By Nneka Okumazie
Any policy in sub-Saharan Africa, by any government or union of nations, that does not mitigate or deject street hawking, is probably good for the optics, policymakers, or those benefitting from the regular gatherings – to nowhere.
Street hawking should be appalling to any African government, union, state, or region, as something to solve, or stop – not by chasing them from their spots.
Sub-Saharan Africa is vitiated by catastrophic poverty, which the bottom or close to, is street hawking, or selling in road traffic.
People are helpless. It is hard to feed. They have to keep buying things in a market that prices continue to rise. Some children have to hawk. Some have to run in traffic, expending energy, selling stuff, sometimes at really low margins.
It is easy to blame the poor, or to feel they are exactly responsible for where they are, but that is not always the case.
Those born poor are likely to live and die poor – in a country or continent – with policies that do nothing for the poor.
Maybe that’s the reason poverty has conspicuously increased.
Yes, there are more investments and growing democracies.
Some people are likely to get out of poverty through education and honest work, but the complications of underdevelopment dilutes what should be obvious and collective success against it.
There has always been a disconnection between policy and poverty.
It is almost like anything can be done without consideration for how it would perceptibly – and persistently – lift people out of poverty.
It is true that investment creates new jobs, but for many, their expenditures or economic uncertainties catches up with the new income, leaving them struggling, in debt and seeking shortcuts or new opportunities.
This low variance economic mobility makes direct action against poverty, necessary, in Africa – using capitalistic models.
Many people have different understanding or definition of what it means to be poor, therefore it is better to look at those hawking against a new policy and how it makes them stop.
If any region wants a new currency, no problem, but how does it reduce street hawking?
There are already multiple countries in sub-Saharan Africa using the same currency.
There are some using two currencies.
The problem is not currency, though there are ways it would help. But how does a uniform currency discourage or reduce street hawking?
Even the AfCFTA – in its infancy – how does it reduce street hawking?
Some Africans in other continents hawk, maybe not with stuff on the head, but holding on the hand, going from place to place.
Some don’t hawk but sell on the floor – in a pattern – outside the norm of the society.
What many of the host nations see with that is used to judge the continent and other people of the same colour.
This shows that hawking has been seen, by many, as the only way to survive, knowing nothing else.
Assuming hawking had been fought by prosperity, or productivity models against poverty, maybe that would not be so, for many Africans.
For those poor, helpless, uncertain, finding themselves in situation of despair and despondency, but believe in the Lord. They should remember:
[Isaiah 3:10, Say ye to the righteous, that [it shall be] well [with him]: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.]
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