If you’ve ever been in one of those long traffic jams in Lagos, you must have seen these women who carry twin babies while begging for alms. It seems they are forever having babies. They are mostly at the Maryland axis and along the Marina where you’ll often see them carrying one on their backs and the other slung over the shoulders.
I’ve always wondered why the government hasn’t ever rescued these babies from these women or rehabilitated them, like they did the woman who’s husband ran away after she had their third set of twins. It was all over the dailies a few years back. Why won’t the government extend its loving arms to embrace roadside babies and their mamas? It’s even worse for them because they are on the road from sun up to sun down, surely that isn’t going to be good for any child in the long run or our society at large for that matter.
Government isn’t the only one turning its face away, people aren’t giving as much as they did before. We, being a very religious society know firsthand about giving to the needy and under-privileged but these days, its eyes- right when a beggar approaches, even one with babies.
Have we become such a stingy lot in Lagos? Or are people simply tired of giving because there’s nothing to give, anyway?
So the nosey parker in me called one of these women as she moved from car to car in the traffic, soliciting for alms. I figured, if I was going to part with my hard earned cash, I deserved some answers, like:
Where is your husband, did he run away when you gave birth to these twins or is he sitting under a tree playing drafts?
Won’t your babies get sick from being paraded in the sun all day, all week, months even?
Do you get enough alms to feed these ones?
Do you have other children and plan to have more?
Haven’t you heard family planning is as low as N500, I can pay for one if you like?
Bombastic asking, right? What followed left me speechless:
Me: Madam, well done o. This your pikins no go sick for this sun?
Woman: They are used to it, aunty.
Me: Ehen? How old are they?
Woman: (Hesitates) They are three months.
Me: Haba, madam, these children are too small for this sun, na. Can’t you put them somewhere? Where is their father? You never hear of family planning?
Woman: (Scoffs) Aunty! If you wan gi me money bring am, wetin be family planning? Na food? Abeg, I no fit answer question wey no get answer.
I became gentle. A chorus from one of Fela Anikulapo songs immediately came to mind, “Oro di humm, oro pe si je, o, oro di humm”.
The matter left me, hummm, and as my car moved, I threw her a naira note and watched as she deftly picked it before the wind got to it.
I’ve got a sense of why she and many like her wouldn’t be getting much, here’s my theory and I wish I could say it to her face:
Many of us are angry with you, sister; you scorn family planning but you can spread your legs and hope to live off our hard earned cash?
We aren’t as willing to part with it as we were before, you see, naira is like gold, these days. Considering how badly the currency is falling, every note is a rare commodity, it can hardly buy enough food for our families not to talk of feeding yours. So if we’ve got to part with it, it’s got to be for something good.
Have you asked yourself why government isn’t helping? That’s because government is scheming up ways to wring the same naira off us over infrastructure they have failed to provide; so we pay road worthiness certificates for our cars to travel on unworthy roads; water bills for the bore holes we dig as government’s taps don’t run; huge electricity bills for the generators we buy to power our homes and offices; security tax for the maiguards in place of the police we pay to protect us.
Arrggh! Don’t get me started, sister!
Who do you turn to? The Church or Mosque? Look elsewhere, these places are full of needy people already.
Charity houses and NGOs would rather demand you learn a vocation, start a trade and put a lid between your legs but I’m guessing this is something you don’t appear to want, it’s easier to beg, huh?
And the rest of us, who would have given you something, even if a token, are angry with you and even envious. Ehen! Why?
You’re getting too much sex in this Lagos where we all go to bed at midnight and are up by 4am to continue the hustle. It’s unforgivable for someone to spring babies on us every year and expect us to contribute to that baby’s upkeep!
So, because of all of the above, we will not give you a dime!