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Nkem Ndem: 7 Types of Beggars on the Streets of Lagos

Nkem Ndem

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In Nigeria, especially Lagos, giving alms to the street beggar is an everyday occurrence as there is the traditional belief that it brings good luck, and the religious consider it a form of obligation. There have been debates over the years, however, on the cause and effect of giving handouts to these beggars. The key argument is that giving to them endangers their lives in many forms and also makes getting them off the streets extra difficult.

No doubt, it is difficult to grapple the distressing sight of fellow humans living in horrid conditions, but in truth, it may be easier to weigh the situation of the beggar before you give in to your desire to bless them with alms. Some of these drifters are no longer just individuals garbed in dirty filthy clothes sitting around the roads with their arms outstretched, begging for alms; They are now also camouflaged as regular people walking the street ,colonizing every part of the city and covertly harassing common citizens in a bid to satiate their greed or grow their begging trade.

Of course, there is always the rotten apple in every barrel and seeing as it is one week to Christmas – the season of sharing love and giving, you may want to close your eyes to the bad lot and give to these street beggars anyways…but before you do that, if you are in Lagos, read on to know the different kind of beggars there are, that way you are informed enough to know which is more deserving of gifts.

The Destitute Beggar
This is the classic beggar. The destitute beggar is the dirty, haggard, impoverished and pitiable soul lodged on the roadsides or under the bridges without a home or source of living. These set of people are unable to participate and compete in the workforce, and do not have anyone providing their welfare. Worse, they have no clue on where to go to for help, and so resort to handout from strangers for survival. It is usually difficult to pass by these people without dropping a coin or note; however, you can do better by pointing them to organizations (charities and churches) that can offer them long term restoration.

The Disabled Beggar
Have you ever been trapped in Lagos traffic and a tap on your side window reveals a physically disabled citizen asking for sustenance? The experience is usually heart wrenching as you are most times compelled to wonder: How did he live through his youth? Does he not have a family? What were his ambitions? The disabled beggar is another classic, and usually includes an amputee or someone infested with an extensive or terminal disease. Sometimes, these beggars sit in groups and usually have their ‘pimp’ not too far away. You really should not turn your back on these people.

The Mother-of-many
This kind of beggar is very easily encountered around market areas and strategic road corners in Lagos. A woman shabbily dressed, usually with sunken eyes that express her dire state of helplessness, sits with a number of babies, sometimes wailing continuously to draw attention and pity. They usually tell the sorrowful story of how they were abandoned by her husband or how she and her husband lost their jobs. These beggars who are hard to ignore, request for cash donations and food supplements from people who stop-by to offer assistance. There have been rumors that some of these beggars actually borrow these babies from other women and they work as a group, however, whatever the case, it is usually best to alert organizations to cater to such people, pointing them to the location of the beggar so they offer help where needed.

The Settle-Me road Lords
These are possibly the most annoying of the different beggars encountered in Lagos. This “settle-me” road lord is not your typical beggar with a genuine need and seeking for assistance. They are able-bodied individuals who lurk around busy areas demanding for privileges that they do not necessarily deserve. They target certain people either because they look affluent or vulnerable. Most popular are the ones on the island who stay around areas with bad roads, they help victims whose cars get stuck and then demand to be settled. These kinds of beggars usually work in groups and can get very belligerent, especially if you encounter them around their area.

The Stranded Professional
These are the newest breed of beggars. They are not shabby looking or haggard in appearance. Some of them wear very expensive clothes and perfumes. They are the group of people who accost you with stories of how their wallet was stolen or they ran out of cash and are now stranded in a particular location, with no funds for transport. Some of them even claim to be unfortunate tourists or travellers looking for funds to get on with their journey. While they are not dressed like the classic beggars, these people can be as equally persistent and annoying. If the amount you offer them is not up to their expectations, they get on with repeating their story, really emphasizing on the sad nuances of that tale, coaxing you into giving more.

