By Theo Adebowale
There is a new phenomenon in social life in South West Nigeria. There are to be found men and women, young and old, begging for alms. It was not so in the past. When we were young and went with our parents on mission journey through Ilorin to Jebba, to Songa and Pategi, we were surprised to see Yoruba beggars.
Over 60 years down the line, the story has changed in Osogbo, Akure, Ibadan, Abeokuta and Lagos, a swam of Yoruba speaking beggars awaits you, at any time.
The other day in Ibadan, a female beggar around new Gbagi turned down two ten kobo notes I dropped in her plate telling me it was foreboding of bad market. An Akure based beggar is credited to have struck it big in the business as he has embarked on business diversification with a fleet of taxi cabs, and a thriving investment in real estate, while main occupation remains alms taking. It is no longer a thing of shame to beg.
There has also appeared a class of educated beggars. Sometimes they are drawn into it by situations. A traveler got stranded on the road and desperately wants to be saved from the situation. He tries to catch attention of a prospective generous co-traveller with a narration. Sometime she succeeds and may even pick new friends that way. A male trying to beg has a more convincing to do to have a breakthrough. No thanks to those who have deliberately embarked on similar exploration in the part and now discovered early in the neighbourhood. They seem to be emboldened now to devise some innovative means of begging.
Street urchins, areas boys and drug addicts may switch over to begging at the slightest ‘provocation’ as it is now a fall back venture imported from a neighbouring culture. Whereas leadership success in the North has resulted in spontaneous bloodbaths in the past as in when someone in Europe was accused of writing Satanic Verses which Northerners do not know anything about or a flying page of the Quran triggered off killings of hundreds of Southern dwellers in the North, it does not occur to Senate President that Southern Governors may not want to encourage the generation of revenue through building and criminality a future economy or a dream territory that would be forcibly perceived through insurgency.
Rather, they know that the current civilization can be sustained, improved upon, and developed through the pursuit of knowledge by strengthening democratic institutions, expansion of popular participation in good governance.
The reason parents invest in formal and informal education of their children is the same reason the state believes it must ensure proper upbringing of their citizens that they may have peace. It would be unfortunate for a parent to allow vagabonds to take over his home citing non-existent constitutional provisions whereas the wise know it, to train your child so he may give you peace.
After all, does the state not have a mechanism for determining citizens sponsored on a holy pilgrimage annually? The same mechanism must be adopted to make provision for nomads, bandits and insurgents. The state must make provisions for those it has helped to acquire firearms so they can facilitate the type of life it desires.
The Yoruba concept of Omoluabi forbids alms taking. Every household must take care of its members. Where alms taking is becoming a norm the custom and tradition of the people have been compromised. This must be reversed. It is an evidence of leadership failure. Rather bandits must be skinned out of the forests so that legitimate hardwork can be undertaken on our ancestral lands.
If an Omoluabi must not engage in alms taking and banditry, how does he engage in cybercrime? It is the height of poor parenting that pushes a bonafide Yoruba person into crime of any sort. The poor group forbids it, the various festivals expose it. There is no room for the black sheep. We should begin to identify and fortify such mechanism by which they moderate behaviour and promote Omoluabi tendencies, we need them.