By Elaska Mark
Hawking on the street is a staple in not just Nigeria, but also in a lot of other African countries, raising the question – why do people hawk on the street? Why is street hawking mostly carried out in major cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Benin, Abuja, Kaduna, Jos, Kano? What are the effects of street hawking on children? How can street hawking by children be discouraged? These and many similar questions that are begging for urgent answers from parents, society and governments in Africa. The answers offered to these questions determine the levels at which we value in our society.
First, it is necessary to answer the question; why do parents involve or allow their children and wards to hawk on the street? The answer to this question is not far-fetched. kids hawk on the street either to complement family income, or sometimes, as a major source of family sustenance. This survives especially because of unemployment and underemployment, but who should suffer the brunt of the phenomenon of street hawking, should it be the child?
The effect of street hawking on the child is devastating. In extreme cases some of these children sleep under bridges, in parks or in front of public buildings.
Considering the high rate of children street hawking in Nigeria, It is the duty of parents to provide adequate upkeep for their children and ensure they are properly educated, trained and prepared to become useful members in the society. Child street hawking can rob children of so many opportunities that life has to offer.
Further to this, African governments need to protect the rights of children by enacting relevant laws and policies. In Nigeria, there is a need for both state and federal legislators to pass strict laws prohibiting street hawking by children under the age of sixteen.
On the whole, the Nigerian government needs to develop sustainable economic opportunities as solutions to child street hawking and invest in the development of the younger generation. A quote by Rick Corsino goes; “Children are the future of this country. By investing in children we are contributing to the country’s development and creating a literate and self-sufficient society”.
Therefore, I dream that one day, I will not find children hawking on the streets of our country – Nigeria, for whatever reason. Our society stands to benefit if street hawking by children is abolished. When children are given the opportunity to become useful members of society, we all move forward.