One afternoon, after a grueling math exam, Ayomah’s math teacher, the old and lean Mr. Jacksotto Tobacco, smoking a thin hand-rolled cigarette, sat them together to recount a news story he’d read from a newspaper. It was a heart-warming piece of news. Between puffs on his cigarette, he narrated to the class how, a thirty year-old woman gave birth to a baby free of her family’s curse of Alzheimer’s disease – thanks to the wonders of medical science. To his young mind, it was hard not to feel the joy of the baby’s family, or the hope of the many others who feel helpless by their genetic inheritance.
The breakthrough, according to Mr. Tobacco, occurred when doctors in Chicago, in the US, applied genetic tests to batches of human eggs, helping the woman to have a baby free of her family’s early Alzheimer’s disease. According to him, without such intervention, the baby would have had a 50-50 odds of becoming senile by the time she was 40. But he had a terrible feeling as he thought about the implication of this seemingly wonderful evolution of medical engineering. Before long, the rich will be able to buy not only better education for their kids but also better genes! This thought was especially troubling for someone who didn’t know his father’s whereabouts, and who was being raised by a struggling single parent.
As a child, Ayomah was taught this in school: given a chance between being rich and being smart one should always choose the latter, for smart people will always be able to find a way to get rich and foolish people could easily lose the wealth someone else had worked so hard to accumulate on their behalf. This simple proposition was powerful for those of us growing up with less and whose hopes were derived from the knowledge that if even poor, talented individuals will have a shot in an otherwise unequal world. But after listening to Mr. Tobacco’s story, it turned out that money will buy smarts, too! After the class was over, Ayomah left home thinking that, the prospects for his family, which was already daunting, will, in the future, become almost hopeless. He couldn’t have narrated what he heard from Mr. Tobacco to his Mama. She would be crestfallen.
Ayomah had a great story to tell, he decided to put it in the form of a book. He failed to publish it because he was restricted by money. Later on, he managed to get some money, published the book but yet another challenge – he is unable to advertise it. He is again restricted by money. He thinks of abandoning the whole idea of writing altogether and start a business. Here too, he was restricted by money. He finally decided to go back to school to acquire marketable skills. Hoping that after his graduation he will be able to find a good job. Here too, he was required to first pay some tuition in order to be accepted into that institution. He got restricted again by money.
He failed to get enrolment. He then came to a very powerful conclusion: In Today’s Commercialized World, Money Is Everything!