The Entrepreneur Beggar
These “entrepreneurs” are pitiable but can be quite the nuisance as well. Have you ever been in traffic and a man comes to wash your windscreen without your consent and afterwards askes for recompense? Or have you been in the market and seen some ladies offering to beautify your skin with henna patterns and asking to be tipped afterwards? While these beggars are making an effort towards making a living by finding creative ways to earn money instead of just asking, they can be very annoying – especially when they are forcefully offer a service you do not particularly need or are averse to.

The Child Beggar
The child beggar is the child on the street that runs after you, tugging at your clothing, asking for handouts or financial assistance. Usually their parents sit not too far keeping a watchful eye while they go about begging. It is hard to ignore these children as their chants have a way of appealing to almost all kinds of people. It is best to give this kind of beggar food or clothing rather than cash, as they benefit better from those than cash – which are taken away by their parents. You can go further to make this child’s Christmas spectacular by donating clothes and toys.

Have you encountered any of these beggars in Lagos? Or have I missed out any? Let me know in the comment box below. It is certainly more blessed to give than to receive, and so, as you celebrate this Christmas, keep in mind that the holiday is not all about merry making and discount shopping, it is essentially a season of love and giving; and charitable giving is surely the way to go. Look for a way to bless a life… it is as easy as giving to a beggar on the street.

Nkem Ndem is a dynamic freelance writer and editor who can be reached for copywriting, editing and proofreading. She is also a content creator (web, T.V, radio) who has had stints with Jumia and SpiceTV Africa e.t.c. Now she works at Glam Africa as Online editor and BellaNaija as Features writer. E-mail: [email protected]; IG: @kem_dem; Twitter: @ndemv

36 Comments

  1. jasmine

    December 14, 2015 at 11:37 am

    The stranded professional beggers r so annoying.

  2. fred

    December 14, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Those stranded beggars never give up. Same story everytime. One particular one met me twice with the same story and by our third meeting, I completed his story for him and he laughed. I don’t know but can’t the government do something for the
    disable ones?

  3. Ada

    December 18, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I fell for a stranded professional beggar in my early years in Abuja as a youth corper, I met the guy for many times after that with the same story. After about the 4th time I met him, I told him I had been meeting him since my corper days and that I was working “now” then I advised him to go find a job and stop embarrassing himself.

    On the other hand, when I moved to Lagos from Abuja for 2 years, things were desperately hard for me. I remember being stranded around TBS (I had gone to church hoping for a miracle) so I entered City Mall and walked up to one guy I saw there to beg for transport fare (I know, I know, I know, stages of life biko + I had no choice), he looked at me like he had heard my story a million times, but he eventually gave me money. I am thinking he just pitied me because I am female. If I had been a guy, he might have just walked away from me!

  4. bride2mum.com

    December 18, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Well said!

  5. Amaa

    December 18, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    You forgot the Chadian beggars or are they called the gypses of West Africa . They lol like Arabs and usually have so many children .

  6. Tutu

    December 18, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    I meet a lot of stranded ones every time …always fall victim every time.

  7. prince

    December 18, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    terrible people. they’re not only in Lagos o, they full for Abuja too. some will be waiting for you at the ATM. evil and lazy people.

  8. Justice Ben

    December 18, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Nice one

  9. SM

    December 18, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    I agree with u. 100percent

  10. Nne Umu Boys!

    December 18, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    well written! she totally got them right.. its so sad that one cant even tell the genuine ones from the actors

  11. AG

    December 18, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Truthful piece!

  12. Dr David Namz

    December 18, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Well I have been a victim of all beggars but never again. Nkem nice piece keep on writing

  13. Dr. N

    December 18, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    You forgot the Corporate beggar. I met one who even had an ID card. He was wearing a suit. Apparently lost or robbed or something. Lol
    I met a lady by d supermarket today. B4 she could beg I asked her if I hadn’t seen her at Spar ? She shiver!
    Lol

  14. Honeycrown

    December 18, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    What about the “familiar” beggars. The ones who just beg by default. They just like to beg! My sister says they’re suffering from “muwa muwa syndrome”

    Anyways, why is charitable giving emphasized during Christmas, festivities….? It should be a way of life.
    “God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters”

  15. Destined for greatness

    December 18, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    V well written and nice article. The disabled beggers and the child beggers is always such a depressing sight.

