‘Buy pure water, buy pure water!!!’ The commonest commodity most underage hawkers may most likely be selling. This sight is a regular feature on major streets in major towns and cities in Nigeria. My friend was thirsty and had to get one of the pure water to assuage his thirst. He got me a sachet of pure water as well, although I normally would fell guilty whenever I have to patronise these children.
She could not have been older than 8 years old. She looked so small. But size and age is put aside in these situations; situations that have to do with the survival of a person.
I know, I know!!! This article is not to castigate or lay the blame on any person for this abnormality. It is just to open our eye to an abnormality that lives with us and we may have just accepted it as normal.
Street Hawking is banned in major cities and towns of Nigeria. It is just the law. A toothless law none the less. But it is even graver to subject underage individuals to such harrowing experience.
So I ask again!!! How many underage street hawkers have you patronised in the last week??!! My guess is that you may not remember. Your answer could also be any one of the following;
- Street hawking is common.
- I always look with pity on these children, I cannot but buy from them.
- I cannot walk to the grocery store so I buy from them.
- The economy is bad. Their family would need my patronage to survive.
- The save me the stress of walking far to get my desired article
- And so on…
But if you look deeper than the surface value of these reasons, you would find that we are really exploiting these kids. We are actually going against the Millennium Development Goals 2 and Goal 4. Goal 2 talks about achieving Universal Primary Education, especially to these children while Goal 4 talks about Reduction of Child Mortality. I make bold to extend the Goal 4 to include Child Morbidity. One leads to the other.
The economy may be bad, Yes!! But how do your buying that article from an underage hawker level out to the substantial growth of the economy. Our action, in terms of patronising underage street hawker, only add to the pocket of the parent or guardian who sent these children out to sell these commodities.
Let us be wary. Lots of children are being exposed to the dangers of life too early in life, but we can make a difference. Say ‘NO’ to Underage Street Hawking… You may just be saving a life!!!