WHERE I live in Nigeria, the local name given to the porter who carries your shopping in a bowl until you have finished is “alabaru.” Derived from wheelbarrow pusher,”alabaru” is a kind of self-employment but the payment for service rendered only depends on the goodwill of the rich person doing the shopping. Carrying the shopping around takes time and the “alabaru” suffers in carrying it. So, sometimes, if the haggling is taking too long and the luggage is heavy, the “alabaru” may need to put the luggage down and rest or wait. That is our point. The luggage others make us to carry may have to be put down at some point, to make it possible for us to rest and wait for what is going on to end.
Are we not the “alabaru” carrying the shopping of luckier ones and suffering? Are we not under that obligation to follow round and round and suffer quietly? Are some of us not made to carry the burden that others put on us, or used even at our expense, without our knowledge and we think that we are gaining?
The point, then, is that the real “alabaru” is not the only type. There are other types. Even the person who hires an “alabaru” in the marketplace may also be an “alabaru.” It is only a matter how this “alabaru” culture is performed by some.
Next time when a “alabaru” approaches you for a hire, don’t be full of yourself or show the air of superiority. Remember that you could be one yourself.
There was a time, around 1988 in Nigeria, some women would come to our town from Umusadege, in Ndokwa West Local government area, shouting “Ị na-ekpe ekpe?” (Do you want your cassava to be peeled?). That cry eventually became their social label. But that is not the end of the story. The “A na-ekpe ekpe?” only wanted the cassava peeling as their pay. They would take the peeling home to make tapioca and eat with their families. It’s good to learn that eventually survived and their children became billionaires, even overseas. Same way the children of the” alabaru ” in the marketplace will become doctors and technologists out there and make waves. The luggage the” alabaru ” is carrying is a blessing. Who knows tomorrow?
Whenever an” alabaru ” wants to put down your luggage, start thinking. You have been wasting time.” Alabaru ” cannot be your” Alabaru ” forever. Everything that has a beginning already has an end for all to see.
Your” Alabaru ” is getting tired. Your bill may rise. Better life may not do. More.
Whenever I see those people carrying bowls, looking for shoppers, I know that they are reminders. Take that bowl, my bowl, and follow me.” Alabaru ” that is me, not just for me. I am hiring myself, narrating myself.
Yes, the culture of “Alabaru” speaks eloquently about poverty and poor society. Nigeria has many such poor people who live or exist beside the stupendously rich.
Why not stop making me carry your luggage? Why buy more than you can carry and employ me to carry what you have accumulated? What makes you think you can buy the whole of this bloody market?
OK, let me just put down your luggage, before you ask me to carry you through this market!
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