The Poor Millionaire

“The person who can read and does not read is not better than he who cannot read”

The bus was one of those types that is fit for nothing else but the junk yard, where it would be crushed for metal scraps, a befitting burial for a veteran.  But somehow, the cruel master found a way to keep it alive and on the road, breaking down at every stop, but getting the job done none the less. So there we were that Friday afternoon, stuffed in the bus like a fat man wearing a shirt two sizes too small. I was drenched to my skin in sweat.  It was an extremely uncomfortable wait and I switched into day dream mode to distract myself from the scorching heat and pungent odours. Then I heard his voice, “who wants to be a millionaire, who wants to be a millionaire!!!” 
He was skinny, razor sharp features, dark as night. His loose, ill fitted cloths hung on him like cloths on a hanger out to dry. The shirt he wore showed signs of being white once upon a time. There were dark brown patches under the armpit and the trousers were pulled together in thick ridiculous gathers round his waist.  It was obviously too large. I could not see
his shoes (if he had one) cause he was standing too close to the bus windows. He had a bunch of books in his hands which he waved as he screeched at the top of his lungs “who wants to be a millionaire, your fortune can change overnight, and anyone can make it in life”.  Among the titles he showcased were topics like ‘think like a millionaire, millionaire mindset, think and grow rich…’ He moved from window to window and as he approached mine, I casually glanced at the books and then quickly escaped back into my day dreaming but I was rudely yanked out once again by someone directing a question to the book seller. I turned sharply because the question hit me between the eyes like a two by four. “Have you read any of those books yourself?” the passenger asked again. A few of the passengers had started giggling, realising the irony of the question. Much to my dismay, the implication of the question was lost on my dear merchant who quickly and eagerly responded in an affirmative "Yes, all of them! They are very good, and life transforming”. Ouch!!! That was me, because I could not bear it anymore. The inquirer let the silence that followed drive home his point as he looked the dirty hungry book merchant over before replying in disdain, “So why has it not transformed you?” Needless to say, my dear merchant did not sell one book that day, but succeeded in generating a healthy debate that kept us entertained for the entire duration of the journey, whether the books were useless in themselves or not. 

As I began to reflect on the plight of the poor millionaire, I stumbled upon a truth.  I realised that it is not the amount of knowledge we acquire that make us successful. It is simply what we do with what we learn. The book seller could have possibly read all those books from cover to cover and not be helped by any of them. You see, information acquired is impotent on its own.  There are a lot of illiterates (in the academic sense) that are very wealthy, in money and other aspects, and there are a lot of very educated folk (again in the academic sense) that are not so comfortable. It’s not just about what we know.

Some will say that it’s about what you do, hard work! (My father loved that phrase every young student has learned to hate. “ You have to work harder “ was his signature phrase for ending his study of my report card, no matter how well I did). So they ignore the acquisition of vast knowledge and throw themselves into hard work, learning to earn their keep.  They sweat profusely, keeping at it from morning till night, and end up with just a meal ticket at best. Some other folk on the other hand, stand around watching them exert so much man power, and at the end of the day the folk at leisure go home with better pay than those that did the actual work, they call them supervisors (a big name for someone that does nothing but watch others work), and it’s because of what they know (knowledge is power they say).

My arguable submission is that it’s not just about what you know, (as important as it is, since it is the foundation of all we produce), or just about what you do, (although this is what produces the meat, because without it, all else is wishful thinking), but it is an agreeable combination of the two. It has to be a doing something with or about what you know. It will amaze you, if you are honest like me, the amount of knowledge we waste with inactivity. We amass an unimaginable amount of information daily through all manner of media,( from  reading the morning papers at breakfast, to watching two well dressed people  cussing and fighting in traffic or the myriad of books, lectures, seminars and discussions we consume on a daily basis), but we either don’t bother to process them, or even if we do, we don’t bother to do what we learn.  We are all like my dear poor millionaire in one way or another. We know so much about being in good health yet stuff our faces with junk food and treat the gym as if it’s a concentration camp,  We scream about the lawlessness of our government officials, but are willing to break the law at every opportunity we get (I saw you run the red light, don’t even lie). We diligently go to our worship centres, yet come out with no moral conviction or strength of value. We read a lot of self help books, but practise absolutely nothing it suggests. 

Success occurs when information is processed by obeying its outlined principles. (Simply put, when you practise what you learn! I wonder why we have a flare for theatrics). So before you rundown the next write up, maybe you should try and act on what it says first ( although some can be outright ridiculous, so sift wisely), or before you write off the road side scuffle as brief entertainment, ask yourself what lesson it has taught you and how practising it can make you a better person. Learn to put yourself on the witness stand daily and ruthlessly cross examine, by asking like a teeth baring prosecutor “what have you done today with what you know?” 

 My success tip....Try and give as much attention to practising what you read as you give to finishing the book, and  slow down the activity to find out if you really know anything about what you are doing.      

'knowledge icon' in image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a writer, entrepreneur, blogger, public speaker and an all-round knowledge junkie who likes to view life from different angles.


  1. wow! Awesome. Thank u pastor kani. U know, I've read so many books about how to do particular things, but what do i do? I shout 'wow really? Nice!' then i still go back to my old ways! It's as if we read books just for the sake of reading them. Jeez. This is really nice. The illustration with the book seller did it for me. Wow!

    1. I hope you won’t blank out after this particular WOW (Wink). This is a general problem with most of us, but once we realize it, we should gradually and consistently apply ourselves to more and more of what we read or learn through different systems, until we are practicing all we have been informed with.

  2. Thanks for this needful reminder. You have stated clearly the truth. What I know is good. What I teach is better. But the knowledgr I put to use is what is best for me.

    1. hey!what an apt summary, thank you so much.

    2. hmm very concise summary...ask his/her to let u quote it..when u write ur book...