Tackling the menace of almajirai in Kano

Kano being a cosmopolitan city is inundated by hordes of almajirai scouting all the nooks and crannies of the ancient city with no end in sight. This is despite the relentless efforts by the Kano state government to nip the menace in the bud through the introduction of free and compulsory education.

It was the contention of the state government that the appalling statistics of out-of-school children in the encient city could only be drastically reduced when the children engaged in begging spree in some major streets in Kano were given the opportunity to be accomodated in the system believed would be beneficial to their future.

Where such an opportunity is grossly lacking, the less-privileged ones among them would consider street begging in the name of almajirci, as it is fondly called, as a money spinning business with the practice taking a heavy toll on their future.

Begging as revealed in the scriptures of the holy prophet is even forbidden by Islam as against the skewed notion of the apologists of the prevailing practice making one to believe that a teenager could simply be flown to a sprawling city like Kano in the name of Slmajirci which later turned into, seeking alms from anyone that can be sighted most especially in public places, markets and regrettably at beer palours.

It is however the contention of this writer that stopping beggers from seeking alms from the public does not imply that seeking Ouranic knowlege is prohibited only that people do not seem to understand the entire concept as it affects the craze for Ouranic education.

However, the cavalier manner with which many parents in the rural areas treat their children, sending them to sprawling commercial cities presumably in search of Ouranic education is worrisome and quite disturbing, as many of such children become highly vulnerable and often become victims of unpleassnt circumstance due to such vulnerability.

They have forgotten the fact that securing Quranic knowledge could be more pleasant when such children being sent to the cities are supported with the means of standing on their feet without resorting to beghing in the streets to earn a living.

The Kano state government on its part has introduced a law banning street begging for the lives of the younger ones not to be jeopardised as a result of the reckless manner some vehicle owners plying the roads or driving at a killer speed with sheer impunity.

With vocational training given to the young children, they could be opportune to be exposed to the acquisition of entrepreneurial skills and innovations which could serve as a major catalyst towards injecting them with a new lease of life, to the extent of keeping them away from the streets and homes in seach of food and other means of survival.

It is an incontrovertible fact that no life could ever be worth living when the younger ones becime victims of societal tribulations in the name of almajirci which does not connote that banning the system means banning one from acquiring Quranic education.

What is however most disturbing to me as it disturbs many is the ruthless manner the young children are being treated by their handlers, having been entrusted by their parents to be looked after. They sometimes plunge them into unpleasant situations in the name of teaching them the rudiments of Islamic knowledge.

It was also a common practice in the olden days when parents from the rural areas sent their children to the east in search of Quranic scholarship, with the attendant result being spectacularly encouraging. Tens of thousands of them memorised the glorious Quran and became popularly revered in such a field of religious endeavour.

In Kano, for example, many almajirai have been made to become victims of one conflagration after another most especially when such rumpus involves some sections of the city considered to be major flash points and extremely volatile.

As a result of such gruelling developments, many parents have abysmally suffered the fangs of loss and bereavement, since they cannot identify the corpses of their missing children, even as the handlers themselves cannot do it.

Quranic education could be pursued without having to encounter the rigours of cruising the city, most especially when the younger ones are provided with the leeway to survive.

The issue of giving the almajirai vocational training for them to stand on their feet deserves the attention of policy makers and philanthropists if checkmating the menace is meant to be realistic and to disabuse the minds of everyone that acquiring Quranic education and running commercial activities are possible at the same time.

It is also worth commending Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje for the introduction of free and compulsory education for the downtrodden and vulnerable children to be freed from the bondage of ignorance, prevailing on their parents to enrol them in schools in the face of the damning statistics.

Quranic scholars were also made to have a sense of belonging, following the decision of his administration to give them a special place of honour including the introduction of Quranic studies in schools’ curriculum.

The menace of almajirai in Kano could only be tackled when the phenomenon of rural-urban drift is jettisoned to the extent that vocational opportunities are created to reduce trooping into the ancient city in the name of the desperate search for Quranic education which eventually turns into street begging with its attendant negative repercussions.

Muhammad writes from Kano.