Thursday, May 03, 2012

Interview With a Homeless Woman (One)

(This is not a picture of the woman whose interview I present below)

What you are about to read is ENTIRELY true. I have a very, very creative imagination - but I assure you none of this was imagined... I am sorry I have to put this in English, because we spoke in a mix of Yoruba and pidgin - and many of the sentences lose their meaning on translation... Here we go...

Me: Good morning ma. How are you and the twins today?
Her: Good morning to you too. Who are you and where are you from? (ta leyin o, ibo le de ti wa).

Me: I'm just a regular boy, a concerned 'neighbor'. I have been noticing you on the bridge for a while now, and you were not here yesterday - so I thought to ask if you are alright.
Her: We are fine. God is taking care of us. (olohun n toju wa).

Her: I don't know your face. Do you (usually) give me money? How did you notice I was not here yesterday?
Me: Ehm, I sometimes give you money.

Her: Ehn, so why are you talking to me? Are you going to give me money today or not?
Me: I was just concerned. I wanted to be sure you were fine.

Her: Your concern will not pay the bills. In fact, it is not appreciated. Oya start going.
Me: Ehm, please. I will give you some money, but I want to talk to you first.

Her: Oya bring the money first. If it is not enough to last me for one day I will send you away. All the good people wey suppose give person money don dey pass since you don decide say na here you go domicile today.
Me: How much do you get on a daily basis? Let me see if I can give you that amount.

Her: N500.
(Of course, I am surprised. That means she supports herself AND six children - as I later find out - on an average of N15000 a month).
Me: Okay fine. I will give you N600.

Her: You will pay an extra N100 for every question I answer.
Me: Well, I will ask only one question.

Her: Oya nau.

Me: How many children do you have?
Her: Are you not a well taught Yoruba boy? You should know not to count children for the mother of the children. Anyway, I have six.

Me: I want to know why you have six children when you don't have the means to support the two you have with you now, and I want to know if there's anything I can do to help you in anyway. Is there a trade you have learnt? Is there a job you can do?
Her: That is four questions. (Ibeere merin le le yi o) quite dramatically (o n bi mi o, ta le mi o bi) (He's asking me, who will I ask).

This is becoming rather laborious, so I'll just present the rest of the discussion as prose:
We eventually went on to speak for about thirty minutes - and I eventually gave her N1000 out of pity. Evidently, she was married to a danfo (commercial bus) driver at some point, but ran away from home. She was his second wife, and he already had four children by the first child by the time he married her. They lived in two rooms.

According to her, he would have sex with them in turns in the first few months after he married her. With time, he started to have sex with them simultaneously. Methinks a more appropriate (but quite gross) word would be 'threesome'. This fellow, Baba Taju, reportedly HATES condoms - and used to hit them if they as much as suggested that he use one. She said he once beat her and kicked her till she was unconscious, and still went on to have sex with her. The first wive now has seven kids. She told me how they would celebrate the naming ceremonies with BIG parties complete with aso ebi, only for the children to launch into a life of suffering the day after the naming.

She eventually ran away one midnight a few weeks after she delivered her twins (her last two children). The first four are with her mother, and she 'begs' to support her twins. She was not on the bridge the previous day because her earliest child got typhoid fever and was admitted - so she was at her mother's house. Even more sadly, she's just 28 - was married to Baba Taju at 21 - so she managed to have six kids in seven years.

As we closed our discussion, she started crying as she told me about the days when she was in love with Baba Taju - and how he promised her a life of ease and all... Men sha.

I have to run now, so I will draw conclusions when I put up the second interview later.

What do you think?


  1. hi koye i need to know if you are so sure of the so called BABA TAJU age before i can comment cause according to your write up he is 21 while the woman is 27???

    1. "she's just 28 - was married to Baba Taju at 21 - so she managed to have six kids in seven years."

      I don't know how old Baba Taju is (was when they married). What I said is she got married at the age of 21, and she is now 28 - so she has had six children in those seven years.

  2. Wow! Koye, well done. Now, I am inspired. I shall go out to question these women, one never knows what one will find. This is an inspiring one, in a way. I don't support the fact that she has taken begging as a profession, because it seems to be the easy thing for her to do. Question is why? What happened to dignity, of labour, for yourself?

    Good job.

  3. this posts screams ignorance to me. i mean if she knew better she wouldn't have married baba taju, if she knew better she would have used other contraceptives; ones that baba taju won't have known about, if she knew better....however, all of that is past now. as temitayo said, i believe there is something else that she can do apart from begging to support her children, they deserve better