I think is time to keep politics aside and look at other societal issues. I wanted to write on this topic since the Libyan slavery saga but, could not due to other issues. Thanks Alh. Uba Zubairu our able university calligrapher for reinvigorating me to write on this issue of Child abuse, labour and trafficking during the Libyan slave trade drama.
I said it sometimes ago and am repeating it that we, northerners (Arewa) are great contributors to Nigeria’s problem. The bitter and hard truth we always find very difficult to tell ourselves. We have the highest population yet the lowest in human development indices (HDI), the region with the highest number of out of school children, lowest in girl child education, lowest in adult literacy, highest in early marriage, maternal mortality and infant morbidity, lowest interms of empowerment and per capita income. Unfortunately, the more we shy or run away from our problems the more we remain with them or indirectly encourage the problems to continue. All thanks to his Royal Highness the Emir of Kano for being bold enough to bring up and discuss such issues wherever it matters. We can’t live in denial and achieve progress. Problems are brought up and discussed, to digest and find proper solutions but not to cover them. We are quick to celebrate no northerners among Libyan returnees forgetting about about those men and women that through legal and illegal means find themselves as maids, servants and slaves in the Middle East, other parts parts of Africa and Asia. Don’t forget that the tukari from Kano, Jigawa, Borno among other northern states is not too different from the Edo, Delta ladies in Italy. The gold tooth/teeth doesn’t make them more holy from the others.
Sometimes around 2006 I came to know about some young girls brought to Kaduna to serve as househelps, they were mostly between the ages of 11 to 23, mostly Nupes as they claimed to be from Pategi/Lafiagi in Kwara state and Mokwa, Lafai, Agaie and Bussa areas of Niger state. Later on I came to know that they were brought to Kaduna (Mando) by a woman from different places. People in need of domestic workers go there to select, pay and take them to their houses as ‘servants’. They don’t care what you do with those girls, the nature of job they do, how they survive, where they sleep etc?? is non of their business. What matters most is what you give or how much you pay at the beginning or during the contract. These girls were made to believe that proceeds from their services will be given to their mothers who will use the money to buy things for their marriage (kayan aure or daki). Those girls are made to work or do things more than their abilities. In some homes they are treated like slaves. You can imagine the inhuman treatment some of them suffer in the hands of their Masters/mistresses. Some work like engines. They are normally the ones to sleep last and the first to wake up before everyone.
My second experience was after my marriage. I was then staying at Graceland, Hanwa, here in Zaria. I called a shoe maker who came to our gate shouting into the compound to fix my shoes. As he entered he fell before me like a servant. My wife offered him some food and he finished it in no time. I asked him where he learned shoe making he told me Zaria. I asked to know where he was from and how long he has been in Zaria he answered from Mokwa and that he has been in Zaria for some time. I then asked him to come from time to time to clean the compound and in return be collecting food. Through out the Ramadan of 2014 he came every day to collect food. The day I got shocked was the day I saw him and others eating on a broad daylight during Ramadan. They were also suprised when they saw me and after that he didn’t show up for 2days. I saw him on my way to Mosque and asked him to come with me to the house after prayers.I asked him why they were eating in the day time during Ramadan as adult, he replied they were not able to do Sahur or (maybe, they don’t have anything to eat for Sahur).Every morning you see them crossing the bridge coming towards Hanwa, Kwangila, Dogarawa, even GRA from Dan Magaji. They normally sleep overcrowded in shops, about 10 people and above per room or shop. Coming to Samaru there are these set of boys who push wheel (kura) shouting za’a kwashe shara? They are mostly between the ages 6 & 13. Most of them don’t know how to speak Hausa, they learn it by force. Like the Kaduna girls and the Hanwa guys, the Samaru boys are also Nupes. You see some them moving early in the morning without shoes despite Zaria’s cold harmattan. If you ask them they will tell you they were brought to Zaria from the earlier mentioned places. Is from what they generate that they are being fed. That means no money.. No food. You sleep with hunger. The worse is that there is neither Islamic nor western Education. So, the issue of discipline is not there. If you want them to behave well give them food. These Kura pushing (waste collection) boys are worse than the regular almajiris in many ways.
We are yet to address the issue of removing girls from school, early marriage, VVF and other early marriage or girl child related cases. Here are some bunch of illiterate breed of young girls and mothers to be that are completely lacking in both Islamic and western Education. Their only business is to hustle for money for kayan daki. They will end up getting married to those struggling adults who never find time to acquire education of any kind, don’t know how to perform proper ablution not to talk of ritual bath, they don’t know anything about compulsory or voluntary acts of religion as Muslims. Giving birth to children every year that they can’t train or maintain them, besides how can one give what he doesn’t have? They marry and divorce at will, and end up giving birth to these hungry, ill, indiscipline, waste collecting boys.
Just the other day I was discussing Behaviour Change Communication(BCC) Model. The issue of AREWA24 TV drama series (Dadin kowa) came up and someone argued “How can a MALLAM forget his student for a month for a month? ” I responded why won’t he? Does he keep records? His main business is kudin sati and na neman albarka not their studies or welfare. Maybe you need to see those dirty kids I am talking about. They way you see them today is the same way you see them tomorrow. No one cares to ask them to bath, they sleep in an unconducive and unhygienic environment. If you give them food they will just eat it unless you care to ask them to wash their hands. Their condition is so terrible that you will wonder if they were given birth to by humans. Even animals care for their young ones. Again,few days back a shop owner close to my house told me that he was informed that one of the boys that usually sweep his shop in which he gives bread or money in return died.. He just died from eating what they suspect to be contaminated food or maybe poison. This form of mordern slavery is worse than Almajiranci. We are living with a problem that only us, our children and grandchildren cannot manage.
I keep wondering what the government is doing about all these things or as usual they they will claim ignorance. Lack of attention to such problems gives birth to terrorist and a notorious society…Who knows what it will become tomorrow? They claim to come from Niger and Kwara yet what is their governments doing about it? They claimed to be Nupes, what are the Nupe leaders and elites doing to arrest the situation. Policy makers and regulators must be alive to their responsibilities.
Don’t look it as one sided, tribal or sectional problem its is all over the north. We marry and multiply and give the streets to mentor and train.
Denying our problems can’t solve them. We are the ones to find solutions and we can’t do that without telling ourselves the bitter truth. Truth that our ears don’t want to hear. Before you call me an agent of family planning hope you will believe child spacing has Qur’anic backing (46:15). What are we doing about those illiterate, jobless, hopeless and futureless generation. Take the words of HRH Muhammad Sanusi II we have a complete failure of social policy..Is left to you and I to fix our problems or continue to not only to live with them but also to suffer from them.