Evolution of street begging…

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Begging as a Full Time Job…

I moved to Ibadan, Oyo state Nigeria on a new job I took on over a year ago (click here if you missed it) and asides the initial blending into the new city, the peace and relatively moderate paced nature of the city drew me in.

So coming from a fast paced city like Lagos where everything and anything is possible, I thought I had experienced all the trends when it comes to street begging. From the corporate beggars to the ones requiring support for their infant kids, to the ones who will chant praises and accolades, I really wasn’t expecting anything different in Ibadan, or so I thought…

Let me paint the picture here. So I’m driving down to work at past 7 am (one of the many benefits of moving to a less crowded city) and I’m on a diverted route with its many bumpy portholes due to the road reconstruction going on in the area I reside, then I see this lady with a baby strapped behind her waving to me with a really broad smile on her face.

I pause for a bit to get a better view of her from my side view mirror and I still do not recognize her. She’s neither a colleague nor a relative but seeing her persistent happy wave to me, I stop for a minute. She catches up to me, while I try to return the smile…

Good morning Ma, she echoes; you don’t know me, but when I saw you I just thought to get your attention. You see, I just had this baby (referring to the child she had strapped behind her) and that man down there is my husband, she says pointing towards a man standing away from where I am packed. We have a lot of hospital bills from the delivery and I don’t have any family member that we can ask for help. Please if you can help me with anything I will really appreciate it, God will bless you beyond what you ever wished for…

I am a bit thrown off my guard.“I never experedit”. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what the story would be but I had assumed it would something related to;

“Madam how now, can’t you remember me? I am Iya Funmi who sells provisions near your office” or something along that line…

The chances of offering her any financial support even if I wanted to was really slim, I had no cash on me and seeing as she mentioned a medical need, I really didn’t have anything that would be commensurate to her current financial struggles. She proceeded to thank me for stopping and listening and off she went to catch up to her husband…

The line I fell for…

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I remember an almost similar experience in Lagos of a man that had approached me at CMS bus stop in Marina with a bleeding nose, showing me an inhaler he claimed he needed refilled to treat his asthma condition. I remember feeling really emotional and before he could utter another word, I dug into my bag to give him the cash I had and even went on to apologize to him that I didn’t have more than that to offer.

Imagine my shock one week later, at the same bus stop and the same man with the bleeding nose, in the same attire from the previous week, approach me with the exact same story line. I am gobsmacked! He repeats exactly the same story and I respond saying, I gave you money last week, do you do this as a full time job? Seeing as he had been caught in a lie, Mr. Asthmatic sprints off before I blow his cover to unsuspecting onlookers.

I agree that we are currently in a volatile economy, but aren’t there really any other ventures or alternatives to corporate/street begging? Have you experienced anything similar? What is the most shocking street begging line you have been dealt and fell for?

Feel free to share in the comment section!

Toodles!

 

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About Author

Nkechi Enechukwu

Nkechi is a brand & marketing strategist, social blogger, story teller and an avid bathroom singer (lol). She writes short prose when motivated and blogs about her personal experiences on various subjects. You can follow her on twitter @kechy004

3 Comments

  1. Na wa for Niga ooo….Professional Beggars every nook and cranny….the next things you will hear Is ‘Na Economic condition’….Lolz…

  2. A young well dressed man once approached me at Maryland and narrated a sad story about how he came to Lagos from Ibadan for an interview and had his wallet stolen , he looked too well dressed to be otherwise so I gave him some money for his fare back home. Imagine my shock two days after when I saw him at the same place, telling the same story.

    • Olatunde Ajayi on

      That is very common now everywhere and not just in Lagos. I had similar encounter over 4 years ago at Osogbo, Osun state. I wonder how a well dressed, educated, good looking, able body (not disabled in any form), young guy would resort to such act.
      Could that be due to un-employment or laziness?

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