Wednesday, 4 July 2012
(6): Child abuse, Kano to Jeddah and Nigerian Muslims
Just like the old regional structure in Nigeria, the northern region, the western region and the eastern region, the flow of migration to foreign countries also reflect this structure. With Yorubas most likely making England their second most important country after Nigeria, the Igbos heading to the United States while people from northern Nigeria heading to Saudi Arabia.
It is also interesting that you find two categories of people engaged in this wave of migration, the professionals particularly medical doctors and Engineers, as well as students some of whom choose to stay in these countries after the completion of their studies. The second category being individuals who migrate to these countries in search of good life but who are ready to engage in any business, legal or illegal in order to stay abroad. Sometimes I wonder how some of these guys find their way either to the UK, US or other countries.
But the subject of this write up is on Nigerians living in Saudi Arabia, particularly the women among them, called Kano-to-Jeddah. Last year on a visit to the Holy land I witnessed something that shocked me. We were going to the Haram for Fajr (dawn) prayer, when we saw a small girl no more than five years old sitting in between the roads that lead to the Haram. The sophistication with which the girl was begging requires a lot of rehearsal even for an adult to emulate. Her hands were raised, voice twisted, eyes twinkling, and legs folded. The mere sight of that little girl will provoke the slightest sympathy in any person who cares about the life of a child. Just imagine your daughter in that situation.
Few meters away was another woman monitoring that little girl, keeping an eye on the money people were given her as charity. Together with my wife we approached this woman to offer a word of advise, that she should fear Allah and think of the condition she puts this little girl, to imagine the cold, and the time of the night. There is nothing to call the situation of that little girl other than child abuse.
After listening to our little advise, the woman responded with the worst abuse you can think of. She told us that they have migrated from Nigeria after “you have made it ungovernable, yet even in the Holy land you cannot spare us, are you not ashamed that you cannot even provide electricity. We have migrated in search of a better life”. On hearing that I told her that I am not one of the Nigerian elites she is referring to, in fact I don’t even live in Nigeria, I am simply journalist, and the condition I saw that little girl was baffling. It is good to respect our selves and protect the dignity of our children.
That was not enough to satisfy the woman. After this little conversation, we proceeded to the Haram.
On our way back after the Fajr prayer the woman has already assembled other women engaged in the same trade. Unknown to us she has trailed our entrance to the Haram and waited for our return, on our way out she continued with her abuses in the assembly of those women, my wife and I refused to join issues with her. But we kept thinking about that little girl, who is just one among thousands of children that are being abused in order to make money. On visiting Madina I narrated this story to a friend and a brother who has concluded his PhD at the International Islamic University Madina. His response was “you have not seen anything”, Even the Saudi government is struggling with the situation of those Nigerians, and is looking for solution to this unending problem, they have deported some of this people, yet they find a way to come back.
Last week by Allah’s grace I was in the Holy city and on my way to the Haram I saw similar group of women, this time around, the number of this little girls has increased, even the best movie director will require exceptional expertise to train his actors to behave the way those little girls were acting. While I was amazed at what I was seeing, one of the governors who has just won a controversial by-election came to pass on his way to the Haram.
Dear Muslim Governors in Nigeria, please when next you meet each other think about the future of these little children that are being abused. Remember that while you pass by them whenever you visit the Holy land, your children of similar age back home are in school as you prepare them to have a decent future. When next you meet please, consider establishing a bi-national commission between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia in order to address this abuse. I know some people might say that you already have millions of these children at home, but in this case think of the embarrassment they cause our nation, just like drug traffickers and money launderers are causing us humiliation in Europe, Asia and North America.
Newcastle upon Tyne
13th May 2012