Friday, August 21, 2009

I recently watched a video of a favorite Nigerian artist, 9ice, on Youtube, In the video, 9ice is singing along to what is apparently a song from his upcoming album. While doing so, a young child taps on the window and begs for some money. 9ice shoos away the young boy and keeps driving.

What was a video put online to get fans excited about a new album, has now become a heated discussion on the appropriate protocols necessary for dealing with beggars. This issue is pertinent given the fact that beggars are a common site in certain parts of Nigeria as they are in large cities around the world such as Washington D.C., Mumbai, London or New York.

From the comments of some viewers, it seemed that they expected 9ice (the irony of the artist's name is not lost considering the issue) to give the boy money because 9ice could 'afford' to do so. However, this begs the question, how many of us, average individuals, give money to those who ask? And, how often? Also, is 9ice or anyone required to give money to those who ask it? If so, why? I believe the answers to these questions depend on many other factors that would be too complicated to discuss thoroughly but hope others will attempt to address them.

Others objected to the way 9ice dismissed the young boy. And this leads one to wonder what, if any, is the proper way to not give money to a beggar? In my opinion, it always boils down to manners. Most of us were raised to be polite and in many cases, refusing to give money to a beggar can be considered impolite. Yet, the reality is there will be times when you don't have anything to give or are simply not in the mood to give (right or wrong). Also, the way 9ice dismissed the young boy was clearly not nice, but, it is hard for me to label him a bad person on the basis of this one scene, as so many have opted to do. Maybe he was tired of being asked for money. Maybe he didn't have any on him.

Whatever the case, this video raises many questions about etiquette, and possibly, even social attitudes towards poverty in Nigeria. It also illustrates that there are definitely more tactful and polite ways to deal with beggars. I have always believed that I am to treat everyone, regardless of status or position, equally and with respect. I can only hope that in a similar situation, I would not forget that.

Have you been in a similar situation? How did you let down someone who asked for money?

From the Archives:
- Poverty or Peace?
- Money Rituals
- Being Duped By A Family Member
- Nigeria vs. Nigerians
- Are the Poor To Blame For Their Poverty?
- Values
- The Demons That Hold Sway Over Nigeria
- Guilty By Association
- Selling Cigarettes to Nigeria's Children
- Much Ado Over a Nickname?

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Sugabelly said...

I tend to give beggars A LOT of money when I have a lot of money. When I have very little money, I don't give at all. I've given $10 to beggars on the subway and N1000 to beggars in Abuja.

I don't know. I'm not bragging about how much money I give beggars because God knows I'm a student and broke a lot, but I honestly am touched by people that are homeless because it scares me, and I feel compelled to give them as much as I possibly can, especially if the beggar is a small child.

I've found out that it's actually better to give child beggars FOOD instead of money. It turns out that when you give child beggars money, their parents who are often lurking nearby take the money away from them, but if you use the money and buy food and give it to them, at least you can rest assured that that child didn't go to bed hungry for the day.

So, as far as protocol, I don't know. I give when I have, and I don't when I don't. That's my take on it.

Dojaa said...

If 9ice went around giving money to every begger he meets in Nigeria he would runout of money and be a begger himself within days...they are everywhere in Nigeria, however he could have been 9icer to the kid when saying NO.

יש (Yosh) said...

There's plenty of genuine beggars out there i.e. people who beg cos they are really in dire need of whatever they can get from begging. However, there's plenty people who now beg for the heck of it and inversely make it difficult for people who'd rather give, think twice. I am one of the latter. There's this man who always turns out at this Wuse bank junction almost every evening to 'need just N100 to complete his transport fare as he came to town job-seeking early in the day and could not afford to go back then.' I'm not the only bloke who's aware of him and confirmed his game. And there's this woman who stays at my FHA Lugbe busstop with three of her kids, begging every night for money to feed for the night. Leaves you wondering.

My people would say, "mechanic no let us know the difference between mad men and some mechanics again". This means, the lot of phony beggars reduce the chances of having people be as generous as they wish now. Many people deal with beggars the way 9ice responded. Sometimes your guts, from looking at the beggar involved, can help you cross that dilemma and most times, it won't.

יש (Yosh) said...


