My friends from the South have this penchant for looking down at the North. One of the primary reasons for which they do so is the matter of the almajiris. They see it in a shallow light as a symbol of northern men’s irresponsibility. The history of the phenomenon and the complexity of the matter are of no interest to them. There is a display of zero empathy for the circumstances that are often beyond the control of the children and their parents. With a big brush, my southern friends deliver a blanket condemnation of the men as well as the kids locked in the unfortunate cycle of poverty.
While I agree with my southern friends that the northern elite have done very little to create an environment that will mitigate the circumstances that breeds and sustain the almajiri phenomenon, I have argued that despite it all, those children are Nigerian children too. And if they are our children, they deserve our interest in their affairs. They deserve a commitment from us to alleviate their draconic life of poverty. Whatever anyone thinks of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the fact that he recognized that reality and invested significant resources to build almajiri schools in the North gave him a special place in my heart. Jonathan understood that beyond that usual lip service about our children being our feature, action speaks louder than words.
I, therefore, found it very interesting to observe the other day that Dr. Damages the aka of Rudolf Okonkwo the SaharaTV jester had turned into an almajiri. To see him begging for money on GoFundMe was a teaching moment for me. If such a successful TV Personality like him found himself in a situation where he needed the help of the public through crowdfunding to get a project accomplished, then everyone should show empathy for those who have fallen into hard time. That it is others today does not mean that it could not be us tomorrow.
In a way, karma is a funny guy. Three weeks after Dr. Damages appealed for help to raise $9990 to publish a book on Donald Trump, nobody has donated even a dollar to him. Not his friends. Not his family. And most definitely, not even his children. If his children had set up a lemonade stand on their street, maybe they would have raised a few dollars and save him from the embarrassment of zero donation in almost a month.
Dr. Damages plight should be a lesson to all those who make fun of the unfortunate in our society instead of offering a helping hand to them as members of our human family.
I’m sure that it made perfect sense in the mind of Dr. Damages when he set up the GoFundMe. Definitely, he must be wondering how it is that nobody, not even one of his friends, finds it worthwhile to make a single donation. I’m sure it is the same way the almajiris feel when we drive past them on Nigerian roads, ignoring their plead for loose change to buy something to eat. We make excuses in our mind and blame their parents and everyone in between when all we were being asked to do was show a little kindness.
Maybe if Saharareporters publishes this article of mine, I will go and donate $5 to Dr. Damages’ GoFundMe and save him from being in that notorious group of fundraisers who perish in infamy because they could not raise a penny. They share the despair of an almajiris who went out on the street day after day without anyone dropping something inside his cup.
Help an almajiris. Help Dr. Damages