  16. Toby Nwazor

    December 18, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Nkem, this is great. You captured them all except those partial oyibo looking people with jerry curl hair. I hear many of them are from Chad or something.

    Your description is very funny o. I laughed so much, as I have experienced those corporate beggars especially around Oshodi under bridge. Same stranded story. I don’t have any problem with them sha. Lagos hustle is tight. It’s just that they have made it hard to really know the people who are actually in need of genuine help

  17. Jice

    December 18, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    This article is quite stupid, I just want to say soooooo what? What are we suppose to do with this information? And moreover, why is her face fanta and her body coke? smh….

    I think I may just be in a mood ;).. lol

  18. niran

    December 18, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    The “sick” beggars..they hang around the hospital, esp Lasuth, paint body parts purple or carry dirty looking catheter or crumpled prescription sheet…you know the rest.

  19. mrs chidukane

    December 18, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Nkeeeeeeem! See my girl from way back! Lmao! Nice article, so happy to see you on here.

    • mrs chidukane

      December 18, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      There was a time my mom was really into hiring physically challenged people to work for her. People didn’t like it but she wanted to do her bit for society so she didn’t care. One day she went to the market and met this physically challenged young man begging and she told him to come work for her instead of begging. You need to see how the guy hissed and changed direction sharply. Many of them prefer begging and do not want to do anything else.

  20. Mactorr

    December 18, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    Nkem nice article.. but yu should come to PH and see something.. I think yu should do an article on PH beggers. You will meet one today as a stranded professional and d same person tomorrow as a. cripple at d market entrance. the worst is dat even upon discovery they show no remorse.

  21. Ify

    December 19, 2015 at 5:34 am

    Your article lacks substance. It is also highly contradictory.

    • Cindy

      December 19, 2015 at 7:13 am

      Begi begi, gerarrahere mehn!

    • Iyalode

      December 19, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Really?? Sorry o Professor Ify. If it lacks substance ,Can you please rewrite it so we can enjoy yours? Awon elenu yanma yanma , @ Nkem well done o jare , you write well!

  22. Chisom Owoseni

    December 19, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Well done for taking out time to write about they type of beggars we have on the street of Lagos. Will sure extend the merriment of the season to the ones that deserves it.

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      December 21, 2015 at 12:00 am

      Honest question – are you being sarcastic? On one hand I read your comment and thought you were and then I read it again and wasn’t completely sure…

  23. Omis

    December 19, 2015 at 7:34 am

    This is a great article. I like the way you told the truth with empathy. These beggars are super annoying, but yeah, we should definitely give to them when our instincts tell us that their plight is genuine.

  24. December Wind

    December 19, 2015 at 10:27 am

    You forgot the ‘donate to charity beggers’ or “help an orphanage home” . You see these individuals mostly women in malls and event Centre or car parks carrying this haggard looking book and pen under the pretence that it is some sort of register to keep records of donations. And then they approach you claiming to be a member or staff of certain charity organization or motherless baby homes and urging you donate to their cause

  25. frank teacher

    December 19, 2015 at 10:49 am

    the banker-beggers nko
    those ones that are begging for their banks,
    open acc, open acc,, give me deposit, give me deposit,
    “oga, they will sack me oh”…

  26. Grace

    December 19, 2015 at 11:31 am

    What about those beggars with lil babies, sometimes twins or triplets where do they get these kids from and why are those babies always sleeping?

  27. Kenneth

    December 19, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Nice one, well thought of

  28. lola

    December 19, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    What about the ones that flag your car to beg for money to buy fuel. I have encountered a woman driving in a jeep stopping my husband and I when walking on the road after church to beg . I was so shocked me sef no dey drive jeep and you re begging from me

  29. chisom

    December 20, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Nice one

  30. Paul

    January 25, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Yawning again. Predictable

  31. whole

    February 24, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Others are: The ATM beggars, well stationed around the ATM and approach you with one story or the other, usually, their ATM card got stuck…….Lolzzz
    And those ones confidently sitted in a public bus. When the bus moves, they whisper into your ear to pay their fare. Lots of them around Lagos.
    Nice Article dear!

  32. Jean west

    May 29, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    See a lot of them. shameless bunch

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