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Adaobi Tricia: 'I Do Not Come To You By Chance'

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By Rose Kwamboka | October 17th 2021

As the first son, Kingsley is entitled to various privileges like a piece of meat in his egusi soup. He also shoulders certain responsibilities, like providing for his elderly parents.

However, following his graduation, he is unable to find work due to the bad economic times in Nigeria, meaning, he cannot provide for his parents. He loses his girlfriend to a rich man. Things get harder when he needs to pay for his father’s hospital bill and everyone is looking up to him as the opara to come through.

When worse comes to worst, he seeks help from his rich uncle, Boniface, popularly known as Cash Daddy. The only problem is that Cash Daddy is not into anything legal – he takes advantage of gullible internet users (mugus) to get money through an elaborate email scam business. 419ers, they are called. 419 is the criminal code for these kinds of email scams.

The constant moral dilemma between doing what is right and the need to provide for his family plagues Kingsley throughout the book. He stays immersed in the 419 scams because it is only there that he can perform his duties as the opara.

“Not being able to take care of my family was the real sin. Gradually, I had learnt to take my mind off the mugus and focus on the things that really mattered. Thanks to me, my family was now as safe as a tortoise under its shell. My mother could finally stop picking pennies from her shop and start enjoying the rest of her life. My brothers and sister could focus completely on their studies without worrying about fees…,” reflects Kingsley.

Adaobi Tricia’s debut novel, I Do Not Come To You By Chance delves into the value and importance of academic papers, that is, degree certificates. Kingsley strongly believes that education is his path out of poverty. His engineering degree, at best, adorns a wall at his parents’ low-rent house, while, Cash Daddy who never stepped foot in a university, is the one making all the money, albeit criminally and unethically.

The story is well-paced with good humour and a healthy dose of wisdom. It is different in the way the story is told from the scammers’ points of view as opposed from the victims’, whose stories you have probably heard time and again. You get to find out how the entire scam is orchestrated and executed to its completion. It even shows how one would get sucked into it and all the tricks of the trade used to lure people in.

How these scammers sleep at night after swindling people of their hard-earned cash, is a story for another book. In this one, karma does its thing, but you will have to pick this one up to find out exactly how.

The style of writing was a bit lacking, but the story made up for that in more ways than one. 

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