Use your ‘Privilege’ … Use it WELL!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Well… except for one rather ‘tiny’ incident.


I was cruising on the highway early Saturday morning with a friend; driving a brand-new (turbo-engine-powered) sports car, along the traffic-less wide roads of the Nation’s capital.

No… it was not my car.

My car – which I lovingly refer to as tuke-tuke – behaves like these oil-rig engineers, who spend one week onshore, one week offshore.

Except that in my car’s case, “offshore” is the mechanic’s workshop.

Last I heard, it was in need of a new engine.

(El oh El)

I think that car jokes too much. Its (war-front) stories is not for today.

This brand new, turbo-engine-powered sports-car I quip about is a friend’s. We’d taken it for a spin; I was doing the driving.

We got to a notorious intersection; notorious because uniformed personnel would usually lie in wait for persons who beat traffic, and jump into their lane/their car, to mete instant justice on them, ranging from dragging them to a mobile court – pleas falling on deaf ears - to extorting unspeakable ‘fines’.

On this fine day, we made a sharp turn left, and went down a connecting bridge into another road.

We passed by some of these uniformed personnel, who happily saluted us, and waved at us.

(Let’s call them U.P. for short)

I was driving, I could not wave back. But my friend did, and I smiled at the friendly nature of the U.P.

(I still smile… in memory of my naïveté)

Prior to our left turn, I had noticed a smaller car (generally referred to as a “baby boy”) driving behind us. As we drove down the bridge, I instinctively checked my rear mirror to see if that other car still drove behind us.

(Do you not remember? I am a spy.)

I noticed about four U.P.s had surrounded the other car; one stood planted in front of the car, one stood by the driver’s side, while two were attempting to get in the car via the passenger-seat, and the right back-seat.

So I beckoned on my friend, slowed down a bit, and we watched the ensuing drama through the car mirrors for some seconds. Apparently, the policemen and the driver were engaged in some argument, and were trying to gain control of the car.

We were really curious as to what this man had done to anger these previously ‘happy’ U.P.s. So we reversed to where the drama was unfolding, and came down. Our discussion with them was as follows:

“Good-morning Sirs”.
U.P.s: (Looking at us with suspicion) “Well done… good-morning”.
“Is there a problem? We noticed you arguing with this man”.
U.P.s: “Car no dey turn here. E nor gree make we arrest am”.

(My friend and I looked at ourselves in amazement): “But we just turned here. And you did not stop us. Why let us go, then stop him”??

U.P.s: “See Aunty… we just let una go. Car no dey turn here. Abi una want make we arrest una join”?
“There is NO sign saying a car should not turn here. Turning here has never been a problem. But if you must take this young man anywhere, then enter our car. We will all go together”.
U.P.s (Looking hesitantly at one another): “Errr… we no get problem with una. Why una wan cause problem today”?
“It is you who is causing this young man problems. He has done nothing wrong. But if you insist he is wrong, then we too are wrong. Let us all go together”.

At this point, the policemen had shifted slightly from the other driver’s car, and two were casually retreating back to the shadows they had sprung from.  But the U.P. standing by the driver’s seat stood his ground.

I took out my phone, dialed a number, and began placing a call… even as I turned slightly away from them.

Police: “Ahn ahn! Aunty, e nor reach like that. Oya make una carry una wahala they go”.

(Truly, I was calling my next door neighbour, to know if NEPA had brought light at home. But I now see how that action may have been interpreted as some show of power. After all, in Nigeria, “Do you know who I am?” and “Let me make this call” are magic phrases; highly revered)

They all stepped away from the other car, and the young man (finally) came down, to thank us for ‘interceding’. We smiled, went back to our brand-new turbo-engine-powered sports-car and sped away… having performed our civic duty to be our fellow-citizen’s keeper.

Moral: We all have some privilege, or the other. Some, we were born with. Others, we have achieved in the course of our life.

This privilege could range from as significant to our individual gender, to as mundane as our nail colour.

In our case, our ‘privilege’ was social status/wealth privilege, albeit a perceived one, as against an actual privilege.

I mean, in reality, we could have merely been paid drivers - or the house-helps - merely taking Oga’s car for a spin. But to these uniformed personnel, we were ‘wealthy’ folks - with the likelihood of some power - to not be crossed. While the other driver was perceived as less wealthy – with the likelihood of little or no power - and could thus be harassed.

In your case, your privilege might be an actual one (or even, also a perceived one); perhaps, it is your gender, or your skin colour. Or your educational qualification, or your beauty, or your voice, which enables society/life treat you ‘kinder’, while meting unfairly prejudicial treatment to another human, in your exact same circumstance.

Rather than wallow in the comfort of your perceived status, question the status quo, and use your privilege for a good cause.

Perhaps, some day, it may be you in an unkind fix, and you will crave that some person whom society has accorded privileged status would use same to fight for you.

Because after all is said and done, this life is a pot of watery beans. And no one knows tomorrow.



Photo-Credits: Leornado Di Caprio, in "the Great Gatsby"

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  1. No you didn't!!!!! You came down??? *surprisedface*

  2. Hmmm.... Not sure i would have stopped oh.

  3. Like you came down from the car to help a random driver? Lol.. who does that? I can just imagine the reactions of the U.P. About privileges, I learnt a thing from this. Thank you.

    1. We did come down o. If you have ever been a similar situation, it is easy to understand. It was not an option... at all.