On Black Tax: A Mother’s Tale

Chimnwendum
4 min readNov 21, 2023

I have to take care of my siblings; that is my responsibility. Everyone has their responsibilities, and we must learn to carry them.

A short play

Mama: Ada, go and pack the foodstuffs I bought from the market; we are sending them to my brother and his wife tomorrow.

Ada: But we barely have enough to feed on, see the number of people in the house, and you keep adding more mouths to feed. Why?

Number of people at home: 13 (Mama has 5 children and a husband)

Monthly income: >1M

Mama: I grew up in poverty and starvation, and I wouldn’t want them to go through the same thing.

Ada: Mummy, your brother is in his early forties, he should be catering for himself and his children. Yet, you are the one taking care of them. He does not have any responsibility and you are still feeding him?

Mama: Ada, see, not everyone will have sense in this life. That is why God has blessed people like us, so we can help those who do not have sense.

Ada: Mama, I totally disagree with you. You suffered most amongst your siblings. They didn’t even take care of your late mum when she was sick. You did! You bore all the responsibilities. Mummy, suffer no dey tire you?!

Mama: Ada m, one day you will understand what I am talking about.

Ada: God forbid.

Mama: I understand you, Ada m. But what will I do? If I leave them, they will die of starvation.

Ada: That is a lie. There is a reason people like him outlive people like you. He has a commercial bus; what does he do with the proceeds from the bus? Yet, you are still feeding a 40-year-old man and his wife.

Mama: You know that a fool at 40 is a fool forever. Moreover, your grandmother, my mother, told me to keep all my siblings together on her deathbed.

Ada: Why didn’t she keep them together when she was alive? Wasn’t it in her lifetime that her son got a lady pregnant seven times, knowing he could not cater for them? Why did she ask you to do something she couldn’t do herself?

Mama: I don’t know. *starts to cry* Ada, I am tired. Exhausted. I make over 1 million naira from my business every month but where is it? If this one is not in prison and needs to be bailed out, the other one wants to do his master’s and can’t afford it. The most annoying thing is they keep giving birth and shipping them to me. How is it that a 45-year-old man can’t cater to his needs? Nne, I am tired but it is my cross and I must carry it.

Ada looks at her mother with anger but understanding. Perhaps her mother thinks she can’t do anything about this situation. As a man thinketh so is he.

The next day, at night, Ada called for a family meeting among her 4 siblings.

Diokpa: Ada, why have you called this gathering?

Ada: I came to tell you all that no one amongst us is allowed to be useless. Look at mummy’s siblings, decide today not to be like any of them. I will not raise any of your children when you are still alive with a working brain and functional limbs.

You all have the same opportunities as me, if not better. Stay in school. Leave all these small boys and small girls alone. Focus on being a better human being for yourself and your society. I will not have anything to do with any useless person. Whether by blood or by friendship. I refuse to be associated with uselessness in any shape, gender, or form.

The era of one person being the light and the rest sucking her dry ends with mummy. If you like give birth to more kids than you can cater for. They will drink garri without milk and sugar and you will curse yourself for all the opportunities you lost.

Ada’s siblings looked at her in bewilderment. This was a different sister they were getting today. What could have led to this outburst and visible irritation?

Finally, there are people God has called us to help. Orphans, destitute, etc. If we all work hard, we can help more people and bring them to Christ. However, if we all depend on one person, we will all remain poor.

Use your tongue to count your teeth, ka chi fo nu.

S/O: To the breadwinners of every family who continue to take care of their loved ones despite a proven track record of wasteful mentality and lack of common sense. Receive the courage to start saying no.

Nothing impoverishes a man more than unbridled generosity.

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Chimnwendum

Sharing lessons from stuff adulthood throws at me.