My friend, a Ghanaian came to visit me yesterday. He was married in Ghana with two children, but got divorced shortly before he relocated to Canada.
He and his wife had joint custody of their now 9 and 7 old children. But his wife agreed to look after the children till they become independent adults, on the condition that he sends money and visit them at least twice a year.
My friend is rich, he is stinking rich. At 39, he has many businesses to his name, four houses in Ghana, three here in Canada and warming up to buy his fourth here in Canada before the end of August.
He is a compulsive workaholic who spends all his time working and trying to strategize on new ways to make more money. That’s like what he thinks about 20 out of 24 hours of the day. So much that I told him that whenever I’m with him, he should stop telling me about money, business and work. He now remains quiet whenever we are together because he has nothing else to say.
Yesterday, when my friend got to my house, I put on a movie on Netflix. The movie is about a rich man who has made so much money. However, he doesn’t have a good relationship with the people who mean most to him, including his own only son and his own younger brother. His wife was late.
He was diagnosed of late stage cancer and was told that he has a short time to live. He sent for his son, and he came reluctantly.
Even though he was dying, the son made it a habit of reminding him how he was a selfish person and a shitty father who never cared about anyone but himself and money.
During one of their exchanges, he told his dad “You were never a father to me. Do you even know me, when is my birthday?”… and the father had no idea when his only child’s birthday was.
I paused the movie and asked my friend “When is your children’s birthdays?”, and my friend couldn’t answer. I asked him “what are their favorite colors? What food do they like eating? When last did you call them on video call?”, I realized that my friend was a sperm donor who provides money.
Even when my friend visits Ghana, instead of spending time with his children, he uses most of those times to check-up his projects. He just buys gifts for his children and hands it over to them. Then he does his business, make more money, and zooms back to Canada.
I did NOT take it lightly with my friend. Like seriously, I wasn’t mild with him. I spoke sense into him. Told him how he was a failure, a selfish person who cares nothing about anyone but himself and how to make more money.
I asked him “who are you making these money for? You will end up like this man in this movie. Even though you don’t get cancer or become terminally ill, you will wake up one day, find out you are old and weak, and your life will be empty because no one will love you. You will be in your mansion, and there would be no one to love you or care about you. Then you will realize that even with all the money on earth, a life without LOVE and solid human relationships is a wasted life that will leave you empty at the long or short run”.
My friend, a “hard man” type of guy started to cry on me. He said I just opened his brain to something. He accepted that he has been a crappy father. He accepted that he is selfish, and can do better.
He felt guilty and nostalgic. And I hammered more. I wanted him to realize his wrongs, now that it’s not too late, even though it meant he was going to cry me a river.
He told me that he was going to apply for a 2-week leave so that he can go to Ghana and spend time with his children.
Then I told him “when you get there, forget about money. For the period you are there, do the school runs. Help them do their homework. Have some quality daddy time with them. Buy them ice cream, take them to the saloon and cut their hair. Bath them, and do what every responsible father should do for the children. If you don’t build a bond with your children, they will become adults and dislike you, just like this man in the movie dislikes his dad”.
My friend told me “Thank you” about 20-30 times before he left my house yesterday.
Sometimes, the love of money and material things make some of us forget about building solid relationships with those who matter the most in our lives.
I want to be rich, but above that, I want to love and be loved. I want to have strong human bond with most of those who matter.
I have never seen a rich man or woman who neglected establishing good human relationships who didn’t end up either depressed or in regrets.
So, this is a word for everyone reading this… while you go out to make money, while you hustle and work hard to make ends meet, while you go through the hustles and bustles of life, never forget to establish and maintain good relationships with those who matter.
Because even with twice Bill Gate’s wealth, a life without love is an empty one.
There’s an adage in my dialect that states “Onye we inhya ka onye we egho”. It can be translated to mean “He who has people is greater than he who has money”. In pidgin English, it means “Na who get people pass who get money”.
And I absolutely align and agree with this.
I do ask myself “would I rather be as rich as Bill Gate and have children and siblings who hate/dislike me because I was too busy chasing money and forgot to pay them attention, OR would I rather be just average and have many people who love me and who have my back?”
I don’t know about you, but my answer remains that I value human relationships and love a million times more than I value wealth.
I would chase money. But NOT when chasing money will stop me from establishing good relationships and love with those who matter most.
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