RE: giving food vs giving money, there's even beggars whose parents have instructed them to not take food materials when offered. They'd shake their heads and some even go as far as asking for money. Esp. those clingy, Middle-Eastern-looking types...and some of our own, too.

bumight said...

there are professional beggars out there, in yankee and nigeria.
beggars who have the capacity to work, but make a lot out of the "begging business" such that there's no incentive to wok. I know cos i know of beggars who live comfortably and still beg.
also, have u ever given money to a beggar and they use ur money to buy crack instead of food? (then u havent experienced d DC brand of beggars!)
bottom line is, the fake ones outnumber the real ones and as such people tend to lump them together.

io said...

Beggars? Giving Alms? Give when u can and politely turn down the resquest when u can't.

Bumight mention beggars buying crack with what u give. I've actually come across a few with their lil signs which read. "Please help out. To be used for alcohol research"

Anonymous said...

Weather you have money to give or not is actually not the case here, but rather the way you treat beggars or the less privilege. If you have with you, give and if you don’t, there is nothing you can do about that but it is very important that you treat beggars nicely no matter what, especially when you are a celebrity or in the public eyes. The public made you and they could easily shun you. Never forget that.! You could see that 9ie was irritated by the beggar being a menace to his video recording and that is the more reason why he shouldn’t have allowed this video get to the public. As a human you can get irritated sometimes by these beggars but as a celebrity made by the public, you should always strive to keep your cool. It’s part of the price you have to pay and like someone said this doesn’t mean 9ice is a bad person.

Bash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bash said...

Interesting topic. I hardly ever give beggars money because I believe it is a vicious cycle that is very difficult to put an end to; even if I gave a beggar a bag full of a million naira, he/she is likely to be back at the same street corner after a while. Also, the streets of Lagos are not exactly the safest, with some bad eggs looking for an opportunity to gain access to the interior of your vehicle using whatever gimick they can pull. However, I very politely put my palms together like in prayer and bow my head, my way of acknowledging what their asking for, and my inability or unwillingness to roll down my windows and/or part with any cash at that time. However some of them can be pretty persistent and hang on to your car for almost 60 seconds, usually the younger ones - these ones I ignore after they refuse to respect that I do not HAVE to give them anything.

On a different note - what incentive do beggars have to beg? Is it truly their only option vs the easy option? How can that incentive be reversed to encourage them to get off the streets?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... interesting way to promote his new album, I believe a teaser video would probably have been more interesting and may have worked better, but that's not the issue at hand.

Though everyone should treat each other with respect and we thank God we are in the position to give some beggars themselves are equally as rude. They treat you as if it's by force you must give them, meanwhile you don't even know whether they are genuine or not. I strongly dislike when they even block your way or continue to follow you after you say no. Though there is no excuse to be rude but I'm sure after meeting several beggars of that nature you can be easily frustrated. I now don't even look any beggar in the eye. I rather give my money to organizations who are meant to help or food drives and things of that nature.

Another issue I would like to ask about related to this is what do you think of 'beggars' who play music and things by the street. Instruments are very expensive so I always wonder what the story is there...

TheJunkie said...

I have read this post 2ce now, and the comments, and it really bothered me,not b/c of what 9ce did, but b/c of myself and many other nigerians. It's too complex, but no one should lift up a stone against him b/c we are ALL guilty of the crime. we give sometimes, but somtimes, we treat them as pests. i guess that video was a mirror for us 2 see ourselves and to make srs correctns...n that's my own 2 cents

Mola OG said...

Surprisingly I did not see anything wrong with 9ice's reaction to the boy begging for money... I think he was both busy singing and probably tired of seeing beggars run up to his car...
Now, I may not react like that, but that is just how his reflexes responded... I may have just kept looking ahead and acted like the beggar was not there if I was in his situation. I usually will give a beggar money if I had cash on me, but if I don't I usually just look ahead and act like I am focused on the road or thinking about something very important...

Funmie said...

I was in Naija recently and as much as i wanted to give soo bad to these beggars, i was WARNED not to...pple are wicked these days..I was told!

There were even times i insisted on giving and my friends had to pull me away almost yelling "Funmi don't mind them."

So back to 9ice, the guy was working... it was a promotional Video. How many pple would be running late to work or even at work would have time to drop as in STOP what they are doing to attend to a beggar in TRAFFIC? oh plssss! there are sooooo many beggars in Naija it's sad n sickening at d same time.

9ice was working and did not need to be disturbed ( FULL STOP).

But Naija artists with their lack of interest for details sha... He should not have posted that crap on youtube. 9ice is a superstar and Hello! he attracts mad media attention.

