Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon is the Araba Awo of Osogboland. In this interview with Oluwole Ige, Osogbo, he speaks about begging among some Yoruba, the cultural implications and what can be done to address the social problem. Excerpts:
What is your view about some Yorubas, who indulge in begging for alms
Begging is alien to Yoruba culture. Historically, Yoruba people don’t beg for money. They are shy to beg, not only for money, even for favour from people. The prayers we often offer is that God should not make us to beg before we can feed ourselves. But, the Hausa from the Northern parts of the country have somehow spread their culture of begging to some few Yoruba people. That is why you see some of our people begging for alms. A typical Yoruba person would be shy to beg for money. No matter how deprived a Yoruba parent is, he or she would find it extremely hard to take to begging. If a parent begs, some people can capitalise on it to mock his or children. They would say your mother is a beggar. Even, if a Yoruba person is blind, you would not see him going out to beg for money. He would prefer to stay indoors and people, who want to assist him would go to render help. So, begging is not common among the Yoruba. It is the Northerners, who have shown our people that path to tow.
What do you think can be done to address this societal malaise, considering the culture of Yoruba, which you claimed is alien to begging
The way out lies with the government. It is very simple. Government can set up rehabilitation centres for the beggars or the vulnerable in the society. From there, government can provide what they would eat for them and also take care of their numerous immediate needs. The wealthy people in the society can also go to such rehabilitation centres to donate relief materials, such as foods, drugs, clothes and cash to the needy. If the government tackles the issue from this perspective, the problem of beggars in the society would be eradicated. Apart from that, they would be saved from inherent dangers they expose themselves to by begging on the highways and roads.