When a child washes his hands, he can eat with kings.

Uyanwune, Chekwube
5 min readApr 21, 2020
child washing hand

If a child washes his hands, he could eat with Kings. The above is an Igbo proverb which I first came across in the popular book THINGS FALL APART published in the year 1958, Chinualumogu Albert Achebe explained as in the life of Okonkwo the protagonist of the book that every person is responsible of making his or her own future and opportunities by himself.

Most people arbitrarily speak about unemployment in Nigeria as though it entirely is government shortcoming without single blame or any fingers pointed to the person who himself is unemployed. Even though the Nigerian government has its own share of the blames a huge share of the blame if I may add, truth be told the Nigerian government has never cared about its people and they will not suddenly miraculously start to care about its people. To dive into enumerating the shortcomings of the Nigerian government would be to divert from the matter at hand as their failures are too many to mention in just a single writeup, it would require several articles to elaborate a task I consider to be a waste of time.

I would have been smarter if I were born in another community or state or region or country or continent. I would have had better opportunities if I were born into another family. I would have been great if I had started early. These are a few of the many excuses people come up with when they try to justify their slack. It is understandable that while some people have their lives carved out for them with success served to them on a bed of roses or others born with a silver spoon, whereas most people like us had to work for everything we have and everything we want to achieve. Would my life have been better if I were born into another family? Looking at the aforementioned book, Okonkwo was born in the same land where before him there were rich farmers and many poor ones. Would I have had better opportunities if I had been born to other families, perhaps a more affluent household? Maybe yes, but Okonkwo who was born to the most wretched father in the land has something to say about the family to which one is born into “when a child washes his hand, he eats with kings”.
Basically, how can a child wash his hands? With what can he wash his hands with?
We are often led to think we need to know incredible things to change our lives, but the truth of the matter is that it is often those miniature things that bring changes we seek. A few weeks ago a friend of mine told me about a job opening, the company needed a female office assistant, a position which only required proficiency in Microsoft Excel and willingness to learn, I thought to myself great; I had tonnes of people who always text me they needed jobs so I could easily recommend any of them for the job. Unfortunately, it turned out that neither of them was taken for the job, but why were they not taken? Because they could not use Microsoft Excel.
So the conversation turns to what is this water that I should wash my hands with to eat with kings. Even though there are many of them, but I will discuss three below.

  1. Learn a new language. I am a first-hand witness to what an additional language can do for you both local and international. I could tell so many stories of my experiences and other people’s experiences of what knowing an additional language have done for them, I have never written an application letter for a job whereas I have always changed jobs as often as I have wanted; I worked in several sectors of the economy; industries, finance, health, mining, oil and gas, etc
  2. I hate to say this but people still have to be told to learn the basic office tools skills (Excel, PowerPoint, word). Analysts, consultants, marketing professionals, bankers, and accountants all use office apps on a consistent basis. You might even find that other random professionals like graphic designers and engineers are working away with the powerful formulas and charts that come with Excel.

    Seeing as how office tools are so prominent in the workforce, it pays to learn all about it and put that experience on your resume. You might find that your current degree isn’t yielding any job prospects, so getting into Excel or other office apps could get you a job in the meantime.

    Developing your office skills using online resources could improve your employment prospects without the need to spend a lot of money going to schools. Learning office skills might even improve your job opportunities if you lack educational experience. People who didn’t have formal education can get into coding, of course, but we can say the same about Microsoft office tools. Upon completing the right training, you automatically make yourself more valuable in the modern-day workforce. These are simple tools that every office needs, the reason a person will look for an office job without having these skills is still not clear to me.
  3. Vocational skills; sometime ago my friend uploaded a video of him fixing his vehicle by himself, changing the brake pads and doing the routine servicing, changing the engine oil. Well, I asked him why he didn’t get a mechanic to do that for him; he said he could not afford to, that basically most people do such tasks by themselves instead of hiring the professionals who are more expensive. Bring the situation down to Nigeria. People usually outsource their needs, especially services because they think it is cheaper or because they are too busy with work to do it by themselves. In a city like Lagos with a population of over 20 million people, it is common to see people who parade themselves as professionals but deliver poor services be it mechanic, photographers, graphic designers, plumbers, electricians, fashion designers etc skilled labour is never enough here it is rather in very high demand, so it is a great time to pick up any of these skills.

these are just a few of the things any young Nigerian can do, just like the Yoruba proverb that says Work is the antidote to poverty, if you must eat with kings, then you must work.



Uyanwune, Chekwube

When a child washes his hands, then he can eat with his elders.