I don't get it though, I'm thinking his PR pple should know better! wait o does he have one?

nonetheless, I LOVE 9ice. not even his crappy music videos or not helping a beggar can quench my love for this

Admin said...

9ice should ve given the youngboy money even if little,he should always remember he also moved from grass to grace

Anonymous said...

Interesting video, i was actually expecting it to be worse. Yeah he could have been nicer but i think he was displaying the cynicism of someone that's seen the same thing too many times.

And of course, you know that some beggars aren't really which makes it harder to know who you should be giving to. It's especially hard to say no to kids. I have given every spare penny before because there was something compelling about the person asking. I've also heard an elaborate plea and wanted to give but my mum was convinced the person was lying. At the time i was shocked but thinking about it later, i realised that she must have been right because the story didn't add up. We just ignored the guy until he went away but it was so hard to do.

Anonymous said...

How do you deport people in their own country?

Z said...

I've been thinking about how to answer some of your questions. I think I am ready to try. But first, a couple comments:

1) What he did was not very nice. Maybe he should change his stage name to Not 9ice?
2) I detected some hypocrisy. I noticed that he thanked God. If so, he might do well to think of what God would think of him dismissing a child, or anyone else, asking for food.

Now to answer your questions.

However, this begs the question, how many of us, average individuals, give money to those who ask? And, how often?

I admit it, I have not given every time I was asked. In this sense, I also suffer from the hypocrisy I mentioned above. I don't always give money because I worry it will be used for things that will not necessarily benefit the recipient, like drugs (including alcohol and cigarettes). As for giving money to kids, I don't do it. Why? Because it entrenches their situation. I saw this in Abuja, kids being sent out to beg by adults who refused to send them to school and did not take adequate care of them. I did, however, make an effort to buy kids food. I didn't do it as often as I should have, though. I regret this immensely. So, I try to help out, but need to do it more often.

Also, is 9ice or anyone required to give money to those who ask it? If so, why?

I wouldn't say required, but I would suggest that we have a responsibility and a moral obligation to help people in need of assistance. Whether this is achieved by directly giving someone food or money when they ask for it or making donations to charitable and non-profit organizations that provide services and support to those with low or no income, like food banks, shelters, and NGOs. Why? In a word: Ubuntu. We ought to help others because not doing so shames us all. Would I like it if I asked someone for help and he/she refused me? No. Every time I refuse someone else I am setting myself up for receiving similar poor treatment at some stage of the game, which I suppose you could say is the concept of Karma. Or, to quote the scriptures, "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." GALATIANS 6: 7-9 (KJV)

In short, those of us who can, should. And, as a Ghanaian acquaintance of mine was given to pointing out, "it's nice to be nice". I really enjoy 9ice's music so, for his sake, I hope he gets wise to this philosophy and implements it the next time someone asks him for help. I will try to do the same.

Azazel said...

All i know is that nobody should judge 9ice.
We have all done the same thing abeg, dudee did wat his flesh wanted him to do. I've done the same before, human beings have never given a shit about other human beings.

Anonymous said...

9ice was simply working and should not be nailed for it.i don't think if it was any of his critics, they would have done better.cut him some slacks....artist doesn't not make him less human and any of us would have done same....
what i saw in his attitude was simply go away n don't spoil my video...i kud 've done worse if twas me.

Unknown said...

Let's call a spade a spade.This is not 9ice. what is bad can't be good at all.These are parallel paradoxism.
we as humans has the natural tendencies to always defend our actions and reactions especially when its bad.A man will find an excuse for a wrong done obviously as a means of defense.if a cheif accountant of an establishment defrauded his shrewd and selfish employer, he will defend his action on the ground that his employer isnt paying him well.we should be ready to accept our wrong done and amend our ways.
Anybody culd have done same thing 9ice did(warding off the beggar-child) on the ground that he is busy,he doesnt have money,he is bugged of people coming to beg,he ll soon run out of money 'cos he has given a lot ,...etc.
But is shovin and driving off the beggar a right attitude?if he's busy,a simple ignore and waving to d child culd have been better (although not the best).He culd have done well by givin little alms (who told you givers ever lack?) and not disdainful ignore. If God has blessed you,you shouldnt be tired of the less priviledge(take a cue from D'banj koko foundation,Kanu heart foundation and numerous others)There is no one, no matter how high in profile,that can't be brought down low.what goes around comes around.One should be careful of his attitude especially if u 're in the public glare.Those who live in glass house don't throw stones.

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