Growing up in a community like ours does not avail one’s face with the chance to glow with smiles. Because of the series of nightmares, one oftentimes, thinks we live in an entirely different world.
It is not our personal choice becoming drug addicts at a tender age. Despite knowing that we are a nuisance, yet we feel sad when we are referred to with derogatory terms. But what people sadly fail to understand is that we are a creation of our own community. Should we be conceived and be given birth again in an entirely different community where the family institution is not broken, where quality of children and not their quantity is prioritised, we would not grow up to be a nuisance as we are today.
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Some of us have already gone mad because of excessive drug abuse; many of us are in prison awaiting trial for multitude of offences, a lot of us scattered across different markets and parks. There we pickpocket, steal and cause trouble – some of the troubles even escalate into ethnic and religious crises. The number of us caught in the act are terribly wounded, others lynched. We terrorise our community today by the commission of robbery, housebreaking, thuggery and phone-snatching while stabbing our victims with sharp objects.
We grew up under no umbrella of a family. Right from our toddling days, the family becomes broken. Our fathers get married again and again to new wives – these wives are scattered into different rented places. Our mothers also get married, move to new houses where they begin a new life, giving birth to a new generation of children, and the old generation abandoned.
We begin to fend for ourselves from the age of nine or 10. One could see us inside smelly gutters, dirty rivers, dusty dumping grounds and abandoned buildings, scavenging for iron, copper, aluminium, brass, etc. In the course of our search for these materials, we steal properties. Fundamentally, we do all this to buy food and clothes for ourselves. Our younger ones are seen today in the streets following suit. It is not like we have no conscience, but the substance we have been taking and the realities that define our growth, hardened our psychology. Don’t be surprised that we behave with no shred of humanity today.
We could not go to school. Some of us that started had eventually dropped out and returned to the streets, because our parents, yet, prefer multiplying us rather than moulding us into responsible men.
We learn to take hard substances from the collective decision of our community–an unfortunate decision of bringing us to the world in multitude, and throwing us out even before our legs could firmly hold us. We commit all the horrible acts today because our community’s tradition is that, once you have learned how to walk, you must go and fend for yourself. We are what we are today because some of us are forced to become almajiris outside their towns where we end up peering with other versions of ourselves.
Sadly, the central and local authorities, and a vast majority of the people derive pleasure in cursing and punishing us for our deviance. They never bother to ask questions, much less search for answers. No wonder my peers are multiplying, reaching a point of outnumbering the responsible ones in the community.
Abdul Mutallib Muktar resides in Jos and can be reached via email@example.com