Is good name still better than riches?
In the days of old, our elders used a lot of proverbs to communicate. So they could tell you you were being foolish without directly saying that you were a fool.
Our local languages still have very rich proverbs - it is their use that seems to have dwindled. Back then if an elder wanted to impress the need for or importance of good character, intergrity , good morals and kindness to others, she or he would say in Ga, Gbei kpakpa hi fe shika or in twi, “Dinpa ye sen ahonya,” to wit: “Good name is better than riches.” This saying is supported by the bible.
Maybe that saying was suitable for the environment they found themselves. In our world today, can this proverb still hold? Everything of ours is so privatised that with no riches, even your life hangs in the balance from birth.
The riches you have determine where you are born and which citizen you become. It determines whether you are born in a private or public hospital and determines the kind of care you receive.
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As you grow, riches determine the kind of education you acquire, whether a private school where children get more attention from their teachers because of the class size, better toilet facilities and even the number of lashes of the cane you receive. Once you land in some public primary school, you would even have to buy the canes to be presented to the teacher for whipping you! The child’s early development is to a large extent dependent on riches.
When it comes to employment, the rich who have the necessary connections again win. The riches would have determined the kind of schools and educational qualifications and, therefore, the employment opportunities.
Riches determine the type of house and area you live in, the type of car you ride and even whether you have good food, clothes and shelter.
When it comes to religion, the best seats in some of our churches are reserved for the rich.
If you fall foul of the law, riches are able to give you access to the best legal team. Some have ended up in jail not because they did what they were accused of but because they could not do what it took to get them back home. Even in police swoops, it is the poor and vulnerable who end up in the net. Some cases heard by the Justice For All Programme are examples of such scenarios.
But in spite of all these riches, there is one thing which riches cannot bribe and that is death. We can only buy health to an extent. But then again riches are able to get the dead space in a private cemetery where the environment of well-watered flowers and well-arranged tombs are pleasing to the eye of the living.
What I do not know is whether riches can secure a private entrance into heaven because no one has come back from the dead to tell what really happens in the other world.
Maybe that is where the proverb will come into play and high demand for good name will send you to heaven. But for now, if I drove into the filling station and opened my fuel tank, good name will not help me fill it. Good name will neither finance my education nor get me a good place to sleep. It seems that riches rather results in good name now.
The best good name can do will be to touch the heart of a person with riches to come to your aid. So in our modern world where everything is privatised and determined by what is in our pocket, is good name really better than riches?