Leadership (Abuja)

27 January 2013

Nigeria: At 80, It's Still Business As Usual for Mai Kaho

As human lifespan gradually reduces, due to so many untold factors, this octogenarian is still busy exerting so much energy to make ends meet.

A first time visitor to Jibiya Town, which is the headquarters of Jibiya Local Government Area in Katsina State, is likely to see Sani Mai Kaho's shop, and could mistake him for a mentally-deranged person, as the place is littered with different used items.

However, a closer look will most certainly reveal otherwise, as the man is not only sane, but is evidently determined to earn a decent living for himself.

Mai Kaho is an 80-year-old former staff of Jibiya Local Government Council, who currently sells different used items, ranging from old shoes, bags, clothes, used cars, motorcycle tyres, used plates to a host of other scrap metals. His makeshift shop is located few metres away from the bridge that links the town.

With a wide smile that indicates commitment and determination for self reliance, Mai Kaho told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that he had been into the business of selling scraps for quite some time now, and had used that to fend for his family.

"I was a former staff of the Revenue Department at the Jibiya Local Government Council, but was forcefully retired as a result of some differences between me and my superior. Sadly enough, I was never given gratuity or pension," he stated.

Narrating how he ventured into the business of selling used items and metal scraps even at the ripe age of 80, Mai Kaho said: "Immediately after my forced retirement, I became a palace guard to the late Sarkin Arewa (District Head of Jibiya), who was fending for me. But after his demise, his son and successor, Rabiu Rabiu, approached me and offered that I continue as a guard, but I declined and settled for this business.

"I sat down and asked myself; if I were prepared to continue living a life where I would be getting crumbs from the Sarkin Arewa, more so that I am aging, my answer was, no! So, I decided that the time was ripe for me to start something, and this was the business that crossed my mind," he added.

Continuing, the octogenarian said: "Initially, I moved with the items, from one location to another, but finally, I settled here when the District Head asked me to choose where I wished. And I chose here, not minding that the place is bushy and is a little far from the town."

Mai Kaho, who said he has 12 children and over 60 grand-children, insisted that he had been using the business to provide food for his family. "Initially, when things were rosy, I had four wives. But three of them left when things took another turn. So, I am now left with one, who I have been doing my best to take good care of," he enthused.

Asked who his customers are, the octogenarian said: "Different people, including the young and the old. In fact, even women come here to buy some of these used women shoes and bags. Some people buy used tyres to cover pit latrine in their houses."

Incidentally, while LEADERSHIP SUNDAY was at Mai Kaho's shop, a middle-aged man, who declined to say his name and reject offers for an interview, bumped in to buy used bottles.

On how he gets the used items, Mai Kaho said: "Oftentimes, people bring their used clothes for me to buy at giveaway prices, while some people will just pack their clothes and give me free so I can sale and make little money out of it."

Mai Kaho, however, noted that he occasionally goes to nearby markets in the state to buy scraps, but "that is when my son who works at the local government council gives me money, because the little I make here is for feeding."

In an era, when even the young and able-bodied opt for begging, where begging has literally been turned into trade, Mai Kaho's determination to fend for himself and his family, in spite of all odds, is worthy of commendation.

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