As long as the earth remains round, there’s always going to be rich people, and poor people. When I say rich people, I don’t mean the “I-Shop-at-ASOS- And-I-Have-Been-To-London-And-Taken-A-Picture-At-Madame-Tussauds” gang. I mean actual rich people-Money-Is-Not-A-Thing-In-Any-Currency type wealth. So yes, there’s those people; and when you’re not in that box, honey, you are poor. Okay?
Good, so that’s settled then!
There’s a cheeky Yoruba adage about how rich people befriend only rich people… and paupers mingle amongst themselves. It’s how the circle of affluence is maintained. Remember the character in the movie, Titanic who was referred to as ‘new money’? Her money didn’t have ‘lineage’, and so it didn’t earn her a seat at the table.
So how does one break into this esteemed clique? Fairy tales like the Cinderella story would have us believe that a plain bumpkin can marry a prince. Of course that bumpkin had a little help from a fairy Godmother who turned a pumpkin into a golden carriage, and managed to turn 4 mice into 4 white horses. Then Cinderella had to have gone to the Ball to have met the Prince. A real life fairy tale story is that of Kate Middleton and Prince William. In their own case, we can infer that St. Andrews University was their own Ball and fairy Godmother rolled in one.
What are the chances that Jane Average will meet the scion of Otunba Williams Sonuga’s dynasty? Well, school is usually a good place to start! Back when the quality of education was still good in Nigeria, you could almost swear that you’d have a mix of the aristocrats, the bourgeois and the plebeians at a Federal Government College, any of the Armed Forces Schools, or at a University Staff school. You could spot the rich kids a mile away: braces – check; fancy socks and backpacks – check; rimless glasses – check; colourful notebooks with fancy rims and pens (not your ONWARD type issue) – check. They blended in well with everybody else. Save for the fact that they knew that they weren’t going to hustle with y’all to worry about JAMB results, at least connections were built.
Another place where inter-class mingling was possible was at social clubs. Back then, offices used to pay membership fees for different cadres of employees, and as such, the son of the marketing manager at CPQ Limited had a chance of taking swimming classes at Ikoyi club with the daughter of the CEO of FGL Petroleum company.
By the time one gets to University, water usually finds its level. It would have to be a chance strike of fate or incredible good luck for Mary Down The Road to meet Richard Upper Class. For starters, they won’t even be rolling in the same circles. Nollywood would have you believe that there’s a chance that Richard’s car will break down while in traffic on Allen Avenue, and it’s at that point that Mary is waiting for the bus to Alausa. Somehow it’ll be the sachet of water that Mary is using to quench her thirst that Richard will need to fill his radiator. Somehow, Mary will transition into Mary Rich Upper Class…in the movies!
But how many of these stories do we see in real life? *weeps*
When I asked a friend of mine whether it was just as difficult for Bourgeoisie men to meet Aristocratic women. He laughed and said “No. In Nigeria, all a guy has to do is arm himself with good English and a good tailor who can sew him nice, crispy native attires – preferably brocade or Atiku. He needs to have one or two good wrist watches and a nice pair of leather sandals. If he hangs around Transcorp lobby long enough, he can easily blend in and eventually be recognized as one of them.”
“Fake it till you make it?” I said with a stupid look of incredulity on my face. Apparently it works both ways – all part of the hustle to break into the circle. The only problem with that is that breeding always shows. There’s a tendency for New Money to be a little bit louder than usual. You have to be a professional actor to pretend to have been enjoying caviar all your life.
At the end of the day, we’re all trying to climb up the ladder of success… until by some stroke of luck and fairy dust we get a chance to attend the ball.
Have a beautiful week ahead. Oh don’t forget to share some tips on how inter-class mingling can be achieved.
Peace, love & pixie dust!
Enjoy this video of Impossible by Whitney Houston and Brandy from the 1997 adaptation of Cinderella