“I do not come to you by chance. Upon my quest for a trusted and reliable foreign businessman or company, I was given your contact by the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I hope that you can be trusted to handle a transaction of this magnitude.”
I think almost every Nigerian must have at one point in their lives or the other come in contact with internet fraudsters. In ” I do not come to you by chance”, Adaobi Nwaubani takes us through the secret world of online scammers aka yahoo yahoo boys, as they are popularly called in this part of the world.
If you have hitherto been curious about how these scams operate and what type of lies these people concoct to get such huge amounts from their unsuspecting victims, then you should read this. This book definitely feeds that curiousity.
Author: Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Book Title: I Do Not Come To You By Chance.
Book Genre: Fiction
Date of Publication: 2009-1–1
Number of page: 200
A deeply moving debut novel set amid the perilious world of Nigerian email scams, I do not come to you by chance tells the story of one young man and the family who loves him.
Being the opara of the family, Kingsley Ibe is entitled to certain priviledges – a piece of meat in his egusi soup, a party to celebrate his graduation from university. As first son, has responsibilities too. But, times are bad in Nigeria, and life is hard. Unable to find work, Kingsley cannot take on the duty of training his younger siblings, nor can he provide his parents with financial peace in their retirement. And then, there is Ola. Dear, sweet Ola the sugar in Kingsley’s tea. It does not seem to matter that he loves her deeply, he cannot afford her brideprice. It hasn’t always been like this; For much of his young life, Kingsley believed that education was everything, that through wisdom, all things were possible. Now he worries that without a “long-leg” – someone who knows someone who can help him – his degrees will do nothing but adorn the walls of his parent’s low rent house. And when a tragedy befalls his family, Kingsley learns the hardest lesson of all: education may be the language of success in Nigeria, but it’s money that does the talking. Unconditional family support may be the way in Nigeria, but when Kingsley turns to his Uncle Boniface for help, he learns that charity may come with some strings attached. Boniface aka Cash Daddy – is an exuberant character who suffers from elephantiasis of the pocket. He’s also rumoured to run a successful empire of email scams. But he can help. With cash daddy’s intervention, Kingsley and his family can be as safe as a tortoise in its shell. It’s up to Kingsley to reconcile his passion for knowledge with his hunger for money and to fully assume his role as first son. But can he do it without being drawn into this outlandish milieu?
Kingsley did not become an Internet fraudster by chance. This Nwaubani portrays with her slow but steady build up of the story, starting and ending with a preface and an epilogue from the mother’s point of view, detailing his parents courtship, and establishing that Kingsley is from a solid background which places very high value on education and hardwork.
‘If you go to university,’ he said, ‘I will marry you.’ Augustina gaped like a trout. ‘Augustina, if you agree to go back to school, I’ll assist with your fees, and when you finish, I’ll marry you.’ That was how he proposed. On the day that her admission letter to study Clothing and Textile at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, arrived, Engineer leapt over the moon and back. ‘Augustina,’ he said feverishly, ‘our children are going to be great. They’re going to have the best education. They’re going to be engineers and doctors and lawyers and scientists. They’re going to have English names and they’re going to speak English like the queen. And from now on, stop calling me Engineer. Call me Paulinus.’
This is the kind of family Kingsley is born into. 👆👆👆
You know, the kind where the father asks you “Do you want to end up cleaning the shoes of your mates? No? Good. Then read. Read your books. Read I say”. All these he says, while pulling his ears downwards in a warning signal, just as Nigerian parents are wont to do. I’m sure you get the picture.
Unfortunately, both parents could not keep up monetarily with the inflation in the country. Especially as the salary of Paulinus as a Civil servant never increased to meet up with the increasing cost of living. They became poorer and poorer as the years passed. Their hopes and dreams of a better life becomes fixated on Kingsley getting a well paying job as a Chemical engineer so that he can ease the financial burden of his family. But, as life will have it, unemployment shatters that dream.
Rejected by his college sweetheart Ola, for an uneducated transporter who buys her designer stuff: Fendi slippers, Dolce and Gabana wristwatch. Kingsley is heartbroken. In the midst of all these worries, Kingsley’s father falls seriously ill and he is forced to turn to his uncle, Boniface aka Cash daddy for help. Cash Daddy, who has a big organization which specializes in 419, scamming rich white men and women, gives him money to pay for his fathers treatment and afterwards foots the bill for a lavish burial when Paulinus dies.
Part 2 of the book is where the real fun is. Having been convinced by cash Daddy to join the business, the second part chronicles the adventures of Kingsley in his career as a scam artist.
“At first, it was difficult. Composing cock-and-bull tales, with every single word an untruth, including ‘is’ and ‘was’. Blasting SOS emails around the world, hoping that someone would swallow the bait and respond. But I was probably worrying myself for nothing. They were just a bunch of email addresses with no real people at the other end anyway. Besides, who on this earth was stupid enough to fall prey to an email from a stranger in Nigeria?
Then, someone in Auckland replied. And another one in Cardiff. Then a lady in Wisconsin showed interest. Soon we were on first-name terms. It was almost like staying up to watch a dreadful movie simply to see what happened at the end. I continued stringing the sucker – the mugu – along. Then a Western Union control number arrived. Unbelievable. I, Kingsley Onyeaghalanwanneya Ibe, had actually made a hit! No oil company interview success letter had ever given me a sharper thrill of gratification. Like an addict, I was eager to recreate that thrill again. And again, and again, and again. Gradually, it occurred to me that I had discovered a hidden talent. Over the past year, I had adapted and settled into my new life.”
Nwaubani clearly did a lot of research on the topic of 419 scams, or she had some inside information as to how these numerous scams work, the larger-than-life style of living of these scammers, and how they justify their source of income.
“Cash Daddy was right. 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.”
Although I find it hard to conjure any feeling of emphathy for the scammers and even their greedy victims (Yes, greedy victims. You read right.), but I found myself rooting for Kingsley and hoping he doesn’t get caught as his escapades unfolds.
Asides Kingsley the protangist, there were other interesting and well placed characters, such as Augustina, Aunty Dimma, Azuka, Protocol Officer, Charity, Wizard, World Bank and so on.
Kingsley’s art of composing carefully crafted emails was entertaining, but Cash Daddy stole the show for me. Cash Daddy is corrupt, disgusting, loud, larger-than-life but, also caring, generous to his family, staff, community and also very entertaining.
And when Cash Daddy declares his ambition to run for office of the Governor, I found myself clapping at the genius of Nwaubani. This is so in tune with the situation of things of Nigeria at the moment.
Nwaubani tries to balance the story by emphasizing on the value of education. I do not come to you by chance is essentially a battle of values. Hardwork and honesty versus money and easy life.
“Education is highly valued in Nigeria, but so is monetary success ……”
As Kingsley tells his uncle,👇👇
“My father was learned and honest. Yet he could neither feed his family nor clothe his children. My mother was also learned, and her life had not been particularly improved much by education”.
It is a sad, but yet truthful narrative as it portrays the harsh reality of life of most Nigerians.
And the disappearance of Azuka after he travelled to meet his Iranian mugu in Iran also gives a hint of the dangers and occupational hazards(if you wish to call it that), these scammers face in their line of work.
I found this glimpse into the world of 419 scammers very fascinating. Between the light tone with which the story was told, the friendly prose, Kingsley’s carefully crafted emails, and the interesting characters,’ I do not come to you by chance’ was a pleasure to read.
Have you read ‘I Do Not Come To You By Chance’ by Adaobi Nwaubani? What did you think of it? Please share your thoughts with me. Y’all know how much I love to read from you.