I was left dumbfounded, when a shabbily dressed, but healthy-looking young man, introduced himself to me as John, and spoke Queen’s English while soliciting alms from me at the entrance gate of Jedeji Market. Professional beggars abound at the entrance gate of Jedeji Market, but John’s presence caught my attention, as his grammatical construction left me not in doubt that he is literate, unlike most other beggars who could barely coordinate their tenses. Out of curiosity, I asked the new acquaintance of mine why he resorted to begging and ‘I am a graduate of English Literature, but have been unable to secure a job since I left university’ was the disappointing answer John gave to me.
My thinking cap was forced unto my head immediately John spewed out the rubbish he called an excuse for resorting to begging. The likes of John need not be pitied! I would have exhibited acts of quasi-compassion towards John if he were not opportune to have passed through the four walls of an institution of learning. Yes! I said quasi-compassion because many beggars do not suffer any predicament that justifies their resort to the demeaning profession, but chose that not-so-fanciful occupation as a way of life due to laziness and wrong orientation.
But there are many in my society who are the likes of John, and who have constituted themselves into societal nuisance, justifying their unpleasant behaviour on one lame excuse or the other. Private companies are retrenching workers as the days go by. Most government-owned corporations have been privatized, and the owners of those establishments do accord preferential treatment to their friends in employment matters. Numerous ‘stingy’ family relations abound, and who would not lend a helping hand to their own, to start off something meaningful. Meanwhile, securing a loan from the banks is as good as a futile adventure because of the stringent conditions attached to such loans. All these are only but a few of the excuses which I know John was about to enumerate, for making him take up the begging profession, but I wouldn’t take any of that from him. Mine was to reprimand him for being a liability to my society, an illiterate graduate!
But I am not willing to be of help to John and his likes by giving them alms, even if I would be regarded as being insensitive. I would rather prefer to teach John how to fish, than give him fish every now and then. I would not assist John in the journey to the land of damnation, which he has embarked on, in the name of begging. John must be made to take that path which he despises, but which will make him a better person, only if he will embrace my offer of liberation from the silent hand of destiny killer called professional begging.
Why should I give John alms when he is the architect of his economic misfortune? The illiterate graduate called John will never think outside the box. The formal education which he acquired has not helped activate his thinking faculty for him to empower himself economically. John will never surf the Net to elicit information on the availability of genuine employment and internship opportunities that will help create part-time employment for him. John will not search online for essay contests organized by international agencies and make little cash as well as enhance his intellectual worth, by participating in such essay contests. Sitting down to write an essay will be a herculean task for John. Not owning a personal computer will be another readily-available excuse to counter my advice, even though John will fight hard to shy away from the fact there are Internet cafes in his neighbourhood where he can surf the Net with meagre sum and obtain useful pieces of information that can help better his life. John will not approach any publishing company, to render free but quality editing services to such publishing company that will make the company not desire to lose him if he proves his mettle as a graduate of English Literature. Begging will be the easier route to take.
John will not take up a decent job to eke out a living. After all, he is a university graduate! To John, it is a taboo for a graduate to do some farm work. It is either John is offered a white collar job where he will earn millions per month or nothing else. John prefers keeping watch at the entrance gate of the market, begging for money not worked for. Taking up begging as a way of life, in John’s despicable belief, does not demean his worth. What a strange way to reason!
John will not sacrifice pleasures to make his life better. It is mandatory that John must sleep from 9 pm till 6 am daily. John must eat in one of the most expensive restaurants in town. After all, it is degrading for a graduate of his status to be seen eating in a decent restaurant. Outrageous sums must be expended on excessive liquor consumption, as John is averse to moderation.
John must be taught to change for the better! Giving John alms will not be of any help to him, as it will only encourage John and his likes to continue with their nefarious way of life. As a graduate, John must put on his thinking cap and create job for himself. It is an aberration for John and his likes to complain of unemployment despite being graduates of institutions of learning. Of what use is John to my society if he cannot use his brain to create job for himself despite being a graduate? John must work and not beg!
Written and submitted by- Chukwunonso Ogbe