We might as well embrace poverty

I don’t know of any billionaire in Rwanda (forgive me if you are), so I’m going to assume we all fall in the 99% boat of the less privileged. In case you are wondering what I’m talking about, it is that Oxfam report released earlier this week essentially letting us know that by 2016, which is just next year, the world’s richest 1%, who are already billionaires many times over, will own more wealth than the rest of us combined.

I don’t know of any billionaire in Rwanda (forgive me if you are), so I’m going to assume we all fall in the 99% boat of the less privileged. In case you are wondering what I’m talking about, it is that Oxfam report released earlier this week essentially letting us know that by 2016, which is just next year, the world’s richest 1%, who are already billionaires many times over, will own more wealth than the rest of us combined.

We might as well stop trying so hard to get rich because we will never catch up. Even the Bible says, in Matthew 25:29-46, that “Whoever has, will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” The verse continues thus, “And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth...’ So fellow broke citizens of this widely divided world, be happy with what you have, or maybe not, depending on your circumstances but know this, it doesn’t change a thing.

The gap between the rich and the poor is too big and as the report duly notes, it is growing ever wider and I don’t think there’s a lot we can do about that. Rich people generally invest more and it is usually in viable projects, like infrastructure, real estate, media and related lucrative businesses. When they die, their children, who will likely already be making good money either because they hold top management positions in companies founded by their parents, or work for some other big shots through “connections”, will inherit most, if not all their parents’ wealth.

What chance then do children from a poor background have? They’ll have attended poor schools because that’s what their parents could afford. Poor schools rarely produce good grades and few people offer top jobs to poor performers.

A lowly position is not going to earn you a six figure salary, without which you will not be able to buy a home or all those luxury cars you dream of owning one day. The little income you earn will have to be shared with your immediate and extended family.

The average graduate in any African country has four or more younger siblings who also want an education along with other needs. There’re also your parents to think about. If they’re over 55, chances are they’ll have retired, assuming they were lucky enough to hold regularly employment in their prime.

Most likely though, they will have tried their hand at a string of businesses which will have collapsed after a few months. Others will have opted for agriculture, whose many challenges like floods, droughts, pests, low prices, limited market etc didn’t bring the profits they had hoped for.

There will also be those who would have sold their most valuable possessions, usually land, to put you through school, only for you to get that low-wage job and only after years of the elusive job search. Now that you’re employed, they look to you to take care of their needs.

That is the so-called vicious cycle of poverty. There is never going to be a time when you have enough, not for yourself and certainly not for your large family. In the meantime, billionaires like Richard Branson and Bill Gates will be getting richer because their investments are paying off.

Others like Oprah Winfrey whose estimated net worth is $3 billion, will continue to buy lavish homes, private jets and spend thousands of dollars pampering their pets because they have nothing else to spend their money on. So, all you poor people, get used to the divide.