Class, Not for Sale, by Sesugh Akume

by Sesugh Akume,

This is actually a tale of two first ladies. First a little about their countries. One is from an advanced first world country, the other a ‘primitive’ third world country. One country is not rich of itself by natural endowment but made itself rich, along with its citizens. It’s the third richest in the world after Qatar and Luxembourg. Its GDP (purchasing power parity) stands at $82 762. There is no poor person in that country; and better believe this: the other presents a paradox. The country is rich by natural endowment, but has made itself poor, beggarly, and a debtor nation. Its GDP (purchasing power parity) is $6 351. Its citizens are poor; eighty five percent of them live on less than $2 a day, and things are getting worse by the day. It’s so bad that in that country you don’t cook food and blink. If you do, a neighbour would simply steal it off the fire. Not because they are thieves but because things are hard and they need to survive.

In one of the countries their education and culture is so developed and advanced that their average IQ is 108, among the top three in the world. In the other, the average IQ of its citizens is 67, on a rating scale where 70-75 is regarded as being mentally retarded. Ten million of its school age children are out of school.


Both first ladies arrive in the US, and with both, the talk is about their handbags. One sports a pouch of $11, the other a designer’s worth $105, 000 (be sure to count the zeroes). Judging by commonsense and the way normal people act, which of the two would one expect to be rocking the the $11, and the $105k bag respectively?

One of them had just a few weeks ago demonstrated the lowest vile, uncouth behaviour anyone could exhibit. She called a traducer who’s been doing everything to get under her and her husband’s skin a ‘mad dog’ on Twitter, and went ahead to challenge the person that if her husband is an old man, she is young and able to tackle the traducer head on. The national embarrassment and uproar made handlers of her Twitter account take down the said tweet, but she sees no shame in such ignominious behaviour. This is the ill-bred first lady who wants to make a statement of style, class, and sophistication with an expensive bag.

Sorry, class is not something you buy and it doesn’t start on the external. You either have it or you don’t. If you don’t have it, you can learn, but certainly it can’t be contrived, faked, or bought. The irony is that the first lady of a super rich country rocked a simple $11 bag, and looked cool and classy with it, making waves for her taste and style flare in the global media. It turns out it was designed and made by a 19-year-old designer from who is autistic, from a school she helped set up. After the news broke, 200 pouches that usually sell in one month were sold in a day! Whereas the one with the super expensive bag went unnoticed in the global media, and was spoken about only in her country’s media and not in very complimentary terms. It appears not only was it wasted effort, but a move that makes look a tad silly.

Leonardo da Vinci said Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.’ It’s work to be simple, therein lies the sophistication.Sophistication starts on the inside and shows outside, effortlessly.

Being a president, prime minister, etc and their spouse is a privilege that comes with some responsibility, part of which should be an image consistent with what is being preached. Your populace can’t be suffering the indignity of having to steal to survive, and whilst on the one hand you are preaching sacrifice as according to you things get worse before they get better; you are at the same time living life like everything is okay. It becomes even more tacky when the really rich people show that being and looking classy, stylish, and sophisticated is not necessarily in the amount spent.

Really, who should’ve been communicating this between the two?