Redefining the essence of alms-begging

letterTimes have changed, and the world is running at a breakneck speed. The change of time may not really call for alarm or even a beep, for change is known to be permanent and time is not exempted from change.

We know alms-begging to have existed for almost as long as the world itself. It is one of the most ancient phenomena in human setting. Running it down from the time of Jesus Christ, to the time he left the world, and to the present time, alms-begging has formed an inevitable part of our society.

However, there has been one factor understood to necessitate alms-begging. This factor, in a more summarized and concretized term is incapacitation, meaning that a beggar is someone faced with one form of inability or the other, thereby unavoidably gaining survival through alms-begging. And while this is the understanding it is obvious that such alms is meant to keep the beggar’s body and soul together.

Last month, when I was in Lagos, I dropped at a joint in Ikeja, and walked up to pick a magazine from a newsstand. Beside the newsstand sat a man, so badly handicapped I couldn’t help screaming once my eyes caught his. And so I made to walk down to offer him the little money I got from the magazine vendor as my balance. The vendor suddenly pulled me by my shirt, and said that he advised me not to; that many people come there on a daily basis to curse the same beggar for being responsible for their on-going failure.

As my adamant attitude towards certain beliefs would have it, I disregarded the vendor’s advice and still made to approach him, but other buyers at the news stand stood against me. One man even took it personally to tell me that he was himself a victim of the beggar’s diabolical manipulations.Just then, I developed some fear and, slowly I pocketed my money and headed away.

Then, just last week, as I was walking along back to my residence a man halted me and solicited some financial assistance, telling me that he was running short of money, as he needed to complete his journey to some location: So, animated by the story he told me, I offered him the very last amount I had with me, and even wished I had more. Then, the following day, I was going with a friend to attend an academic summit somewhere in the metropolis, and I saw the same man, and possibly, he had forgotten he had already met me the day before.

So he halted me once again and being curious about the dramatic scene, I listened to him, as he told me exactly the same story he told me the previous day. And so I began to wonder why a man whould dress himself, walk on the streets, deceiving people with a story of uncompleted journey. The most irritating thing was that the man in question had no form of deformity, not even an injury.
Again, it may surprise you that some of the beggars who appear to be dissbled do pretend.

Among many things, I have found this development to be one thing that has put the society in an ugly confusion. Presently, many people are running away from beggars, and the implication is that those beggars who really need help due to their condition, are being denied help due to what others are known to do.
• Ekanem is studying Communication Arts at the University of Uyo.

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