​                                               THE MAN WITH THE HOE

‘’We all attend schools with big bills, all three of us. We don’t worry about household bills, they always get paid, and on time too. Still, Daddy always complain of little sales. He say it like God has forsaken him, or perhaps that’s just how it sounds to me.’’

As I walk down the street, I saw my neighbour with a man who has a hoe hanged around his neck. Neighbour showed the man around his house, telling him to clear the weeds and then the bush behind his fence. Expert or not, getting the job done will take two days of hard work. The man with the hoe said he will take three thousand naira for the job but my neighbour offered to pay one thousand naira. After a while of haggling, shifting the price up and down, they came to an agreement, both settled for one thousand and five hundred naira. 

The man with the hoe was Mr. Ayanwole, who lives down the street with a family of five; a wife and four kids. This job for my neighbour might be the only income for the week or might not. And they say success is the reward of hard work? Should this be true, then Mr. Ayanwole should have been a millionaire. Success is the work grace, occurring only when preparation (hard work) meets opportunity.

A lot of time in life, we look at people above us to question God but what we should rather have done is look behind us to appreciate God. There can only be so much money for a man to take care of his family and meet his needs, the rest is show off. In our state of grace, we forget about those that possess just a tiny fraction of what we have; in their world, our little building is an empire. We rather concentrate our mercifully perfected health towards comparing our lot with that of some others better than us. Yet we all know that fingers are not equal. We think as if our problems are solved with increase in the statements of our accounts. The bitter truth is problems are not associated with money, after all ‘the rich also cry’. We can’t all be at the same level of wealth, there will always be someone who is/was wealthier than you are and someone who is/was worse than you are.

I was discussing with my neighbour son the evening, same say his father hired the man with the hoe. We started with youthful tantrums and the discussion soon got serious. We watch as Mr. Ayanwole work with sweat stratifying his entire body, when suddenly my friend said, “We all attend schools with big bills… or perhaps that’s just how it sounds to me”. I could not understand the sudden change of topic, butni was curious, so I edged him on to continue. He argued that his father could afford to pay the man more than the stipend that was agreed upon but he could not understand why he decide on laboring the man for such a meagre amount. 

A friend that was with us countered that money is justified, after all, it is just cutting of grasses. Our friend can say that in his own state of grace, his father owns the biggest mansion in the neighborhood, drives the sleekest car around and has this tight security all the time. My friend probably has never touched a cutlass, not to talk of cutting grass in his life.

We all live in different states of grace and our state affects our judgement. Not that they should! We exist in this world as keepers to one another. I think the major aim of economic policies and every religious group in the world today should be to find a way of shortening the longer fingers while increasing the shorter ones till equity is reached and all fingers become equal. When this is achieved, fingers become fist (a bond), and fists can only be when fingers support one another. 

Why then should we live like poles that stand alone? Whether we help them or not, whether it’s a consequence of their actions or not, there will always be a Mr. Ayanwole somewhere around us. We are not God’s militants, we do not live to punish those who offend God. We should help the people we have the capacity to help; even a man like Mr. Ayanwole still has people he can help.

“He says it like God has forsaken him, or perhaps that’s just how it sounds to me”. My neighbour seems to have forgotten that meeting his needs was not a result of how faithful he is or how diligent he works. He fails to acknowledge the fact that there are others around him who cannot afford such, so when he complains his son also picks up a hint of ungratefulness in his demeanour.

 The question is, is my neighbour alone in this state of mind? Do we not all in our state of grace give God a reason to take away everything? Does He? Remember, the difference in our lives is not by mere strength, the work of grace goes a great length. 

Be grateful to God and be helpful to your fellow men!
By Aremu-Ibraheem Adefabiola

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