My Nigeria, My Naira
“Na money be fine bobo”
I love that popular line from the song 'Bobo' by Mayorkun feat. Davido.
Everyone likes and wants money, I believe. There is almost nothing that can be done without it. It is the means of exchange for products and services. It is the reason we work hard to make a living for ourselves. Money is very important for survival and it is funny how we actually have to spend money to make money sometimes. The Naira is the currency spent in Nigeria. The latest 100 Naira note, unveiled in November 2014, is the first digital banknote in the world. At the back of the note, there is a barcode known as a Quick Response Code which when scanned shows the President's face and Nigeria's history. Interesting right? Read about it here. Personally, I think the 100 Naira is my favourite denomination. Did you raise your brows? 1000 Naira should be my favourite right? As per the highest? Oh well… I just love it, I find it attractive and I most certainly like the face of the note, late Nationalist, Obafemi Awolowo, whose good works in Nigeria are still well spoken of.
If you have noticed, for some months now, the 100 Naira denomination of the Nigerian Naira has been very scarce. I wonder where they all are. It is one of the frequently spent notes, however it has not really been available for some time. Worse than its scarcity, is the tattered, dirty, old, damp 100 Naira notes we have in circulation these days. Those things look like tissue papers that have been to unsavory places.
Let me divert a bit. In an interview I had with Scion Magazine in June (download here), I announced that I would be merging photography with my writing art i.e. Photo-writing. I really don’t know if photo-writing is the right term but ok. The idea is to have original images go with whatever I write, poems, articles etc. Yes, I am a photographer. So here is my first official photo-writing post. I posted something earlier on instagram. All the pictures in this post were shot and edited by me. I fell in love with photography in the year 2013 and I am glad that I can handle a camera well now. In April, I joined a photography class at my place of work, where I manage a youth empowerment project named Upskill. As much as I would have loved to attend all the photography classes that period, I could only concentrate for one day, for work and other reasons. From the lessons learnt, I gave myself a project to shoot a ₦100 note. I had that note in my purse for days. I refused to spend it. It seemed unusual to me. It was so neat and fresh. It looked as good as new. Oh! How I cherished it! These days, when you see a 100 Naira note as fine as this, you have to treasure it and safeguard it with everything.
Then the opposite!
Honestly, it is very sad and embarrassing to have such notes as the one above. This one is even good looking compared to some I have seen. This one is like a man with one eye in the land of the blind. People pass comments like: “where you wan find 100 Naira wey good this period”, “ko si 100 Naira ni’ta”, “100 Naira is scarce mehn” etc. The ‘abokis’, those commercial bike riders and commercial bus conductors are the ones that have the old 100 Naira notes in bulk at hand. Really. Especially the ones you patronize at night. Who can relate? Do like this ✋. As unpleasant as they look, many people will still receive it with joy. That can go as far as providing something to eat for a poor, hungry person. It is sad, though.
I'm not trying to ridicule or paint our dear Naira in bad light. Trust me, I love my country, I love my Naira. I was just fascinated by the neatness of the first note and the ‘otherwiseness’ of this one. I know some might frown at the use of the adjective ‘dear’ in describing the Naira, given how devalued it is to the US Dollars. Well, we can only hope things get better. We are in Nigeria and this is what we have to spend. We will embrace it and strive to make more.
Back to my cherished 100 Naira note, I was amazed at the newness of it, seeing it was printed in 2014 and we have 2017 notes as dirty as what I don’t know. Irony right? Such is life. It makes me think of life. Many people get other’s attention, love and care and are treated as gods when in reality they are just as valuable as the next person who is looked down on. How people see themselves as damaged, unloved, and unwanted like the old 100 Naira notes but yet, needed. Rejected by some, needed by many. No matter how terrible a person seems, someone somewhere might find them resourceful. Someone somewhere will accept them just as they are. Life is interesting. Bottom-line, you are worth even more than others think of you. You are precious.
Photos by: Deelivia Imagery (Click here to follow my photography account)
Camera: Canon EOS 600D
Date shot: New note 13.04.18, old note 02.07.18
Big thanks to my trainer Omotayo of Omotayo Aiyerin Photography (OAP) and I also thank Ayokunle of AyoBudo Visuals.
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