Growing up in Nigeria, my parents and relatives taught my siblings and me money lessons.
They used stories, proverbs, and idioms.
When I entered the finance world, I came to realize just how those principles, handed down to us through stories, formed the bedrock of a successful business or individual.
With every passing day, I have come to appreciate the worth of these money lessons.
You might be wondering . . .
“How can traditional money lessons help in a Nigeria that is worse off today than in the past?”
Well, with all the familiar troubles with Nigeria, there are still plenty of dollar millionaires in Nigeria. And even more are being minted yearly.
You too can be one of them if only you take these money lessons in Nigeria seriously.
My mother would often tell me:
“These money lessons won’t make you a Dangote or Otedola. They can only help you become self-reliant. And if you’re lucky, you might as well become a billionaire.“
Traditional Money Lessons for Nigerians
1. Pursue Expertise
Work hard to become an expert in one trade.
Do not be like the bird that flies from one branch to another, never building a nest.
If you do not settle on one craft, you will end up broke and depressed.
In the old days in SouthEast Nigeria, every family had a specific skill that made them famous.
If you had an important event you would not like the rain to ruin, you would go to Okeke’s family, who knew how to stop the rain.
If you wanted to fix your farm tools and make them sharp and durable, you would go to Okafor’s family, who were good at working with iron. Or what we today call blacksmiths.
That also explains why we have the igba boi apprentice system, where you follow a master for many years before you start your own business.
This way, you will learn the secrets of the craft and avoid beginner errors.
Don’t expect a bumper harvest when you have not taken the time to plant seeds.
2. Take Risks
Fear keeps you poor. Or rather, the fearful never gets rich.
In Arrow of God, Chinua Achebe writes:
“The world is like a mask dancing. If you want to see it well, you do not stand in one place.”
You need to get out of your comfort zone and embrace opportunities.
But be wise in your choices.
You don’t want to lose everything you have.
Never test the depth of a river with two feet.
3. Be Optimistic
With all the theft, insecurity, and lawlessness going on in Nigeria, it is easy to become pessimistic and adopt a negative outlook on life.
To make money, however, you must be upbeat.
Being negative is you fighting against yourself.
Because your negativity becomes reality sooner than you think.
The elders say that tomorrow holds more blessings than today.
You must believe this truth to succeed in Nigeria.
Do not succumb to the despair and anger that plague many people.
If the news fills your mind with lies, shun it.
If social media wastes your time, quit social media.
Be a person of optimism and gratitude. This is how you build wealth.
4. Be Honest and Reliable
To be honest and upright is what our elders expect and teach us.
We have a proverb in our community that a good name is more important than gold.
Do not seek to become rich by betraying your partners or injuring others.
Karma is, indeed, real. Bad actions will come back to haunt you.
Many have succumbed to greed and lost their lives after cheating others.
Be a person of high integrity.
5. Keep Good Company
There is a reason your parents were very interested in the friends you kept, especially during your formative years.
Friends can make or destroy you.
Look at Silicon Valley.
The people building new companies and wealth are usually friends from high school or university with similar values.
Make friends with high-energy people who are keen on building wealth.
6. Slow and Steady Wins
The palm wine tree that trickles is more valuable than the one that spurts.
The one that spurts empties itself quickly, but the one that trickles can sustain you for days.
Do not rush to make money fast. Build your fortune gradually and wisely, instead.
7. Pray to a Higher Power
Pray to whoever you believe in. Whether it is your Chi. Allah. Or Jesus Christ.
Make it more of an affirmation than a cast-and-bind session.
Prayer times are for declarations and decrees. Declare what you want to attract into your life.
There’s power in such proclamations. And do not doubt or fear, for the gods are listening and will reward your faith.
Speak as if you have already received what you ask for, and be grateful for the grace that surrounds you.
You are a child of the universe and have a divine right to abundance and joy.