Last week belonged to Hushpuppi.
The video released by the Dubai Police broke the Nigerian internet. We were all stunned by the staggering number of victims (almost 2 million) and the amount of money involved.
Why he did it is a redundant question. Why do people steal? There isn’t one blanket answer to this question. It is multi-layered.
People steal to afford the basics. The hungry lad that taps a loaf of bread in desperation. The person in a tight financial situation and stealing seems the only option.
Some people steal because to them it is an easier way to make money than actually earning it. They are like man-eating carnivores. To hunt for actual game takes a lot of effort. Once they are able prey upon a human being, they see just how easy it is to catch a human. So they develop a taste for human meat.
Some people steal for the thrill. They enjoy outsmarting people. It may also be a compulsion for them.
Some people do not have a moral compass. They will steal if an opportunity opens up for them to steal.
Defrauding people at the level that Hushpuppi did was beyond meeting basic needs. It was not about changing the trajectory of struggle/poverty he may have experienced. I say so because he did not quit when he had a sizeable amount of cash. It was an ongoing game he was never going to leave voluntarily.
Hushpuppi obviously loved the big life. That was why he was into the yahoo business.
There has to be a chapter of a criminal’s handbook that warns against flaunting cash one cannot explain the source. People change their identities and even relocate when they siphon loads of money.
Just having the money was not enough.
Quietly and codedly country-hopping while enjoying the spoils of crime was never a footnote in Hushpuppi’s life.
He wanted not just money but fame.
This was why he documented the lavish life he was living for all to see and admire or envy.
He liked the attention.
He also probably had a poverty complex and took this ‘pepper dem’ thing to another level.
To keep up with the Jones’ employers, he had to remain spiffy and up to date. Receiving money and spending it lavishly is like trying to collect water with a sieve. You need that tap to keep running.
So Hushpuppi had money, fame and by extension, respect. There is a certain demography of young people who are impressed by displays of wealth. Not just young people. When you have loads of money, you have a voice. You will fraternize with other rich people, celebrities and government officials.
Money means influence. People connect with influential people so that they can remain relevant.
It seemed like Hushpuppi did not see the value of money if it didn’t give him visibility. He thrived on the attention it gave him and of course he got carried away with things.
Did it not occur to him that his lack of a clear-cut source of income would be a matter authoritiesA would look out for? Did he imagine the world at large was like Nigeria; where you can get your way out of anything if you have money?
Whatever it was, he may not get a second chance to redo.
His rise to popularity has to have a societal failing underneath it.
Money is the religion.
We don’t seem to care how a person comes by it; we just drop on our knees when we see signs of wealth.
When people ask questions about the source of wealth, the latest question to throw back at them is;
“Why did you not ask the source of their poverty when they were broke?”
I once had access to my boss’ status car. Drove it for a few days. I can tell you first hand that how I was treated everywhere was remarkably different than when I drive my normal vehicle.
Buy authentic designer apparels and step into a place and see how people instantly look up to you. Their eyes shining with admiration. People want to be close to you. People will name drop with your name. You will enter a bank and conduct your business from the manager’s office, while sipping a drink.
Money makes a difference in how you are treated. What you feel about yourself and the amount of nonsense you will tolerate.
I am sure you all watched the cringe-worthy video of Daddy Freeze eating fried rice with Hushpuppi. His sickening sycophantic laughter grated as he degraded an honest living because he was dining with the kings of dishonest living.
That is what money does.
This is why some people (especially new money with security issues) cannot lay low with money. No one would see anything in them if they were not spending big and showing off. They have to convince everyone that they are someone even if it is impossible for them to convince themselves.
And we the society, we are fickle and so easy to impress. We clap for them. We follow them. In fact, we tell them what they want to hear. They think we love them. It is rarely love.
We envy them sometimes. It is hard to look at a person jet-hopping and not wish.
We hate them most times. When to eke an ordinary living seems like rocket science and they are spending our three-year salaries on a single item of clothing.
We watch them in fascination like we watch Bobrisky. They are entertainment. We don’t want to be them but watching them is interesting.
Also, we hope the crumbs get to us. We live in their comment sections and inboxes begging.
It is rarely ever love.
And that is what they don’t get.
They gain nothing by impressing us. Nothing.
We are not loyal.
If Hushpuppi has access to social media, he would probably weep. Millions of followers are not really followers. They are viewers.
Now that he is in big trouble; all the cars, the watches and the viewers will be of no use to him.
There is a moral in this story somewhere.
I am too disillusioned to spell it out.