*This is a post written by and on behalf of my friend, Ralia… enjoy*
My name is Ralia. And no, I’m not the sugar girl. I’m the fruit salad girl. I hawk fruit salad on Lagos-Abeokuta road; around Iyana-Ipaja. And I have a message to pass across to you all.
No, I wasn’t born into a wealthy family whose wealth suddenly came crashing down when my father died.
No, I have not been constantly raped in the night by fellow hawkers or by buyers who ask me to come into their rooms.
No, I didn’t have to drop out of school to hawk. And hawking is not my part-time job. I’m a full time hawker. I started hawking at age 8.
In fact, no, I don’t know ‘correct English’. That’s why I’ve asked Boro to help me send out my message.
My message is simply this; the best people in this country are the ones that make up the association of hawkers.
I once overheard a mother, while scolding her daughter for failing Maths in school, say; ‘Continue failing Maths. Continue. Shebi you want to end up as a hawker without future ambition. Continue o’.
When I heard this, I laughed gently as I sliced pineapples. (-_-)
Apparently, the Nigerian populace needs a little clarification and education on who we, the hawkers are.
We, the hawkers, are Mathematics guru. We don’t have time for those big padded calculators like other traders. We don’t have the luxury of counting with our fingers. We don’t have the right to ask our customers ‘So, how much is now your change na?‘ We calculate on the spot, with our brains. Numbers are our play toys. Please note that most of us don’t even have any form of formal education.
We, the hawkers, are the healthiest Nigerians. I always tell my hawker friends, whenever we look into a car and see someone wearing glasses (like Boro), that ‘Eye defects, like every other sickness, is a thing of the mind. It only takes someone as strong and healthy as a hawker to resist such alien sicknesses.’ You ever seen a hawker wear glasses? Please note that most of us steady eat/drink garri daily. Yet, if we are signaled to by someone from a car 10 cars away from us, we’ll comfortably see him or her. My hawker boys have the best toned bodies there can be. And we are the best athletes in the world.
We, the hawkers, offer the best quality customer service. It sounds very disagreeable, but it is the truth. Do you agree that we are/have to be the most transparent traders? If our goods fall to the ground, we can’t dust off the dirt or rinse it with water and resell because practically the whole road can see us (Here, I figure she was referring to some fruit like paw-paw or bread?). You should see the way my mom and I take extra delicate care in cutting fruits for the salad. I’m so sure most of those executive wives that ride big jeeps don’t wash up as much as we do before preparing fruits salads.
We, the hawkers, are the best lovers and friends that exist in this country. We stick to each other. Have you ever experienced a situation where you call a particular hawker; say a bread hawker, and other bread hawkers help call that particular person? No? Well, it happens. And if your boyfriend is a hawker, then you’ll understand what real love is. A ‘hawker boyfriend’ is the most understanding and patient boyfriend there ever can be. Due to his constant interaction with people, he understands the different temperaments and behavioral patterns of human beings more than any professor of psychology (or Bade) understands and so he understands you. We, the hawkers, are better than you all think we are.
The hawking profession is only for a selected few and we are much more valuable, reliable, and full of worth, intelligent, loving, lovable and kind than a large percent of people. Trying to look down on us is like trying to look in the middle of your head (without a mirror). We’re above you. (*ahem*)
So, tell your fellow educated people never, ever to ‘ro wa pin‘.
N.B. To the best of my knowledge, this article does not represent the view of the Nigerian Association of Hawkers, or any hawker I know. Yes, Ralia is my friend; but my imaginary one. (I know… somebody has gone bananas).
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