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    Saturday, October 14, 2017

    I Be Man Again

    Displaced people who fled the anti-immigrant violence
    Photo: MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images
    Development is a coward, it doesn’t go where there’s no peace.”

    By Elias Gbadamosi

    On that fateful morning, Audu woke his wife and two kids up and off to the mosque he went to say the early morning prayers with the hope of going to his stall later in the morning for the day’s business. Nothing gave him the premonition that he could lose everything he had worked for in his entire life fleetingly. 

    Hoping that the day would be like every other day, he came back from the mosque and brought out his bike to wash it after prayers. He was doing this usual ritual when he heard sporadic gunshots break the still peace of that beautiful morning. The Boko Haram lieutenants of death came armed with sophisticated riffles and machetes looking for young boys and men to kill. Before they could reach his compound, Audu left his half-washed motorbike, rushed into the house, got all the money he had in the house and fled into the bush with his wife and children. Weeks later, he and his family joined others in the Internally Displaced Persons camp which, at that time, was yet to attract the attention of national and international governments. 

    Life in the IDP camp was very hard, so with a promise to come fetch them when he finds the golden fleece, Audu left his wife and children and with the little money he had left bribed his way out of the IDP camp and took a bus to seek greener fields in Ibadan where he has a step brother. 

    When Audu got to Ibadan, what he met was not what he bargained for. There was little his brother could do to help him so in order to help himself, he decided that street begging is the only solution. 
    I used to know Audu as a beggar so I was shocked to the marrow on the day to see him sitting proudly a few meters from his regular spot not as a beggar now but as a business owner. 

    While talking to him, Audu told me he never was proud as a beggar. He had to resort to begging because he had no other means of making money in a city far from his own. 

    One step at a time, Audu is getting his life back. His business is flourishing and he has not broken his promise to his wife and children. They now live together in Ibadan as a family again. The kids have gone back to school and his wife has started her henna styling business again at their new home. 
    As we shook hands after the informal meeting, Audu looked into my eyes and with a pleasant grin on his face said, “I be man again”.

    The story of Audu teaches us a lot about how to tackle poverty. It shows that to win the war against poverty, we must first wage a war on insurgency. It shows that the success of almost all the other Goals of Sustainable Development rest on ending poverty. Above all else, it shows that banishing poverty from the world is a moral obligation as it is a slight on human dignity.    

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