However, the rate at which the cancer of poverty and illiteracy is eating deep into us is higher and more deadly than the rate which the disease of cancer itself is affecting us. In the case of cancer the disease, it can be lived with and managed throughout life if detected early and managed properly. But the cancer of poverty and illiteracy has ravaged many souls and has turned them into living corpses due to our collective negligence and lack of focus.
Poverty is the state of being poor. It is one’s inability of to get the basic necessities of life. It is an increase in one’s greed and not a decrease in one’s possession. Poverty emanates from either bad leadership or due to the lackadaisical attitude of the less privileged to make a positive move to make ends meet. And if one is lazy and always wants to depend on others or thinks that nothing good can come out of him except failure in life, then one will be so. That is why the Holy Bible says “Seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you”.
It is only when you strive that you can achieve something good in life. Nobody is destined to live poor unless it is his own decision to be poor. Lack of self will makes people to want to rely on others for sustenance; that is why it said that there is no food for the lazy man.
Poverty leads to illiteracy, the inability to read, write and/or communicate effectively. It is the inability to read, understand and learn the word of God.
Causes of Poverty and Illiteracy
(a) Bad Leadership: This is one of the causes of poverty and illiteracy in the land. Leaders are put in position of authority to serve the people, not to enrich themselves. Once this quality of service is not in leaders, then the rights of the citizens to literacy and basic necessities of life will be missing. The problem is that leaders are mostly selected and not elected and the poor masses do not elect honest and God fearing leaders; rather, they prefer those who tip them and make promises they know they will never fulfil. It now depends on the citizens to elect leaders that will be faithful to them and to God.
(b) Miserliness of the Rich: If the rich can reflect, they will find out that apart from their zeal to work for a living, it is by virtue of the mercy of the Creator that they are rich. Only God gives the power to get wealth. So the mercy of God should not be seen as a personal achievement. Wealth should be seen as a blessing from God that should be used in touching the lives of others positively. The poor do not have to seek for you. Reach out to your neighbours and God will not relent in giving you abundant blessings.
(c) Negative Attitude of the Poor: Most of the poor amongst us are sadists. They are envious, wicked, aggressive and mischievous. They always pour their anger on those who are successful, as if they (the successful) are responsible for their poverty. They sing the praises of those with ill gotten wealth. Some of them even go to the extent of using black magic to try to control, gain the favour of, and destroy the lives of successful people. They hate to work.
The poor should desist from praise singing and sycophancy because not all wealth is “pure”. So many people got their wealth through dubious means; don’t bother to have any respect for them. By so doing, they may have a rethink and abandon their evil ways.
Effects of Poverty and Illiteracy
No matter how developed and civilised a country and its citizens are, if the percentage of the so-called rich and educated is low when compared to the percentage of the poor and illiterate, then that country is set for ruin, unless some drastic measures are taken to salvage the situation. A lot of the negative things happening in this country today are resultant effects of poverty and illiteracy. These include youth restiveness, corruption, looting, ritual killings, kidnapping, assassinations, robbery, political killings, thuggery, and other vices.
Ways out of these catastrophes are not farfetched. In verse 17 of chapter 29, the Qur’an says: “Seek sustenance from Allah, worship Him and be grateful to Him; and to Him will be your return”. The Bible (Proverbs 11:3) also says the integrity of the upright will guide them but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.
These verses from the Qur’an and the Bible buttress the fact that things go right for the righteous. We have to seek God, know Him, obey Him, trust and serve Him in all ramifications; then our problems will be at the barest minimum.
Justice and equity on the part of leaders and the ‘rich’ and also hard work and dignity on the part of the so-called ‘poor’ are also ways. We must remember that every favour bestowed upon us in this world is a trust—leadership position, children, knowledge or wealth—which we shall be accountable for. We should also bear in mind that we would not be able to take a pin with us when we die.
Labaran writes from the Information Services Unit, National Hospital, Abuja