- ‘ Cases of rape rise to 84% in Nigeria’
- Dana air crash update: 23 aircrash victims’ families yet to receive compensation
- Mimiko inaugurates new Mother & Child hospital today
- N4.56b pension scam: Female accused hospitalised,trial stalled
- Construction workers hail FG’s decision on Lagos-Ibadan expressway
- Senate adjourns plenary for 1 week, dissolves to Appropriation committee.
- Blackout looms as Egbin power plant breaks down
- FMBN, NEXIM, BOA, IB lose N47bn in 6 months - CBN
- FirstBank wins Nigerian Bank of the Year award
- PDP tackles ACN over Tukur’s comments
- Electricity workers threaten strike over Wamakko
- ‘NDIC prosecuted 55 directors, staff of micro finance banks in 2011’
- Judgment in Oni’s appeal stalled, re-fixed for Jan 8
- Slain banker: Deceased had only 3 wounds -Accused’s father
- Appointments: S/West not marginalised —FCC
Incredible world of family of beggars
Different professions are acceded from one generation to the other as children step into the shoes of the role models in their families. You hear people say things like, “Law runs in the family; the father is a lawyer and so are the children.” However, Doyin Adeoye found out that this is not the preserve of the 'noble' professions as some professional beggars also nurture their children to follow in their footsteps.
AT the outset of begging, those engaged in it did so strictly because they had deficiency in some key areas of their lives such as being too poor to provide for their own needs or having a physical disability which limited their chances of working to earn a living. But the story has since changed. Nowadays, many able-bodied people have fully embraced begging as their own professions, even as they train their children to also beg.
Speaking with different groups of beggars, Nigerian Tribune came across different families, cousins and close relations, all in the begging business. So, it was not surprising that when the Nigerian Tribune sought to speak with beggars along the Mokola Barracks Road, at Sabo, Ibadan, their spokesman insisted she should visit the Seriki (king) of the beggars for permission before any member of the group could say anything.
Finally when access was granted, a young man, who simply identified himself as Abdul, talked about their way of life, “My father begs here and he has been in it for a long time, long enough that I don’t even remember again. He is blind and although my mother is not, they both stay here, as she sells food here. My father has nine children.”
When asked how his father managed to cater for his children, Abdul, an SS2 student in a school in the North, who joins his blind father to beg during the holidays, explained that three of his sisters were married, two of whom were full-time housewives, while his other siblings, he said, just tried to make ends meet.
Beside Abdul’s parents, many couples were also seen among the begging troupe. It was learnt that their kids joined them after school hours, for those in school. Nigerian Tribune gathered that the group has been in existence for more than five decades. The beggars used to line up the Mokola\Sabo road before a shed was construct-ed for them along the route that leads to Mokola Barracks. As many as they are, they do not fight for alms and everyone knows his or her own spot. Although, the group is mainly populated by Hausas, many Yoruba people have now drifted into the group and they all share the same roof. One of the Seriki’s sons, who simply identified himself as Aliyu, explained that his father was picked as the Seriki of Sabo beggars because he had been there for a while and because he lived peacefully with everyone around, stating that there was nothing really special about the position, except for the respect it earned.
“He also comes here in the evening to beg for alms as well, only that most of them often tip him from their earnings,” Aliyu said.
It was, however, a different scenario at the Oja’ba Market, as it was more of an open field to any interested person. In a chat with Alhaji Lukman Amzat, popularly known as Oloyin at the market, he said that the beggars had been in front of the palace longer than he could remember. An elderly man in the market also said that the beggars had been begging for alms at that spot for more than seven decades.
He added that they had become a part of the community. “They don’t trouble us and neither do we trouble them. They are peaceful and nobody has any-thing against them. The only concern is that they are dirty.”
He further complained of the stench which had become peculiar with the place as they often urinated there, making it unbearable for passers-by and indecent for the environment, being in front of the palace and this influenced their relocation to a nearby mosque, where they often stayed all day.
At Oja’ba, there was no leader or division of space, as spaces were taken on first come, first served basis. “There was a man my dad used to pay to help him carry his goods and when age started telling on him, he couldn’t continue the job, so he had to join them to cater for himself,” Amzat said.
As regards how most of their children roam on the street every time, begging for alms, a woman in the market, who simply identified herself as Iya Ibeji, explained that the children were taken along because it was easier for them to hustle for the money and other gifts, given by passers-by unlike their aged parents who were too weak or physically challenged; hence, they brought their children, who in turn would happily fight for their parents. As the children grew up, they easily switched into begging.
She further expressed her concern over their children’s fortune, “most of them are often on the streets, they don’t go to school and they don’t look like they intend to.
The money they make daily here seems to entice them that they most often look forward to begging for alms, such that education doesn’t mean anything to them.”
In a chat with one of the children, she said that she had to help her mother, “I have to take care of my mother and be around her all the time. She needs my attention and I have to be there for her,” she said.
The children also stated that it broke their hearts to see their parents in such positions. They pleaded with the government to provide jobs and homes for them, so that they in turn could help their parents.
While some are fixed to a spot, other beggars were seen on the major roads and bus stops, some assisted by their children, and others alone. In a chat with the Nigerian Tribune, most of them said that they begged for lack of funds. There was a rather pathetic response from one of the beggars, who simply identified herself as Iya Bode, as she explained amidst tears, “I don’t have a choice; I’ve been a widow for years with an only child, who I also lost a few years back. I have to cater for myself and I have no one around me to do that.”
However, while speaking, a man who was giving alms to one of the beggars, explained that he didn’t give alms unless the beggar obviously looked lacking. He added that most of the beggars were cheats, “I remember an incident that happened around Molete few years back, when a man was caught by his son. The man’s son is rich and he works at a reputable bank in Lagos. He made sure his father had everything he wanted, yet once the son travelled to Lagos for his job, the man would step into the streets and start begging for money.
The son was more than disappointed when he saw him,” he said.Share