“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will reward them for what they have done” – Proverbs 19 verse 17 (New International Version).
Permit me to wax religious right from the outset. The Holy Bible provides profound and inspiring admonitions, injunctions and unfailing principles on the power of giving out to the needy, by those who have the economic, material and financial resources to so do. For instance, in Deuteronomy Chapter 15 verse 11 it is unequivocally stated that: “For there will never cease to be the poor in the land; that is why I am commanding you to open wide your hand to your brother and to the poor and needy in your land.” (New Living Translation). That happens to be stated in the Old Testament.
In a similar vein, in the New Testament it also explains that: “You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me” (Matthew 26:11 and Mark 14 verse 7). What more, it is clearly there in Psalm 41 verses 1 and 2 that: “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies”. What a great assurance!
Interestingly, it is also there in the Holy Bible, precisely in Deuteronomy 26 verse 12 that: “When you have finished tithing… you shall give them to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, so that they can eat to satiety in your cities”.
It means therefore, that even the much sought after tithes in our churches are not meant for the self-acclaimed pastors, prophets and prosperity-preaching profiteers but for the orphans, the widows, the homeless and Levites who had no inheritance.
It is in the light of the above-statement that one critically looks at the recent exhibition of the rare offering of the milk of human kindness by none other than Nigerian-born, globally acclaimed, multiple award-winning music icon and entrepreneur, David Adeleke, a.k.a Davido.
In what began more like a joke, he openly challenged all those who claimed to love him-including his friends and fans- to show that by donating One Million Naira each to his WEMA bank account. The reason he gave was that he needed some cash to clear his newly acquired Rolls Royce from the ports ahead of his 29th birthday, on November 19, 2021.
Though he added that the goal was to get N100 million, the singer received over N53 million in cash transfers in less than one hour! And a few days later he received the unexpected N200 million from fans and friends and added N50 million. He donated the N250million to all orphanages across Nigeria. This is a feat, isn’t it?
Of course, it is. And to disburse the money, he constituted a Five-Man committee to take care of the logistics. The singer also revealed that he intends to do such fundraising every blessed year to celebrate his birthday and give back the donation to the poor.
It all reminds one of similar acts of giving to the needy by the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. He donated over $500 million to charity over the course of his life, even reportedly earning the title of “Most Charities Supported by a Pop Star” in the 2000 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for supporting 39 charities.
In fact, the one act that stands out was when he suffered some horrific burns to both his hair and face during the filming of a Pepsi commercial on January 27, 1984. But he donated all the $1.5 million of the pay to establish the Michael Jackson Burn Center at Brotman Memorial Hospital, where he received treatment!
Similarly, Cristiano Ronaldo is another world renowned superstar who is an ambassador for three major charities, Save the Children, UNICEF and World Vision, and has spoken up for countless more. At his 2014 Ballon d’Or speech, Ronaldo made a point of mentioning a group of children he had met with leukemia. He also made a secret donation which he asked Save the Children not to reveal.
In August 2015 he came top amongst the “Top 20 Athletes Gone Good” list named as the most charitable athlete on the planet, beating out the likes of John Cena (No. 2), Neymar (No. 5) and Maria Sharapova (No. 8). Ronaldo once donated $83,000 to pay for a child’s brain surgery and used $165,000 to fund a Portuguese cancer center.
Similarly, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has for over 20 years been committed as a nonprofit organization, actively engaged in fighting poverty, disease and inequity around the world.
And what do we make about Mark Zuckerberg charitable donations, based on his pledge to donate 99 percent of his wealth to charities over the course of his life? At a point this was put at a staggering $45 billion!
Before we get carried away by these astounding acts of charity let us get back to Nigeria.
Yes! Lest we forget, our dear nation, Nigeria remains the world’s poverty capital. According to Oxfam Report 2018 economic inequality in Nigeria has reached extreme levels, despite being the largest economy in Africa. But it is now back deep into the pits of unemployment, insecurity, hunger and of course, the clearly avoidable debt trap!
Going by the Gini Coefficient, the gap which still exists between the richest and the poorest Nigerians is inexcusable.
According to government data from 2020, the Gini coefficient in Nigeria was 35.1 points. But that for Denmark was 28.2, the lowest and Namibia, 59.1 the highest in the world.
As at 2018 it was estimated that the combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men put at – $29.9 billion – could end extreme poverty at a national level.
Yet, 5 million face hunger. More than 112 million people are currently living in poverty in Nigeria, yet the country’s richest man would have to spend $1 million a day for 42 years to exhaust his fortune!
Perhaps, it is time for us all to learn from God, our maker. He has amply demonstrated the richness in the attitude of helping to pull out those still enmeshed in the quagmire of hunger and poverty. He provided manna from heaven to the Israelites in the desert wastelands.
He sent an angel with cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water to Prophet Elijah while hiding in the cave away from the threats of Jezebel. And Jesus the Christ fed five thousand famished worshippers with five loaves of bread and two pieces of fish as recorded in Matthew 14:13-21 (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)
That was in Tabgha, Capernaum, on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Without doubt therefore, Davido’s recent donation to orphanages should prick the conscience of the other rich citizens to do the needful.
They do not need all the wealth at their disposal but would be lifted by lifting the less privileged citizens, especially now that food prices and the cost of living have skyrocketed to the cloudy political horizon.
As wisely stated by Chief MKO Abiola (of blessed memory), the hand of the giver is always above that of the receiver. So, go out there and give! Kudos to Davido, Omo Baba Olowo (O.B.O)!