time na money
Fiction, Music vibes

The Story behind Time na money by Mike Okri

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Once upon a time in Nigeria, in the city of Ughelli, in the 1980s, a period when life was relatively simple and fun in Nigeria when music ruled the airwaves and people would stop to sing and dance in the streets, Mike Okri and his friend Oninando, two young men were in search of fun, fame and fortune

One Monday morning, around 10am, the two young men went to Mama Kevwe Shack to drink, play draft, and bet on some naira notes and kobo coins. They sat on the bench in front of the bar, with the draft board in between them, making moves to win some money that would fetch them a few bottles of beer.

An old man walked past them and halted.

He had recognized one of them.

“Oninando! What are you doing at the bar at 10 o’clock?” He shouted.

Oninando tried to hide but it was too late.

The old man approached them.

“Why are you young men playing draft instead of going to look for work to do?”

“Papa, the day is still young and time still dey” Mike Okri replied.

“Yes, he is right, we have all the time in the world to enjoy ourselves while we are still young!” Oninando affirmed.

The old man shook his head and held his right ear with two right fingers.

He faced Oninando and said,

“Time na money o
Make you use your time well Oninado
Nor waka waka Oninado
Nor gossip gossip Oninado
Nor spoil another man Oninado
Use your time well Oninado
Do better thing”

Mike Okri and Oninando listened closely to the old man.

His words were filled with wisdom and the message in the words penetrated their hearts.

Some layouts also listened to the old man.

“Do you want to make money?” The old man asked Oninando.

“Yes! I want to make money and be rich!” Oninando stated.

The old man nodded his head and said,

“Money no dey fall from heaven

Do better thing money go come

Na true word I dey tell you so oo Oninado!”

He walked away as soon as he said these words.

Mike Okri and Oninando got up from the bench and stopped playing the draft.

They left, walking in silence as they brooded over the words of the old man.

Two years later Mike Okri had become a musician and had begun recording many songs.

He decided to use the words of the old man and recorded a track, “Time na money”.

The song was released in 1989 and it became a hit in Nigeria and across western Africa.

Time na money became the signature tune for hustling, work, business and judicious use of time.

I hope you like this fictitious story.

You can listen to this evergreen track here courtesy of Mike Okri Youtube channel:


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