Davido pulled what some considered a stunt and others a social media experiment, on Twitter recently. He asked his fans and anyone who’s ever enjoyed his music to donate money to him in appreciation. In a matter of hours, he had crowd sourced N200 million. Massive respect to the man. Is it easy to get people to open their purses willingly and give you money when you’re promising them nothing in return? This is no easy thing. And certainly not in today’s economic climate and so close to Christmas when folks have a million and one financial obligation to meet. Even Davido himself was astounded. He gushed about the generosity of the givers on his handle. When he asked for the money, he had joked that he wanted to use it to solve his own wahala: clear a car at the wharf, buy a watch etc but he turned around in what folks who know him consider a typical Davido move and donated the money (with an additional N50 million of his own money) to orphanages around Nigeria. An altruistic move and one that certainly ought to be lauded except that in Naija, as conditioned as we are to cynicism, not even charity escapes our cynical takes.
Those who think Davido shouldn’t have begged for money aside (he’s a big boy, it’s beneath him, he’s a star and should carry himself like the star that he is etc etc etc) and those who think he should have come out straight and said it was for charity aside, the saddest takes for me have been the ones by those who do not believe that that money will ever reach its intended recipients. A Twitter user posted that when she shared the news of what Davido had done with her mother, the older woman said “the money won’t get to the children cos (sic) welfare officers steal it all… She said its (sic) so bad that nurses never want to leave welfare homes when they are posted there.” This tweet was retweeted over 3000 times, quote tweeted almost 400 times and liked almost 9,000 times with lots of replies supporting the mother. One of those, a user called Noor (@Nurlalah) said she used to volunteer at an orphanage. “The toys I donated, I never saw the kids with them. So I started buying dirt cheap toys and giving the kids to play with immediately (some attendants would still way-lay me, asking for some for their own kids.)” Because folks are convinced the money would be misappropriated, tweets have been flooding in with all the other things Davido could have done with the windfall – build a school. Equip hospital. Fund surgeries. Pay school fees. Is it not a sad state of affairs when people are reasonably afraid that money donated to orphanages would be stolen by those in charge of those orphanages? It’s sad because the cynicism isn’t unwarranted.
The tweets reminded me of something I had long forgotten. About 15 years ago, a friend of mine adopted a child from Nigeria. My friend was a physician in the UK and between the girl’s papers being in order and he returning to fetch her, he regularly sent money for her upkeep. Once, he even sent entire suitcases of new clothes and toys for her. Lo and behold, when he eventually returned to Nigeria to bring her back to the UK, all of the clothes he sent to her and all of the toys had gone AWOL. In fact, for her photograph for her passport, he had to buy her new clothes in Nigeria. He was so disappointed. The authorities of the orphanage had decided that the child in their care did not deserve good things and had simply appropriated them for their own use. Or for sale, who knows? Is that not wickedness? So, I do not fault folks who are cynical about the fate of Davido’s N250 million donation despite his good intentions.
However, I am comforted by a tweet by a user that said that in 2017, they were involved in distributing gifts to an orphanage in Delta State and the distribution was done with no mago mago. “Good people still exist.” That is the narrative that gives me hope and the one I am going to be hanging onto. Davido has done a wonderful thing raising money – however, he did it- for these orphanages. I trust that he knows enough to put procedures in place to ensure that the money isn’t misused. I hear he has set up a board of trustees – with reputable Nigerians- to oversee the management and disbursement of the funds. It gives me some consolation that maybe, just maybe, this largesse that has fallen on these poor children will trickle down to them. If it doesn’t, may it rot in the stomach of anyone who steals it for their own use. May they not find peace in this world or in the next.