Almajiri: Open letter to Northern Governors 

Almajiri’s next level

Issue

When the governments of Kano, Nasarawa and Niger States recently took the bull by the horn, the states’ policies or laws were promulgated with the primary aim of killing two birds with one stone. 

Almajiri’s next level 

By Abdu Abdullahi

For long, he has been an issue for continuous discussions, debates and even researches owing to his pathetic living which promises him a bleak future. While he perfectly fits the description of the wretched of the earth, he does not possess any socio-economic potentialities that would enrich his human essence and dignity.

When the governments of Kano, Nasarawa and Niger States recently took the bull by the horn, proscribing the act of street begging conducted by the Almajiri, the states’ policies or laws were promulgated with the primary aim of killing two birds with one stone.

First, the ban would confer on the governments the merit of being responsive to the persistently social menace which has been orchestrating alarming proportion. Second, it would accord the innocent Almajiri the opportunity to rediscover and rebrand himself, taking the rightful social position expected of him in a sophisticated and fast changing world. It is therefore a matter of time that more Northern governments would deploy their mighty powers to follow suit.

We all know that the sordid condition of this Nigerian child is laid bare for our deep scrutiny to elicit esteemed passion for him. It is a pity that the Almajiri, who is ubiquitous and lonely, does not see any bright future in his life. This hopeless child cannot understand why he has been reduced to misery, despair and squalor. Equally, the society cannot elucidate the ‘legalization’ of this gross child abuse in spite of its devastating consequences.

Though the proscription turned out to be controversial in certain circles, yet it was a gladly bold attempt to dignify the Almajiri, redeem his battered image from further deterioration and ought to be seen in good faith.

For a recap, there were different voices in the past clamoring for scrapping or reforming the system because of its apparent inadequacies. These loud voices are still unrelenting, echoing and would continue to be audible and vibrating our minds until the Almajiri is finally liberated from the bondage of hopelessness to the world of hopefulness.

If we evaluate the Almajiri’s in-depth character, the findings are magnificent and monumental. Undoubtedly, the Almajiri is an unsung hero because he has diligently been examined to be a pain bearer endowed with a remarkable capacity for uncommon perseverance and resilience.

The heroic Almajiri can tolerate hunger without any complaints in the midst of affluence. He is still standing tall, strongly supported by his intransigent faith in his terrible condition despite the calculated damage inflicted on his social being.

The Almajiri is our ‘disguised’ hope because his substantially untapped talents can be adequately harnessed in a formal and conducive learning atmosphere that will prepare him for future socio-economic challenges. Estimated at seven million according to the National Council for the Welfare of the Destitute (NCWD), are we going to commit the tragedy of allowing this huge human potentialities to be wasted in the name of begging? Is this not a frightening figure that amounts to the population of small nations?

The innocent Almajiri is a worthy and reliable compatriot whose noble intention of knowledge acquisition is to please Allah and not the Draconian ego of materialistic idiosyncrasies. Thus, the auxiliary foundation of his knowledge is allowing unquestionable character to penetrate his brain and subsequently moralize his whole personality.

Almajiri’s social and psychological systems are fascinating because they have been purged of ill-feelings towards the very society which has despised, rejected him as insignificant in the scheme of human affairs, yet he is forgiving, praying that he will eventually attain tremendous succor.

These conglomerates of the Almajiri’s character are already preparatory human capitals to explore the best out of him if he is humanly embedded, organized and supervised to undergo a system of formal education. Already experienced in the school of life travails, he will be a glamorous material when subjected to intellectual training and development in a planned and orderly setting.

To paraphrase this point, the ban on street begging involving the Almajiri child in some parts of Northern Nigeria must be taken to his life’s next level where there are abundant hopes, dreams and aspirations. His decadent social being should be thoroughly cleaned by his adequate rehabilitation in terms of modernizing the system to include some basic subjects in the Western education.

This means that special schools should be established to meet his spiritual and material needs to enhance his social status and safeguard his constitutional right. Thus, a synergy approach by the Northern governments is the best option.

He and his erring parents should also be made to understand that the ban imposed on his begging is not meant to oppress him or subvert his freedom. In fact, they should be made to realize that his freedom begins when he is considered as a child who has no right to beg but has the fundamental right to be in a school where he is taught sound knowledge that builds his capacity both in spirituality and modernity as Islam recognizes the acquisition of knowledge in its broadest term.

While providing him a new lease of life that will corroborate with global heterogeneity, our governments that have declared street begging by the Almajiri illegal, ought to lift the social responsibility of promoting his image, acknowledging him as our loving but uncared kid whose better tomorrow relies on our collective compassion as well as responses. It is therefore vital to realize that the large moral and financial support of the wealthy in our midst, private business sectors must be pursued to complement the governments’ efforts in the development of a new Almajiri.

In addition to this, a mass mobilization campaign with a highly potent communication transaction must be launched on the media to educate and enlighten parents to refrain from violating this governmental decision that is resolved to stand the test of critical time.

These governments should also mount intensive and educative program especially on the radio how the Almajiri system was very viable in the past when begging did not find its way into the system, when accommodation was provided for the Almajiri and his teacher, when the Almajiri was engaged in the economic activity of farming to prepare him for future living in which he would be self-reliant.

Contrastingly, the campaign should look into the prevailing situation which is unviable for a system that let the child to look for his source of sustenance through begging, which is promoted even though Islam vehemently abhors it. It will be a gigantic project if the enlightenment dwells on the prevailing economic realities, the rising insecurity, moral degeneration and their dangers, implications for the Almajiri, to be presented by Islamic scholars from the Islamic point of view.

This is the next level of Almajiri that should be envisaged in which we should see the prohibition of begging not as an end in itself, but rather a means towards achieving an end.

Abdullahi wrote in from Galadanci Quarters, Ringim, Jigawa State and can be reached through: aaringim68@gmail.com or 07036207998.

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