Saturday, March 31, 2012


One Bible story that has never ceased to amaze me is the story of Abraham. It was my favourite story as a child and the song ‘Father Abraham has many sons . . .” was one of the earliest songs I learnt. The story of this Biblical father of faith is very extensive but I’d like to focus on part where he was first introduced. God simply called him and asked him to depart from his father’s house and from his kindred. Now, this was a guy who was more or less a prince in his own right. Everything appeared to be going on right for him but he was
instructed to move. The story gets much more twisted as God did not even specify where he was to go. He was told to go to “. . . a land where I will show you”.
I would like to relate Abraham’s case here to the starting up of a new business venture and not knowing where the road leads. You don’t know what to expect but you keep moving anyway. The frightening bit about this situation is the strong possibility of getting hit by unexpected events at anytime. I can hardly imagine what could be worse. It is almost like a case of a blind man walking alone on an express road and hearing the sounds of speeding cars as they race past. He knows he could get knocked down at any minute. However, in Abraham’s situation, there was a clear difference because he was sure that God who had instructed him to move had his back. Now, what do make of a situation where you decided to move on your own without any such divine instruction?

I was chatting recently with someone I have come to admire and respect very much and we got talking about the ways of God. This discussion was prompted when I reminisced on the days while I had my brief stint in the ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ business and said God probably allowed me to prosper in it for some reasons. She however objected saying God could never have been responsible for my success in the venture because He never supports anything bad. I proposed that God sometimes allows some things even though he doesn’t necessarily cause them, stressing on the ‘permissive’ and ‘causative’ will of God in my opinion. I assume the permissive will of God comes to play when He allows some things happen without directly influencing the occurrence. For instance, I strongly believe it was the permissive will of God that was in action when Job, faithful as he was experienced hell and went from grace to grass. The Lord simply allowed Satan to hurt him even. A situation where bad things happen to ‘good’ people or good things happen to ‘bad’ people in our world today could also be a function of the permissive will of God. On the other hand, I believe the causative will of God is manifested when He directly causes something to happen. Such instances would include God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah or his judgment on the house of David and Israel for the dual sins of his adultery with Bathsheba and later for numbering Israel or I daresay, for the bad things that happen to evil people in our world today (Look who’s talking. Lol) and the good things that happen to good people. I still remain resolute on my opinion until someone convinces me otherwise. The fact remains however that God is unquestionable and He does anything as He sees fit. There is no searching of His understanding and an attempt at such would be like, in Solomon’s words, chasing after the wind.

Within a week of my venturing into the ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ business, I had made three steady contacts whop had already made some financial commitment to prove how serious they were about me. Miles Peck sent me three hundred dollars the following Monday via Western Union. I was almost certain I had to be dreaming. In April 2007, three hundred dollars was equivalent to about thirty six thousand naira at an exchange rate of about N120 to a dollar. That was like the total money I made in three months after a lot of hard work working as an Office Assistant at an Art Gallery, taking private lessons for two kids and writing short stories for a magazine! Now, I was making that at a go! It had to be a miracle. Dean Flank and Luke Pine promised to send me some money during the week so I could apply for my passport (I told them I had none).

I was at my bank the following Tuesday morning. I previously stopped by at a Computer center to get a wait-and-get ID designed with my alias. I had chatted again with Miles the day before.
“AY I have sent the money. You see how serious I am about you?”
“Oh, Miles. You really didn’t have to.” I replied. “I really don’t need your money. Let’s build our friendship first.”
He sent a ‘sad smiley’ on the screen. “I know AY but I want you to trust me, okay.”
I chuckled to myself as I registered the irony. This old man was trying to win my trust whereas I was the bad guy here.
“Okay I do but please let’s not rush things, okay?” I assured him.
He sent a ‘smiling smiley’ this time. “You just go get your money okay.”
“Alright Miles. Thanks again. I appreciate.”
“You didn’t ask for the secret question. You’ll need that to claim the money.”
Truly, I hadn’t known that. I had never collected money via International money transfer before so I had no idea.
“Oh really? Sorry I didn’t know that” I replied, consoling myself that I was making a honest statement at least.
He spelled out the details and further educated me on what it would take to retrieve money on a Western Union platform. I was thrilled and again I wished I was really the model in the picture. I felt sad at the inevitability of the fact that I would have to break his heart someday.
“You have an ID, right?”
I had none. The only IDs I had were my working ID at the Art Gallery and it bore my real name. I shrugged as I realized it wouldn’t be a problem. All I had to do was make one and there were a million and one computer centers that could create one for me in minutes.
“Yes I do.” I replied.
“Good. Now, please send me another sexy picture of you.”
“Okay Miles. I’ll do that right away.”
“So you’ll get the webcam once you get the money, right?”
I shivered again. In one of our earlier chats, Miles had requested to see me on webcam. He had even turned on his own webcam to reveal a video of a fat, hairy Caucasian man waving and smiling on the screen. I had to think fast. Webcam? The system I was using had a webcam but I would never dare turn on the device and show my ‘maga’ a black guy instead of a sexy black goddess!
“I don’t have one on this computer.” I had told him.
He had not brought up the subject again until that Monday night.
“Okay I will.” I simply said this time, deciding we’ll cross the bridge when we got there.    

At the bank, I went straight to the Western Union section and the banker attending to me asked me to fill out a form which I did. I smiled when I saw the part where I was to fill the question and answer and I gladly did. I passed the form back to the banker and he perused it for a few seconds.
“Can I see your ID please?”
I smiled and reached into my wallet. The ID was still fresh and I hoped the man would not smell a rat. For a second, I wished I had scratched it up a little just to throw off any suspicions. I summoned courage and passed the plastic ID card to him. He collected it and smiled. Then he shook his head. My heart skipped a bit.
“Sorry, you can’t use this, sir,” he said, still caressing my card.
“Why?” I asked dumbfounded. “That’s where I work.”
I had produced a replica of my work ID but simply changed my name. Truth was, I cashed my salary cheques with my work ID and used it as a form of identification all the time so I wondered why the ID bearing my alias could not fly.
The banker gently slided the card to me
“For Western Union, you require any of these three; your drivers’ license, your international passport or your national identity card.”
I had none of the three required IDs. I retrieved the card and sighed.
“What do I do now, sir?” I asked the banker stupidly. My three hundred dollars was disappearing right before my eyes before I even had the chance to touch it.
He still had the smile on his face. Was he mocking at me or what? I wondered angrily. Did he know my secret?
 “You just go and apply for any of the IDs. Your money would still be available for sixty days. Better still, you can contact the sender to retrieve the money and resend to another person with the required ID and the person can come and pick the money. However that would require extra charges for the sender though.”
I thought about the suggestion. Applying for an International passport would cost me about twelve thousand naira. I assumed that was about hundred dollars. Lol. A drivers’ license would cost me about six thousand (about fifty dollars). I had no such money. Besides it would take at least a week for either of the IDs to be ready. I thought about the second option. If I dared tell Miles Peck about the situation, would he not suspect foul play and immediately severe all ties with me? I couldn’t take that risk. Besides, I still had sixty days. I remembered my other two 'magas', Luke and Dean. They had also promised to send me money that week. I realized it would be a disaster if they sent the money to my alias again for which I had no ID. My heartbeat accelerated as I left the bank. I headed for the café immediately. I had some money to rescue.