The Magic Of Social Capital

Ikenga Ezenwegbu

Ikenga Ezenwegbu

There is this brand of capital many intelligent people have used to achieve more in their various life endeavours. It has also helped them in their times of crisis. It’s worth more than money. It works when money is available but cannot change the situation.

It is called social capital.

Social capital has been aptly defined as the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively. It is the capital drawn from the members of the society by a needy member to solve his or her  overwhelming problems or survive tough times.

When you are broke and you are not sure of who to call to raise you a small loan, you should be alarmed. If you are 40 years and above or even below and cannot put a call through to make something happen, you should be worried. When you’re in trouble and nobody cares, you need to do self-examination.  You lack social capital.

Many people who have had it easy in life, who are born rich, who have paying jobs or who occupy political offices, often fail to realize that there is a need to build a human relationship based on humanity not class or based on wealth levels. Job position or wealth can disappear but investment in social capital is everlasting.

Have you heard of people who keep attracting goodwill long after they are considered not well off? Have you heard of those referred to as “Ome mgbe o ji” meaning “the person who helped when he had”? They invested in social capital.

I had since much earlier in my working life realized the need to tap into social capital through conscious effort to be a positive force in my environment.

As a young professional, I have known that my boss would like to keep me and even give me good reference if I work hard on any given assignment and if I am utterly loyal to him. I know that if I also help my neighbours and my immediate community in every little way I  can, I know that at least one of them would come to my aid whenever I am in need. If I work for the progress of my organisation and serve them without blemish, there is every likelihood that they would come to my defense as I recently experienced.

Social capital is not acquired in a day. It is accumulated over a period of time. You cannot purchase it. It is an intangible salt of life only a sustained pattern of conduct would confer on the possessor.

All those subordinates or political affiliates would leave when you lose your position or wealth but those with whom you connected with would always remember you. Note that there are some who will never remember.

When you attend a funeral or a function and see the bereaved or the celebrant receiving a lot of gifts more than you know you yourself cannot get, the difference is the social capital. Igbos say that “dike jelu mba bulu anụ nata bụ ndị ọ na-enye nyere ya” meaning that “whenever someone receives so many gifts, that it is a repayment for his previous generosity”.

It is on this foundation that a lot of groups known as secret societies are built. You don’t have to be a member of any of them. Just keep casting your lot of goodness wherever you find yourself. People watch. They see.

By sharing my knowledge and experience on Facebook I know I affect some lives. By so doing I’m acquiring friends for today, tomorrow and for the near future. The possibility is endless.

It is not too late to work towards acquiring social capital. Simply become a committed member of your environment. Always offer to help anyone as much as you can. You may never know, the life saving help you may need would be drawn from your social capital bank.

I am a beneficiary of social capital.

You too can access it.

But you must first of all sow before you reap.

There is always a moment when you need someone else to help you.

Nobody reaps without sowing.

I just reaped stupendously from people’s goodwill.

It works.

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Professor Jideofor Adibe


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