Opinion

Elnathan John: Now That You Are A Nigerian Car Owner

I write a lot about cars in Nigeria for two reasons. First, cars are one of leading causes of death in Nigeria – we are reported to have the second highest road traffic fatalities in the world. Second, and more importantly, because in Nigeria, a car is often the most visible evidence that God has listened to your prayers, looked favourably upon the tithes in your pastor’s pocket, and blessed your hustle.

If you grew up in lower to middle class Nigeria, you will remember when that neighbour bought his first second-hand car, to the fascination and envy of the entire neighbourhood. He parked it outside his house with an L sign hanging awkwardly from the number plate. Sometimes there was no number plate yet. No matter how used the new car looked, it always smelled new when you went close. And as far as your neighbour was concerned it was new. His children acquired a new swagger and waved more than normal whenever they were heading out in the car. In the back seat, they looked like stolen kids saying their last goodbyes. You envied them. You too wanted to inhale the heady scent of newly delivered second-hand cars. The children did not come out for football for one or two days after that and some of the other kids wondered if this disappearing act was a newly acquired superiority.
Many years later you have gotten that job, better than what your parents had. You have not only bought one second-hand car, but have changed it to one so clean it could pass for new. Maybe your faith was even big enough for your hustle to produce a brand new Korean car. A Kia. A Hyundai. I rejoice with you. It is important however to acquire the attitude of one whose hustle has been blessed. This article will help you do that.
It used to be fashionable to clip your car keys to the rest of your house keys and let them dangle from one of your fingers – the car key would always be unmistakeable, the largest with black plastic. I know how enjoyable the jiggling of keys is, but the era of that massive bunch of keys containing everything including the key to the kitchen store is over. Dead. Try it now and you will just look like a commercial taxi driver. Even if after work, on your way home in the outskirts of the city, you carry a few passengers, you do not want anyone to call you a taxi driver. Separate your house keys from the car key. Any car that still has a different key for the boot is a car you want to change. If you still have that type of car, this is the time to stop reading, go on your knees and beg God to bless your hustle with an upgrade to something that has only one multifunction key.
When you disembark from your car you need to hold that single key in your right hand in a way that is partly visible. That way when someone wants to shake you, they can see you move the key from your right to your left hand. They will see that single key (with remote sensor) and have no doubt what work God has done in your life. When you are in a public place or visiting someone, place the key on the table right by your smartphone.
When you arrive at an event and you can’t flaunt your single key, complain about not finding a place to park. Moan about having to park far away. When someone says they saw you buying something or eating, or strolling – any activity where your ownership of a car may be in doubt – quickly add that oh, you were just returning from the mechanic or the car wash. However, you don’t want to use the mechanic line too often lest people think your car is the type that always gives you problems. That would be disastrous for your reputation. Only people with poverty hangover constantly complain about mechanics. The car wash line however, says something about the sophistication of your hustle.
While I have advised before to cover your car in church stickers, this may be running out of fashion. It is fine in the first two weeks of the year to declare it to be your ‘year of anointing’ or your ‘year of unsurpassed success’. But after that it gets old. I will tell you what is cool these days, especially if you live in Abuja: stickers from foreign universities. Nothing says ‘God has blessed my hustle in the long term’ like a sticker from say, Harvard. Even if you went there for a two-week course. And it does not have to be Harvard. It can be from some unknown monotechnic in Eastern Europe or Asia. Once Nigerians know it is not from Nigeria, your respect will grow. Whether from America or Kazakhstan, a foreign trained graduate is a foreign trained graduate.
(If you have kids and drive say a Toyota Sienna Bus, acceptable stickers include: MY CHILD IS A STAR STUDENT. Because a bumper sticker about your child on a spacious Sienna says to the person driving behind: ‘I have done something useful and unselfish with my life. What about you?’)
As a car owner it is important not to leave fellow Nigerians guessing about which of the gods actually blessed your hustle. This is where a hanging rosary comes in. Whether cross or chasbi, hang it on the rear view mirror so that anyone who takes a look will know whether your God is the one who gives many mansions or the one who gives virgins. A rosary serves at many purposes:

1. Protection against car accidents
2. When protection fails and you need to say last prayers
3. Protection against car theft
4. In case a religious riot breaks out, there is a 50% chance the people burning cars will be your spiritual brothers and will spare your car
It doesn’t not matter that half the time during road rage you will be saying “bastard”, “your father”, “idiot”, “ubanka” or “uwaka” right there in the presence of God. The Nigerian God knows how drivers can be. S/he will understand.

Most importantly however, and especially when you are able to buy that tear-rubber Korean car, when someone congratulates you on getting a new car, say: Na God. You want to show gratitude for the blessing of your hustle. Even if you run a criminal enterprise, the more you credit God with your success and thank him/her for it, the more your hustle is blessed. Because nothing, whether criminal or otherwise, happens without the consent of God. If S/he lets you get away with it, be thankful. You never know, one day you may find yourself flaunting a Range Rover Sport or something cool like that.

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Opinion written by Elnathan John, an Abuja based writer.. Article culled from his blog

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