Charity begins at Home

By Rev Fr Pat Amobi Chukwuma

A certain opulent man has a dozen of children from one wife. The wife is a typical housewife. She is jobless and helpless. Her duties are merely to produce children, to cook and to do the house chores. She appears unkempt always. Her wardrobe is nothing to write home about.

She has only three sets of worn-out dresses. Her beauty has faded due to lack of maintenance. She has no means of obtaining the make-ups like her peers. She was as beautiful as morning flower when she was newly married. Unfortunately she competes today with ugly women in the village.

To hit the hammer at the nail, she is married to a wealthy man who is very stingy at home, but generous outside. At home, he is known as “Aka-gum” (someone who has gummy hand), “Eri-eri or Akpa-ata-aja” (miser). He is very generous outside the home. As such, people call him “Ochiri-ozua” (he who feeds many mouths). Some call him “Omereoha” (he who cares for the people). Others call him “Omepuru-onye-odiri” (he who cares for the needy).

His concubines sleep on heaps of exorbitant dresses while his validly married wife manages three wretched dresses. His biological children attend public schools while his bastard children attend excellent private and international schools within and outside the country. Sometime ago, his lawful children were sent out of school for non-payment of school fees.

They missed classes for almost six months. Contrarily, he pays promptly the school fees of his unlawful children studying within and outside the country. The outlook of his wife and the twelve children resembles the inmates of hellfire. On the contrary, his concubines and his unlawful children are bouncing like the occupants of heaven. He built modern bungalow houses for his concubines and their children.

At home he lives with his wife and the dozen of children in an old mud house which he inherited from his father of blessed memory. On rare occasions he travels with his lawful family on public transport. But on many occasions he travels with his concubines and the bastards on private luxurious cars. At home he eats like a slave while he eats like a king outside. This type of man and husband, I never see! Have you seen such? It is unimaginable but real.

Most of our people build exorbitant houses abroad while they live in huts at home. In times of emergency, they abandon those houses over there and squat in the wretched huts at home with their families. During the civil war, their host communities inherited those magnificent houses as abandoned properties.

In those days, one particular family man returned home with his wife and seven children in tears because they had nowhere to lay their heads. They became refugees in their hometown. The worst of it was that they returned empty handed. As a result, they begged for shelter and for food. Regrettably, five of those children died from the dreaded kwashiorkor disease.

Their dead bodies were consumed by vultures because they had nowhere to bury them. The problem with our people is that they refuse to learn from history. Hence history continues to repeat itself. Most of our people refuse to imbibe the Igbo spirit of “Aku-ruo-ulo” (letting our wealth get home).

Some of our wealthy men and women build magnificent churches single handed in their abodes abroad. They donate generously in those churches abroad. They compete at harvest and bazaar in millions of naira. Each of them breaks kola nut with not less than one million naira. Unfortunately when they reluctantly come home during harvest and bazaar, they give little for their home churches.

They break kolanut with only meager amount. They donate in hundreds at home whereas they donate in millions abroad. During their lifetime they invest so much abroad and rarely invest at home. Their host churches and communities benefit so much from them while alive. Eventually when they die, their pastors send their corpses home with excellent recommendation letters for befitting burials at home. In other words, their wealth is spent abroad while their dead bodies are buried at home.

Some people do not care for their aged parents and relations at home. On the other hand, they squander their wealth with strangers abroad. They have no time to visit home when their dear ones are sick, hungry and lonely. But when their dear ones die, they come home and arrange for the so-called befitting burial. Often a new house is built for lying-in-state of the departed who was homeless or lived in a wretched house when he or she was alive.

During the funeral, they lavish the people with food and drinks while the deceased died hungry and thirsty. The bereaved, who did not care for the deceased when he or she was alive, sit at table to receive condolence gifts in cash and kind. They are not in a hurry at death because of what they will benefit from the deceased. But when the deceased was alive, they were always in a hurry when they scarcely came home. Each year they spend eleven months abroad and spend staggered one month at home.

Is it true that the president of our country built modern railway line from Nigeria into Niger Republic while most states in this country have none? Is it also true that he bought N1.4 billion worth of vehicles for Niger Republic without the approval of the National Assembly, when Nigerian University lecturers have been on strike for many months due to non-payment of their emoluments?

This national embarrassment has caused our numerous university students irreparable loses. They have stayed idle at home for months. An idle mind is indeed the devil’s workshop. Some of these idle students have joined secrets cults and evil gangs. Some have decided to jettison education at the expense of unprepared business pursuits. Even some of the idle students have met accidental and untimely deaths due to despair. When two elephants are fighting, the grasses suffer. The logjam between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is great a setback for our country in distress.

It is very unfortunate that our leaders, the politicians and the well-to-do individuals send their children to study in the universities overseas. Thus it does not matter to them whether strike goes on indefinitely. They attend the graduation ceremonies of their children abroad and watch helplessly over the degradation ceremonies of millions of the poor students studying at home. What a pity!

Let us ponder over the following quotes about coming home by anonymous persons: “No matter what ‘home’ means to you, there is surely something nostalgic about the place we call home.” “Home is where our story begins.” “Home is the place of love, hope and dreams.” “The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back.’ “Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong, and laughter never ends.” A house is made of bricks and beams.

A home is made of hopes and dreams.” “What I love most about my home is who I share it with.” “There is nothing more important than a good, safe and secure home.” “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back.” “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere.”

“Home is where one starts from.” (T.S. Eliot). “No matter who you are or where you are, instinct tells you to go home” (Laura Marney). “You leave home to seek your fortune and, when you get it, you go home and share it with your family” (Anita Baker). “Home is a shelter from storms -all sorts of storms” (William J. Benneth). The natural desire to go home is known as home-sickness. The Germans call it “Heimweh.”

Is it better to go home alive or dead? Charity begins at home and ends abroad. It cannot be vice versa. Let us imbibe the “Think Home” philosophy of the first Civilian Governor of new Anambra State, His Excellency, Chukwuemeka Ezeife. It is foolish to make a particular mistake twice.