“Ayíluko, Ìbàdíàrán, Amóbíojó, Amólawò…dakun olo mi, se mi lanu, ma je k’ebi o pami…fine aunty, fine mummy, fine brother…pupayemi, adanlawo…’ Sounds familiar? And if you are ebony skinned “Duduyemi, adubiaran, black and shine,….”
They mob you, they stalk you, walk, drive or stand they are right in your face. They stay close to banks, open markets, to shopping malls, to restaurants, clubs, churches, hospitals, everywhere! Where activity thrives, they are there!
Welcome to the malaise of begging epidemic. Choosy beggars. They come in different types and guises. Some will come and display their disabilities or challenges for you to see. There are some who are neatly dressed and carry the ubiquitous knap sack. They are forever stranded and needing money to complete their fare. Some come right into your offices and spin stories of how hopeless their plight is.
The other class is the well dressed elderly women in native attires who is either dogging your steps or car windows if you try as much as roll down your car window in a hold up.
The last and which I have had a run in with a few times are those traditional ones. Often clad in white or red, with cowrie shells in their hair, on their neck and ankles. The style is often “shuku” or they tie matching scarves of the particular attire they wear, some with badly bleached bodies and garish make up.
I sat in a cab a few years ago waiting for it to fill up. I was travelling home. The cab was a Golf 3 and I sat in front. The driver was calling in passengers. He needed three to fill the backseats. I was browsing on my phone and suddenly she materialized at the window. Archetype of the traditional class. White attire, cowrie shells in hair, badly bleached skin, coarse voice, she holds on to something like what the Yorubas call “sere” (a small gourd that sounds like a rattle (when shaken) or is it a rattle?”
She began. “Orekelewa, Ewatomi, Ayiluko, e ta yeye lore o”
I ignored her.
She continued “ Fine aunty, adanlawo, pupayemi, orente, e ta iya lore o”
I continued with my phone. Ignored her.
“O o fe ta mi lore abi (you don’t want to give me money?”
I said nothing.
“O da na…” I knew their drift. As she began her threats veiled as prayers I cut her off immediately.
“ E ma try e rara. Omo Olodumare le mi gan. E ma so òrò odi kankan simi. Eni ba soro odi a fi òri ara e gbe loruko Jesu.”
“ Do not try it at all. I am the child of Olodumare, Creator of all. Don’t try say curse words to me. If you try it, it’s falling back on you in the name of Jesus.” I warned.
Her eyes flashed in anger and she moved back. She tried to bluster. The driver closed in angrily. “ Mama, ti e o ba sora, eyin ati àwon ikeji yin e ma kuro ni garage yi. Eje lo wa ise se.”
“ Woman, if you are not careful, you and your ilk will leave this garage. You better find some real work to do”
She walks away huffily, muttering. I said a prayer in my heart even as the driver apologised. I don’t know how bad it is in your area but here where I live they are a serious menace. You have to be vigilant. Men, women, and lately children. They just keep closing in on you. Begging.
And when you give them a little token many look so disappointed. Even sulky. Ha! And there are people with even more challenging disabilities who refused to be beaten down. Some engage themselves as cobblers, shoemakers, trying to find something doing while you see many often well dressed with no obvious handicap walking about begging with all sorts of funnily crafted or incredulous stories. Me I no dey wait hear sha. I give out of my own conviction and not by compulsion or pedestrian gimmicks.
I round up with this story of man who was begging and carrying a note around that his daughter was ill with renal failure. One day, someone offered to help and said they should both go together to see a nephrologist. The man in frustration snapped “Iyen na nba e so ni? To ba le funmi lowo maa lo”
“Is that the issue? If you can’t give me money please leave?” He snarled.
Beggars have become choosers and it comes from a mentality that they have to just take from anybody. It has become and easiest and surest way to survive for them.
And sadly, it looks like an epidemic that has come to stay…