24 November 2012

Nigeria: If I Don't Hawk, I Don't Eat - Amina

So many Nigerian poor families have the challenge of raising many children they have. Anietie Udobit takes a look at a young Nigerian girl who is going through the tragedy of life so as to survive.

Amina is just 7-years old but she has fought wars most of the great Nigerian heroes, leaders and celebrities have neither known much about nor experience it. Popularly called the war for survival and mostly fought by the poor, downtrodden, neglected of the society under the scorchung sun, heavy rain, harsh thunderstorm, in the cave, in uncompleted buildings, slums and derogated environment; the war against the odds of life-poverty and hunger.

Born into a Hausa polygamous family, Amina is the thirteenth child of the family. She lives with her 7 siblings and mother in a small apartment of a hut in Ijayapi village in Kubwa, Abuja. Her mother, Fatima who would not want to speak to the reporter was seen carrying two children of about 2years sitting outside the hut.

Amina , her two sisters and four other friends at about 12.30pm had retired to a small uncompleted building to have a little rest, play for a while before continuing their hawking task. With smiles on their faces, they must hawk to eat.

The young Amina started hawking pepper and vegetable at the early age of two and since then it has become her daily task if she and her siblings have to survive. Her father who does not have any paid job or business except a little of shoe-polishing for people has about 17 of them from three different women who are living in the same small thatch house. Life could be very difficult.

But does Amina really love what she is doing? 'wetin you want me to do? My mother no gets money' she replied. But does she go to school? 'No, we no get money, you go give my mother four thousand naira? if you go give am money, I go go school' she responded.

Is she intelligent? Yes, she is, she was shown some naira notes and asked to add together, she quickly identify all the notes, add together and the answer was just accurate.

When Amina, her sisters and friends noticed that the reporter was not just coming to buy their products and seeing the camera, they quickly communicate among themselves in Hausa, laugh, carried their trays and were off.

These young girls would have to continue this hawking; from one streets, ghettos, slums, to the other till about 9pm in the night when they hope to return to their huts. Sometimes most of them are raped, molested, beaten and abused, but that cannot stop them from going back to those places the next day.

Amina's brothers were also seen parking dirt from people's house in exchange for either food or small money like N10 or N20. Sadiq is one of them; his problem is how to eat, there is no food at home since morning and that has made him to move from one house to the other asking whether there is dirt for him to carry.

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