Our youth and the unconscionable pursuit of money (Part II) -By Prof. Afis Oladosu


Wealth and children are the adornment of this worldly life… Quran 15: 46

In other words, gangs are not ghouls. They are not apparitions. They are not spirits. They are not centaurs. No. They are humans born of the loin and the womb. But if that is true, the questions become urgent and important- where are their parents?

Yes. Where are the parents of these youths who have become modern-day leviathans and barbarians of our societies? Whenever an act of violence occurs in the city, whenever young boys are caught by the security agents after having perpetrated one heinous crime or the other, I ask myself- where are the parents of these boys now? At what point did their parents lose complete control? Freedom. Yes. But to what extent can our youths be free nowadays when we all know that there are authorities out there seeking new empires and colonies?

The other day, I decided to embark on a journey through the West Coast. It was a sequel to my decision to ‘run away’, that day, from these ‘conflicts’ we find ourselves in- the conflict with gravity- which is what happens each time we step in an airplane. As soon as I crossed the border at Aflao into Ghana, I found myself in a car with three other passengers. Girls. I suspected they were Nigerians. But they could be Ghanaians. They could be Gambians. While two of the girls, apparently in the early twenties, were ‘properly dressed’, the third of the three ‘musketeers’ thought she should leave nothing to your imagination. The journey eventually started.

Ten minutes after departure from the station, our car was flagged down by one of the Ghanaian policemen at one of the many checkpoints on the road. He looked in the car, contemplated the faces of the passengers and eventually found what he thought should be of interest to him. He pointedly asked the ‘third’ of the three girls to come down and open her luggage. As soon as she came down, they discovered the extremely ‘modern’ dress she had on her body. In the attempt to open the luggage, she exposed all the tattoos on her hand for the prying eyes of the officers to see. Perhaps the drama would have unfolded in the silence of the busy road had she followed the instructions of the officers again with decorum. Eventually one of the officers began to upbraid her. “What type of parents would be happy with a daughter with this type of clothes on?”

Parents are like trees of life. The fruits they bear often determine the types of patronage they enjoy. If they bear beautiful flowers, theirs would be a confluence for honey bees in search of nectars. But again, I remember this- oftentimes, parents cannot by themselves solely determine the seed that come out of their bodies. No parent would want to bring to the world boys and girls who would become behemoths, freaks and demons on the streets.

Would Prophet Nuh (a.s) have been happy when his son refused to take his seat on the Ark. His father shouted out to him- “My son, come on! Enter the Ark and do not be among the disbelievers”. But his son responded saying-” (Don’t bother dad)! I will take refuge on a mountain to protect me from the water.” [Prophet Nuh said- “There is no protector today from the decree of the Almighty, except for whom He gives mercy.” (Quran 11: 43-44).

Deep lessons for me and you- the constant presence of the shop-owner to oversee her wares is not usually a guarantee for good sales. An absentee trader may achieve better sales than he who never steps away from the market. Nothing guarantees the success of the child better than, after good training, the prayers of his parents. At a public lecture the other day to inaugurate the Governor who just stepped out of office, I asked the then “Your Excellency”- “exactly what do you think you did for the Almighty to have merited this elevation in life’. He looked me straight in the eyes and said- “if this were to be based on my personal efforts, I do not think I merit this success. But, I know that what has worked for me in life are the prayers of my parents”!

But again there are parents and there are parents. There are parents whose children image the trees from which they sprout. Happening parents. Permanently absent parents. For the latter, good parenting is all about providing all the material comforts of this world for their children. At eighteen, he is given a personal car of his. At twenty, he has enough balance that would remind the Nigerian civil servant of their misfortune in life. He has all that money can buy. Yet, there are certain solemn and subtle things in this world money cannot buy. Yes. Internal happiness. Contentment even in the hour of need. Sleep during the darkest parts of the night.

Thus to obtain what money cannot buy, the young boys resort to drug addiction. In order to swagger and experience that bliss that money cannot buy, they resort to drugs. Once hooked on drugs, life loses its meaning to them. They kill and do not mind being killed.

Brethren, the above represents only a perspective. Remember the Hadith- ‘All of you are Shepherds!
(08122465111 for texts only)

Professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

You shall be called to question on your herds on the day resurrection!

Again, remember this- that which is expected is constantly inspected. Treat your children like a ram tied to a stake. It is free. It not completely free.

(08122465111 for texts only)
Afis Ayinde Oladosu Ph.D
Professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

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