For some people, begging for alms has become a full time job. It appears that they find dignity in begging. At times, they do not even demand small sums of money rather they have high targets. If not careful, you might just fall for their gimmicks. These set of beggars are strategically positioned devising means of ‘robbing’ unsuspecting victims. They know where to hunt their preys. Schools, bus parks and traffic congestion present many opportunities to these corporate beggars. Some even dress formally and you would not doubt them.
I remember as an undergraduate, while walking to my hall, I was being stopped by a man. He was dressed corporately. He wore a long sleeved shirt and a tie. His glasses made him look learned.
The discussion that ensued was as follows:
” Hello my sister!”
I turned and replied” Good evening!” Flashing my immaculate set of teeth. I was on my guard, because one had to be careful. We hear stories of kidnap, gbomo gbomo and other vices. I made sure there were people around so that I could scream for help in case of any trouble.
He continued: ” Please my sister, I am travelling to Lagos and my wallet was stolen. Please can you help me with 3000 Naira”
In my mind I was like I must have been looking like a bag of money for him to demand such an amount. He didn’t even start from 100 Naira. He went straight for the jackpot. O ye of mighty faith, ask and ye shall receive. I kind of like his faith.
” Uhmmm… Sorry I don’t have that amount. But I could assist with a token” I replied, opened my bag, ooked for cash and gave him what I could afford.
He managed to mutter a thank you and disappeared to countered the next victim.
I felt happy that I had supported someone and rushed to my hall.
Two days later, same spot! Guess who approached me again? This same man.
It was obvious that he didn’t recognise me, but I did. He had on the same clothes and used the same rehearsed lines. I didn’t answer him this time; I just waved my hand and left with full speed. So this was his own style of raising cash.
Recently I started seeing a young man in Unilag always – begging for money from students. The first thing that comes to my mind is that he is able-bodied even with good looks but why does he resort begging for money. For crying out loud, he could do something with his hands or learn a trade. That was more dignifying than lazily approaching students for financial assistance. I actually fell for his tactics the first time. This guy in question actually sounded in need and the way he was rendering prayers, I had to check the contents in my handbag to squeeze out cash to give him. However, this guy approached me again another time and I did not bother to grant him audience. It was the same story, same excuse!
At bus park, we see many of them. The one appalling is young guys who are perfectly alright to do something productive. Instead they start giving stories of how they are short of their transport fare and need someone to support them. A particular one, kind of created a scene.I was just seating down in the bus calmly with other passengers waiting for the bus to load when this man came with drug list for ”his son in the hospital”
According to the man, his son was lying ill in the hospital and was left unattended to because of lack of payment of medical bills. Another passenger took it up and started attacking the man that he is fraudster. We got to know that the passenger was a medical doctor, because he was making reference to drug list. He weighed the situation that the supposed drugs could not be for the ailment he claimed his son had.
Besides, he gave him a large sum of money two weeks ago; what happened between then and now? The ” beggar” remained adamant. He kept on trying to reason with the passenger that he was telling the truth and that he was not a fraudster. I sat watching the whole episode and got inspiration to write. Those who wanted to assist did and those that didn’t minded their business.
Personally, I have my reservations of giving money to beggars because of not-too-nice stories that I have heard about them. How about women at the busstops with little children stopping passers-by to beg for money? However, they might be genuinely in need but it is becoming abused. Wisdom is needed in separating truth from lies. These ‘beggars’ flood the streets daily. Would we say they are working smart? Begging people is their means of livelihood.
Have you had a similar experience, please share….
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