Americans saying immigrants are over ambitious, average is never good enough when we get here because there are so many opportunities that no one gave us back home. My first job here was at a drug store; one of the sales guys told me once in anger that I thought I was all that and I should calm down with all these my ambitions lol. Five years later, I have an MSC and work for a multinational Corp, while bros is still a store sales rep. Me, I know what life was like for me in Itire, Surulere but bros didn’t understand. Poverty is bad, but it can also be a driving force towards success. 🙂

  2. Gistyinka Blog

    September 18, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Truly poverty is not good, but it based on individual desire for change.. More trending Buzz and Entertainment news and gist here at Gistyinka Blog

  3. X- Factor

    September 18, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Wow…Very Profound Perspective, Weldone

  4. Person pikin

    September 18, 2013 at 9:54 am

    It’s not just poor people that have that drive to succeed.

  5. Great

    September 18, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Wow! Thats deep and very inspiring too. But poverty also rips thousands if not millions out there of several opportunities in life , despite all their hard work & relentless struggles. However, this is beautifully written and elicits more strength and courage for one to forge ahead.

  6. ucylo

    September 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Poverty truly is a drive to achieve success….but that doesnt mean it is the only drive

  7. Sean

    September 18, 2013 at 10:04 am

    No truer words has even been spoken. keep working people.

  8. Iyke

    September 18, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Welldone Mr.Igbokwe. Well done!
    A positive attitude is by far the most attractive person I have ever wanted to meet…think about it….Life without uncompromising character seeded within the heart, spirit and foundation of self worth…is meaningless…fraudulent…”much a do about nothing!”

  9. Miss Anonymous

    September 18, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Poverty of the mind is by far worse than material poverty because it will never allow you dream or aspire to be better than you are.

  10. Yaw

    September 18, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Poverty is worst than Aids! Growing up was hard but like Atiku said in his last interview that he bought a house for his mum @ age 14, I started making millions @ age 17. Poverty turned me to an internet gangster! Never bring a child into this world if you have no plans of giving him/her a good life.

  11. Jojo

    September 18, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Truly inspiring, poverty is a disease, No matter how difficult try, try again. There so many obstacles in our nation hindering people from achieving their dreams. the rich are getting richer, the poor getting poorer. Looting of funds, embezzelment even in the church, I mean I believe God has plan for every one is just to figure out what it is and He will bless ur works.

    • jcsgrl

      September 18, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      Na wa oh…were you a yahoo yahoo boy?

  12. Gorgeous

    September 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Equiano’s account was a big fabu. So please let us do some research before we write stories. That being said, Cosmas Maduka is an inspirational story. Even though business owners will not tell “all”

  13. Zed

    September 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    hmmmm…while i agree that typically, no one wants to remain in poverty, i’m not sure if it is the driving force here…more like the “hunger” for more, which anyone (regardless of social class) can have…some people remain in poverty simply because they can’t be bothered to do more…they are complacent with the status quo…

  14. Mexi

    September 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Poverty is bold and ruthless, I think in order to live a comfortable life you just av to be focused and wrk smart/hard. Most people want to be wealthy but are not willing to sacrifice today in order to conquer tomorrow.


    September 19, 2013 at 4:38 am


  16. silky

    September 19, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    I cant say am poor, but I tell myself everyday that I am going to be better than my parents and am working on that.

  17. Concerned_Boyfriend

    September 19, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    God is a perfect God. He always leaves room for us to be grateful no matter our circumstance. I’m yet to see any life condition that contradicts God’s perfection.

  18. Charles

    September 19, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Yeah, the fear of poverty is the beginning of hardwork! Thanks for posting this!

  19. style

    September 20, 2013 at 8:17 am

    i agree, poverty of the mind is the worst form of poverty.

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