Fadhila N Muhammad
Salame is a young girl of 15 years, who usually dresses in her traditional attire and often putting on a back ‘Hijab’. The black dot on her forehead and other kajol paintings makes her to be recognised as a typical Hausa girl. Salame is living with her parents at Dandawaki, behind Danbare, which is along Gwarzo road. The girl treks all the way down to BUK along with her younger sister Ummi, who is about the age of 12 to sell Tofu (awara). She usually wakes up very early in the morning to finish her house chores and then move to her Islamiyyaschool,which is a few miles away from their home and return at 10am. By the time she gets back, her mother has already finished preparing her long plastic bucket filled with fried Tofu (Awara) with some sliced vegetables like onion and tomatoes on top.
They usually take a 45-minute walk to be at Bayero University new site together with her sister and depart at the B.U.K bus stop where each of them goes to her destination to make sales. Salame, being the eldest, stay and sells at front of Girls’ Hostel with her colleagues who sell similar products; while she sends her younger sister to sell at the central mosque of the school. They close by 4:00pm and return to their respective destinations in groups. Upon returning home, Salame prepares again for her 5-6pm Arabic classes and by 7:00pm also goes to the Maghrib Islamiyya School, which closes at 9:00pm. From then, she is done for the day and prepares for the next day.
Apart from girls hawking, there are other girls who stay at the school market to wash plates and do other economical activities. Some small sets of boys are also available at the boys’ hostel to fetch water that are called “Deboruwa” and also wash students’ clothes to get paid for bread.Child labour has existed for the past several decades all over the world. Child labour prevalence is very high in sub-Saharan African nations of the world especially in Nigeria which has about 183 million population and children constitute almost half of the entire population; they therefore, engage in providing services to the society. The National Modular Survey 2000/2001 found out that about 51 percent of girls and 49 percent of boys were out of school. It was indicated that over 70 percent of children either schooling or non-schooling started hawking at age of 5-9 nationwide.
It is clear that labour or work performed by children is both desirable and necessary in Africa due to their traditional circumstance and perception. Therefore, in trying to ban child labour one has to consider the other phenomenon, which is child work, and be able to define it in a societal context to give it a better meaning. Some take any form of child work to be exploitative practices while others try to define some works undergo by children, which could be wholly harmless. In a typical traditional African Society, there is a belief that children are meant to undertake certain works or responsibilities as a means of moral upbringing. Kano for example, is the most populous city in the country. The people there are predominantly Hausa speakers who have come to embrace Islam. One of the roots of child labour lies in low-literacy and high level of poverty, which is common in the area. This has forced children to go into Economic or commercial activities to earn something for the sake of their families and themselves. Children often lose the opportunity of attending western schools or are sometimes forced to combine the two. In some cases, the children work in order to sponsor their education. Sometimes, it may be the failure of the parents to enroll their kids in schools may be because of harsh economic condition or nonchalant attitude to education. It might also be as a result of the parent’s negative perception on western education. The young Salame Amadu, is quite fortunate to be attending Arabic Schools even without going to the western one, this is because other children do hawk only without having the chance of attending any of the two. When talking to Salame about western education she mentioned that “I would love to be in a western school system since I have never had a chance to be there”.
The media and government therefore, should engage in providing orientation programs/campaign against child labour. Also government should make it mandatory on every parent to enroll their kids in schools and threaten to take disciplinary actions on those parents that defy doing so. It will be very imperative on both government and other concerned bodies to make education for such children as easy as one could think of to acquire, by making it a sort of free or charge less as incentives to motivate and boost the morale of those parents who might be reluctant standing by one flimsy excuse or another. This could go a long way in discouraging child Labour and hawking among both male and female children.
Fadhila N Muhammad is a 400 level student of Bayero University kano, Mass communication Department